Walk don’t run

I ran my first USPSA match on Sunday.  I showed up, I signed up and I didn’t get disqualified.  Not only do I consider this a good day for my first match but this accomplishment managed to land me the title “high lady” for the day because all the other girls there were just watching their boyfriends or husbands, a fact that makes me a little sad inside.

There is one thing to note about practical pistol matches: you’re not standing in a bay trying to hit the target.  At your first match you should not be focused on going quickly, you should not be focused on getting hits.  Your entire focus should be on playing it safe, not getting disqualified and not doing anything stupid.

I know enough good, safe shooters that have been disqualified for small (and large) mistakes at their first USPSA match to realize I am as susceptible to dumb mistakes as any.  And you know what, I did make a dumb mistake: I managed to forget a reload that cost me 5 procedurals.  That being said, I didn’t break the 180, I didn’t have a negligent discharge, I didn’t even get a talking to; I kept my head low, my finger off the trigger, my muzzle downrange and I am pleased with the outcome.

My score may not have been the best but there will be other matches for that, this one was about getting my feet wet.  It was a learning experience as well it should have been.  Too many people are victims of their own pride during their first USPSA match when all they had to do was focus on what’s important: safety.  If you can make it through the match without shooting yourself in the foot you can show everyone how fast you are later.  Besides, you can’t win if the range officers don’t let you finish.


  1. Good for you to try something new! You are exactly right to show up and spend most of your time paying attention to what is going on. Taking it slow and easy at first means not learning bad habits and learning to do it right. Shoot and have fun, improvement will come. And you are right, more of the women should shoot.

  2. Congrats on taking your shooting to the next level! Many tactical-types may disagree, but I think if you aren’t participating in practical shooting matches (yet), you’re not really an avid shooter. It’s like claiming to be a basketball player, but all you do is practice layups and free throws in your back yard and never play in actual games. Or being a golfer who only plays on the driving range and putting green. Welcome to the big leagues!

    You’re doing it right though, getting trained, learning safe gun handling, and getting comfortable with firearms before showing up at a match. Most shooters are not ready for matches, unless they have been properly taught how to draw, reholster, shoot on the move, and reload. There’s nothing scarier with a guy who shows up with no training (or even worse, just watches a few tactical videos) thinking he knows what to do. The untrained are easy to tell from their ridiculous draws, Jay-of-Top Shot style grips, and silly pull the mag out with you weak hand reloads. I’ve seen a couple DQs that would be really funny if they weren’t scary. If you think the decocking part of “load and make ready” means to pull the trigger, you deserve to go home.

    My wife and I shoot both USPSA and IDPA. We love them both, but if I had to chose, I think we’d pick IDPA for the lower round count, mainly because we exclusively shoot 1911s in 45. For a while, my wife was perfectly content to get through a match slowly, safely, and take top woman – just like you – with the focus on safety, accuracy, and proper gun handling. But now she’s confident, has upped the speed, and usually ends up in the middle of the pack, beating half the guys who feel the need to give her unsolicited advice or tell her she should switch to 9mm.

    Word to the wise – try to never go first!

    Also a master USPSA shooter I know told me there are 2 types of practical shooters – those who have DQ’ed, and those who are going to DQ.

  3. Just showing up puts you ahead of 90%+ of the shooting population, much less the population in general. Everybody has to through the same thing, so congratulations on getting it out of the way. On to match #2!

  4. As a very experienced competitor, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought to myself “don’t do anything stupid, don’t get DQ’d.”. In fact in Custer 2 weekends ago I thought just that on my own stage.

  5. Congrats Shelley! Amazing how many folks never take that step. After you shoot a few, take an RO class and work a couple of matches. You’ll get a new perspective having been a part of the staff for a match. Plus, you get to see how every shooter runs a stage. My first action match was DPMS Tri-Gun. Several people didn’t show up so I was drafted and shot with borrowed guns. Had a blast and met my goal, don’t get DQ’d! I have been DQ’d – which prompted me to do the RO training. Welcome to the fraternity.

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