Winning is the only thing

I don’t enjoy competition shooting that much these days. Sure, I still like to shoot matches, but for me the juice isn’t really worth the squeeze. See, the problem is that I like winning more than I like getting better. You’d think those two things would go hand in hand, but they really don’t. Sadly, it’s an easy trap to fall into.

When I first started shooting action pistol matches, it wasn’t long before I was one of the better shooters at my local club in Indiana. Then I discovered that if I shot revolver, I could pretty easily win my class or division. Didn’t matter to me that I only beat one or two or four guys, because I won. I got addicted to that feeling of being the best. When I moved to Seattle, it was easy to continue doing that, because my sponsors provided me with guns that didn’t really fit well into a division other than Limited-10, so I kept shooting that and kept winning club matches. I’d shoot occasional majors and do alright, but never came close to winning, except for revolver divisions at IDPA nationals. The major match finish I’m most proud of is 4th in CDP at the 2012 Indoor Nats. That was a real division with legit masters, and I shot a good match to get there.

As time passed, winning club matches didn’t really do it for me anymore. I wanted something bigger, something better. I wanted to win my class at a major. I had a shot to win B-Class at Single Stack Nationals but I choked. 6th or 7th in my class. I finally won 1st Master at a couple of IDPA national level matches in revolver, but I hadn’t heated any of the past national champs to get it, so what’s the point?

This then is the problem: I like shooting, and I enjoy shooting matches. But the part I enjoy isn’t the process of becoming a better shooter. I hate dry fire, and I don’t even particularly enjoyed structured live fire practice sessions. But those are exactly what I need to spend more time doing if I ever want to be more than a state level champion.

I don’t really know why I’m writing this. It’s 2:39 am where I am, and I can sleep. Maybe I’ve got stuff on my mind. Maybe I’m reflecting on a shooting career that looks great on paper but has largely left me unfulfilled and wondering what I spent all that time and effort on. What’s really interesting to me is that in other areas, I’m more than willing to put in the work. Running, lifting, pt – or working on ad sales and running he company. There I don’t mind the “little things” or the progressive measures that I need to take to become a better ad salesman or a better running. But with the shooting sports…I do. I just want to win, I want that high of winning, but I don’t want to win high press or something else meaningless. The more of those pointless plaques I piled up, the less they mattered to me.

Maybe I just need to take some off from the shooting sports. Keep blogging, of course. Maybe I’ll take up bullseye. I loved bullseye.


  1. A little sad there Caleb. And way to much poor pity me. Do you have any idea how lucky you are to be able to do what you do? How many guys would give their left nut (so to speak) to trade places with you? But you whine that it is just “too hard” to put in the time to improve your skills so you would rather just “game” the system to win revolver classes rather than work your ass off in order to get good enough to have a shot at winning the tougher classes?

    I am in my late 50s, have been shooting in competitions for only the last 4-5 years because I did not know that they existed before that time. And they did NOT exist to any great extent when I was young enough to possibly get good enough to be able to truly compete. I will never win even a local match in my area unless I shoot in a revolver class and no one else signs up to shoot revolvers! I have improved greatly over the first 3 years or so of shooting IDPA and USPSA matches (and a few others). I barely managed to reach Sharpshooter in IDPA SSP when I had a stellar day at a Classifier a couple of years ago. Now I consistently get my butt kicked shooting in the Sharpshooter Class when I really should be in the Marksman Class. And when it comes to USPSA, hell I cannot even really understand the scoring system! Much less EVER have any chance of keeping up with the “young guns” who shoot at the local matches. The one fellow is a national level shooter in his 20s. He is very talented. And very nice (to the old geezers like me). I have barely managed to get a “D” classification in Limited and Limited 10. Hell, I would have rather kept my “U” class that my “D” class. I was hoping to get at least a “C” which is somewhat respectable. But a “D”? How embarrassing.

    And then you complain that if you can’t win, you don’t even want to compete. Sad. I can only hope that you put this out to stir up some of us who read your blog and get a conversation going. If it is how you truly feel, then I feel sorry for you. There is a Hell of a lot more to the shooting sports than simply winning.

    Merry Christmas!

  2. No like? No do.

    In a month or year you’ll get back into it. Burning out isn’t at all uncommon. Maybe next time you’ll decide you want to become a great skeet shooter or that you want to be all about tactics and room clearing and jumping out of helicopters.

    Whatever it is, once you have a passion for it you can throw yourself into it fully. In the meantime, don’t try to force yourself.

  3. Caleb, I’m in a little of the same boat. I’m a police officer and as of late this job is not fun any more. I can’t do it without hearing something about being racist or some other stupid crap. And I have to constantly worry that if I have to dump someone they dam well better be white because if they aren’t I’ll be dragged through the street behind a truck. I mean that has always kind of been there but you didn’t worry as much about it because so long as the shoot was good you would come out ok. However now even if the shoot is good, by the time a media release is allowed to be given the jack wagons looking for a fight have spread all sorts of lies through social media and there is no coming back from that. Your ruined, your career is ruined and your left with nothing but the thought that I had to kill someone and whether it was right because the whole world is telling you your nothing but a trigger happy racist cop.

    Whats worse is that this is really the only thing I know how to do. So be glad you have a job that you enjoy to fall back to. BecauseIf you don’t want to shoot any more then don’t or do it for fun, I mean in the beginning wasn’t that what it was all about?

  4. Every job/hobby will burn you out. The more passionate about it, the more likely, and faster it will happen.

    I’m over the current job. As you say…….the juice is no longer worth the squeeze.

    I’m ready to go back and start shooting for the fun of it, and because I can. Not because I have to.

  5. The good thing about the shooting sports, most of those skills you’ve developed are portable. Go on and try some Bullseye. We’ll still be here.

  6. If he competition leaves you cold, consider giving back. Lots of kids out there could use you as a role model and instructor for the shooting sports. You never know, you might like coaching. And don’t quit going to the Gym, it sounds like you really enjoy it.

  7. Try teaching the sport. I have found that when I’m getting burned out, if I can take time to pass on wisdom to another enthusiastic shooter the experience is highly beneficial for both sides. I’m not talking about a beginner shooters course – that could send you off the deep end (that takes a lot of time and patience, and can be more exhausting than practicing yourself).

    No, I’m talking about shooters who have developed some skills and are ready to move up. I’ve always found that my skills increase as I’m teaching them to others.

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