Getting Started in Competition

A few months after I bought my first gun, I was in the local sporting goods store buying ammunition, and the owner of the store told me about a gun club that met at our community range, and held competitions every month. The next time they had a competition, I decided to go see what it was all about.

The Marengo County Shooting Club met monthly and held a match that consisted of 3 very varied stages. The membership was a mix of older shooters, well versed in the core NRA competitions of slow fire target shooting and action pistol, and younger shooters like me. We shot in one mixed group, revolvers and semi-autos alike, and every stage had a combination of shots that tried not to give any advantage to either kind of gun. There were 2 core stages – a slow fire target stage, and a combat stage. The third stage varied from month to month, and was usually either steel plates or bowling pins. Each stage had an individual winner, and the combined score produced an overall match winner.

I found out early on that the slow fire target was my worst event. It was untimed, and the shooter fired 6 shots on a standard NRA target at 25 yards. In those days I just did not have the patience or trigger control for a slow steady 25 yard shot.

My best stage was the combat stage. It was “run and gun,” very close to today’s USPSA stages, and usually consisted of a series of “bad guy” targets laid out over a field course. There were always 6 shots, a reload, and 6 shots. Some months saw a third string of 6 shots, or a shotgun string, or a rifle string.

Scoring was simple. The silhouette targets had an X ring, 10 ring, 8 ring, and so on, so hits were scored directly, with an X counting as 10, and acting as a tied breaker if needed. Misses counted as zero. Your stage score was shooting score divided by the time it took to shoot the stage. I figured out quickly that I could shoot a fast time with less than perfect shooting and still win, and my strategy became to shoot as fast as I could, and accept less than perfect shot placement.

I soon found, though, that I could go too fast, and the down side of that is I could not miss fast enough to win. Many times I came in second because of one miss. And because of that, I only won the combat match once the whole time.

I only shot with this club for a little over a year, but I must say I enjoyed shooting in this club as much as anything I’ve done in shooting. And, the trophy I received for winning that one match is still on my office wall today.