Paradigm Shift

When I first took up competitive shooting, back when the Earth was still cooling, I discovered something that, in retrospect, was detrimental to my growth as a shooter. It’s taken me a long time to change that, and even now, I have only changed half of it. The time has come to change the rest.

The Mistake

The club I first shot with in Alabama was filled with pistol shooters who had grown up in the time when Bullseye and PPC were the reigning games. So, they concentrated a lot on accurate shooting, and not as much on speed. I, on the other hand, was new to competition, and I looked at the scoring method, which was total shooting score divided by time, and realized I had an advantage. Most of the members were shooting 9s and 10s but shooting slower than me. I found that I could shoot 7s and 8s but shoot faster, and win. For two years this worked, and I either won or came in second in just about every match. This was my mistake.

Fast forward about five years, to an IDPA club in east Texas. I was still fast enough to get away with shooting not so well. Yes, there was an added penalty for a complete miss that wasn’t there in the Alabama club. But I still did well. I was shooting against some professionals – a couple of Border Patrol agents and some Texas DPS Troopers – and I usually managed to at least be the high amateur. So I settled for faster scores with poorer shooting, and I told myself that was good. My mistake continued.

The Truth

Now, I was faced with the Truth – I can’t shoot badly fast enough to win. So I concentrated on shooting better. In the past two years I’ve learned my about sight alignment and trigger control than I ever knew before. And my shooting scores have improved.

But, I can’t move as fast as I did, and it’s killing my overall scores.

I won’t re-post the video of me shooting the same stage as Dave Sevigny in USPSA, but it’s there in black and white. Dave shot the stage in 28 seconds and I shot it in 63 seconds. That means he could have started over again, and still beat me.

Now, the good side to this is, as I said, my shooting scores have improved. Dave had 174 points and I had 162, right in the middle of the pack. Looking at the other stages, and all 67 competitors, my shooting was in the middle, definitely C Class. But, over the last 20 years I’ve gained weight and slowed down, and that will keep me in D or worse.

And, I need to face it – if I am in a life and death struggle today, I probably won’t survive, because I’m so out of shape and overweight. I’ve been telling myself that I can survive on shooting skills or survival preparations, but that’s not true.

The Answer

If I am ever to get any better in this sport, and if I am going to have a chance of surviving TEOTWAWKI, I have to lose weight and get in shape. And the truth is, at my age, it’s only going to get worse, without hard work.

This isn’t anything new. I’ve been saying the same thing for a long time. My doctors have been saying the same thing for a long time. I would go on a diet and exercise program that was successful for a while, but only as long as I kept it up. Then the old habits would come back.

So I write this today, not to moan and complain, but to get it in black and white. I have to change my lifestyle, if I am going to get better. If I am going to live.

The Shift

I have a plan*, and over the next few months and years I’m going to share my progress, my ideas, my successes, and my failures.

I admit I was reluctant to do this publicly on my blog. But if I am going to succeed I need motivation and support, and maybe this is where I will find it. So, here it is.

* The Plan.

It’s a radical plan my doctor suggested. I suspect he got it from some shady website, maybe a late night infomercial. It has 2 crucial steps, and it scares me, but I’m going to try it.

1. Eat less.

2. Exercise.

I know, it’s radical. Wish me luck.

5 thoughts on “Paradigm Shift

  1. Good luck with your plan. Earlier this year I decided to do the same. I had great success with tracking caloric intake. I went out of town for a few days and came home with all of my previous bad habits from eating out/fast while away from home.I would have to go back and watch the video again, but how much slower were you than Dave when actually moving from one part of the stage to another? I'd guess that the bulk of his faster time was achieved by firing quickly and seamlessly transitioning from target to target.I think you might be being a bit hard on yourself. While you weren't moving through the stage with cheetah-like speed, you certainly weren't going through it like you were behind a walker either.


  2. Walt:Thanks for the encouragement.Yes, Dave's splits and transitions were faster than mine, but a lot of it is getting from one place to another. In fact, when I look at Stage 7 that just involved sitting and shooting, I finished 29 out of 67, versus 50 out of 67 overall. I shot 52 points in 13.29 seconds and Dave shot 59 points in 8.93 seconds.It's all in there – splits, transitions, mag changes – and moving from one place to another is a big part. Plus, beyond competing, I also would love to live a lot longer.


  3. While I may respectfully disagree with some of Suarez International's conclusions someone wrote an interesting piece called "Avoiding the gamer trap"( one time I shot a USPSA match it did strike me that things that were needed to "score" well would be bad habits for a real emergency use of a pistol.Since I'm not made of money I've personally resolved that if I do ever do these things again it will we with the gun I carry and without all the fancy holsters, external belts, or mag pouches. Also to approach any stages with a more realistic and less beat the clock mindset.


  4. Odysseus:I appreciate the observations. Honestly, I think losing weight will help my self-defense skills as well.There's a whole blog post in me about the relationship between defense training and gun games. Personally, I think a lot of people worry about it too much. As intelligent people I believe we're capable of making the distinction and would when the time came.


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