This past week, I traveled to Phoenix, Arizona to compete in the Arizona Desert Midwinter Championship.
Here’s a bit of a teaser video and then you can continue reading the rest of the post if you’d like. ?
Initially, my only interest in this match was for the service pistol and rimfire EIC matches that were being held. So, my plan was to arrive Friday night, shoot on Saturday afternoon, and then book it back home on Friday. Wichita Falls is a bit more than 14 hours away from Phoenix, so that would’ve been a lot of miles in just a few days. This was fine with me though because I’ve had that points monkey on my back ever since I got my hard legs for both service pistol and rimfire pistol.
A month or so before the trip, another Texas shooter, Mason Talbert, posted in a Facebook group asking if other Texas were traveling to the matches and whether they wanted to plan travel together. The catch, Mason wanted to go all of the matches in the week. This meant that I would need to extend my travel from 3 days to at least 7 days. More importantly, that meant that I would need to miss an entire week of work instead of just one day. ?
That’s a lot of time, especially considering that I’d like to go to the national matches this summer as well, which will be 1-2 weeks. But, getting to hang out with, and learn from, Mason and others made it worth the trip. So, I ran it by the bosses (wife and work) and got permission to go. ?
As mentioned above, the trip from Wichita Falls to Phoenix is about 14 hours by car. My route would normally be go north through Amarillo, through Albuquerque, and then on to Phoenix. But, since Mason lives in College Station, I ended up taking the southern route, which went through El Paso and Las Cruces, so that Mason and I could meet up in Midland.
The trip itself was pretty simple on the way there. We met in Midland, loaded Mason’s stuff in my car, hit the road again, and then stopped in El Paso for the night. The next morning, we took off around 7am and got to Phoenix by 3pm.
The way back, however, was a bit of a drag. ? We didn’t leave until after the awards were given out on Sunday afternoon, which was about 2:30pm. Since we were leaving late, we knew that it wasn’t a great idea for either of us try to make it all the way back home. So, we decided that we’d stop in Midland for the night. This was about a 10.5 hour drive, which meant that the earliest that we’d arrive was about 1am. With various stops, we didn’t actually arrive to Midland until 3am.
Overall, I was pretty happy with my results. The week started out rough, but got better as it went along. I did less than my average for air pistol, standard pistol, service pistol 900, and EIC matches. But, after getting some advice from Mason, I was able to start the 2,700 match with a new focus and shoot a personal best.
That personal best was shooting a 2,398/2,700. This also means that I’m shooting nearly 89% and getting close to being reclassified as an expert. ? I believe that score was also good for second overall sharpshooter.
Competing in large matches takes a lot in general, whether it’s time, money, effort, etc. The payoff in going to large matches though are:
- Getting access to matches, such as centerfire pistol, air pistol, standard pistol, and EICs
- Getting to interact with and learn from great shooters
The second of those, interacting with and learning from great shooters, is really the biggest payoff for me. Below are some of the takeaways that I got from this match:
- “Ask the trigger” to go instead of “tell the trigger” to go.
- This nugget comes from Mason. I understand this as a different way to describe triggering, instead of using “squeeze the trigger” or “slowly pull the trigger”.
- Treat the trigger like your best friend, which means spending time with it and understanding its preferences.
- This nugget also came from Mason. I understand this as dry fire more and don’t be afraid to try a slightly different approach to triggering if something stops working. Mason described that second bit as taking your friend to the arcade if your friend decided that they didn’t like going to the movies anymore.
- Be bored shooting 10s. Shooting 10s are great, but you shouldn’t jump for joy every time you shoot a 10. You should expect to shoot a 10.
- “Just do that thing you know how to do.”
- When talking to Mason about the recent funk I’ve been in, he mentioned that sometimes he tells himself to “do that thing he knows how to do”. When he gets to the line, he’ll think that to himself before and in between shots.
- “Push your legs down and out” for more stability.
- This was a suggestion from John Zurek to Mason.