The first part of September is usually a busy time for me. This year was no exception. Busy but fun excepting an ongoing legal issue which threatens both my finances and my very sanity. I attended the eleventh annual Gun Bloggers Rendezvous and the fifty third Reno Air Races. The races went fairly well. There were the usual accidents. A man I consider a friend, Thom Richard was run over and injured.
Made it onto the ABC National news no less.
In the Jet class, a chap named Zachary McNeill flying a De Havilland Vampire did some of the most incredible flying I have ever seen at the races and there was the usual excitement in the other classes of racers and impressive displays of hardware.
Anyway, back to GBR number XI
Attendance was a bit slim this year. Many of the usual faces were elsewhere. Things got muddled, flights got canceled, these things happen, oh well. At least this year I didn’t have a run in with the guy who runs the local range that leaves the other attendees shaking their heads in confusion observing. “Wow, he really doesn’t like you!”
For me, my favorite part of the Rendezvous is the conversations that happen after a long day of shooting, or other gun related events. High up on the list though is an informal steel shooting match. The first year I ran completely out of ammo before the event ended. The second year I used a revolver, I uh, didn’t do so great. This year I pulled out the stops. Then I proceeded to completely forget my belt and that the range I was shooting on doesn’t allow steel core ammo. Oops. Fortunately a major part of competitive shooting is that competitors help each other out. The rendezvous was organized and sponsored by Lucky Gunner who provided a few large boxes of 9MM ammo for me and other shooters.
Still, even with the equipment hiccup I think I did pretty well.
Results compiled by the wandering dragon.
Competition, even an informal competition, is a wonderful way to become a better shooter. There are a variety of other things you can try. Entirely too many people plow an awful lot of money into having fancy equipment. This is a hardware solution to a software problem. This has been beaten to death in various online and real world discussions.
Another technique is training. Which can be useful, if…. You have a competent trainer. There are no small number of people who aren’t qualified to load a magazine that are running training classes nowadays. Fortunately with online resources at hand it is not too difficult to find out if anyone running a business is either running things properly. Or is an incompetent huckster, or somewhere in between.
There are other techniques. Dry practice, watching videos and so on. However I have found that the best way for me to really wring out my equipment and skill set. To discover where I have weaknesses that I need to work on or techniques that I need to refine. The best answer is to go to a competitive shooting event.
There are those who say that what you learn in competitive shooting will get you killed in an actual, serious, bullets going both ways, shooting. These people are morons. I have listened to their arguments on this point and most of the time they are jumped up Rambo wannabes who live in a terrifying world where waiting around every corner is a legion of assassins and jihadists who are all better shooters than they are. They allow fear to dominate their thinking. This is always a bad idea in my experience.
With all that said I do not consider myself a competitive shooter. I have only attended a handful of matches. Most of them of the informal variety. When I do show up at a match I usually have just one priority, don’t come in dead last. So far, I don’t think I have.
Which brings me to another factor in competitive shooting, it’s fun! I think entirely too many people, have had it hammered into their heads by generations of curmudgeons to believe that having fun while learning is a contradiction. Learning is supposed to be a dour, humorless and miserable experience. I find that I learn things much better when I am enjoying myself. Things flow much more naturally. Things are remembered instead of forgotten. Banished to where we try to bury unpleasant memories and faintly remembered when we desperately need the information that was pounded into our unwilling skulls.
I have never been in a competitive shooting event where the other shooters weren’t polite and helpful. In some ways it’s like Christmas Day when everyone shows off what Santa brought them. In the steel match there was quite a variety of guns present. Most were fairly run of the mill automatic pistols. I brought a revolver from home for another competitor. There were also rim fire pistols and a very fancy race gun built by Tanfoglio of Italy seen at the top of this article. That frankly didn’t run all that well when fed something other than its preferred diet of light powder charge, heavy grain 9MM hand loads.
That is one of the best things that competition teaches you on my experience. It will show you very quickly which of your gear will work and which will crap out without all the muss, fuss and danger of getting into an all out war. The thing I would like to leave you with is a suggestion. If you are a legal firearms owner I strongly recommend that you seek out a shooting completion. It doesn’t even have to be local to you. A big part of the fun of competitive shooting is the diversity of events across this country. And yes, even across the world. Barring unforeseen circumstances I don’t think you will regret the experience.