My significant other/adult supervisor and I were just getting over nasty three-week colds. I was fed up with how depressing the upcoming gun legislation is looking. Much of the week before had been spent working on an officer-involved shooting trial, and most of the week before that had been spent on a murder case. The weekend suddenly loomed free, and the adult supervisor and I decided that some pistol competition would be uplifting.
On Saturday morning, we put half a dozen assorted Glock pistols in the car, along with several hundred rounds of ammo, and hit the road. Our Saturday stop was the First Coast IDPA club at the excellent public range in Jacksonville, FL (www.firstcoastidpa.com). Great bunch of folks, with 100 shooters at that particular event. IDPA, the International Defensive Pistol Association, is basically a “come as you are” party for folks who carry guns. You start most (but not all) stages with your handgun concealed, and it has to be a duty/carry type pistol or revolver. We ran down halls, we ducked behind stuff, and we even had to jump out of a pickup truck to get a gun, all under time. We shot two-hand, and weak hand only, and from all sorts of awkward positions. And of course, we all second-guessed ourselves and analyzed lessons learned. (Me: “Damn, Jon, I dismounted that truck like a sixty-year-old man!” Jon: “Uh, Mas, you are a, uh, you know –“ Me: “Oh, yeah…right…”)
Then it was off to Orlando, and a GSSF (Glock Sport Shooting Foundation) match (www.gssfonline.com), hosted by the excellent Central Florida Rifle & Pistol Club (www.cfrpc.com). Given the sponsorship and all, you can only shoot Glock pistols there, but they have events for every type of handgun that company makes. To simplify logistics, we were using 9mm Glocks for IDPA too, Gail wielding her pet G34 and me, a G17 that I’d shot in the last three prior matches at Jax. In Orlando, we shot Subcompact, she her pet carry gun, a 9mm G26, and me a .40 caliber G27 that has been with me as “traveling iron” from Hawaii to Switzerland in the more than a dozen years I’ve owned it. She shot her Generation 3 Glock 17 9mm in both Competition and Stock categories, and I used my old Gen 2 G17 for Master Stock. I went too fast and crashed and burned on points down with both of those pistols: a point down from perfect costs you twice as much penalty time added to your score in GSSF than it does in IDPA. I did better in the Major Sub category with my favorite Glock, the short barreled .45 caliber G30.
We came home cheerful and refreshed. We’d had a great time with old friends, and meeting new ones. A shooting match is a social event, and you do it as much for the conversation as the competition. At the IDPA event, we both got beat. My fox is the current Florida/Georgia Regional Women’s Champion, but on this day our close friends the Strayers whupped us both. Terri Strayer was top female, shooting a Smith & Wesson Military & Police 9mm, and her husband Jon handed me my butt on a platter, winning the Custom Defense Pistol division and the overall tournament with his fast, accurate handling of his Springfield Armory TGO .45. I wound up winning the Stock Service Pistol Division, and second overall.
Dunno yet how we did at the Glock shoot. The scores haven’t been posted yet. I’m told unofficially that there were some 360 entries over two days, and that’s a lot of tabulating to do. Rob Leatham, perhaps the greatest practical pistol champion of our time, has been known to say that “Winning isn’t any harder than losing, but it’s a lot more fun.” Well, I’ll buy the “winning is more fun” part, but I’ve found that losing is a whole lot easier than winning. Losing only takes one blast of cerebral flatulence.
Which leads us to my personal theory of why people like us find shooting so relaxing. Those who haven’t done it figure we’re burning off steam by imagining a hated boss’s face on the target as we fire. No, not at all. Because we have to focus so intently on safety with the deadly weapons we’re handling, it forces out extraneous thoughts. Mortgage situations, the economy, inimical political parties in office, all gray out into the far background when you focus on safely, accurately, and swiftly discharging firearms. It’s purging, really. I expect those who practice extreme sports such as rock-climbing are getting the same effect.
Sure, winning is better, but playing and not winning beats hell out of not having played.
And always remember, even if you place dead last, you still come in ahead of several thousand people who thought they were cool, but didn’t have the guts you had to stand and test your skills in public.
Which is why, for this curmudgeon at least, shooting a match now and then just rocks.