Ok, so the above image more or less describes my feelings after my seventh smallbore silhouette match. On Saturday I was able to get away for the match at the Piedmont Gun Club in Rutherfordton, NC. First let me say it was a nice range. It is a dedicated range and they shoot the silhouettes from pedestals instead of rails. The grounds were well cared for, nice bathroom facilities on site and it was thankfully a pretty, clear, sunny day. Additionally, the match was very well run. It was efficient and timely with everyone helping as needed. The people there were simply excellent folks. I really enjoyed meeting the Griggs and many others. Unfortunately, my enjoyment stops there and the frustration picks right up! The first match, Standard rifle was a disaster with a frightening score of 12! The Hunter rifle match was not much better, with a dismal 17. Now, like most folks I begin to seek out what in the world happened as just two weeks ago I shot a 27 and a 29 respectively. This is where the frustration comes in. I know I can do it, (score in the high 20’s) so when I don’t, I get real frustrated. Anyway, in the ever crazy quest for an answer to why I deduced there were some things going on that could have contributed to my bad shooting. I’ll group them into two categories, first: The REAL possibilities, followed by the second: the SUSPECT possibilities.
So for the REAL possibilities first we have the wind. Now it was breezy Saturday and I know that was an issue as several times I was having trouble staying on target as the breeze was blowing steady at our backs and it pushed me around a bit. However, my biggest problem likely stemmed from a breach in confidence. When sighting in before the Standard rifle match I simply could not get a good zero and it seemed the rounds refused to group at all. When I mounted the scope and zeroed it last weekend I was getting very nice groups at 40 yds but I simply could not reproduce them Saturday despite my best efforts even off the bench and sandbags. This completely shattered my confidence as I was constantly questioning my equipment and having that ever horrible internal argument, “Is it me or is something else going on?” Of course you want to blame yourself and just figure it’s you not your equipment but sometimes it is the gear. Either way once you get distracted by that, you’re done!
On to the SUSPECT possibilities category where we have a few more things. First, they shoot meters at PGC instead of yards like at MCRC. Not sure that really had anything to do with it but since I didn’t truly re-zero but just tried to modify my existing yardage based zero before the Standard match this may have been an issue. Also I was shooting my NS 522 with the new Weaver T24 mounted on it and I have never shot this scope before and the adjustments were not the same as my Vortex and it’s zero of zero at chickens, 2 mils up pigs, 4 mils up turkeys, and 7 mils up for rams. I spent the break between matches sighting back in and actually changed my zero on the scope turrets and found the mil changes to be very different too. (zero chickens, 3 mils up pigs, 6 mils up turkeys and 9 mils up rams) Incidentally I noticed something else disturbing. After not being able to zero before the first match successfully using my sandbags I borrowed (thanks Glenn) a Caldwell solid shooting rest. I could hold dead on with no movement and noticed on a shot or two I had a major flier. I have not had this issue before with Wolf MT but I had one that was distinctly 2 inches high! Now, I know I didn’t pull the shot on that one. I was solidly rested and holding on target. I know I have a couple of different lots of ammo so maybe I had a lot that had some fliers in it where as the previous lot I had been shooting was more consistent. Who knows? This is where my frustration comes from. Also PGC shoots white instead of black silhouettes, but I really don’t think that had anything to do with it at all. Finally, they shoot on a downward slope and that may actually have had an adverse effect. I noticed I really had to play with my NPA and in the future when shooting at PGC I may adjust my left hand to a fist rest instead of the split finger rest I normally use to lower my barrel a bit.
Ultimately, I don’t know what happened other than I missed (a lot!) because I pulled the trigger when the sights were not on target. So maybe some or all of the above contributed to why the sights weren’t on the target when I broke the shot. Who knows? People say, “Maybe you just had a bad day.” No argument here, but I want to know why I had a bad day and how to avoid it in the future. Or can you? I will say the confidence thing played hell on me for certain and may be the single biggest component to my poor shooting performance on Saturday.
All in all, a bad day of shooting is better than a good day at work especially with good weather and good folks to share it with. Hey maybe it was all because I was shooting my NS 522 while wearing my CZ hat? Perhaps that created some crazy bad cosmic mojo that killed my shots? Hmmmmm.