I shot badly at the last match…

Awhile back, my wife mentioned to me that people had told her that it was annoying when they’d hear me mention that I did really badly on a stage–and then would find out later that I won that stage.  Or that I’d say that I only shot well for two stages, but pretty badly on three others–even though I won the match.

According to them, it made them angry or upset because I seemed to be saying that since I shot badly and won, then their shooting must have been horrible because I beat them.

I’m curious:  When you first teach someone to shoot, if they act safely, demonstrate the fundamentals well, and can hit the target most times, don’t you praise them for doing well?  Because they ARE doing well?

If a powerlifter wins a meet but doesn’t actually perform near any of his PRs, should he be happy about his performance?

If someone wins a D-class football state championship, don’t you tell them that they did really well, even though they would have been destroyed by the A-class state champion?

If the USPSA Production National Champion came to a local match, and shot with TWO TIMES as many dropped points as he normally has, isn’t that really poor shooting for him?  Even though it wouldn’t change the fact that it would still be good enough to beat us all?  He would rightfully be unhappy with himself for shooting badly, even though it still left him far ahead of us.

One of the things that I like most about the shooting sports is that while we are competing against other people, we are also competing against ourselves–and the people who get REALLY good are the ones who pay attention to how they shoot, and work on trying to always shoot to their level of competency.  (Preferably above, but in a test situation, if I can shoot to my standard level of competency the entire time, I’m all sorts of happy.)  In practice, we try to raise our level of competency, but in tests, we at least try to shoot to our level of competency.

I won the Production division of the Steel Challenge match we shot the other day.  I wasn’t happy with how I shot, however–it was not up to my level of competency on four of six stages (I was about 2 seconds slower than my normal time on each of those four stages) and I was mediocre on another (about 1 second slower than normal) so while that one stage was ok, I was only happy with one stage in which I managed to shoot Smoke & Hope under 10 seconds for the second time ever. I actually shot slightly above my previous expected competency level for that stage, which made me really happy.

Being under 10 seconds is a big deal to me, as it has been a goal of mine for quite some time. Now, national-level folks consistently shoot Smoke & Hope under 10 seconds.  For them, beating 10 seconds isn’t a goal, it is their expected level of competency.  They would consider it poor shooting for themselves to NOT make 10–and I consider it a wonderful thing if I make 10.

If I say “I didn’t shoot well” it means simply that—I did not shoot well, compared to my competency level.  I can, with perfect honesty, tell someone who got half of my score that they shot really well if they exceeded their normal competency–that would make for a great match for them!  That would be something they should be proud of, and it has NOTHING to do with how well they shot compared to me.

I can shoot badly and still sometimes win a match.  I can shoot really well and not win a match, because if I shot to my level of competency (or above!) for an entire match, I’d be perfectly happy even if I didn’t win.

I’ve shot against Ben Stoeger a number of times now, and have never come even remotely close to beating him.  And yet, several of those times I’ve been happy with my overall shooting for the match.  At the same time, I know he’s been unhappy with himself for some of his shooting during those exact same matches in which he destroyed the rest of us.

Instead of taking things personally, people might instead start thinking about their shooting and rating it compared to their current competency level, as opposed to making everything about how they compare to others.  🙂

Can you consistently shoot to your level of competency when tested?  Then that is something to be happy about.  (It also means it is time for you to up your level of competency through practice!)

…and that has nothing to do with how you did relative to other people.