Sunday, December 27, 2015

Isn't this Sport Great!

Boxing day 2015 was a pretty typical day for the Arizona Gunslingers except for the cold windy weather. Thirty-three shooters braved the cold weather including some from Texas, Idaho and Iowa.

The format: We shoot a no X "I came to shoot" format for as many rounds as we can get in.  After the seeding rounds, the field is divided into three equal brackets based on Xs and time out and we hold a 1 X magnificent shoot off.  We therefore get three champions and everyone gets to shoot in a magnificent shoot off.  So Saturday we had three magnificent eleven shoot-offs.

Bracket C:  The top seed in Bracket C was Hogleg Willie from the Loess Hills of Western Iowa. He is a new shooter with less than 1.year in the game. Also from the Loess Hills was Council Bluff Ranger seeded seventh.  The Ranger was on a roll putting three or four to boothill.  Isn't this game great.

Also in bracket C was Texas Gunny shooting in his very first shoot.  He is the father of Smoking Shawn, a  deadly new shooter.  In the third round Texas Gunny was matched up against World Champion Miss Kitty and he won.  Where else can a new shooter in his third match go up against a World Champion and win.  Isn't this game great.

Bracket B:  The three top women shooters ended the seeding rounds all with two Xs.  Seeding is by Xs first, then fastest time out in the last round. Therefore there is a speed bias, after all it is "fastdraw."  So, Holli Day went to Bracket A, and Miss Kitty was seeded 1 in Bracket B and Southwest KC seeded 3rd in Bracket B. In the finals of Bracket B it was Miss Kitty against Southwest KC.   Isn't this game great.

Bracket A; It was exactly one year ago that Holli Day started her fastdraw career. No one can argue that she has not entered the realm of the quick.  She finished 10th overall, being sent to compete with the quick and the deadly.  Bracket A was a interesting mixture of the Quick (Sub 4 shooters) at the bottom of the bracket, including Holli Day, and the Deadly (those who don't practice missing) in the middle of the bracket, and near the top of the bracket, the quick and the deadly from Shady Mtn.  Wyoming Ranger, shooting the long gun in the 6s did his part to take care of the Quick. Four shooters from Shady Mtn were left to face the Windmill Kid, the # 1 seed. The finals were between Windmill Kid and Alleluia.  There is a bit of history here, the last meeting of these shooters  making the front page of The Daily Republic of Mitchell, South Dakota, because Windmill just looks like a cowboy shooter.  The results were the same.  We don't practice missing on Shady Mountain.

Isn't this sport great!  Where else can such a varied group of skill levels, ages, and quickness, compete and everyone has a chance to win.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Dilemma, Rule 17, A Positive View

"Life has a way of making the foreseeable never happen, and the unforeseeable that which your life becomes"  Everett Hitch.

This fall I was going to become a new man.  I had gotten a couple of long guns, was going change my draw, in part to stand more upright for my aching back, and change my alias to shed some ill gotten reputation.  I figured three thousand rounds of wax would do the trick.  About five hundred rounds into the new venture, I decided to abandon the effort, being dishearten with my lack of speed and mostly accuracy.  So I abandoned the change and rededicated myself to the short gun.  Two days later the Gazette arrives with Rule #17.

The Dilemma, now what to do?

Option #1:  I could go to the long gun.  Add 3 inches and I will be clearly out front of the holster pouch cut.  I have a Colt which I can get out of the Shaniko holster in the high 4s and be "clearly obvious" with about 40% accuracy.  I struggle to get the shot up and find myself again leaning back which is painful for me.  My backup gun is a New Vaquero which I have yet to get out of the holster.  That wax just rattles down the holster with the New Vaquero.

Option #2: The Colt long gun came with a 5 inch barrel.  I can put the five inch barrel on and I would in fact be compliant with Rule #17.  Although I am sure the additional inch would put me out in front, I am not sure it would be "clearly obvious." I would also need another backup gun with a 5 inch barrel.

Option #3:  I can change my draw.  I use the locked elbow draw as most quick shooters do.  I have controlled my elevation by my balance and my stance has a pronounced backward lean.  See the following:
Note that the gun is fired about 1 inch behind the front cut, a guess but probably correct.  Adding one inch or three inches to the barrel would probably solve the issue except one inch would not be "clearly obvious." (This was a winning shot of .415)

I am a old fella and shooting this way is painful.  I think I can comply with the Rule #17 simply by standing more upright.  If I stand more upright my shoulder will move forward more than a foot and I believe the front of the barrel with move forward to be "clearly obvious" outside the front holster pouch.  I think I will give this a try.  For bucket work, I need to recalculate my target height.  My new shooting height is 45 inches which makes my target height 46 inches at 5 feet.  My problem will be getting the shot up, but I think that it is doable, just need lots of wax.

Rule #17 may be a blessing in the end for me because it may cause me to shoot in a more comfortable stance and add years to my shooting life.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Did he really mean to say that? Rule#17

As the Counselor astutely points out, "It must be clearly obvious to the Line Judge that the front end of the barrel is in front of the outside of the front holster pouch cut."  It is a guilty until proven otherwise standard.  Applying that standard a fair and reasonable Line Judge would have to conclude that the draws of the following gunslingers violate rule #17: Oregon Ranger, Master Gunfighter, The Draw, Old West, Marshall Cooper, Caleb, Beaver Creek Kid, Boulder Vaquero, and a host of other quick shooters.

Did he really mean to say that?

I have good video from the Great Plains Territorial of Beaver Creek Kid.  Watching at slow motion 1/8 speed it would be "clearly obvious" to a fair and reasonable line judge that he is shooting in front of the outside of the pouch.  However, to the naked eye at real time speed, it is also a reasonable conclusion that it is not clearly obvious that the barrel is in front of the outside of the pouch.  Buzzard Cooper is interesting because he was shooting between .385 and .430 depending on the competition. To the naked eye at .430 it is "clearly obvious" that he is in front of the outside of the holster pouch.  He shoots a very pronounced level and follow through draw.  However, at .385, it may not be "clearly obvious" that he is in front the outside of the pouch, but most would give him the benefit of watching his slower draws.  Old West is also a proponent of the level and follow through draw.  You would think he would not have a problem with this rule, but as Old West has gotten faster he to has a draw that may not be "clearly obvious" to a line judge.  Boulder Vaquero has a draw that is not "clearly obvious" in front of the pouch by the naked eye, but at 1/8 slow motion speed you can see he pokes the gun forward just beyond the lip. The correct call with Boulder would be a technical violation, even though factually he is out front.

Some shooters have such a quick draw, in the 90-110 millisecond range, such as Parttime, Thirsty, and Master  Gunfighter, that it is impossible to see where the gun is fired. This rule says if you can't see it, "must be clearly obvious", then it is behind the pouch and a technical violation.

Some have commented that the photo on the cover of the Gazette shows Master Gunfighter and Oregon Ranger clearly in front of the holster. That is not what is depicted, what is depicted is the flail after the shot.  By the story and the times posted, it is obvious to me that a fair and reasonable line judge would have had to conclude that it was not "clearly obvious" that the gun was fired in front of the pouch for both shooters.  Having hand judged Master Gunfighter at World, I personally know nothing is "clearly obvious" concerning where he fires from.  Oregon Ranger uses a hip thrust which projects the holster forward. I have also watch him closely at World and it is not "clearly obvious" that he is firing in front of the outside of the holster pouch.

Powder Keg on facebook has been accepting of this rule saying he can make an adjustment in his draw, which he can.  I have a lot of video on Powder Keg and he has a very consistent compact draw.  He fires between 1/2 inch behind to 1/2 inch in front of the lip of the pouch. He is between .35 to .39 in times with the faster being behind the lip and the slower in front of the lip.  He can make the adjustment to the rule.  Unfortunately, that will not solve the problem.  Even if he is well in front of the lip of the pouch, it will not be "clearly obvious" to a line judge and therefore the correct ruling would be a technical violation.

Did he really mean to say that?

Some of us wear stain protectors, mostly because the little woman objects to the "ruined shirts."  Most do not because the "gunslinger badge" is a sign that you have arrived and finally entered the realm of the quick.  I am going discard the protector at least in titled events because it probably tags me as one to be watched and secondly because the "gunslinger badge" may be useful to prove I do not shoot behind the holster.  If a line judge is ever appointed for me,  I will whip out my 4 inch ruler and show the line judge that my "gunslinger badge" is exactly four inches behind the front of my holster pouch cut.  For New Vaqueros, it is 4 1/2 inches from headspace to tip of the barrel.

I don't think anyone would have any objection to Rule #17, "Discharging the gun with the muzzle behind the holster is not allowed."  I think that is pretty simple and straight forward. Sort of like the boot shot rule.  It is in the implementation that there is a problem.  The implementing sentence sets a guilty unless proven by naked eye standard and prohibits shots from above the holster, not behind the holster but above the holster.  This is the dominant shot in cowboy fast draw today. The shot just as the barrel clears leather.

Did he really mean to say that?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Certified Armed Citizen

On September 7, 1876, in Northfield, Minnesota, the environment was not much different than today when the terrorists attacked except the citizens had the tools needed and the skill set to use those tools to repel the attackers (James/Younger gang).

Our government should do nothing to solve our problems except provide a framework for its citizens to solve their own problems. We don't solve anything by pouring money on it.

I propose the following federal statute:

Section One:  Each sovereign state is hereby authorized to implement a firearm training program wherein its citizen receive training in the use of firearms, firearm safety, and firearm proficiency.  Upon successful completion of the training the state shall issue to the citizen a certificate certifying the citizen as a certified armed citizen and a distinctive patch of at least 4 by 2 inches.

Section Two:  Any certified armed citizen may travel anywhere within the United States with his/her firearm provided the citizen displays on their outer garment their certified armed citizen patch and at least one fluorescent orange sleeve.  The certified armed citizen  may possess his/her firearm at any location irrespective of any state or local  law to the contrary except in buildings and facilities where access is controlled by armed guards.

Section Three:  The sovereign states may implement this program by authorizing private entities to provide such training.


We need to get back to a time when citizens could and would defend themselves.  I think we could learn from Switzerland which requires its citizen's to be trained and armed.

I am not sure I would carry but think I should have the right to do so anywhere that security is not provided.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Hunt on Mount X

We had just about as good an opening day on Mtn X (identity withheld) as possible, saw 7 shootable bulls, 3 5X5s, 3 6X6s, and a 5x7 which we harvested.  Had he not broken off a tine he would been a 6x7.  I was hunting with my son-in-law, Ben, with grandson, Isaiah, spotting on Mtn X.  It is an rocky outcropping with about 4-5000 acres to the east which you can looking down onto.  The west side is a 4-5000 acres plateau which is dense juniper and unhuntable.  The plateau to the West is a bull haven because it is so unhuntable. We have never seen a cow on Mtn X, only bulls, normally in groups of two, a large bull and then a 5X5.  When hunted, the bulls on the flats to the east move onto Mtn X to escape either to the south or the north of the peak.  From the top you can see them moving and intercept them.  I had a tree stand about 1000 yards east of the peak on the tip of a large canyon with mature pine trees.

Opening morning, Ben and Isaiah, hiked to the peak and I due to my years was in the tree stand.  First a 6x6 and a 5x5 moved up onto Mtn X on the north side out of gun range.  Next, a massive (Isaaih's term) 6x6 and a 5x5 headed up to Mtn X but were turned by late arriving hunters, the hunters left and the elk continued their route to Ben and Isaiah to within gun range. Ben opened up and believed he hit the 6x6 on the fourth  shot.  The elk bedded.  Ben waited about 30 minutes then proceeded to the elk on foot while Isaiah spotted from the peak.  Ben jumped the elk from it's bed and it ran about 50 yards then walked into a treed area where Isaiah lost sight of him..

I mean while was in the tree stand 1000 yards away.  From the shots I waited about an hour watching north where I had in previous years seen elk escape to the east.  After an hour I decided to leave and go help Ben look for his elk.  I unloaded my gun and turned to tie it on a rope to lower it down. At that moment I see the 5x5 which had separated from the bigger bull only about 15 feet from the stand heading directly to the tree I was in from the southwest.  I hurried to load the gun and the sound alerted the elk and he looked up at about 10 feet from the tree.  I don't who was more startled.  He turn and fled. I got the scope on him and fired only to miss.  I was happy I missed as he was a bull I should have passed on.  I then went to help Ben find the elk which we believed to have been hit.  We searched and searched and searched and never could find hide nor hair nor blood.  So we concluded he was not hit after all.

Evening found us all on Mtn X, I on a lower bench watching the north route.  Ben and Isaiah on the peak overlooking the flats.  They see two bulls to the south at about 275 yards.  Ben hits the 5x7 dropping him dead in a small clearing.  He shot  him at about 4:30 p.m.  It took us until 11:00 to get him packed out.  Long day. Best of days.

Lessons to be be relearned.  Don't get fixated on one area.  Had I been scanning all around I should have seen the 5x5 approach from at least 150 yards.  Effort is rewarded.  Ben had hiked onto the mountain the night before and slept there to make sure we were the first there.  It is always interesting to watch the latecomers show up about 2 hours too late and see how the elk easily avoid them.

Well, still have my tag.  Hope to be on mountain X for the last morning of the season.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Silliness Is!

I am not going to rant about how I think world record keeping is harmful to the sport but will point out how silly some of our rules are.

You have to feel for KK Kid. At the Springs she shoots a world record time pole shot that was just 1 inch low.  Then at Worlds she is in a  match up 2 to 1 and puts a .356 on the target, a new world record, winning the match. The other competitors finished the round, then she was given 3 shots to "back it up".  She hits a .388, .002 short of a backup time.  Her world record is an anticipation by rule not by fact.  The match therefore continues.  She then hits a .360 to win the match.  So we now have a shooter hitting a world record and in the same match against the same opponent following it up with a shot to within .004 of the new record and the world record is ruled an "anticipation." Silliness is!

Just how silly it is, you will realize if you test the rounds used in titled match. You will realize the difference probably results from the variance in the loads of the cartridges as much as how quick a shooter is on the light. 

Last week at Mesa, Shady Mike and Thirsty, were tied 2-2, next blinking light.  The light comes on, Shady misses and Thirsty hits with a .280. The shooters were beginning to unload the match being over when the peanut gallery pipes up, world record, back it up.  Thirsty, being a good sport, takes his three shots to attempt to back it up and fails.  Anticipation.  Shady wins the match with a miss.  Silliness is!

In both of these instances, the shooter has clearly the ability to shoot a world record time, as they have done so repeatedly in practice and in all likelihood drew on the light.

We have these silly rules to protect the record.  If we really want to be effective in protecting the record we need to look to track and field for guidance.  We could up the penalty for anticipation to a loss of match instead of loss of shot.  Now there is little to cure grailfever because anticipation is almost like a miss.

I still have not recovered from my bout of grailfever this summer, but promise to myself to take the cure.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Whiner's Reaction or Reaction to Whiners

I hear there is going to be discussion about a time limit and/or moving the target closer or making the target a different size at the Marshall's muster.  Most of this comes from a relative small group of shooters.  The vast majority of shooters are happy with the current rules as am I.

If we get too many of these silly rules and/or continue our unhealthy obsession with records, I am going to start a new organization dedicated to the turn of the century gunfight.

It will have a silhouette target from the knees to shoulder.  In front of the silhouette will be a 9 inch circle representing a heart/lung hit that will have the light and will be timed. 

Matches will be either 3 shot or 5 shot affairs.  In a 5 shot match, shooters will load 5 and shoot until the gun is empty. Fanning is not allowed. Hits on the silhouette will count 2 points, hits on heart/lung will count 10 points.  If a shooter makes a heart/lung hit that is 50 milliseconds faster than his opponent's heart/lung hit, it will be a killing shot and result in a win declared by scorekeeper. (It is a killing shot because if it is 50 mls faster, it would have disabled the opponent before he could shoot.) If there is no killing shot, then the hand judges will compute the score of the wounding shots, including heart/lung hits, to determine the winner.  In the event of a tie both survive and win.

Events will be same as we current do, 3x, 4x, last man standing, magnificent, etc., except most events will evolve into 10x or so since the matches will be much more quickly resolved. Most of the rules will be the same.  

I think the vast majority of our shooters come to be in a gunfight, not a speed contest.  

We need to have our organization consider all of the shooters, not just the elite or those think they are the elite.  We are not nor should we be an entertainment venue.  We are a sport, let's keep it that way.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Splits, Handjudging and other Nonsense

Using coach's eye with its timer feature I have been able to get fairly accurate splits on some of the gunslingers here in the Valley of the Sun.  I am pretty confident that Thirsty's draw speed is 120 mls give or take 10 mls.   Powder Keg's draw speed is 150 mls again +/- 10 mls.  My draw speed is right around 160 mls.

Sunday we had an interesting match on Shady Mtn between Thirsty and Powder Keg.  Before the light Powder Keg flinched but he did not move the gun in the holster. It was an observable body flinch.  Thirsty drew on the flinch and hit a .307.  Powder Keg then drew on the light and hit a .379.  Okay, handjudges and range masters, call this one.  Knowing the draw speeds of the shooters you can conclude that Thirsty had splits of reaction time 154 mls, draw time of 120 mls and flight time of .33 mls.  Thristy clearly drew 154 mls after the light came on.  Powder Keg would have been190/156/33.

I have been hearing rumblings that they is a move afoot to change the shooting distance or size of the target to get more hits.  Nobody said anything to me probably because I am such an opinionated fella.  If you can't hit the target shooting 3s then either you are practicing missing or you have a draw that is inherently inaccurate.  If you practice enough to shoot threes, then you practice enough to be hitting 80%.

I went to the mountains and practiced exclusively speed.  Screwed up my draw.  Came back and could not hit the inside of a barn.  Grail fever will do you in quicker than any other ailment.  My fault.  No need move the targets closer, I just got to remember that a fast miss will not help me against that gunfighter I have to face, whether he is a world champion or that ten year old that does not miss.

"Quick don't mean much in a gunfight!"  Little Bill, Unforgiven.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Team Competition

Team Competition

MAIN MATCH:       3X, 3 shot (Arizona summertime best of 5), last man standing format. Standard format, team members will shoot against team members if so drawn.

            Entry fee $5 per shooter for first team entry. A shooter may join as many teams as he would like but subsequent team entries are $10 for the second entry, $15 for third and so on. Youth shooters are free. 

  All entry fees from team competition go to Shoot for the Stars.

            Teams are 4 to 7 shooters with the four top placing shooters considered for team scoring.  Team scoring is the sum of the top four placing shooters, low score wins.  The 5th through 7th team members are important because you never know who the top four will be and a team’s 7th shooter may be ahead of an opponent’s 4th shooter thereby moving that opposing shooter down in the placings.

            Placings of shooters going out in the same round are determined by fastest time out.  Ties will be shot off before next round.  Ties in team standings will be determined in favor with the team with the highest placing shooter.

            No requirements as to guns, division, residency or club membership.

ARIZONA SUGGESTED TEAMS: The Champs, The Young Guns,   The Shady Mtn Gang, Rio Salado Vaqueros, and Old Publeo Gunfighters.

Shooters may sign up on any team first come first signed on or make up their own teams, for example, family teams would be fun.

Thirsty might want to sign up on The Champs, a team of Territorial, State, and Club Champions, and on a family team of Thirsty, Lawless Speed, Half Cock Willie, Calaboose Bill, Buckeroo Ben, and Coyote Kid (Grandpas, Kid and Grandkids.)  His entry fee for team competition would be $5 plus $10 for second entry for total of $15.

A young guns team of Lawless Speed, Col Hip Shot, Holli Day, Prickly Pear, Dirty Dan, Hot Flash and High Strung would be a tough team.

AWARDS:   Magnet Awards for team members memorializing their victory are available from at reasonable costs.

Sample Sign-up Form

Team Name:________________________________

Team Members:                                  Place       Top four
1 _________________________       _____     _______
2 _________________________       _____     _______
3 _________________________       _____     _______
4 _________________________       _____     _______
5 _________________________       _____     _______
6 _________________________       _____     _______
7 _________________________       _____     _______
                                        Team Total Score         _______


1.     Team scoring is only the top 4 shooters are scored.  If all team members are scored, then a shooter or two who are having a bad day might drag down an otherwise good team.  Also, since the bottom shooters of the match have the highest placings numbers scoring 100% of the team members unfairly considers the bottom team members over the top team members.  On the other hand, only scoring the top one or two shooters really makes it into an individual event.  There needs to be a balance.  Best balance would be shooting seven and scoring 5, like cross country.  However, I suggest shooting 7 and scoring 4 to be more accommodating to clubs to enter teams.  For example, if Rio Salado brings seven shooters they could enter seven on one team.  If they bring 8 shooters, then it makes sense for them to enter two 4 shooter teams.  Other shooters could  join their teams and since it is always better to have 7 shooters than just 4 because you never know who is going to be shoot well on any given day, it is to their advantage to have other shooters sign onto their teams until full.

2.    Many shooters have multiple connections to other shooters.  For example, I practice on Shady Mountain and would like to join a team with those shooters.  I also have family members shooting so it would make sense for me to enter a family team.  This format allows multiple entries.  However, the fee goes up to discourage someone from joining every team.  All teams are open to everyone as long as there is a slot open.  Once seven shooters have joined, then no more entries on that team are allowed.

3.    Added workload:  There really is very little extra work needed to have this event if you are have a last man standing shoot since it utilizes the CFDA scoring system.  You need someone to collect the money and supervise the sign-up sheets.  You need someone to add up the score sheets near and at the end of the event.  Since 90% of the shooters will be placed by the last several rounds of the event, most team scores will be known by the last round.  The ideal match would be to have four teams within a point or two of each other at the end with team members still shooting.  That would be exciting.  The more likely situation is to have the team competition determined before the last several rounds since the best team top to bottom should win.

Good Luck and Have Fun!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Entertainment, Awards, and Growth

Quick Cal asks about whether we should be a spectator sport.  The answer is we are not, never will be nor should we be.  We should be accommodating and friendly to spectators which we are and always will be.

Cal looks at these issues as a "Top Gun" and he is influenced by other top guns around him.  His perspective is from the top down.  Maybe it would be helpful to look at these issues from the bottom up, from the perspective of the average shooter.  We grow because it is a fun sport and a true sport, not an entertainment venue.  It is not American Ninja Warriors.  We grow because a newcomer can try it out and has a chance to be successful right away.  Where else can a new competitor line up against a World Champion and win and it may be probable that he will win if the Champion is off target that day.

A good example at the Colorado State Championship was Bar-E. It was his first match, not his first titled match, the very first time he had every been to the line with a gun right off the shelve.  He won 4 lost 4, even winning one against a top five finisher. He finished 31 out of 78.  He was thrilled.  He went home with an action job on his gun and another holster.  He is now a promoter of CFDA.  Bet there will be a CFDA club in the Loess Hills of Iowa within a few years.

Top down thinking would be that maybe we should do something about this, not entertaining to see a brand new shooter win.  Bottom up thinking would be, heh, that is great, maybe I can do it too.

When we talk about these issue, think in terms of what can be done to make it a sport that is enjoyed by all, the top guns as well as the average shooter.

I absolutely love the format at Nationals.  I think it is a bottom up format.  There is room for 85 shooters to participate in a magnificent shoot-off.  At the 2015 Nationals, I moved up to Old Timers, and by my calculation failed to made the shoot-offs. (Old Timers is the toughest category)  However, since those in the Magnificent Seven are excluded (there were three in the Magnificent Seven), I made the Magnificent shootoff and finished third.  Cal was announcing and he correctly called the winners, National Champions.

Last year I won Super Senior National Championship and I can assure you it has made me a promoter of the sport.  I sell the sport ever chance I get. I talk to every spectator that will listen to me. I recruit kids in sporting  goods store.  I am always selling.

Since this is my soap box let me tell you what I think a perfect Territorial would be.  Three day event. First day, seven rounds of the main match.  Second day, shoot down to top five in main match and have a true resurrection match for all eliminated in first 8 rounds.  Winner is seeded 6th in the Magnificent Seven shootoff.  Third day, category magnificent five with the fastest Category Champion not already in seeded 7th. (This is fast draw.)

Nobody is out of it for sure until the last day.  Room for 85 shooters to participate in a Magnificent Shoot-off.  Lots of Champions, lots of shooting,  everyone has a chance to win.

In golf if I go up against Bubba Watson, I have no chance.  In Cowboy Fastdraw if I go up against Marshall Cooper, I have a chance, and my attitude today is "I ain't letting him get away again."  In what other sport, can an average fella not only have a chance, but believe that he will prevail against a world champion.  I love this sport.  Let's keep it a sport!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Speed, Accuracy, and Wins

The Four Corner's Territorial is in the book, as usual it was a great event in a great location put on by great people.  My only complaint is that I could not have had a tougher draw.  In eleven matches, my opponent was faster than me, substantially, in ten of the eleven matches.  The only opponent that was slower than me made it to the final five even though I defeated him on speed, both hitting 100%, and I being about 10 mls faster on average. He was shooting 415s and I 4 flat. The other ten opponents were low 3s, mid 3s and high 3s shooters.

Speed:  Speed was a partial factor in only three matches, I winning one and losing two.  It was decisive only in one match with the fifth place finisher.  

Accuracy: In my seven wins I hit better than 80%. Most of those matches were over before the faster shooter found the target. Generally, I missed the first shot, then walked the hits to the light. In my four losses I hit 60%.  In all four losses, I let the opponent get away. Had I hit 80% I would have won all four of those matches. That purveyor of videos got me twice on speed after we both had missed at 2-2. Because he is in our club and is faster than me, I probably let the adrenaline push the winning shot high off the target.

I have never suggested slowing down to hit.  Your quickest draw should be your most accurate. If it is not, then change your draw.  What I do say is that you can and should learn accuracy at the same time that you learn speed.  

"Quick don't mean much in a gunfight" Little Bill, Unforgiven.

It is informative to look at the three final championship matches. On average Quick Cal is at least 50 milliseconds slower than Parttime.  Quick Cal won on accuracy.  Miss Kitty is on average 30-40 mls slower than KK Kid.  Miss Kitty won! Miss Kitty did win on speed in the championship match against Texas Rose. Tank is on average 100 mls slower than Trigger Happy. Tank won!  Bonnie Ringo is 70 mls slower than Marshall Cooper but eliminated Marshall Cooper. 

What is common to all three Champions is champion gunfighter nerves. Those that control the nerves and shoot under pressure best usually prevail.  In three of my four losses, I know I let the adrenaline get the better of me because who I was shooting against. I really wanted to get Quick Cal and Old West, but got out of my proper mind set in those matches.

Before the next state and territorial my goal is to be quicker than .390 at 80% accuracy or better.  But of the two, 80% accuracy will get more wins than .390 speed.

I placed 12th at the four corners territorial shooting generally between .395 and .415 in the matches decided by speed.  Best match of the week was with my training partner with a winning shot of .391and other shots in the .39 s.

I have to give credit to loverboy's training tips for moving me down into the threes.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Practicing Missing!

I was working with my 6 year old shooter getting him ready for a local shoot (finished 13th out of 40.)  After we finished he said, "Watch Grandpa, I can go fast".  He then dry fires 10 rounds in about 5 seconds.  He was quick, but every shot was about 10 feet high.  He was flailing the gun. What did he learn? Nothing, but a bad habit.

Rodeo Romeo would say you got to learn to go fast before you learn to be accurate.  He says that because that is how he learned and was told that by his mentor.  I don't think it is true.  I think this fallacy comes from the flailers, those that get their speed from swinging the gun upward rapidly.  If you flail, it is a matter of chance  whether you will hit.  The faster you flail, the faster your times will be and the less accurate you will be.  Most of the top guns do not flail. Rodeo does not flail. There are some that flail, but it is extremely hard to be accurate doing that.

Another fallacy is that you have to slow down to be accurate.  This also comes for those that learned by flailing.  It makes sense for the flailer.  If you flail, the slower you flail the longer the muzzle will be in the hit zone, hence the better chance you will have to hit. For those that do not flail, those that shoot from a solid stable shooting position, their fastest and quickest shot is also their most accurate.  This fallacy, that you have to slow down to be accurate, is why slower shooters give us so much trouble.  We come against a slower shooter and we change our draw trying to slow down, hence we miss.

It is frustrating to see new shooters in our club, routinely shoot into the 3s and 4s, and then go to competitions and hit 30% or less.  If you are practicing enough to shoot into the 3s or 4s, you are practicing enough to be shooting 80%.  If not, you are either a flailer or you have been practicing missing.

If you are practicing and hitting 30% and not paying attention to that 70% that miss, then you are wasting that 70%.  YOU ARE PRACTICING MISSING.  Why do it?  Takes no more effort to learn from that 70%.

What you need is a target medium that allows you to see every shot.  And I don't mean in a general way but a very specific way, 2 inches high, 3 inches high, 4 inches low and so forth.  If you see every miss and exactly how far off, your body and mind will automatic adjust to hit the target.  You don't even have to think or try. With the proper target medium, you may start out hitting 30% but by the time you have shot a 50 shot practice round you will be hitting more consistently.  The body and mind will move the hits into the target zone.  The last 15 or 20 rounds of a 50 round practice session are what are important.  That is where you progress into being a gunfighter, not just someone that happens to hit the target every once and awhile.

It is also beneficial to get off of the clock.  If you are always chasing the clock you will never finalize your draw.  Your draw needs to be automatic, instinctive, done without thought or effort when you compete.  If you are always changing your draw trying to get that last millisecond, you will never be done with your draw and will be always in the draw developer stage.  Those developing their draw are slowed by the process.  To reach your potential, the draw must be like breathing.  That is why our fastest times come not when we are trying to go fast, but come as a complete surprise, when we are relaxed and just letting our body do what it done a thousand times before.

Fair warning to those who compete in the Valley of the Sun.  There are a few youths that shoot with me in Jack's Canyon and,

"We don't practice missing in Jack's Canyon!"

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Recovery Shot

That purveyor of videos has been ranting about sportsmanship again. He has just about ridden that horse into the ground.  We are proud to have him as a life member and take him with that one flaw.  In a few short years he has become one of the top guns of the sport.

I just don't understand the obsession.  In the old west I doubt anyone worried about sportsmanship, they were too busy looking for an advantage.

When someone on the line asks me if I take recovery shots, I belly laugh and respond "Every chance I get."  I am reserving another comment for that one cowboy who thinks he epitomizes cowboy fast draw but really is a tad short on sportsmanship to meet the norm.  The comment is "If you will tell me when you are going to miss, I will intentionally slip cock."  When asked, I always think "this ought to be easy, he is already worried about missing."

We have to take every competitor as they are when they come to the line.  If one is thinking about whether I might take a recovery shot, that is fine, it is just an advantage I will have.  I ain't missing, so it does not matter to me and I always enjoy a good laugh before I shoot.  Loosens me up.

The top guns don't worry about recovery shots, that why we have championships determined by .98, .34 and a .331 to a .36 and .36.  For my obsession, I note that the winner shot 75% while the loser shot 50%.

John, I don't know why you always flee this crispy weather we are having for that cool, breezy place.  Now I hear you are fleeing to an island.  You need to get back here, I can't handle Shady any more. I might have to break down and buy one of your videos.  "But it is hard to fill a cup that is already full!"

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Belly Shot

I have been training a young lad, age 6, who for anonymity I will call the Jack' s Canyon Kid since that is where he first drew from a holster.  He has been shooting off the table for about a year and at his last competition hit 24 out of 25 shots finishing 25th out of 50 shooters. He is ready to move on. We moved him to the holster with the requirement that he shoot from the hip.  We intentionally were going to skip "the point and shoot stage,"  so that he never would learn the "point and shoot" since so many struggle unlearning that technique.

He did well drawing from the holster. After 150 rounds he was hitting about 60% from the holster, although slow.  Hitting has always been important to him.  Unfortunately, the powers that be have read the rule book which says that a competitor under the age of 8 can not shoot out of the holster.  So now it is back to the table.

So as not to lose what we have accomplished he is now shooting the "belly shot" from the table.  He starts with the gun on the table or at low ready position. Upon the light he draws the gun back to the locked elbow position while cocking the hammer.  When the off hand wrist reaches the belly he pulls the trigger.  Therefore the gun is fired from a stable position with no forward or upward movement.  THERE IS NO POINT AND SHOOT involved.  Why learn something you have to unlearn later on. This method mimics the draw out of the holster.  When he turns 8, the draw will be already firmly established.

His first seventy rounds were good but he was consistently high.  It will not take long to fix that because in Jack's Canyon we don't practice missing and to the Jack's Canyon Kid the most important thing is to be able to brag he beat Grandpa. He is the only novice I have ever seen who adjusts his stance naturally upon a miss.  He broke into the six s today and I foresee he will be a force to be reckoned with.

Others that help new shooters age 6 to 86 may want to consider the belly shot for their new shooters.  Start them from the low ready position and have them draw back to a hip fire position,  I have good friends that can consistently shoot into the low fours until they get into competition and the target draws them back to their "point and shoot" roots.  Why learn something that you have to unlearn later on.

"We don't practice missing on the mountain or in Jack's Canyon"

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Waggle

Professional golfers have a pre-shot routine that they go through each and every time prior to a shot.  Many use a pre-shot "waggle," immediately before the shot.  It is a insignificant motion of the club head right before they beginning their shot.  It is a signal to their bodies and especially their minds that they are ready to go.  All preparation has been completed.

When I started to shoot I had the privilege of hand judging Wild Onion Willie He has a waggle which at the time I thought may be a violation of the rules but I did not say anything because of his stature in the sport. Of course, it was not a violation I just did not understand the rules. I just watched a video of Yusta B Fast in which there appears to be a waggle but it was not there on every draw.  To be a waggle it must be done intentionally, each and every time, and be a signal to the mind and body that the shooter is ready to go.

I have a pre-match waggle which is to draw and dry fire my gun twice.  After that I am set and do not think about my draw or anything related to it again.  If I lose a bye round I always unload and show clear so that I can go through my waggle again on the load and make ready command.

I am currently working on a pre-shot waggle but have not perfected it yet.  I did use one at Nationals and shot my fastest competitive time.

We can learn from other sports.  I wish I had been a sprinter in track and field because I am sure that there are some techniques used there to get off on the light.  I heard of trying to anticipate the light but when I do that I am generally 50 mls slower because I am thinking, and whenever you think you are slow.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Mind Set

I think the mental part of this game far exceeds the physical.  At the High Plains Territorial I followed WildShot around for five rounds, he was either hand judging me or I he, or on the next lane. He shoots the long gun and  he was on.  In round four he put three shots in a dollar size circle.  I figured he was the cowboy to beat.

In round five, WildShot, met Marshall Cooper. He put one in the ground 6 feet in front of the target, several over the top, don't remember him hitting the target once.  After the round I asked him what happened, you were so accurate in the earlier rounds.  He said well  I shoot with Marshall every week and I always shoot different against him.  I always try to go faster.

The mind affects how we shoot.  Thinking about anything is bad.  I was cruising along and really had found the target.  In round three I missed an inch wide on the first shot then proceeded to walk the shots right to the middle on the next three winning in four shots.  I was so pleased with myself that I bragged in between matches. Then I met Deacon, a  90% shooter.  I never hit the target once.  Mind set?

The next round I shot what I considered the near perfect adjustment match. Four rounds, first a miss light high to the left, then three shots walked to the middle in  perfect horizontal line.

Next, I met Wildshot and my mind was right. Match over in three or four shots.

Then in round eight, I met Luckey O'Riley.  He is faster than me but he also knows that when I am on he has to hit.  He had just defeated Beaver Creek Kid, wearer of the black badge, in two consecutive matches so he was flying high.  We both had our minds right! First shot he wins .434 to .436. The die was cast.  He wins two on speed, I win two on speed. He hits 4 out of 5, I hit 5 out of 5.  That is what this sport is about, a perfect match beween good friends, felt like a marble match.

I am a student of the game and the mind set.  You would think I would learn.  Met Marshall Cooper in the 10th round and I think (all thinking in bad) "Well, I can't beat him on speed just put it on the target"  Marshall hits one out of the first five shots, I hit none. It was just as if I met Deacon again.

This game is not about who can shoot the best, but who can get or keep their mind in the proper set.  As Little Bill explained, "Quick don't mean much in a gunfight."

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Style or Draw Technique

A few weeks ago a regular and seasoned contributor to the forum opined that there really was only two types of draw for the fast shooter, the level and follow through and the upswing draw.  I took offense that the locked elbow draw had being omitted and opined that the current world champion used it.  The contributor corrected me that the World Champion uses the level and follow through but has omitted the follow through.  Marshall Cooper in his video explains his draw that way.

Problem with this is it is exceeding hard to learn.  I seen numerous shooter work years to learn the level and follow then work years trying to unlearn the follow through.  Many are successful in practice getting into the 4s but in competition the target draws them out and they shoot 5s and 6s.

On the other hand with the lock elbow draw, you never learn the follow through so you don't have to unlearn it.  The lock elbow draw may be the favored draw in the Valley of the Sun because the desert master teaches it.  

I was fortunate in that I had hand surgery and could not shoot for two months.  I used the time to copy a multiple champion who shoots the locked elbow draw and she was trained by the desert master. Since I now shoot a variation, the thumb roll draw, I will explain that and let some else explain the lock elbow draw.

The thumb roll draw is a variation of the locked elbow draw out of a high rise Shaniko holster.  The Shaniko is suited for it because of its high position on the hip and its wrapped trigger guard.  You start by crossing the thumb over the hammer (as Wyatt Earp recommended, yes that Wyatt).  This helps in eliminating slip cocks and provides the power for the draw, You draw by forcefully cocking the hammer thereby rolling the gun out of the holster.. When you clear the holster you should be in the locked elbow position and the trigger is pulled.  The gun is solidly against your body, there no forward motion, there is no upward motion.  You should be able to shoot better than 80% because of the stable position from which the gun is fired.  Misses result from misalignment of your stance, not from variation in the draw.

If you can do it, I recommend the thumb roll draw, if not then the locked elbow draw.

An humorous side note. About six months ago a pretty young thing came to a shoot and needed help learning the sport.  The old geezers could not get in line quick enough to help her.  There was that purveyor of videos trying to teach her the level and follow thru,  the prayerful one was selling the locked elbow draw, and there were other cowboys mentoring when they have never mentored before.  I was worried she was going hurt herself she was getting so much conflicting advice.  Fortunately, the desert master took her under his wing as he does with all novices,  She now has a .373 competitive PR and routinely breaks into the threes.  If you want to see good form on the locked elbow draw, look at her facebook page.  There is a straight line from her locked elbow to the muzzle horizontal to the ground, gun solidly a her side as the trigger is pulled.