Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Match Report: 2008 Area 2 Championship

Phoenix in November is a beautiful thing, no doubt about it. The Area 2 Championship (aka, the Rio Salado Desert Classic) has a strong reputation for being a quality match with a superb prize table. This was my first year attending the match, and I can tell you that, for the most part, it lived up to the hype. First, the vid - then hit the DR Performance Shooting site for the rest!

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Long time coming...

Yeah, unfortunately, the blog has been dormant a while. When you start thinking about all the things you'd like to see and do in your life, make sure one of them is "free time"! Otherwise, you start getting what you asked for... in spades... and you have no notion of this "free time" thing anymore!

So, what's on tap? I should have Area 2 video up today, along with a match review. I may add in some thoughts on the 2008 Open Nationals, with a few stages of video, but due to a camera operator accident, I taped over a lot of that footage... Trust me, you're not really missing anything, in all honesty.

I'll also be adding some new training class dates and student testimonials to the DR Performance Shooting site. Stay tuned!

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dry Fire Drills

Jake Di Vita is a Grand Master out of Fenton, Michigan - he's also a major contributor over on the Benoverse. Jake has been been posting a "dryfire WOD" (WOD = Workout Of the Day) on his blog. If you need some ideas or inspiration for dry fire practice, check out Jake's blog and hook up on the WODs. You can post your par times to the comments as a way of getting involved and providing a little motivation to yourself - and to everyone else who's playing along.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Into the Breach...

Still wondering how fitness is important to this shooting sport? At the 2008 Area 1 Championship, we got a solid demonstration of why having a broad, general, inclusive fitness program is an important part of any well rounded shooting program.

Stage designer Chuck Anderson threw us a curve ball on stage 9 in the form of a Breaching Technologies, Inc. Ram Breaching Door. Check out the vid - a few comments follow on the DR Performance Shooting main site...

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Match Report: 2008 Area 1 Championship

Held in late June, near Portland, OR, the 2008 Area 1 Championship was hot... damn hot... and full of the types of stages that really demanded you exercise the "Diligentia" aspect of the sport (that's accuracy, of course).

Several folks asked about adding in some video commentary and descriptions of the stages, so that they could what in the heck I'm shooting at in the videos - I tried to that here. If you like it - or don't - let me know ;) Also, I didn't shoot video of Stage 8, which was the standards. Its kind of a visually boring stage, so hopefully you're not really missing anything... Anyhow - here's the vid, and commentary is on the DR Performance Shooting main site!

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Match Report: 2008 Texas Open

The 2008 Texas Open was held May 9-11 in Waco, TX at the Central Texas Rifle and Pistol Club. This match hadn't been held in several years - and apparently may not happen again very soon, for various reasons. But, the match offered a rather significant prize table ($1000 cash to the winner of Open and Limited divisions, and cash back to 1st through 3rd in all classes in each division), and attracted a lot of talent.

Here's my video - hit the DR Performance Shooting web site for the rest of the article!

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Are you a gunsmith?

I mean, really... Are you? I'm not. I'm fairly handy with tools - even the dreaded Dremel. I can read plans and specs, and I have a pretty mechanical mind, so I can grasp how most of our competition guns actually work internally. But when it comes to taking a set of parts and making a properly working, accurate, reliable firearm out of them, I know better than to delude myself about my abilities.

What's had me curious lately is the seeming large number of folks who think they are gunsmiths... Oh, they don't run around telling people that they're gunsmiths or anything like that... What they do seem to do, though, is to decide how a gun should be built, and then they go tell some 'smith to do it their way.

Hit the DR Performance Shooting main site for some thoughts on building guns, the insanity we impose upon our gunsmiths, and the side effects we can introduce in doing so...

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Match Report: 2008 USPSA Area 6 Championship

Another road trip, another big match! Area 6 is known for putting on a high quality championship match, and this year did not disappoint. The match was full of testy, challenging stages that bit back if you didn't pay attention. It was everything you expect an Area match to be, in the end.

Here's the video - visit the DR Performance Shooting site to read the rest!

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Saturday, April 5, 2008

Match Report: 2008 Double Tap Championship

The last weekend in March, March 28-30, marked the 4th annual Double Tap Championship held at the Double Tap Ranch in Wichita Falls, TX. The DTC is generally considered to be the exact polar opposite of the Florida Open match. Whereas the Florida Open contains solely "Classic" style targets (with no upper A/B zone - that's the "head"), and generally has a lot of long shots on wide open targets. This leads to hit factors normally in the 6-8 range, meaning its a relatively slow match where points really count more than speed. The DTC, on the other hand, is completely "Metric" targets, features few long shots, and is generally up close, in your face, run-and-gun, hose fest type stuff. Any loss of speed kills on these high adrenaline stages, any little hesitation or conservative moments will bleed you of match points quickly.

Here's my video - hit the DR Performance Shooting site for the rest of the article!

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Confucious say... who aim at published stage descriptions, miss.

It seems like a discussion periodically appears on the Benoverse around someone trying to determine the best way to shoot the stages of a major match solely based on the information presented in published courses of fire. The latest one at the time of this writing occurred in the thread for the 2008 Area 6 stages. Usually, the discussion is started by someone making their first trip to a major match, and they want to make the most out of their preparation time and get a jump on their stage strategies. Unfortunately, they're headed down a dead end with that thinking - trying to gather strategies from a written course description is like trying to determine the most scenic drive by looking at a road map. You can glean some information, but its mostly a worthless exercise.

Published course descriptions ARE useful for some things, though. Let's take a look at the useful information you can glean from them, and how you can use that to better prepare for the match.

Confuscious also say... visit the DR Performance Shooting site for the rest of the article!

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Shoot better with no practice?

Well, faithful reader, its been a while since my last post. I apologize for the delays - its been a busy couple of weeks over here. I've been thinking about the subject of this post for quite a while. I'm making a semi-controversial statement here, and only sharing my experience - not the results of some massive, scientific study I've undertaken, or anything insane like that. Well, this whole blog is my opinion and experience, isn't it? So, maybe that's not a surprise....

Improvement without practice. Does that sound far fetched to you? I bet it might. And, what kind of improvement are we talking about? No, it doesn't just happen by osmosis. Yes, it still requires a lot of hard work. No, its not the be-all-end-all to all your shooting problems. Yes, it does make a big difference in your skills, your confidence, and your stamina. What's the big secret? Good old fashioned elbow grease... in the form of CrossFit!

Read the rest on the DR Performance Shooting site!

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Match Ammunition

We spend a lot of money on this sport, and if you're active at bigger matches, a decent portion of that budget goes towards match entry fees, hotel, gas, rental cars, airfare, food, etc, while attending those big matches. We all want to go to a big match and do well, don't we? Why else would we spend that time and money, and do things like, I don't know.... practice? And yet, many of us travel to those matches with a big weak link in our shooting bags, and many times we do it cause we're just flat out cheap!

So, with the match season getting into full gear, and with folks approaching their first or second big match of the year, it seemed like a great time to discuss a subject that everyone seems to be thinking about around this time of year: Match Ammo!

Hit the DR Performance Shooting website for the full article!

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Match Report: Alpha-Mike 2/17/2008

Last Sunday I shot the Alpha-Mike match in Bulverde, TX. It took me a bit to get the video finished - I didn't have the scores on hand, and then had to go out of town for a funeral. I prefer to get these things up while they're still fresh in my head, but, as the prophet Jagger said... You can't always get what you want ;)

Ok - I won high overall at this match, and Open division. There were a total of 53 shooters, which is the biggest attendance at an Alpha-Mike match that I can recall seeing, though its probably not the biggest they've had. Nice turnout, though. Here's the video, and comments will follow...

The thing that always strikes me about Alpha-Mike is the setup... These guys generally can't get on the range until something like 0830 the morning of the match, which means that match setup is done on a very compressed time frame. Somehow they manage to get a full match set up and running in an hour and a half. Very impressive.

A few notes on the video... That last split on the first stage is an .11. The second split on the second stage is a .10. On the second one, I had trigger freeze, and then relaxed off the trigger and grip, which allowed the gun to rock on the 2nd shot and cause a 2nd actuation of the trigger... I didn't call either shot, unfortunately, and so the 4th shot on the target was required... The target (at 12 yards or so) had 2 As and 2 Cs - funnily enough, the two As were the 2nd and 3rd shots - the .10 split - as I called the other two shots as Cs....

On the third stage, that's definitely me jumping the clock, not a weird video artifact. You can see I reacted to the sound of shooting in the next bay over. That caused me some pause, as I partially expected Roy would stop me for creeping. My first shot was a 1.13, so it obviously affected my draw a bit - Roy figured that evened things out...

The classifier, Can You Count, is merciless in its punishment for tension. My second string was a 3.09 - a GM run, not quite 100%. The first one, though, was wracked with tension - a trigger freeze and a blown reload. The draws were sharp, however - a .78 and an .84. I'll take those ;)

The last stage was interesting - that last shot cost me .75 seconds. I'd called a hit on the target, and then visually saw there was no hit, so I made it up (to my benefit, thankfully). But, I walked away from the stage wondering what the heck had happened - I called a solid A on the target and it wasn't there. The video clearly shows the reason.... Hear the "tink", and see the wall rock? That last target was at a hard angle, and I wasn't quite fully as far into the doorway as I needed to be - I just barely edged the corner of the wall, and it spun the bullet off to who knows where...

All in all, a good match. I'm already seeing improvement from the work I've done since the Florida Open...

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Match Report: 2008 Florida Open

Wow, what an intense match. The 2008 Florida Open was shot over the weekend of February 8-10 at the Universal Shooting Academy, in Frostproof, FL. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, this match is the traditional season opener, and is known for its trademark stages where there aren't any no-shoots or hardcover targets, but the shots are generally long and sneaky difficult. This year was no different - in fact, there were a great many shots longer than 20 yards that really required a lot of focus to nail down correctly.

The end result is a match that can really leave you feeling beaten up as you're shooting it - until you go look at the results. You feel like you're shooting slow and sloppy, because you're either dropping points like a sieve, or you're taking forever and a day to break shots to insure A-zone hits. But you go look at the results and see that its not just you - everyone in the match is having that feeling, too, and seeing those results on their scoresheets, too. A strong mental game helps in this situation - you keep shooting your game, and just do your job.

In the end, I placed 5th, being edged out of 4th by Lesgar "Speedy" Murdock, from Jamaica, by about 80 match points. Lesgar is a nice guy who shot a great match. We were both a long way out of third place. Anyhow - here's the videos of my shooting - commentary, where appropriate, follows...

For more commentary on the 2008 Florida Open, hit the DR Performance Shooting main site!

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Coaching Testimonials

I put up several client testimonials from my training/coaching alter-ego, DR Performance. Check 'em out!

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Monday, February 4, 2008

ALSPPC USPSA match - 2/2/2008

Well, sorry folks, no video on this one. I got the range and found my camcorder battery totally flat... D'oh.

That's OK, though - not much to show you this time. I didn't really connect with my performance on Saturday. I could make excuses, etc, but heck, its not worth lying to either of us. Just wasn't a good match.

However - I got about 500 sharp rounds of practice in following the match, and honed in on a preferred setup on the new gun, and cleaned up many of the errors I made in the match. This is key - as I walked away from the day with positive thoughts and experiences in mind, and greater confidence than the match results would have given me...

Altering my sleep schedule is certainly at least partially responsible - for the Florida Open, I have to wake up about 4:30 Central time! Lack of sleep plays heck on my mental focus, unfortunately. But, I want and need to learn how to deal with that scenario, so... practice afterwards allowed me to focus with that sort of concentration level...

Anyhow - congrats on your match win, Don Hardy!

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Creative Dry Fire - Field Courses!

I'm not one of those folks who can stand and do 10 million draws in a row. I get bored, lose focus, and start working bad habits, instead of refining technique. Its just one part of my mental temperament. Here's one of the ways I keep things more interesting - note that I left a couple of key points out when I shot the vid, so check out the comments following it...

For the comments, hit the DR Performance Shooting main site!

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CTRP - January 18th, 2008 - USPSA Match

This was the first match with the new gun, and the first monthly match of the year in Waco. Arthur Brown runs a fine match! I won this match, even with some difficulties. Here's the video - comments follow...

Here we see one example of why its not a good idea to take new equipment to a big match. Obviously, this was just a local match - I use local level matches as match practice, so its an appropriate venue to try out new equipment. I have a tendency to push the gun into my left hand when indexing the gun, or when moving from right to left, and this causes me to bump the mag button and drop magazines. For most folks, the answer is to not use a mag release button. In my case, my short thumbs require me to shift the gun around a lot to reach the mag release, especially on a wide body STI frame. So, I've developed a method of building a guard around the mag button using JB Weld that works like a champ. In practice, I hadn't caused the problem with my new Open gun, yet - but it showed right up in a match situation. Needless to say, I've built the mag button guard on the new gun, now, and the problem is resolved satisfactorily.

The weather was pretty chilly - good training for the Florida Open coming up in a week and a half. I'm not sure anyone had a good match, in the end - there were lots of misses and no-shoots being hit, mental errors, etc. Even with the two dropped mags, and a rather stinky classifier, I still won the match by 25%. On the plus side, the new gun times well in the real world, and runs sharp, and I started getting dialed in on the gun well during the match.

The courses were a bit different, compared to what we've been used to at Waco. For starters, the "house" that usually dominated stage 2 is gone in preparation for the Texas Open. There were quite a number of partial and/or long shots in the match, which worked out to be good training for Florida, as well. Many times in the past, the Waco match has a lot of closer, wide open targets, but not this time. Between Arthur's stage designs and the weather, this became a very challenging match!

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Test driving new equipment

In addition to introducing you to the new machine, let's chat a bit about evaluating new equipment. This subject has come up in recent conversations - seems to be a theme.

First, the new "toy"!! Back in late 2006, shortly before the Open Nationals, the range where I practiced was shut down, leaving me without a venue to hone skills for the impending match. I was bummed pretty seriously. A couple of folks came to the rescue - Karl Rehn at KR Training and Bob Londrigan at Brazos Custom Gunworks. Bob and I ended up squadded together at the following Florida Open, and he invited me up again to practice whenever I was able.

Long story short, we eventually had a discussion about equipment, and I lamented that, while I felt I had an accurate, reliable gun to shoot, I felt that in absolute terms, it wasn't as flat as it could be, and that was hindering my ability to excel in long range splits. Most of the time, this is a shooter issue, not a gun issue, sure. The current gun was built for "old" major, though, and using the current power factor is not as efficient as the modern racegun can be in this regard. Bob offered to let me try a few things, and if something worked for me, he offered to sponsor my shooting in the next year. We did find something - more on the evaluation, and how it applies to you, too, after the jump. He did sponsor me ;) And here it is - a Brazos Custom Gunworks Pro Series 5"....

For the full story on how we arrived there, hit the DR Performance Shooting main site!

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Goals: Appropriate and Attainable

Specificity. That's what this really comes down to. High level performers set specific goals that give a clear direction to their efforts. In a solid goal setting program, there are no vague, directionless goals - the goals become like a ladder, pointing a constant, straight, unwavering upward path.

Goals set in this fashion will be appropriate and attainable, and will mostly be "performance goals" as opposed to "outcome goals". A performance goal might be "Achieve a consistent 1.00 second draw with A-zone hits at 7 yards", as opposed to an outcome goal such as "Win every local match." I may talk about this a bit more in a later post - but for now, we left off last time with a promise to discuss those first two bits - appropriate and attainable. What do those mean to us, and how are they important in our goal setting??? I bet you can guess already....

That's right... head over to the DR Performance Shooting main site, and check it out!

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Get Back To Your Plan

How many times have you been mid-stage, and something goes a little wrong? You do what you need to do to correct it, and move on - but now you're improvising, off your original plan, and somehow things go from a little bad, to a lot worse? You look around and think "Where am I? And why am I in this handbasket?"

Head over to the DR Performance Shooting site to see the video and read the article!

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Sunday, January 6, 2008

ALSPPC 1/5/08 USPSA Match

Not a bad little match for the first foray of the year. The weather around La Grange, TX started off overcast and a bit cool, but warmed to the mid-70s and cleared to partly cloudy skies by 11:00am. I won the Open division in the match, and was High Overall. Here's the video - my comments follow....

This was the typical 5 stage local match. My squad started on Stage 5, so that's where the video starts. As you can see, the stage was a short little 27 round "field" course - if a 3' square shooting box for the shooting area counts as a "field course". It was really more of a big speed shoot, and had the high hit factor you'd expect. I was down 7 points here, which puts me just shy of 95% of points. The footwork was a bit goofy, and I ended up out of position moving into the last array - thus the foot shuffle, but the last set of targets was through a 4"x8" port that was positioned about 5' away from the box, so you had to angle yourself around to see all the targets. The only real mistake here was the 2nd to the last shot on the middle array - a little trigger freeze here, and I broke the 2nd shot on the last target off to the right. I had to make that one up, and then move on - that always costs time.

From there to stage 1. I had to wait 7 or 8 minutes, and had 3 false starts on the stage as targets downrange kept blowing over in the wind that kicked up as the sky cleared. Even so, I had a decent run, excepting my 3 to the last shot, which went over a headshot target at the end - I called it, but didn't make it up for reasons I can't really explain. I was happy with how I got the gun up and ready for the 2nd array, moved hard into the third, and took the Texas start 1 for 1, without the luxury of shooting it in an optimal pattern...

Stage 2 was the classifier, 99-12 Take Your Choice. The 100% hit factor for this one appears to be an 11 - so my 11.3772 is enough for a 103% run there. Unfortunately, the club doesn't own a Bianchi Barricade prop, so the box was a bit wider on each side, and one could see over the top of the barricade (though shooting that way wasn't really a good option for me). This might have made the lean to the inside targets a bit easier, but probably isn't enough to scream about.

Stage 3 really could only be shot one way - you could make some choices on the outside arrays, but nothing too incredible. The plates you hear are 6" squares - I chose to pin up at the beginning and hammer the near target, then take the plates, and sweep the last two as I departed. I took two extra shots here - without them, I'd have been sub-7 seconds on this stage. As it is, this was another high hit factor run.

Stage 4 was the only stage I made any real large mistakes on in the match. My name was pulled first, and I didn't really get comfortable with the stage before I began - definitely a mental error, and one I've recognized in my game, but not fully corrected, yet. C'est la vie. Better to do this in a local match. The middle array is 1 Pepper Popper and 9 US poppers, and I basically hosed at it, not really calling shots, and in the end, ran the gun dry and had to do a standing reload. A tough break, too - the only shot in that array that I fully remember calling was on the first target I shot in the middle - but it didn't go over. It subsequently passed calibration, so I had a miss... to go with another miss on the right side that resulted from - foolishly - trying to make up time lost in the middle. I know better, of course.... Interestingly, another of those same US Poppers (the kind with the funky L-hinge that sometimes have issues...) did not fall when center punched with a 230gr .45 bullet at Major power factor.... so I don't feel so bad about my missed popper... Those targets have sat in a trailer for two years with no use, and this is only their second match, so they could probably use a little TLC in the form of some lube...

Fun match, and a good way to open the season. Hard to tell I literally hadn't shot the gun in over a month (since the last ALSPPC match), isn't it??? ;)

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My 2008 Calendar and Results

For the folks who are interested in following along, this post will track my 2008 match and training calendar, and will have pointers to video and results from the matches I shoot this year...

January 5ALSPPC USPSA Match - 1st Open, HOA - match video included
January 12-13Teaching Competition Pistol with Matt Burkett
Sherman, TX
January 19Waco USPSA Match - 1st Open, HOA - match video included
February 2ndALSPPC USPSA Match
Feburary 8-10Florida Open - placed 5th overall - match report and videos
February 17Alpha-Mike - High overall, and 1st Open - match video and report
March 28-30Double Tap Championship - placed 7th overall - match report and video
April 18-20Area 6 - placed 7th overall - match report and video
May 9-11Texas Open
September 11-13USPSA Open Championship
November ??Area 2

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Friday, January 4, 2008

Like what you're reading?

If you do, sound off!!! Feel free to leave comments here - possibly the best way is to talk this blog up in other places. Feel free to link to articles here, tell other folks about it, etc. I need all the help I can get from you to make this blog a vibrant, active breeding ground for ideas, techniques, and strategies to play these shooting games.

For starters, think about subscribing to this blog via RSS - there's a link in the right hand toolbar that'll help you do it. That way, you can stay up on what's happening, and easily find new posts to the blog.

If you have ideas for things you'd like to see discussed, shoot me an email, or leave a comment here, and I'll do my best to cover them for you (already had a couple of these!).

Due to the forum policy at the Benoverse, once I announced here that I was available to start teaching, I'm no longer allowed to promote my blog on the forum. That means I can't link back to it from my signature, for instance. But, if you find an article here that you like, you can link to it in a forum post.

If it becomes affordable for me (ie, maybe if I pick up a couple of students), I'll enroll as a dealer on the Benoverse, and then this issue goes away. But, for now, with match apps going out, and airline tickets being purchased for the season, I'm a little strapped for cash. Any help in getting the word out about this blog would be greatly appreciated!!!!!

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The Forum on

The Forum on - aka, the Benoverse. I've been editing and re-editing this post for a while, now (like, since the inception of this blog), cause I'm finding it hard to be succinct. I could go on for days...

Hit the DR Performance Shooting main site, where I'll go for ten minutes, anyway... ;)

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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Self Talk, the M2/TT Way

Inevitably, any discussion about the mental game gets into the concept of Self Talk. Put simply, Self Talk is all of the things you say to yourself. Sounds a little nuts, I know. Try this, though - for one 24 hour period, consciously monitor every thought that runs through your head. You'll probably find that you really do talk to yourself a lot - and if you've never done this exercise before, you'll probably find that a lot of the things you say to yourself aren't all that flattering. "That was stupid." "You look like a dork." and so on.

Now, pay attention to what you say to yourself with regards to your shooting. Your Self Talk reveals a lot about your self-image - what you truly believe you are capable of doing, and also has the ability to undermine your performance (or, if used to your advantage, support and build it up). This really comes out following a stage with some mistakes in it - what runs through your head, then? "You dumb jerk, you really suck." "You might as well give up now." "Things never go my way." "This match stinks." Maybe you said some really, complimentary stuff to yourself before the stage, too... "I can't hit those hardcover targets." "Swingers always eat my lunch." "Let's see how bad I suck on this stage."

Would your best friend ever say anything like that to you? If so, why are they your best friend??? We would all do well to head on over to the DR Performance Shooting main site take a lesson from two of the best shooters in the game on how we should be treating ourselves on and off the range - Max Michel, Jr. and Travis Tomasie.

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Hanging a Shingle

I've wrestled a bit with exactly how to announce this. In the end that usually means I should just stop quibbling with myself and spout it out. So....

I'm now (officially) available for shooting training!

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