November is when the shooting season has or will slow down for most of us, after the fall frenzy of national championships and before the winter fun of SHOT Show and the IDPA Indoor Nationals.While my season isn't bookended by any of those (yet!), I generally shoot a bit less in the winter too. We don't stop running our monthly IDPA club match over the coldest months, and one of my favorite clubs to just shoot at runs indoors, but my home USPSA club takes a break when the days get shorter and between holidays and just plain cold, we don't get out as much in the winter. I'm really excited to be finishing out my pistol season with a Ben Stoeger class (thanks for the opportunity, Super-Tactical.com!) and as I'm getting ready for it, I've been reflecting a bit on the past year.
During last year's break, I took up a 1911 with mixed results but as I had hoped, my return to my M&P showed some strong gains. At my first sanctioned IDPA match of the season, the beautifully run Think of the Children Benefit Match, I match bumped the hard way to SSP/SS, then matched my class with the classifier I shot in August. With my first major 2013 IDPA goal out of the way in April, I was able to work on my stretch goal of winning a High Lady trophy against the immensely talented women in my region, which I accomplished at the Burt Schaffer Memorial Match and the Liberty Match at Valley Forge [pdf]. My club match results have showed some ups and downs as I've been experimenting with finding my new balance between speed and accuracy but my new normal is so far beyond where I was that a bad match today is very nearly as good as a good match was for me a year ago. At my very first IDPA match back in 2010 or so, I came in so far dead last that we're not really sure that I shot the same match as everyone else and that I only shot it once. I've won SSP there five months running now, with best overall time last month. It's been very slow going to get to where I'm at now, so I'm happy and relieved to report that it's true: speed comes!
In USPSA-land, I finally shot my first major, the Mid-Atlantic Sectional, which I also staffed. It was a great experience, and I'm looking ahead to adding more USPSA majors to my schedule in 2014. Unfortunately, I haven't had the opportunity to shoot a classifier since May, but my match percentages are significantly up and I even made my first ever class win. With my improved technical shooting skill, I've discovered that I can now spend more time on stage strategy and other aspects of the mental game so that I'm benefiting more fully from some of the past classes I've taken as well as a few coaching sessions specifically focused on visualization and neural based training. I'm really glad that I've kept the notes with the wisdom of my prior instructors because while I wasn't able to understand how important it was then, it's becoming more valuable to me now. My stage breakdown skills in particular are improving, and I'm now able to find more creative solutions that - literally - take me outside of the (shooting area) box.
It's not been all roses for me in the 2013 season, though. I'm disappointed with the Single Stack classification I picked up in the spring, even knowing that gun malfunctions were a major factor. My IDPA classifier time is continuing to improve, but not nearly at the rate I've been hoping for. Clearly, I need to stay busy with dry fire over the winter. And I haven't been out with my rifle much, in spite of building the Purple Zebra. So, for next year: more dry fire, more rifle (and maybe a branch out into High Power, CMP, or some other form of precision rifle shooting), and perhaps a return to the 1911 after all, now that I've acquired a full size 9mm that's been to Sean Reed at CDI Custom and back home to me just this weekend....