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The Day Before

Thursday, September 22nd, 2005


- Unknown

Pre-qual day. You know what that means: freak out for no apparent reason.

After yesterday’s double-action fiasco, I was ready to take care of business at the 25 yard line with my single-action self.

My first few shots were shaky. I cut back on the coffee but the one thing I did yesterday that I didn’t do today was to eat a piece of fruit. I thought the little extra fuel would counteract any caffeine shakes and even if it didn’t, the increased shakiness that occurred today would naturally be blamed on the change. More likely, it was just having the “pre-qualification day” label put on it.

After my first few shaky shots I relaxed but then I realized that I was getting pelted with a brass casing each time the Staff Sergeant to my left fired.

TINK ….. right in the head, every time.

So I came up with a plan: I would wait until he fired, take the headshot, and then take my shot at my target. This would also better pace me because he seemed to know what he was doing.

At the end of the 15 rounds, I did not shoot as well as I expected from going from double-action shots to single-action. My target looked a little sprayed and my shaking even elicited a few visits from the coach telling me…. That I was shaking.

“Are you nervous, Sir?”

What an emasculating question.

“No, just shaky today”…. You miserable little….

When I finished and we looked at the target, I was all around the bulls on most of the shots but I had about half in the black. The rest really had no pattern so there wasn’t much to say except the pistol-shooting version of catch-all advice “Keep your eye on the ball” made famous by father’s throughout time.

“Focus on your front site post.”


During the speed drills, we load 8 rounds. They then yell “TARGETS” and we fire off two shots in 4 seconds. Then they do it again. After 4 times, we are done and go see how we did.

I only pulled one shot out of the black. All the rest were in the bulls.

I was floored.

But wait, there were only 6 shots in the bulls, one in the white…. Where was that 8th shot?

“What do you think, Sir?” (the coaches scored the target today and tomorrow)

“I don’t know, I don’t think I could have missed the whole fucking target.”

A couple of things confused me here. First, where was that 8th hole? Second, why was the coach asking ME where I thought it was. He’s the one in charge at this moment and closer to the target.

He just looked at me like what should he do.

“Which hole do you think it went through?”

OK, now I get it. But it was hard to swallow.

“Well, that one on the 9 ring looks like the biggest hole.”

He bent over and looked at it closer. Finally, he marked it and mumbled something about owing him a case of beer.

I felt bad about it but upon further reflection, I knew he wouldn’t “give” it to me. The fact was that I had knocked 6 holes in the black and the only one I dropped was just outside the black. So while improbable, it is at least possible that that eighth shot went right through one of the other holes.

If I would have been all over the target, or even an errant shot near the edge, he would have never even considered it.

My very last shot today hit so near the bottom right of the target, it almost MISSED the target. The sad part is that it was only from 15 yards away and part of the 3 and 3 magazine exchange drills. Most of the others were decent shots and that last one was just a bloody afterbirth of a spazmotronic moment.

I really thought I pumped the pooch today. I never had a REALLY impressive grouping and I at least hoped for a sharpshooter score.

That’s why I was totally surprised when the coach told me my score at the end: 334 which is a mid-sharpshooter, only 11 shy of an expert.

The weird thing is that the entire time, I felt like everyone around me was doing better and I was always just bringing up the rear. Staff Sergeant Shell Casings To My Head ended up with a lower score and Gunny I Have My Own Personal Shooting Gear did MUCH worse than I did.

I don’t know. I definitely not getting a big head because I know that I have untapped potential to ram my score prison-style for qual day tomorrow.

The pressure is on.

Free Advice for Today: “When you find someone doing small things well, put him or her in charge of bigger things.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.