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What to Upgrade First?

Bladesmith, SASS 113085

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Take it from a second time around pro. When you build your first gun cart, start making plans for your second one.  When I first started out, I was clueless about what my future needs would be. I do all the different things this sport has to offer. I admit I don’t do any of them well and I conclude I will never be up there with the big boys and that is OK. It gives me a purpose every day to keep guns running, add new different firearms and always a chance to learn and keep learning. I am ever grateful to spend my twilight years doing what I love.

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2 hours ago, Dusty Devil Dale said:

Everybody seems to think they can buy magic shortcuts to the podium. 

For a new shooter, short stroked rifles and pistols will offer little improvement, until the shooter has several thousand rounds downrange and has his or her grip, timing, target acquisition, TRANSITIONS,  and mind in proper order.  

THEN, the various short strokes and other refined gunsmithing work will improve your times.  There really is no shorter road around practice.  JMHO. 

Buy good equipment to begin with, THEN learn to use it, THEN consider making mechanical refinements. 

Notice how DDD capitalized TRANSITIONS ?  It is more important now than ever before.  With big close targets, short strokes, etc the transitions take up a much larger percentage of the stage time than in the "old days."  I've only started working on it recently and have a long way to go as old habits are harder to break.  For example, videos showed me laying my long guns down carefully with both hands every time..  I'll never drop them on the table like some, but using one hand while starting to move definitely helps.  I'm trying to pay more attention to carrying them to the next position before discarding at times or carrying the a long gun to the next position instead of staging it there (where allowed).  Many other things, but since you are new it should be easier for you to develop good habits than trying to change old ones.


1 hour ago, Larsen E. Pettifogger, SASS #32933 said:

... Forget this crap about modifying a baby stroller or jogging carriage or converted golf bag or converted hand truck from Harbor Freight.  They are junk and will look crappy.  If you look crappy how can you shoot well?  ...

Gee Larson, where is the smiley face?  I'm quite happy with my bag boy golf cart, lightweight, carries everything I need, and "looking crappy" is pretty subjective.  It is quite easy to find in a sea of Rugged Gear carts and has held up well for the past half dozen years or so.  I think my shooting limitations are based more on lack of practice than my gun cart.  YMMV of course.

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What I love about this sport is that for as much as it's changed over the 38 years I've been involved, it really hasn't.  Practice is still king.  Lack of such is telling every time you (all inclusive, not personal), step up to a stage.  And by practice, I mean perfect practice.  Perfect practice is that which optimizes your shooting technique, as well as gun handling and transitions.  As my late friend once famously said, "slow is smooth & smooth is fast."   However, if you're practicing without a timer, you're not really measuring how your practice is either improving your performance, or hindering it.  I've heard it espoused that one should speed as fast as possible in practice, trying always to be as smooth as practicable, without sacrificing speed.  Then, on match day, tone it down a notch, going for perfection.   It seems to make a bit of sense... but... practice also needs to be shaped around an individual's abilities and needs.  Practice sessions should include both each firearm separately, and in combination... otherwise, how will you know if your transitions are improving?


The other great thing about this sport, is that your goals and aspirations are yours to pursue... No one needs to pursue goals and aspirations of others.  Competing is fun... it's why we have a clock and time ourselves.  Good equipment is a must.  But everyone needs to define "good equipment" for themselves.  Some folks are content to shoot equipment just as they find it on the store shelf.    As others have said, fighting with your equipment is not enjoyable... and makes the whole endeavour suspect.  Or are you a masochist?  Smooth, reliable running equipment is just as enjoyable when running a 40 -50 second stage as it is running in the teens.  (I'll have the take that latter part on faith, as I've never experienced it, tho' I have run in the 20s on occasion... ok, it was the high 20s, but I think you can concede my point)!  ;)


And, again, from personal experience, physical conditioning also plays a role in your performance.  Youth is a great advantage... Please don't waste it.  If I knew I'd live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself.  Limping from one station to the next is not fun... and while it hurts... not doing so means I'm chair bound... or at best, even less mobile after time.  neither is not being able to adequately absorb the oxygen you're taking in.  While I'm not getting any younger, stopping the cigars definitely helped.  (And I don't mean just the smoking while shooting a stage)!  They say it takes 5 years for your lungs to shrug off the effects of smoking daily... but, I'm here to tell you that just one year after quitting, I can tell a difference.


Lastly... as hinted above, podium finishes are not made in a vacuum... nor are they inexpensive... and in this day and age, as never before.  That includes the cost to acquire the guns, tune, perfect and enhance them, and the ammunition needed for that all important "practice."  It takes dedication and allocation of time and money to succeed.  Good luck to all.  I'm sticking with my cap & ball revolvers and if lucky, 40+ second stages... requires far less effort!:P

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Physics dictates that to do the same work with less motion requires more forces to be applied.  Semi-automatic guns address that by applying the added forces of gas release or recoil to the work of extraction of spent rounds and clambering of the next.


But for single action guns, ALL short stroke mechanisms are going to require more muscle and better coordination/timing to operate.   That means new shooters who are new to their guns and trying to learn with ss kits in place may have more difficulty in developing timing and the other components of error-free shooting. 


You will know it when you reach the point that your gun operation speed is disproportionately limiting your shooting speed.  That is the time to dive into the world of balancing more force against good technique.  Until then, stay focused on becoming a better shooter with any gun -- posture, grip, timing, focus, smoothness of movement, transitions, where to look, efficient target order -- all of that.   

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