The Winners-Circle Grin
I took part in another smallbore metallic silhouette match last weekend and managed to win my class. That was pretty awesome because a win is a win but it’s not as awesome as you might think. I was the only shooter in my class. I didn’t know that going in. When Inez showed up I figured she might be shooting in my class and she’s a kick ass shot. Better than me at this point at least. It turned out she was in the next class up. Charlie was there too and I thought he might be shooting in my class as well but no, he was 2 classes up from me. I shot horribly badly with the heavy gun. 7 shots of 40. I had a Mountain Dew when we got to the range and a HUGE carb laden breakfast and then Inez showed up and the nerves and the caffeine started little muscle shakes in my upper leg and my trigger finger started jitterbugging and I couldn’t hit a bull in the butt with a broomstick.
At the end of the first match (there were 2 that day, back to back) I was pretty downcast but, I picked up the light gun for hunter class and with the heavier trigger and more rearward weight balance I was hitting targets. I had to dial in dope and verify it before the match and only had a few minutes to do it. At the end of the hunter gun match I’d hit 11 of 40 shots.
After the match they start calling the winners and I just took to packing up. Then they called my name and I was shocked. I went up and got my cash prize and smiled and sat back down. That was pretty cool. I mean, I didn’t even hit 25% overall today but ok. I’ll take it.
Then they called out Inez for her class and we all went to hootin’ and hollerin’ and congratulating. Inez is a super classy person, a heck of a shot and a gracious competitor. As one of the few women we see regularly at matches she gets a little extra attention but it’s not the normal leg humper stuff. The guys all convey a great deal of respect for her ability and her as a person. I point that out because it’s important to know that women can come to a match and compete and be taken seriously. Now, backing out from the digression.
Next they called out Edo for winning his class. Edo is another of those really personable people which is hard to pull off being as quiet as he is. He seems to be very serious and thoughtful with large reservoirs of a sort of cheerful authoritative kindness. He’s one of those people you think might be a cop that moonlights as a kindergarten teacher.
This is pretty cool so far. Two of the nicest people I met at the state high power match were there and the 3 of us had just won our classes. The only thing missing was my spotter/coach George taking home his usual win. He usually wins either the match or his class or both and I was surprised to not have heard his name yet. Well the next thing you know they call George’s name out as overall match winner. He runs up to quickly collect his prize while showering the rest of us with mischievous good-hearted nya-nya’s. George is very well known in the silhouette game in the region and his sort of impish wild-child humor really goes over quite well and nicely breaks up an otherwise serious environment. Most of the shooters I’ve come across in this game are a bit high on the gleeful end of mischievous. There are more serious folks too but they don’t spend a lot of time at the bullshit circle so I don’t know how good or not good they are as people. I suspect they’re just shy.
You can get started in Smallbore Metallic Silhouette shooting with whatever .22lr rifle you have. A good bolt action is best but beginners can get away with super accurate 10/22’s. Great ammo is necessary though. SK Rifle Match, Eley Target or Tenex, Federal Target Match, RWS and other match .22lr ammo really does help and makes a difference. Smallbore competition has a low barrier to entry and it’s super fun. It’s also not entirely unlikely that you’ll go to your first few matches and occasionally be the only person in the beginner class which is an easy and amazingly satisfying way of winning. With just a little bit of practice and shooting some matches you’ll be honestly winning against other shooters in your class and maybe even above it in no time. You can’t get into the winners circle if the only thing you shoot off is your mouth.
It’s fun to say you’re a good shot. It’s fun for others to think you’re a good shot. It’s a completely different level of pride to know for a fact exactly how good you are and exactly how much effort it takes to improve. In my first match I wasn’t shooting against anyone else but myself in my head so the fact that I tied for last didn’t hurt my feelings. I did a little better than I thought because I wasn’t dead last. Being dead last would have just met my expectations. Now when I go I expect to shoot at least in the middle of my class. I expect that in a few more matches I’ll have to get bumped into the next class up and then I expect to not win for a good long while as I make my way up that ladder. There’s always going to be a better shooter than you. The key to winning is to be the best shooter you can be by actually getting up to that line and competing. Without that step you’ll never have a chance.