I remember my first USPSA match. I used my wife’s Browning Hi-Power. I took enough time and got mostly A hits, except for the B’s I got on a stage that required headshots at 15 or 20ish yards (but the rounds were grouped nicely just to the left). I clearly remember one of the more experienced competitors advising me that I was shooting too slowly if I was shooting all A’s, and that I should push my speed up to the point where maybe 2 out of 10 shots were C’s. It was good advice at the time, as I was very slow.
After a while playing the action pistol game, pushing my performance a bit became second nature to me. I don’t think it’s odd to have a couple shots that are outside the A zone on a USPSA target, or something similar if I’m using a different target.
In some applications, missing brings with it harsher penalties than a point deduction. On the other end of the spectrum from USPSA, in a defensive shooting, every round will be accounted for and must be articulated. Missing the target and hitting a bystander would be disastrous. That context necessitates a change in aiming philosophy.
I recently had a two day rifle/pistol course that served as sort of a ‘refresher’ class for me to really knock the rust off of my close range skills. In the drills we shot, in order to get a score we were not allowed to miss the primary scoring ring, usually the size of an A zone (body or head, depending on the drill). Near the end of the first day I shot a drill, which I think was some derivative of the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 drill, and I had a miss. NO SCORE FOR ME! (Soup Nazi voice). I had to wait my turn to shoot it again, and I figured that I would have to see all my hits in order to get them.
I shot the drill again and I controlled my pace just to the point that I knew each shot had an acceptable sight picture. My cadence felt much slower. I would guess that my splits were in the 0.3 range rather than the 0.2 neighborhood that I usually can stay in, so it wasn’t as slow as I perceived it as I was shooting it.
The difference between those two runs illustrated for me the difference between training for a game and training for ‘actual’ shooting. I could have told you before that yes, of course I understood that there are times when I need to slow down and get my hits. The problem has been that unless the context was drastically different, such as a drill requiring the utmost accuracy with no time limit, I have tended to let the speed carry me away to the edge of my limits and beyond.
Requiring all hits as a prerequisite to receive a score on a drill brought me to a place where I think I know how to run my shots at an appropriate speed without letting myself be carried away by the ipsick rush. I believe this is the heart of all those catchy sayings about not being able to miss fast enough to win and accuracy being final and all that. Go as fast as you want, but don’t have any misses (overriding first priority). That’s how it’s done.
The difference between “on demand” performance and the “ipsick rush” style shooting is that what you can do cold and clean versus shooting a drill 20 times and cherry picking a really good run. A guarantee versus a maybe. One is for real and one is for fun. One is an end and one is a means. You can figure it out.