Rock Castle 2012 Day 2
Day 2 was much improved over day 1. We had four stages to squeeze in and were shooting the first and last relays of the day. The 0800 start for the first stage was a little unnerving but, no worries. Up at 0600 after a great night’s sleep. Breakfast at the hotel repack the truck and off I go to Rockcastle Shooting Center. Day 2 began with Stage 6 all shotgun.
Stage 6 was a pure shotgun run. 12 steel targets and 10 clays flying directly away at 1 second intervals. The steel was in four arrays of 3 and had to be shot from a defined position, clays could be engaged from anywhere but once the sequence had begun, it was going to run as programmed.
Stage Description: Rockcastle 2012 AM 6
My goal for this stage was to not hit the par time, and try and hit all the targets. My plan was simple start in box A, shoot steel max of 4 shots. Reload and move to B repeat. Max load and call pull. Shoot four, reload 1, shoot, reload 1, shoot, reload 1, shoot, reload 1, shoot, reload 1, shoot, reload 1, shoot, reload 4. Move to box C shoot steel max 4. Move to box D shoot steel.
The Execution: My execution was good…right up to the clays. I missed the first steel (hold low stupid) and then cleaned both arrays. Max loaded for clays, called pull as I was loading the last shell and…flying clay…stop watching and..shoot..hit x4 life is good… I go to reload and get greedy, I broke from plan and tried to load 4. I had a hard time finding the rhythm again and only scored one more, although I made sure to shoot at them all. Reloaded, cleaned the remaining steel and….no buzzer?? I beat the par time??? Happy Dance time!!!
Stage 3, NO SHOTGUN. Celebration time. A stage that is pure run and gun rifle and pistol. A lot of movement, two swingers, ½ scale IPSC targets for the rifle, two steel poppers and one turner. One door to open, two windows to shoot through. Yeah, this is the good stuff.
Stage Description: Rockcastle 2012 AM 3
The plan. Starting from the start position, draw and engage the four paper. Turn and move four steps, engage the paper, the partially obscured paper and the steel. Turn and reload walking two steps engage the paper through the right port, turn and engage the steel through the left port, then the paper, then the turner. High tail it around the corner lean to take the pistol target on the left, deposit pistol in the box. Pickup rifle, and engage the left hand array, three steps right open door as you pass to get the swingers going, two more steps engage the two rifle targets, back to the door right hand rifle targets, center target, then the left swinger followed by the right swinger.
The execution. Ready the rifle and place it in barrel. Ready the handgun, then walk back to the starting line…oops, mental routine out of sync….focus focus…deep breath (I should have wiggled my toes here too)…beep draw, sight picture, shoot shoot transition shoot shoot transition shoot shoot transition shoot shoot turn and move skid to a stop sight picture shoot shoot transition shoot shoot turn move and reload don’t step on mag (I did) shoot through portal sight picture shoot shoot transition shoot shoot don’t hit the black “hard cover” shoot again, turn… ug paper target is visible where’s the steel… lean sight picture… crap I forgot the first steel target…two steps back shoot steel… back to portal shoot steel shoot paper shoot turner… afterburner to next station “crowd gasps”… shoot paper…crap ran pistol dry… deposit pistol get rifle… should have turned on optic… sight in shoot… go fast idiot…shoot shoot transition shoot shoot transition shoot shoot transition shoot shoot move … open door … move sight picture shoot shoot transition shoot shoot don’t shoot the third target or the no shoot go to door… now shoot that third target… get all the paper…don’t get the hostage… swinger left… swinger right… unload and show clear…. BREATHE.
When I get to the point of automatic pilot my body does the things that it knows how to do from 35 years ago. So when I finished with the second portal and had to move to the last pistol target, I exploded out of there. It was about two steps and then you had to make a turn around the corner and 3 or so more steps to the barrel and last target. My body did what has done on the ice for years when I needed explosive speed. I dropped my center of gravity, turned my left shoulder just a bit and used the turn of my torso on the wall as a lever while I drove off my right leg to change direction. I was hauling, and it felt good, and it felt right, and everyone watching thought I was falling. At that point, I was in the moment and I stopped thinking and just executed and that is what I need to do on every stage and in every match. In all my sporting experiences, that is what you strive for and when you are there…the game is glorious.
This was not my best stage of the match. I made mistakes but, I found my “mojo” and I found that level where I want to be all the time and as long as that magic place is out there I will be competing to find it.
Stage 7. Another stage with shotgun? You’re kidding right? 9 Steel targets in an array. By this time, we are running at least 90 minutes late. It’s hot and this is another run and gun stage. Okay – Head back to the lodge and get some food. Run over to a side match…90 minute wait… not today thanks… back to the stage, find some shade…watch the squad that is ahead of us… what can be done differently… plan it out… think it through…prep gear….where did that shade go??
Stage 7 begins with an array of 9 steel shotgun targets, drop them all run 30 yards up hill deposit your shotgun in the barrel, retrieve your pistol and engage the pistol array one left, then five through the window and one right. Safe the pistol put it in the box and haul ass down the hill 50 yards to your rifle that is sitting on a 40” table. Engage six ½ scale targets at 50 yards and three flashers at 200 yds.
Stage Description: Rockcastle 2012 AM 7
The plan. Let it all hang out. Make sure that you get all the 50 yard targets, there is one on the right of the tree and the rest to the left at regular intervals except for the last….don’t miss it everyone seems to be forgetting to engage it. Hold low on the steel, watch the foot faults on the pistol, first the left target, then right to left as visible as you pivot by the window two steps right for the last target – pistol in box. When I get to the table four points of contact, magazine, elbow, elbow, chest. Get in there steady. Don’t rest the hand guard on the table like everyone else and shoot the table that’s why the wood is splintered.
The execution. Rifle is ready, it is going to sit in the sun on that table unloaded with two magazines by it. Up the hill pistol unloaded and in the box on the left, with one magazine. Spare magazine in the right hand box in case something goes haywire. Walk to the shotgun station and load. Double check no rifle of pistol ammo on me, check. Deep breath, remember the plan. Excuse me? You want my toes on the wood? This doesn’t feel right… okay make move feet part of the plan… deep breath….low ready…nod…beep… aim shoot transition x4… that steel is dropping like flies… I am going to ROCK… aim shoot miss transition …huh miss… aim shoot transition…huh miss… (“…be the ball Jimmy…”) aim shoot transition x4 load two aim shoot transition aim shoot turn and run like the wind… keep the muzzle down range and move up that hill…drop shotgun in barrel… retrieve pistol, load sight picture…crap move your foot behind the fault… shoot shoot… move shoot get ‘em all… move shoot shoot…drop that pistol in the bucket and “…run Forrest run…” down the hill… just when I thought I should brake I hit the deeper down hill and accelerated…awesome this is like being a kid running down a hill again right on the edge of control…crap I need to stop…through out the arrestor hook, grab the leg of that platform and pivot slam into the table with your chest…load the rifle plant it.. elbow, magazine, chest get that other elbow in there stupid… start to the right of the tree…bang bang, transition aim squeeze repeat…count the shots… 2, 4, 6, 8, where is that other one… there it is bang bang…did I get that one??…oh hell bang bang…. 200 yd targets zoom in… breathe…plant that right elbow idiot… breathe… aim shoot… hit… transition… shoot miss… move to third so that you engage them all aim shoot miss…now settle in and hit them…aim shoot….beep…huh? Par time? Again? But, I was just hitting my groove…. Crap! 10 more seconds, that’s all I needed. Oh well. I cleaned it all except for those two. If I had not doubted myself and reshot that one target (and not missed on the steel), I might have cleaned it all. Still things are starting to go my way. I’m feeling good about this again.
We were the last squad scheduled for stage 4. We got there and there were two squads still shooting ahead of us. Oh boy, it is going to be a late night.
Run off and take in a side match. Cool off in the truck, eat a snack or two and rehydrate then start to prep for the stage.
Oh, this stage isn’t really what it looked like in the drawing. Those targets are not even close to the same position, and why is that one that is supposed to be right here way over there at 25 yards, and I have to shoot it leaning out on one foot? 180 yards and 235 yards, uphill in the fading light? You are really making this tough aren’t you.
Starting on either side shoot targets as they appear. Engage all ½ scale rifle targets and long range flashers before transitioning to pistol. Deposit safe rifle in barrel. Full scale pistol targets can be engaged as visible, flashers on the hillside must be engaged from the low portals (kneeling) to the left and the right of the hallway. That target that is supposed to be behind the tee on the right side…well you still need to shoot from the right but it is on the left at 25 yards. Watch the fault lines, the shooting boxes are narrow.
Stage Description: Rockcastle 2012 AM 4
The Plan: Hey Rob Romero is going to shoot this one before our squad starts…let’s watch him. He breaks it down in 90 seconds. Jumps in with his gear…and is done, one c zone hit… 43 seconds. Um… can you run it a few more times just a little slower so I can get that down??? No? Ok, back to my plan… I am going to start on the left standing, I probably should have started kneeling on the right and taken all of the rifle targets from there then moved to the left…. Standing left, take the rifle targets (x4) to the portal take the long ranger targets (x2) move to right kneel take paper targets through port and then take the hillside. Transition to pistol engage three paper right… uphill to the left engage paper…down hill into the right side of the hall way take remaining paper on the right shoot on the move to the wall take the 25 yd target, shift left take the open paper then lean around the wall to the last paper.
The Execution: I walk up and the RO takes my rifle and holds it while I make ready with my pistol. I go through my little prep ritual and the world slows, I relax and find my “happy” pre-shoot place. Then he hands me my rifle and my calm is frazzled. But this is my rifle, there are many like it but this one is mine. I know this one, every scratch and scuff…my rifle and I are becoming a matched set and I begin to settle down again… a sight picture through the port is allowed and I find the right place for the rifle and my body to settle against the wood of the frame and the orangeish Kentucky soil of the shooting box. I stand, a deep breath and I rehearse the plan in my mind. Rifle to low ready, thumb on the safety…I am ready…a nod…beep…rifle up target engage…faster idiot this is for time…bam bam, transition shoot shoot…get down… aim up the hill… there’s the spot…breathe… squeeze…HIT….aim breathe squeeze … high right… aim breathe squeeze… HIT….UP…. MOVE… DOWN… settle in… aim up the hill….breathe aim squeeze miss low… repeat… missed …did I hear someone call hit…. seemed faint… move up the hill… aim breathe squeeze…miss… aim breathe squeeze…HIT… back to the closer target… getting impatient..aim breathe squeeze miss…aim breathe squeeze… damn…move on…twist right paper bam bam transition bam bam…safety on… stand… rifle in barrel…draw pistol shoot paper x3… run uphill oops too far…could have stopped sooner shoot paper x2…back to the hallway paper on right shoot and move clear right… turn left… shoot and move… lean left around wall shoot paper…move 4 steps…aim at 25 yd paper, lean right… crap my foot is on the fault line move it back… lean shoot …what are you doing shooting with one hand get a grip and shoot like you mean it…. Bam bam bam bam… hopefully I got it… unload, show clear, hammer down, holster… deep breath… Hey that felt pretty good…check the targets…mostly clean…the scorer comes up to me and says, “I have to thank you. You are an honest man”. Evidently he had called a hit on the flasher and knew he screwed it up, and I kept after it because I knew it was just a wee bit off too.
MY BEST STAGE OF THE MATCH!!! Unfortunately it was also the last. If only they all could have been like that one.
As much as fitness, and proper equipment, and skill come into play in this game…mental toughness is a key. Have a plan, and execute to that plan. Rehearse it, visualize it, talk yourself through it, own that plan so that you can execute to it. Every time I think about these stages, there is something that took me off that plan. Sometimes it was impatience, sometimes excitement, sometimes I just got thrown because I didn’t own the plan and I didn’t have contingencies.
Tomorrow – Rock Castle 2012 Results / Prize Table