And that's why we practice.
I've thought of myself as a shotist for awhile. Yes, there are many better than me. But I generally come in at the halfway spot among those who have self-selected to compete in pistol matches, which is a better-than-average group of shooters.
But some days, you just have to accept the lessons taught you by experience. To do so, you have to put your pride away, and look plainly at yourself.
Yesterday was the local multi-department shooting match, and Dad and I shot in it. I shot it first with pistol, and found that I was doing reasonably well, shooting stages clean in okay times. Not blinding speed, but careful, miss-free shooting. Until the last "tie breaker" stage. Pistol empty with slide locked open on a barrel in front of you with a magazine with a single round in it next to it. At the buzzer, pick them up, load the pistol, and shoot the 7" plate that was probably all of 8 yards away. Misses cost 10 seconds on top of your time to shoot.
Well, you can guess.
Man, that will hurt your ego.
But redemption comes cheap, or just for the cost of another entry fee. I loaded up the AR-15, and shot the carbine course.
Turned on the Eotech.
Noticed that it was too dim for the bright afternoon, and tapped the up-arrow a few times while nodding to the rangemaster that yes, I was ready to shoot. On the beep, I threw it to my shoulder and... I was looking through a clear sight with no reticle, at the target, with only a front sight.
When this happens, do NOT attempt to turn on the sight. (I think I began to do that.)
Flip up the backup iron sights (BUIS), and just use those for the remainder.
In this case, the sights were flipped to smallest aperture. (seriously suboptimal on a small black target against a dark background, while I was in this sun.). I shot the target twice as required, and ran forward, flipping up the large aperture, leaned through a doorway, double-tapped two plates, turned to the stop plate, and.... Out of ammo.
We had been instructed to down-load magazines to given amounts. This stage required 9 rounds in the magazine, the next stage required 6. I had put the magazine holding 6 rounds into the rifle, in a stage requiring at least 7 to shoot it clean. After fumbling with my pockets for a second (no spare magazines-- 9 rounds maximum for this stage, darn it.), I just shot it with my pistol. Very slight cool factor for the method of solution-- the stop plate was about 15 yards or so off, and the pistol shot was pretty fast. But not that cool.
Before the next stage, I yanked the spare batteries out of hollow of the pistol grip (planning occasionally helps), and put them into the Eotech sight.
Nothing. Well, crap.
The rest of the carbine match went about like that. You know, things like not having properly sling-shot the bolt so that it would seat the round, but rather riding it slowly down, then failing to hit the forward assist. This of course results in a "click" when you want a "bang." Look, I'm letting it all hang out, here. It's shameful. I not only know better, I've known better for decades!
Can I claim complacency? I hardly could see how; complacency usually comes when you're moving along pretty well. Lack of practice? I don't put in a thousand rounds a month, but I do average about 50 to 100 rounds a month out of the AR, and try to make the matches. Fatigue? Naw, I was okay. Sickness? Distraction? Bad ammo? Broken rifle? Nope, not really (cell phone did ring and vibrate in my pocket during two stages, but that's life-- adapt and overcome or die); nope; nope (the rifle ran fine).
Some days, you just suck.
After, I checked the Eotech. Seems that the lithium batteries were, in a way, the problem. The labels on the batteries are a thin layer of plastic, whis is applied with adhesive to hold it to the metal of the outside of the battery. In intense heat, that adhesive will melt, causing it to run. Heat like... oh, say, the trunk of a patrol car that sits in Texas sun all summer long. That adhesive pooled on the battery face against the contact, and then dried on the Eotech battery contact point, making a nice little insulating dab of adhesive that prevented battery function as soon as rattling the Eotech around managed to cause the adhesive to work itself between the contact point and the battery terminal. A judicious scraping with a knife point finally cleared it (harder than I would have thought, as in the 90 degree air the adhesive was pretty gummy), and the 'lectric sight worked again.
This is why I sometimes shoot matches with the BUIS, only.
This is also why I try to shoot matches with the Eotech, only.
This whole exercise is why I practice.
Better to get the crap out of my system at the range, where I'm only red in the face, than on the street, where the costs are so much higher.
But damn, I am not looking forward to other folks seeing my scores when the rangemaster publishes them tomorrow. [/head slung]
I'll admit it. Pride's a motivator.