Some days start good and then go bad.

Others start bad and stay that way.

But only rarely do that start bad, “Ugh,” and then get better!

I started the day with all the right things.

  • The wadder had been disassembled, wiped down, and lightly cleaned the night before.
  • I skipped coffee that morning in the interest of stability.
  • I ate a high-protein breakfast 90 minutes before first shot so my brain would have the needed molecules for concentration, and by then, my stomach would no longer feel full.

But the day just seemed determined to just be a bad one.

To begin, my shooting was terrible. That hole being repaired is “just barely” a five. A tinge more to the outside and it would’ve been worth zero. I thought of packing it in early but decided that “quitters never win.” I saw it through.

But things continued downhill; after a dismal 22, CF was worse, and then the 45 competition started no better.

Adding insult to injury, after the Slow Fire of the National Match Course for the 45, I noticed that the dot on my wadder seemed loose. I gave it a wiggle. Yup, it’s loose. A vision of the scope coming loose in recoil and bonking me in the forehead as happened to Leslie a while back flashed to mind.

Even if it doesn’t come loose, I reasoned, I’ll be thinking about it coming loose instead of concentrating on my shot. I’ve got to fix this or change guns.

A quick inspection revealed that the bolt holding the front ring to the slide rail had loosened. I started to re-tighten the bolt but, as it began to snug down, something didn’t feel right. When it should have become tight, it felt mushy.

Oh no, I thought. I’ve stripped the threads!

I stopped turning, and hoped it would stay sufficiently snug for the remaining targets, but that was not to be. After the NMC Timed Fire, I could wiggle the front bolt by hand.

“I’ve got a gun failure here,” I said aloud. “One of the scope rings is coming loose. Can someone official witness this so I can switch to my backup, to my ball gun?”

From down the line Don yelled, “Wait, what kind of a mount is it?”

He came down, looked and said, “I’ve got a new one of those in the truck. I’ll get it and we can put in a fresh bolt.” Two minutes later, it was in place. “That should hold you for the match,” Don said.

But after the first target of the Timed Fire match, it was loose again. Apparently the receiving threads inside the scope mount were also gone.

Turning to the shooter on my right who’d been tallying a good number of Xs and 10s all day, I asked, “Will you verify this?” I wiggled the now loose red dot again. “I’m gonna have to change guns mid-match because this one is disabled.” He agreed. I put the wadder away and took out the ball gun which, by careful tweaking of the recoil spring, shoots my wad loads just as well as ball ammo. I finished the 2700 on that gun, and incidentally, posted some slightly better scores than I had with the loose-dotted wad gun.

But regardless, with bad 22, center fire and several poor to mediocre 45 scores, my aggregate for the day, 2281-25, was awful, really awful. Indeed, that score was below the SharpShooter baseline (85% of 2700 is 2295) so I didn’t even shoot my qualification this day.


“Ball match, anyone?”

Well, I thought, what the heck. It can’t get much worse. And my arm actually feels reasonably Okay and, after all, I do like shooting that ammo and the iron sights.

“I’ll shoot,” I volunteered, “but I need a couple of minutes to clean the barrel after running the wad ammo through it.” While I cleaned the ball gun’s barrel, most everyone else packed up. Oh well, I thought, that just means fewer folks to lose to.

Three of us shot ball: one comparative newbie a couple of positions down to my left, myself and the guy to my right who’d been scoring my bad targets all day but who shot his own very well. I thoroughly expected to get trounced by a bunch of points by him.

Maybe I can beat the newbie, I hoped.

I went to Don and bought a box of factory ball Aguila. It’s cheap, kicks like a mule, flies better than I can shoot and, after resizing, the brass would be reloadable.

And I shot a very good Slow Fire target, very good for me at least, an 85-1. All right! I *do* like shooting these iron sights.

Timed Fire wasn’t quite as good but, at 80-0, still “in there” for my ball scores. But even with that score, I noticed that my trigger control was better than it had been with the wad gun and its red dot. Not seeing the target clearly is a good thing.

And maybe some luck was with me because, glancing over at my “good shooter” neighbor’s score card, I saw he wasn’t doing very well with the ball gun. Indeed, my Slow Fire was better than his and our Timed Fire had been about the same. I was actually a couple of points ahead. The beginner farther down the line, well, he was doing like beginners do. I know, I’ve been there many times.

I was doing pretty good, and the pretty good shooter to my right wasn’t.

A very dangerous thought crossed my mind: I could win this admittedly small and not very tough competition. Yes, by golly, I could win this match.

Instantly the other half of my mind jumped in: No! Stop! Shut up! Don’t think that! Be quiet! Just focus on the next shot. Remember: front sight, alignment, aiming area, front sight, trigger straight back, front sight, front sight, front sight. Now be quiet and just shoot.

We shot the first string of Rapid Fire. Some good, some bad. I resisted the urge to scope the target.

Second string and again, some good, some not so good. I put the gun away. Naked eye from the firing line, I could see some holes in the black near the center but I knew I’d jerked a couple also. I folded up the scope without looking through it.

What’s done is done.

I scored the beginner’s target: Yup, he’s out of the running. A good try but really losing it on the Rapid Fire.

Now for my target. Hmmm. It had a couple of Xs and a couple of 10s. Those looked very nice. But my target also a 5 in the lower left. (Jerked shot.) My score was 78-2.

I had gone downhill over the three targets in the ball match. There were some good shots, yes, but there were also some bad ones.

My final score for the ball match was 243-3.

So, I wondered, what had Bob shot on his last target? It looked like he’d done better than me, but how much?

“Hi Bob, how’d you do? What’s your total?” I asked.


Trying not to let my voice waver, I asked, “Uhm, how many Xs?”

“It was a bad match, for me. No Xs.”

He shot 243-0, I shot 243-3.

I won?

I won!

I won the ball match!

I don’t care there was hardly anyone shooting. I don’t care if none of us were very good.

I won! I won the ball match! Yahoo!!

What a great day!

History began in 2023. Fiction and non-fiction publications are included as well as (blog) posts and supplemental materials from (2004-present).

Comments submitted on individual pages are subject to approval. General suggestions may be sent via the Contact page.

© Copyright 2024 by E D Skinner, All rights reserved