Categories is Good

I’m an “Expert Outdoors” shooter.

That’s my NRA classification. It is based on how I shoot at official events.

And at those official events, prizes and/or recognition are awarded within each classification or, for smaller groups, within groups of classifications. For example, I recently placed second in the 22 Aggregate at a small competition where the Expert, Sharpshooter and Marksman categories were grouped together. For that, I was awarded a small stack of “NRA Bucks”.


If you shoot Bullseye, you know there is an ocean – a big ocean – between Marksman and High Master. You could even say they live on different planets. Marksmen are looking to keep their shots in (any of) the scoring rings whereas High Masters are looking to keep them all in the X ring. But to the uneducated spectator, everyone appears to be doing almost exactly the same thing.

Staying motivated as you climb up or occasionally slip backward on that long ladder is hard. Anything that helps you feel better about your performance is a plus. The comment, “Nice target” from your scorer after a couple of dismal ones, feels really nice. And that shot that hits not the X ring but rather the dead center of the X ring, boy, that’s really nice to see, especially when you call it an X and it’s such a pretty X at that.

And that’s where the NRA classifications and event awards also help.

While there have been times when I’ve looked somewhat askance at the great number and variety of classifications and groupings that can be awarded for a really big competition – the national championships at Camp Perry in July are the penultimate example and I hope to be “on the firing line” there someday soon – the fact remains that if you win something, anything, you come away feeling like a winner.

And, as they say, the more, the merrier!

Lots of classifications, lots of competitions within competitions, and you get lots of awards.

And as motivators, they work.

Personally, my Bullseye is catch as catch can and awards are scarce.Indeed, over the past several weeks my work has taken me to Brazil where they manufacture many of the guns I own but where most people are not permitted to own them and Bullseye as a sport is unheard of, White Plains New York where the state issued handgun permit lists the serial number of which handguns you can touch, and South Korea where private ownership of handguns is almost unheard of. Consequently, my only range trips have been in the short breaks between those trips. Competitions, sanctioned competitions where awards are given, have become exceedingly rare. Accordingly, my skills have fallen off and my motivation has suffered.

So it’s very nice when I do compete to get a little something back other than, “You didn’t come anywhere close to the big guns.”

The above (click for bigger) second place finish in the 22 Aggregate and the (short) pile of “NRA Bucks” that arrived in this morning’s US Mail are, well, it’s a small win but my ego likes it. And that little push, that small amount of encouragement, helps.

Where’s my calendar?

Ok, I need to go downtown Wednesday to shoot some video for work for something we’re putting together for customers. I want to be there for the morning rush hour when lots of pedestrians will be out and about. Street lights, cross walks, lots of feet walking, cars moving, lights flashing…

Then, I need to meet Vic for lunch in North Scottsdale at 11:30AM. There’s an Irish pub we want to try, Guinness on tap. That’s a half hour drive from downtown Phoenix if I take 17 South (going East) to 10 West (going North) to the 202 West (!) and then the 101 North (!) up to Frank Lloyd Wright and then hook around to the left.

So, if I “shoot” downtown video and get out of there by, oh say 8:30AM, I could be at the range by 9:00 and get in two hours of practice before I have to leave at 11:00?

Yeah, that’ll work!

Now, do I have any ammo? Oh, crap! Looks like I need to be pullin’ the crank before then. Hmmm…

(Can you tell when I’ve been listening to Anthony Bordaine?)

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