It has been said that a Rifleman is concerned with one thing, and one thing only: the next shot. Sure, this means that last shot is gone forever – but this also means learning from that previous shot and applying information from it to the next..
An “X” is a perfectly executed 10… Sure, there are some days that are divvied up by X-count – but more often than not, 10’s are more than good enough: it is he who takes the most 10’s that usually carries the day.
As shooting competitive National Match Highpower is a journey, all aspiring competitors will have to start somewhere. Perhaps those 10’s or X’s seem too random or hard to come by in the beginning of one’s journey. Perhaps this entry should have been titled “One Good Shot At A Time”, but those 10’s are just around the corner – even for those just starting out. The goal is improvement, combined with what one learns along the journey. A good goal in the beginning is to try and break each and every shot only “in the black”. It will take some practice, but each and every competitor who lives primarily inside the 10-ring, had to start somewhere too… and this was “inside the black”..
After some time spent in the basics and getting a feel for National Match Highpower, enough successfully called 10’s and X’s will have been shot that a relationship can start to be established. The more one shoots called 10’s, the easier the process required to do so can be recalled for more and more 10’s.
This is the physical aspect of shooting 10’s: a good position with good sight alignment, combined with good trigger control while the sight picture is deemed correct. These are required to shoot a good 10.
What this article primarily hopes to address is the mental aspect of shooting 10’s… and shooting them, one at a time – repeatedly for score.
As mentioned at the top of this entry, learning from the previous shot to apply corrections to the next is very important. Examples of this can include things like sight adjustments and tweaking Natural Point of Aim after a shot has settled from recoil.
The goal is to find the appropriate balance between:
• analyzing feedback from the previous shot and
• looking at the next shot as an entirely new 10 that is ready for the taking,
• while not getting bogged down in thinking of the next shot solely as part of a larger string.
10’s present themselves,
or can creep into the subconscious as things to be avoided –
in many different ways…
Here are some examples:
Example #1 – “The Accidental X”:
These are to be ignored. They’ve happened to everyone. Coming off the piece so fast that the brass can be seen hitting the ground after ejection, huffing and puffing expletives as to why that shot broke when it did… only to have the target come up an X. Highpower shooters can be a superstitious bunch. Perhaps that was a reward for a certain earlier misfortune or perhaps it’s something to be paid for dearly at some point in the future? Regardless… it’s on the score sheet, so move on – but DO NOT take internal credit for that shot. Called 10’s and X’s are the real goal.
Example #2 – Not Enough 10’s:
Some strings can just seem like there’s a forcefield surrounding the 10-ring, blocking anything that tries to penetrate it – sending shots deep into the 9-ring (or worse!). After verifying that good dope has been applied to the rifle, and all environmental conditions have been acknowledged and addressed – it is extremely helpful to remember that control of the next shot is entirely within reach and exists solely unto itself. Tremendous feats have been accomplished by those who never gave up… even after what started off looking like a crummy offhand string.
There is an old adage in Highpower that “if it doesn’t look like a 10, it wont be a 10!”. Sometimes a total reset is required to gain the perspective of what looks like a 10: breaking position, walking away for a brief spell and coming back fresh. Sometimes the change required is something simple like a deep breath or just reinforcing the visualization of the expected sight picture before and during the snap-in. If it doesn’t look like the intended sight picture: start over, knowing to only break on a 10!
Example #3 – Too Many 10’s:
This is the unfortunate experience of humming along in slow-fire, only to look down at the data-book and realize that things are going exceptionally well – right before breaking a bad shot just to shake things up a bit. It’s almost as if competitors get scared of doing well. This is very common. While it is definitely important to take a mental note of what is happening (and how) when things are going well – it is even more important to maintain the discipline required to give each and every shot the focus it needs to break as a 10.
Example #4 – Called 10’s!
These are what makes this game so special and addictive. Everything coming right into place at the right time: conditions, settings, position, sights, picture, trigger… and the ability to break the shot at just the right time and place. It’s coming off the rifle, and getting right back on for the next shot – because the last is guaranteed to be right in the middle…
At first these may be few and far between. Much has to come together in just the correct way for this to occur. Nonetheless, they are attainable. These are the shots to pay attention to. Watching the target come up with the spotter exactly in the intended place… arms having grown just over 200-yards, commanding a sphere far larger than before. Given enough time and hard work put in, these are the repeatable goal. One ten at a time!