Home > General > 80% of Open shooters aren’t as good as they think!

80% of Open shooters aren’t as good as they think!

Local shooters George Miller, Roger Henn and I competed at the USPSA Optics Nationals in Florida in the Open division this past weekend (Sat-Mon). We found tough, but fair stages that really tested our fundamental skills. There was a mix of standards courses with lots of reloads (Open shooters aren’t supposed to have to reload that much) and strong and weak hand shooting, medium courses where you needed to move quickly though the targets and be as accurate as possible, and a healthy dose of field courses with significant movement and lots of long distance targets (hence, the OPTICS part…). Targets occasionally sported some sort of cover, of both the hard and no-shoot variety. There were also swingers and bobbers mixed in for good measure. But none of what we saw was brand new.

While I had set my expectations on just shooting my current level of skill, I didn’t realize exactly what that was, at least not until after this match. I have been working hard to make A class and was less than 0.5% away about two classifers ago. Entering this match as a B class shooter, I thought it would be pretty good to shoot a B class score, which is my current level of classification.

When the scores got posted, I was already in a funk from several gun issues during the match. The final results didn’t really pep me up much, either. Later, I did some analysis of the scores for the Open division and what I found was eye-opening.

There were 231 shooters in Open division, which was shot with the PCC and Carry Optics divisions over 22 stages. This year, unlike many of the recent Nationals, one person ran away from the rest of the field. In what may be one of the most impressive performances ever at a Nationals, JJ Racaza won Open by almost 7%. Let that sink in. In prior years, the Nationals margin of victory was sometimes way less than one percent but almost never more than a few percent. He won by almost 7%. He could have zeroed almost any stage in the match and still won.

So, what does this all mean for the rest of us? I was disappointed that I shot only 54.99%, which is a C class score, and I am ALMOST an A. If we just exclude JJ from the entire match, I would probably have at least shot a B class score. But that got me wondering how many other shooters failed to achieve their current classification at Nationals. I looked at the class results and here is what I found:

Classification Shooters Current Above Below
GM 45 1 0 44
M 48 0 0 48
A 44 1 0 43
B 54 18 0 36
C 28 21 2 5
D 3 2 1 0
U 9

Current = shot current classification
Above = shot one or more classifications better than current classification
Below = shot below current classification

If you aren’t sure what this means, then let me put it this way. If you look at A, M and GM classes, there were 137 shooters. Exactly 2 of them shot their current classification. That means 44 of 45 GM’s failed to shoot a GM score (with the winner being the only one who did shoot a GM score), all 48 M’s failed to shoot an M score, and 43 of 44 A’s failed to shoot an A class score. That A class shooter who did shoot his current classification was none other than our favorite local shooting son, Roger Henn. I’m pretty sure his dad, Gerwin, was even more proud of Roger’s accomplishment than Roger was. George and I were also impressed.

Now, things got a little better as you progressed down in the classifications, with a reasonable number of B’s shooting their current level of classification. Most of the C’s shot a C score and the D’s, pretty much had to achieve a D class score, unless they got DQ’ed. In fact, in the entire Open division, only 3 shooters shot BETTER than their current classification and two were C’s and one was a D.

After discovering this, I began to feel better about my performance. Without the 4 Mikes and 4 No-shoots I had, my score would have been higher. However, every shooter except one had at least one Mike or No-shoot. For 222 (not counting the U classified shooters) Open shooters, only 20.7% of them shot at their current classification or above and only 1.5% of the top 3 classes achieved that distinction.

I have been trying to decide what this means for me personally, and possibly for almost everyone else. It’s easy to see that JJ Racaza got what he deserved. He worked hard and crushed the competition. Everyone wants to know how they compare to the best and Nationals are a great way to measure that. I found out that my near A class rating may be reflective of local matches and some sectional matches, but it really isn’t right for the Nationals. In fact, last year at Optics Nationals, I shot 55.74%, slightly better than this year. Consistent, yes. Improving, maybe not. Since almost 80% of the Open shooters didn’t achieve their current level of classification in this match, at least I am in good company.

Maybe the USPSA classification needs a major overhaul. While I am in no way picking on anyone in particular, almost 1/3rd of the GM’s didn’t even shoot an A class score in this match. Almost 1/8th of the M shooters didn’t even shoot a B class score. It goes on for the A’s as well. Maybe we need a new system where your local match classifiers are one rating and performance at major matches (Area or higher) are another classification. A lot of people never shoot an Area match and fewer will ever shoot Nationals. But if you really want to see how you compare to the best, this is the only way to do it.

It’s now three days after finishing the 2018 Open Nationals and I am feeling pretty good about myself. If I take out the gun issues, I move up a little. Not shooting the Mikes and No-shoots also helps, and maybe I even approach that elusive B class score. And, by the way, if you aren’t using the Practiscore Competitor app, you should be. This paid program from Practiscore allows you to edit your scores in any match that was scored using Practiscore, which is now every single USPSA sanctioned match. I will back out the time lost to gun malfunctions, then I will start backing out the mistakes and play the what if game. That’s when I usually start feeling pretty good about my shooting. I can fix the shooting mistakes with additional practice, so there is hope. I don’t even need to go faster to improve right now, I just need to eliminate the majority of the mistakes. Then, I can go faster.

I found out how I compared to the best this past weekend. At first, it was disappointing. But I realized that the best of the best is pretty awesome and I am now comfortable with my performance. I got exactly my current level of skill. My takeaway from all this can be summed up quite simply. Those that work the hardest are rewarded the most. I am retired and could dry fire 8 hours a day and live fire as much as there is daylight, but I don’t. For me, USPSA is a passion, but not my entire life. I put in time and get a huge amount of pleasure out of it when competing. Occasionally, I am near the top of the local matches, but I know I will never win Nationals. I enjoy shooting and will continue to practice to get better, but also realize that you only get what you deserve. Whatever you put in is what you will get out.

Categories: General
  1. Anonymous
    October 25, 2018 at 12:57 PM

    It was great fun, Bill. Thanks for the analysis-very interesting. If we had Tonya Harding’d JJ, wed all be 7% better 🤗

  2. George
    October 29, 2018 at 3:24 PM

    Well written article Bill. Even though I don’t compete anymore I enjoyed the analysis and your thoughts.

  1. October 28, 2018 at 3:43 PM

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