Having Fun vs. Shooting Competitively

by Mike Kendra on February 15, 2010

Skirmishing is a ball of fun!

I’ve had more fun Skirmishing than I’ve ever had doing just about anything else. Hanging out with friends and family at Regional events and National Skirmishes has become a tradition for me. I can’t wait to chat it up with all my skirmishing friends, at the campfire, the snack bar, or on the line.

And the shooting is awesome too, standing shoulder to shoulder with your best friends, what could be better than shooting a black powder rifle and breaking stuff!

Sure, sometimes I feel like I’m just burning powder and chucking lead down range, but I don’t care because a bad day Skirmishing is better than a good day at work!

And I don’t know if I can describe this, but there is something magical about this musket, this stick of smoke, fire, and thunder. I just love to hold it, to aim and pull the trigger of it. There is something primal, something that makes me crave to shoot it again and again.

Skirmishing is about Shooting Accurately

Competition in the N-SSA is fierce, and you really have to practice and have the correct mental attitude to be able to compete at the same level of the top shooters in this sport.

Every shooter who is successful in this sport learns that accuracy begins at home days or weeks before a skirmish, with preparation. The skirmisher who reloads the best has the potential to shoot the best, I always say!

Successful and accurate shooters practice, and practice some more! Sure, it’s not very glamorous, punching holes in paper all by yourself, but the rewards of accuracy at the next event hold an appeal to me. Perfection may be impossible to achieve in this sport, but without practice, you won’t even come close.

When I’m on the line, preparing to shoot at a target, I prepare myself. My stance, my breathing, my thoughts, everything is focused to take that perfect shot. I find that perfect sight picture, that lollipop to be almost sexy. When I see it I squeeze the trigger, using a smooth, almost imperceptible motion.

Taking the perfect shot is like a fine piece of art. Not everyone is skilled enough to create a masterpiece. Many skirmishers study very hard to become capable marksmen, others are just born with the ability.

And when you go home with that gold medal, you know you’ve accomplished something.

Balancing Fun and Accuracy, Where Do You Fall?

It’s not uncommon to find a shooter who fits into one of the two categories above, we’ve all met these skirmishers on the range before. Some shooters may even be more extreme than my examples…

However, most of us are somewhere in the middle. I know that I love this sport, and it is awesome. But I also like scoring in the black and breaking more clays than the average guy on my team. I like to have fun AND be accurate too, but I try not to take either to the extreme.

Where do you fall?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris February 15, 2010 at 9:02 am

Mike, great article. I really like this one! It seems that the topic would be a great new poll to put on the blog! Great work.

Jim February 15, 2010 at 10:03 am

I’m about 80% fun and 20% serious — except with my ’42 smoothbore, with which I, and 80 grains of 2F under a foil-patched .678 round ball, seem to have developed a quasi-serious relationship.

Aging eyes, that darned involuntary/essential tremor and other vicissitudes of life have taken me well away from serious carbine/musket competition, but there’s something about that ’42 that forgives all my infirmities and delivers despite them. I pull her trigger, she whaps me upside the head, and all’s right with the world.

Mike M. February 15, 2010 at 11:21 am

Depends on the event. Musket I don’t take seriously…carbine a bit more so…but revolver is my delight. THAT I train hard for.

Tod M. February 17, 2010 at 12:06 pm

So many of us fall in the middle. I am a younger skirmisher (30s) and really enjoy it – it’s something very, very special my dad and I share together. But practicing for me is nearly impossible – with family and career responsibilies. The rest of my team members follow a similar trend, and most of us tend to peak at Fall Nationals.

Already aching for a shoot!

Harry Hoyd February 21, 2010 at 11:16 am

I think this is what sets skirmishing apart from so many other competative sports (hobbies). I have had the worst days ever on the range and the most fun weekends at the same time. In fact I have never had a bad (aka not fun) weekend skirmishing. If we talk about just on the line … I can be quit competative when I am having a good day … on a bad day I still have fun. My team does keep rankings the past several years and that has made us more competative. Prior to keeping rank (we didn’t have a full A team let alone worrying about who was going to the B team) we really were all about fun. I remember shooting at a National and hearing a spectator say “they aren’t hitting anything but they sure are having fun doing it.” That summed it up pretty well for us.

Jon Wolf March 13, 2010 at 9:23 pm

Great post. I’m definitely about the fun. With an 8 and 6 year old at home who are both getting involved in sports, and a hectic work schedule, practice time is non-existent these days. Half the time, I can barely find time to mould rounds. I go to the Fort to relax, unwind, and because I LOVE to shoot. But I don’t take it seriously at all. I’m not the guy writing down weather conditions in a notebook, weighing every third powder load on a scale, filing burrs off my rounds like a sniper preparing for a 1000 yard shot. (More power to those who do it, though!) But that’s what’s great about our organization, and about our classification system. It allows for those who are serious competitors and those who just want to shoot for the fun of it. For all our troubles of late, this really is a great association. I wish folks could see the big picture again. Hopefully in due time.

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