Bowling Night, 9/6/07
The first match of the month is a qualifier at our shooting club. This helps to determine your skill level at IPSC matches and in the case of the serious competitors, national rankings. If I was near that level I'd be quite happy, that's for sure. Most clubs will have a qualifier match once per month. The only way I can really describe them is that a monthly qualifier is like haiku; the stage is short with little or no room for wasted ammunition, it goes by fast and requires a lot of skill to do it well. As for me, I shot my usual fair-to-middling match. I've got quite a few more qualifiers to run before I can see if I can go up to a higher skill rank.
The ranks for IPSC and USPSA (the US governing body for IPSC matches; dozens of nations have similar bodies) are Grand Master, Master, A, B, C, D, and U. U is Unranked and is for someone who hasn't shot enough qualifiers for a proper average yet. I'm at Rank D. As the matches are timed, you have to find a good balance between accuracy and speed to get the highest scores. I can hit nothing but perfect shots, but if I take 15 seconds setting up a shot I'll lose the time factor that's critical to a good score. Likewise, I can blaze through a match in 8 seconds, but if I miss half my shots my score suffers. Rank D is usually the slow but accurate crowd, which is a majority of the new guys. I'm not happy with that level of skill so I use every non-qualifier match as a chance to increase my speed with my accuracy, get more familiar with the pistol that I'm using, and get a good feel for how I'm reacting to the situation provided by the target setup.
I get more chances to qualify later on in the year at gun clubs around the county. I've been thinking about taking the drive out to one and see if I can increase my rank through more practice.