I have to share another competitive shooting experience I had not too long ago. It was quite an eventful 2-gun match. I really enjoyed having the opportunity to use my pistol and my shotgun, but it would have been a better day had the pistol ammunition cooperated. 

You see: My husband loves to reload our own ammunition. We have a Hornady Lock-N-Load Ammo Plant, and that thing is definitely the star of the man cave. It’s like we have our own little reloading factory. The Ammo Plant is quite a reliable and fast progressive press. And after getting the machine thoroughly set up and working out a few kinks, my husband likes to share that his record, without even trying to go fast, is 250 rounds of 9mm in 13 minutes!

Typically (and thankfully), the ammunition is spot on, and we use it for both practice and competition. However, something happened to the powder dispenser (read: our 7-year-old son likely tampered with it because he can’t help himself when he walks by neat gadgets). So, while getting ready for our 2-gun match, several hundred rounds went through with a ridiculously low charge. Instead of 3.5 grains, it was 2.9 grains. Oops. So, in other words, there wasn’t enough powder in the cartridges to properly cycle the gun.

Of course, for the first several stages of the competition, I was just wondering what in the world was wrong with me. I had to run a mental checklist to try to discover what needed alterations. My alignment and sight picture seemed good. Trigger press was smooth. Everything seemed okay. But I kept missing, and the gun kept jamming. (We’re talking all sorts of mishaps: stove pipes, double feeds, slide not locking back, ammo not chambering, etc.) Finally, my husband and I figured out what was happening … after my third stage. There wasn’t much we could do about it at that time — just grin and bear it, I suppose. But on the last stage, after fighting with the ammo issues all day, I was growing weary of fighting the negative effects. Constantly clearing malfunctions and reloading is not fun for a competition. It was very frustrating. But, hey … at least it wasn’t ME, right?!?

As they watched my misery, some of the guys on our squad asked me why I didn’t just quit and take the penalties for the missed targets (which probably would have been much less time, overall). But all I could think about was my main reason for participating in matches in the first place. So I said, “No way; it’s great training! I’m not here to win a competition. I’m here to learn.”

And learn I did. I learned to be ready for anything. I learned to be patient and to work hard, no matter what. In hindsight, my husband says he learned that he should have double-checked the powder charge before he made the ammo. And no doubt, we both learned to watch our mischievous son a little more carefully whenever he wanders too close to the ammo factory!