This is for those of you interested in shooting and competition and also for me to just to get down the series of events of the match. So I’ll go through a quick recap of “how it went down”.
DAY ONE – Nationals started as they always do, usual suspects in attendance. I didn’t feel prepared this year with a move and new job so I planned to just shoot solid and enjoy a vacation in Vegas. We had stages 7-11, relatively small stages to start off which is common. 7 and 8 were little stand and shoots with some steel. I started off pretty tight which is also common for me. No penalties but a few extra shots due to target focus and general freak out. But I was happy to get through the day penalty free. When results posted I was a few points behind Ted. No biggie….plenty of shooting to go.
DAY TWO – We had 9 stages and a bunch of points today. I led off on the first stage of the day and was pretty solid all day. I felt I shot well and was really seeing my sights good. No real explanation, but once the day got started it just felt like I was shooting a match with the boys. I figured I was sitting pretty close to the lead after we got done shooting. Once the results posted that evening the nerves really started to kick in. It’s amazing how just reading some numbers on a computer screen can physically change your heart rate. Luckily I had Garth Brooks tickets that night to take my mind off of it for a couple hours.
DAY THREE – Holy shit, I’m actually leading the Nationals going in to the last day. I was physically sick most of the morning just trying to be cool. Not sure I was successful. The way the rotation worked out I was 4th or 5th on the first stage and was going to be first on the last stage which was fine with me. Better to get it over with than allow the anticipation to build.
Manny was 3 points back which is nothing, then Travis was about 20 back along with Ted, Nils and BJ pretty close to them. Manny came out of the gates with an amazing run on stage 1, it was clearly evident that he did not want to finish second. He was going for the title. Travis came out equally aggressive. The world champ didn’t want to be second either. So I figured that was how it was going to be, they were going to be gunning for me all day. I thought there wasn’t a whole lot I could do about it so I was just going to shoot smooth, not take myself out of it, and let the chips fall where they may. No shame in getting beat by any of these guys but I wanted to shoot solid and let them chase.
I won the first stage we shot on the final day, that certainly built some confidence. I think Manny won the next one and we split the next two. Going into the next to last stage we figured it was very close, he actually was 5 points up but we didn’t know that at the time. I was up first, it was stage 5 which was a pretty crazy stage with some difficult shots. I definitely felt the pressure and tightened up quite a bit. I got through clean but a second or two off the pace. Manny had two misses on that stage really pushing the speed, he was a second and a half over the field and almost four seconds on me. I sort of figured the misses took him out but with that time gain we certainly weren’t sure. Travis had a couple misses on the day so I figured he was out but you still never know with that guy.
I figured why change anything at this point. I was first up on the final stage with a tricky set of movers. I decided not to try anything crazy, just shoot it straight up and aggressive. I planned an extra shot on the swinger needed or not. I shot the stage just as I planned save for one extra shot on a steel and my match was done……let the waiting begin. I really thought I had it and lots of folks were congratulating me but you never know until the scores post…..it was a long hour to wait. I hung out at the range and finally got the word from the stats shack. Let the party begin. I think I got back to the hotel room around 4:30 the next morning. Good times!