It's been a long, cold Winter (which doesn't appear to be over yet) and the first Walnut Ridge USPSA match of the season was anxiously awaited. Saturday morning I hit the road early, enjoying a clear dark sky, with Venus shining brightly in the east. When I arrived at Summit Point, West Virginia, the sun was out and making a feeble attempt to warm the air.
The first stage encountered was the classifier "Lightning and Thunder." This stage was the first fixed-time stage I'd ever shot and I was looking forward to the challenge. Three strings of fire are to be completed, each with a 5 second time limit. The first string was shot from 75 feet, and required the shooter to draw and engage three targets with two shots each. The second string is shot from 45 feet, and called for one shot on each target, a mandatory reload, followed by three more shots on the targets. The final string, from 30 feet, mandated engaging all three targets strong hand-only. And that's when it happened...
I am unsure if I got a bad hold on the gun at the draw, or if I snagged the front sight on the holster, or if my hands were cold and I didn't have a good grip, or perhaps it was all three. The buzzer sounded, I went for the draw, and that quickly my gun was on the ground in front of me. I didn't see a dramatic time-frozen, slow fall the ground. As I drew I felt the gun twist and leave my hand. No one said a word. I knew. Game Over. Done. Fini. Disqualified.
After my gun was cleared I went to the safe area and took off my gear. I had driven 2 hours to get here, and I was looking forward to spending time with friends. Despite my disappointment, and embarrassment, I opted to stay and support my squad mates and see the rest of the match. My match was over, but there was no reason to mope or be a poor sport about it. I ran the Nook scoring device for the remaining five stages, relieving other shooters from that task. There were three more classifier stages and two interesting field courses. I was a bit bummed not getting to shoot them, but there's always next time.
I've been playing this game for about 4 years. I've watched many shooters DQ for a number of reasons. I hoped I'd never do it. (I hear at some clubs they actually give DQ'd shooters a coupon for free a ice cream at Dairy Queen.) I would have preferred to shoot, obviously, but made the most of the day. It was a strange feeling to reach for my range bag as I unloaded the car at home and find it still heavy with the day's unused ammo. But hey, I'll still enjoy that post-match beer.