The Competitive Edge

with Monica Taliani

“STANDBY!!!!” My heart is pounding so hard I can feel the vibrations in my ears. Afraid the timer is going to go off , I take a deep breath. I can see my hands in front of me and they are shaking. I wish they would stop. I can do this. I have done this hundreds of times. This one is no different. I hear people talking behind me. They are talking about how they are going to shoot the stage, where they are going to eat aft er the match and some are even talking about my shooting. The gravel under my cleats makes a gritty noise while I shift my weight.

In this moment, I feel like the entire world has settled to a stop. All the sounds around me are so loud and overwhelming. I am afraid that they are going to be so loud that I can’t hear the timer go off . All that matters is the first hint of it going off . I don’t have any time to waste. I desperately want to hear the sound of the timer, but at the same time I am dreading it. The moment the timer starts to sound everything around me disappears and the world becomes surreal. Anxious to get my first shots at the target without wasting time, I quickly grab the gun from the holster. I push the gun out towards the target looking for my sights. I want to pull the trigger, but I know to be patient until I see the sights right where they need to be. Watching and feeling the gun cycle in my hands, I pull the trigger twice as fast as I can. The shots are good. The next target comes. Then two more.

Better be careful, there may be a no-shoot! Now, time to get out of here. RUN!!!!! Next targets. Three of them! I better go faster. I can shoot faster than this! The hits are good! Goooooo! Time to change mags, but don’t stop running because the clock is ticking. The rest of the stage goes the same. I finish the stage and my hands are calm and still as if the past adrenaline fueled 18 seconds never happened. As I unload the gun and show the range official it is clear, I realize that I am still out of breath. They call out my time, and it is time to go see what my hits are. This is it! This is USPSA.

USPSA (United States Practical Shooting Association) is one of the many associations that host shooting competitions. Its matches feature stages that involve elements such as speed, accuracy, reloading, and problem solving. Men and women of various ages, backgrounds and skill levels participate in these matches across the country. USPSA is not alone. There are several organizations in the United States that feature this type of shooting. The rules of each one of them are slightly different which give each its own flavor and any skill level, from beginners to advanced, may participate.

Until next time, be safe and shoot straight!

MCaptureonica Taliani has been a competitive shooter for about three years. In that time she has won several women’s awards. Currently she is shooting on the Phoenix Trinity Firearms Team. Any time Monica is not on the range she can be found outside, usually biking or hiking, and loves spending time with her two boxers.