I met a friend for brunch the other day – the kind of friend who you don’t see for over a year and then pick up right where you left off. Over coffee and bacon we talked about all things shooting. Through the course of conversation we hit upon how some shooting matches seem less fun than they used to be. My friend shoots matches all over the country, whereas I have stuck to local stuff for the past few years. He has a few decades of experience, while I have been at it for only nine years.
It’s funny that despite that disparity in experience, we both agreed on a few important points. We agreed that shooting matches are “supposed” to be fun, and oftentimes the most fun squads are the ones full of “old guys”.
Temperamentally, neither my buddy nor I are young guns eager for glory. We shoot because we like to shoot, and matches give us an excuse to do that activity among friends.
The least fun squads in both of our estimation are the squads full of mid-level shooters who are wannabe’s or “think” they are high level shooters. These are often the guys who are “big fish in small ponds”. Sometimes they are wearing sponsor jerseys, and sometimes not. They argue with the SO’s over every point of minutiae, and make the stage walk-through absolute torture. (Pro tip: Don’t be that guy)
Then there is the old guy squad. The old guy squad is there to have fun with their buddies. They’re there to work the bugs out of the latest tweak to their rig or their ammo load. They already know that they are going to have kinks in their stage plan. And they don’t care. They give each other a hard time, but never the SO – except in jest. They are usually welcoming and supportive of the new guy or the only gal on the squad (me). The old guys have often had knee or hip replacements and aren’t in the match to win foot races or climb over obstacles. They don’t have anything to prove.
But despite having a hard time moving quickly, they will be the ones hustling to paste and reset. The old guys know that the faster you get through resetting, the faster you can be done and home having a beer and a nap. (or maybe that’s just me)
The old guy squad is where you will hear the best stories too. They might have IDPA member ID numbers in the low double digits, and have known some of the greats back in the days of the “porn star mustache” and giant aviator glasses. They won’t boast about any of that, but if you listen for long enough you might hear some gems.
Last year, I even ended up on a squad full of retired docs. There was a Nam Vet ortho, an ob/gyn, a urologist, an oral surgeon, and yours truly. The stories… I even heard about the one fellow back in the old days slipping a pocket gun into his scrubs when he knew there might be patient family drama in the hospital. You couldn’t get away with that nowadays.
So the next time you need to squad up, don’t groan if you get assigned to the “old guys”. It might end up being the most fun you’ve ever had a match. And you just may learn a thing or three from the experience.