In CFDA shooting, we shoot two-person matches. At any given time on a six-lane range, there are three individual matches happening simultaneously. As the match progresses, you'll inevitably find a time where there is an odd number of shooters, and the solution is a Bye round. Three shooters are called to the line, and it's a one shot match. The three shooters stand there together and when the light illuminates, everyone goes together. Whoever hits the target the fastest wins that round and sits down. The other two shooters continue with a standard match.
Sunday in Gainesville was a wonderful day. Good weather, great friendship, and good shooting. I had a good day, won some matches and lost some matches, and coming up on noon, I was still in the shooting. Late in the morning, I was called to the line and found my competitor to be Red Rock, out of the Big Thicket Bushwackers. Red Rock is a helluva competitor, a lot faster than I, and a good friend. The match director stopped us before the first shot and announced a BYE round. He called another shooter to the line.
We got the command to load, and the three of us stood together. I was in lane 1, and the sun was shining over my shoulder, perfectly illuminating the target. I took a breath, got the Line command, then the Set. Then time stood still.
I've only experienced this a couple of times in my life. Not the shooting, but some weird mental condition where time seems to slow down and everything around me is in sparkling clarity. I was waiting for the light, and perfectly focused on the target, and everything was in slow-motion. I saw a breeze ruffle the leaves in the trees beyond the targets, I heard a bird chirp, and I saw the light illuminate. I started my draw, still in slow motion. Felt the hammer click, one, two, three, four times as it cleared the holster.
Everything slowed to a crawl. I heard a boom to my right, probably Red Rock letting fly, then another from the guy beyond Red Rock. My finger went into the trigger guard and I tapped it. I never heard the report, but saw a puff of smoke from just under my vision. Then the damndest thing happened.
I watched that bullet fly to the target, That little piece of orange wax, It didn't float downrange, it moved with purpose, but I watched it. I saw it streak all the way to the little piece of lucite covering the light where it shattered into a dozen tiny pieces, the orange wax luminescent in the sunshine. The light went off, then started blinking, and the moment was over. My mind snapped back into normal time.
I wish I could tell you that I won that Bye on speed, but the simple fact is that I was the only guy to hit the target. Both of the other shooters fired before I did. I unloaded to show clear, then put the hammer down and holstered. The match went on and I was eliminated two rounds later, shortly after lunch,
The shoot at Gainesville was a hoot, and I thank our hosts for a memorable time. For me, for just a tiny second or so, the experience was absolutely awesome.