To defend the current calibration system, it serves a purpose beyond a final line of defense for old timers steamed about minor; it also serves as a rite of passage. Experiencing your first calibration challenge is a painful gauntlet all must eventually run.
New dude shows up at match with a 9mm plastic something and factory ammo. He’s doing his best to follow the rules and just finish the match without killing himself by lead or embarrassment.
He’s been there three hours and is on stage four when it happens. He finishes a stage and there’s a popper standing and he’s sure he shot it. Everyone is sure he shot it. The friendly RO says do you want to call for calibration? He’s just trying to help. But in the newb’s mind he’s thinking, “Call for calibration? What the hell does that mean? Everyone is looking at me! Everyone! There’s a steel target standing and I shot it. Why? Why are they asking me if it should be calibrated? I don’t know anything about that? Shit!!”
The RO looks at the slack jawed newb, and says, “Just say yes. Worst case it is a miss but you may get a reshoot.” But that’s not how the newb sees it. He sees himself in a gray concrete block interrogation room, the “good cop” sitting on the edge of the table, a single 100 watt bulb swaying overhead. “Just confess,” the good cop says, “just sign here and I can get you out of here; make all these questions go away. I’m trying to help you here. I understand you didn’t mean to do it.”
The newb caves, “Uh, ok.” The RO calls for the RM to come calibrate this baby. Open shooters clean mags. Production shooters surf the web looking for cheaper bullets. Single stack shooters switch oxygen bottles. But in the newb mind, that’s not the reality at all.
“I got him! He confessed!” the good cop says and then it all disappears. He sees himself surrounded now by the high officials of the USPSA. He knows what he will hear when the golf cart of doom arrives with the Calibration Officer. “Son, we’ve been setting up matches since before you were shitting diapers! I’ve got shit to do and you call me down here to tell me MY target on MY range ain’t working right?,” bellows the Calibration Officer who did three tours in ‘Nam, stormed Normandy on D-Day, and was on the bin Laden raid. All squads have stopped shooting and have gathered behind the newb to watch the calibration celebration. Some stand in shock; others laugh at the newb and what’s about to happen.
Mike Foley arrives in a second golf cart. “What’s going on here?” The Calibration Officer reports, “Hey Mike, we were having a great match til Mr. First Match Minor Shooter here decides to tell us we’ve been doing it wrong in fifty states for thirty years and he’s here to straighten us all out!” “You’re joking right?” says an incredulous Foley, glancing at the newb who is now only three inches tall and fitting comfortably in the shade of his plastic handgun, his core nearly desiccated as his body pours out embarrassment sweat. “We need to keep this match moving! People have families and children to attend to. Children! This asshole hates families and children!”
“Fuck no I’m not joking,” the Calibration Officer retorts as he swings out the cart with one hand while stowing his Stogie on the cart with the other. “Range going HOT!” he exclaims while drawing his Colt 9mm Single Action Automatic given to him by a grateful President in a secret ceremony in the Oval Office, with a Congressional Authorization that in this one case a 1911 in 9mm instead of 45 is not gay.
Strong hand only, he fires one round dead center on the popper. The popper salutes and then falls backward. The only sound is the metallic clang of a dead popper, and then a hundred shooters burst into laughter and return to their stages. “Fucking newb,” the Calibration Officer says as he slides across the golf cart hood Bo and Luke Duke style before burning a doughnut and heading back to the Tac Shack.
“Hey it was worth a try,” says the kindly RO, “you wouldn’t believe how often these things get messed up. One mike. Next shooter!” The newb retreats and furtively glances around at the other shooters. Nobody is looking at him. It’s like none of that really happened. But he’s in. He knows if he could get through that, he can get through anything USPSA has to offer. He knows when he finally convinces a friend to come to a match and that friend asks a question, there’s only one answer he’ll give: fucking newb.
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