The following information comes from The Elusive Ten by William Reichenbach. The Elusive Ten is also available to purchase in print.
(Argumentum ad ignorantiam)
Let’s have a match. There seems to be quite a controversy about the advisability of staging matches with a view to getting shooters used to them.
The pros and contras sometimes wax quite heated. I am afraid I cannot entirely avoid the issue.
My own humble opinion is that a team or an individual should, through constant practice, first try to reach a certain stage of consistency, the limitation being, of course, set by the ambition of the team or individual.
A team, for instance, which averages in competition consistently 255 over the N.R.A. Standard American course, (Slow-Time-and Rapid) has a goodly chance of winning quite some honors.
Naturally, a team of that calibre has been through the fire, as it is obvious that it would average considerably higher if shooting under no competitive stress.
It really should be the ambition of every team or individual to reach this mark. The requirement to be met would be the ability to score consistently around 270 on the home-range. Actual competition will account for a drop in the scores.
Theoretically, it would therefore be advisable not to permit participation in matches, unless such minimum of 270 were first scored consistently.
Unfortunately, the eagerness of a promising pupil is often fostered by the coach and, against his better judgment, he permits competition on practically any score basis.
I believe that a shooter-in-the-making cannot learn anything at a match that will help him on his way up.
On the other hand, a match may do considerable damage. One must not forget that the shooter, in training for a match, sometimes for a period of weeks or months, must, of necessity, neglect his schedule.
I had much rather see a shooter advance along predetermined lines, curbing his impatience, until he has achieved his set minimum goal.
After that, matches against not too strong opponents (in the beginning), will be in order. In fact, from then on matches will be very beneficial.
I shall show you now the opposite side of the medal.
There are many, many teams and individuals who, without any concrete schooling, tumble from match to match.
They are consistently beaten by mediocre teams. Once in a while they may gain a shameful victory over an opponent who is even worse than they.
There is no honor in losing against an average opponent and surely none in winning from people who know less.
It seems as if a sort of madness had seized them. Match—match—match. That’s all they seem to live for. Their scores get worse and worse. No sooner do they meet up with some club official than they start right away with “Let’s have a match”—as naturally as if they were asking a match for their cigar.
It is almost funny, if it were not so tragic.
My friends, the performance of an unfinished team is, necessarily, erratic under competitive stress.
In fact, even at the home-range the scores are unreliable. The very fact that the scores at home are not consistent should be sufficient warning.
I say, keep away from this craze.
Get good and ready first.
There is all the time in the world.
You do not have to be afraid of the stage-fright bugaboo. It is nothing but an argument to cover up a mania.
With the knowledge that you are prepared, nothing will frighten you. And, if you should lose then, you at least have lost to a strong opponent after a hard fight. But, with sound preparation you always have a fine chance to win.
Remember, your opponent is also under stress, particularly if he knows that you have come fully prepared.