Wow, what an intense match. The 2008 Florida Open was shot over the weekend of February 8-10 at the Universal Shooting Academy, in Frostproof, FL. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, this match is the traditional season opener, and is known for its trademark stages where there aren't any no-shoots or hardcover targets, but the shots are generally long and sneaky difficult. This year was no different - in fact, there were a great many shots longer than 20 yards that really required a lot of focus to nail down correctly.

The end result is a match that can really leave you feeling beaten up as you're shooting it - until you go look at the results. You feel like you're shooting slow and sloppy, because you're either dropping points like a sieve, or you're taking forever and a day to break shots to insure A-zone hits. But you go look at the results and see that its not just you - everyone in the match is having that feeling, too, and seeing those results on their scoresheets, too. A strong mental game helps in this situation - you keep shooting your game, and just do your job.

In the end, I placed 5th, being edged out of 4th by Lesgar "Speedy" Murdock, from Jamaica, by about 80 match points. Lesgar is a nice guy who shot a great match. We were both a long way out of third place. Anyhow - here's the videos of my shooting - commentary, where appropriate, follows...

Many thanks to my dad, Michael Re, Bob Londrigan, and Sharyn Cohen for shooting the vids for me - only stages 10 and 11 allowed for a tripod setup this year, so I wouldn't have gotten much match video without their help!

In reviewing these videos, a few things jump out at me. Chiefly, my match this year was much like last years. It was a roller coaster of performances, ranging from sharp and spot-on, to sloppy and erratic. I traded performances that placed 3rd or 4th in the stage results for a total of 7 misses on the other stages. The real killer, though, was the count of Ds - a total of 26. That's effectively another 6 misses! Yeesh... So, I was not connecting with the target in a way that I'd really like.

That's OK, though - the point of this match was to put all the new stuff (new fitness level, new gear, etc) to the test and find the weak points to work on. I did that part well, and I have a good amount of stuff to address and improve upon. I'm looking forward to that process, and to bringing a stronger game to the Double Tap Championship in a month and a half.

Another interesting point about this match was the race for the win. Coming into the match, current world champ Eric Grauffel had not been defeated for something like 6 years straight. This time, his winning streak would end, and by less than a match point! In the end, it would appear that the pivotal moment was a mistake that Eric made on Stage 9 - he left a popper standing and was assessed a miss. This was the only penalty of the match for him, and opened the door for someone else to win. The match winner, Max Michel, Jr., shot a penalty free match. Had Eric taken the popper, he wouldn't have won the stage, but he would have preserved some 18 or so match points, and made it very difficult for anyone to catch him.

The moral, of course, is to shoot clean... ;)