During this morning's Mayleigh Cup, NRAblog spoke with team-member John Zurek. Zurek ended day one of the NRA Pistol Championships as the .22 Caliber Champion. Here more on Zurek's shooting background, his pistol shooting recommendations for fellow shooters and his thoughts on yesterday's matches.
Port Clinton, Ohio
John Zurek is no stranger to guns. Spending a good part of his youth hunting, it wasn't until 1985 that he first found himself at the competitions here at Camp Perry. But it wouldn't last. Though a valued member of the Marine Corps Pistol Team, his ability to shoot with precision was diminished after a rock-climbing accident. A fall, from considerable height, left Zurek with a broken shooting hand wrist. His ability to shoot on an international level was in question.
He joined the Marine Corps Reserve Pistol Team three years later. Though competitive for the next five of six years, he left the sport in order to "try to make a million with my own business."
Unfortunately his venture "failed miserably." But it wasn't a loss ... it was a lesson.
"It's good to fail," Zurek mused. "It really is."
Now it was time to regroup. Looking for a familiar foundation for his relaunch, Zurek came back to shooting. And since 2001, he's never looked back.
Why it's so easy for me
Zurek's primary focus as a shooter is Olympic style pistol shooting — air pistol and free pistol. The precision events, filled with challenges and thrills, are his specialty. A specialty that almost found him in London this summer for the 2012 Olympics. Unfortunately, a tenth place finish in air pistol and fourth in free pistol meant a trip to merry old England was not in the cards. But he's putting that same passion into his performance on the pistol range in Camp Perry.
"That's why this is easy for me," Zurek explained. "That's why I've had such wonderful successes this year from training for free pistol."
For those of you who don't know, Olympic free pistol uses a smaller bulls-eye target then the ones here at the NRA Pistol Championships. Probably why he's found such success in the early rounds.
"By practicing free pistol it allows you to work on your focus and concentration by bringing everything in smaller and smaller and smaller."
Making each shot perfect
If you can't spend time on the range, then just stay home. That's a truth that Zurek discovered through his years and years of training.
"Most shooters only get 15 minutes here, or 30 minutes there to go and train — and that's fine when just dry firing," Zurek explained. "I wouldn't even go to a range unless you have four hour period of time to spend. If you just have a short period of time to train, it's just better to stay at home and dry fire against the wall. Work on building up your concentration and making each shot perfect."
Another tool Zurek uses is the SCAT Shooter Training System. SCAT, he believes, gives a shooter wonderful feedback and immediate results. The training system also plays back a shooter's actions after each shot, showing them exactly where their weaknesses and strengths rests. Thus allowing them to correct their timing until it is perfect on each and every shot.
I feel like I'm in the hunt
As I sit back to write this piece, Zurek is six points ahead of second place holder Brian Zins for the NRA National Pistol Championship. His lead comes from a five-point advantage obtained during yeterday's slow fire stage of the .22 Caliber matches.
"the key in this wind is trigger control," he revealed. "That's really what it is—It's not being freaked out that the dot is moving uncontrollably. It's more of saying, how can I squeeze the trigger back gently. Most people forget that because the target is moving so uncontrollably and as visual people, we are excited by what we see. So if we can get past the distractions and just gently squeeze the trigger while ignoring the movement, then it'll be a perfect shot...if you stay on task, you'll be there."
Zurek is elated with yesterday's win. By no way a guarantee that he'll take the top spot on Saturday's Championship stage, it's at least a step in that direction. A confirmation on the effort and practice throughout the decades.
"That's a nice feeling on the first day. Generally I'm a better .45 shooter, so for me it was, 'Gosh if I could get a good .22 score I'd be in the hunt.' So now I feel like I'm in the hunt."—and Zurek definitely is.