This may prove to be a bit controversial but I think it is necessary because folks are leaving their favorite shooting sport because they just are not as good as they once were for a variety of reasons and are no longer remotely shooting the scores they once did—been there done that! Yet, the fact is they still love shooting and even more, competing but getting stomped into the ground all the time because one is shooting one, two or three levels or classes below where they have been classified for years is just not a lot of fun. What to do?
Well, for many they just quit competing and take up the more gentile sport of competition couch potato. Then some who are not afraid of what gossips whisper consider reclassifying to a lower classification if the rules and their scores so allow. Oh, just say the word reclassify and watch the hackles rise on the necks of shooters who do not know or understand the rules in your sport and the intent of those rules. [Editor’s Note: Complete information on the NRA Classification System is in Section 19 of the NRA Rules]
As I said, many people, actually, far too many quit competing because they can no longer compete at their once higher level. I say don't quit, reclassify and stay in the game and remain competitive. Of course the first thing people may do is to call you a sandbagger—sticks and stones…
Of course you are a sandbagger! Ah ha, in your devious long-range planning mind you have hatched a brilliant plot. Your plan is to now take the time and money to enter many shooting competitions to intentionally shoot miserable scores far below your classification over the next few months or longer getting yourself pounded into oblivion by shooters you can beat whenever you wish so you can get reclassified downward in your sport. Then—ta dah! A come back and you win a match or two before getting reclassified right back up again. Okay, that kind of plan is an indicator of some really serious recoil damage!
Why stay where you once shot and get seriously stomped—for pride and ego? What pride, what ego? The scores are posted in the matches for all your peers to see you are being destroyed by people far below your classification. How warm and fuzzy does that make you feel? Don't be afraid or be too proud to reclassify to a lower level if the rules allow, it's your life, not theirs.
Reclassification may, no, it will serve to make you more competitive again by motivating you to do better and to get back into the fight and you may move up again (the goal) unless age, health and/or opportunity is holding you back from your former greatness and in that event you are competing right where you belong regardless.
Having an opportunity to win is absolutely key to competition and getting better. Don't quit your shooting sport or competition because you are not competitive any longer. Reclassify if you can and wish to do so—grow fangs and get hungry to win and be competitive again. It is not cheating if you followed the rules of your sport.
About the Author Jim Shults is an NRA Benefactor and strong Second Amendment activist competed in several shooting disciplines from 1978-1989, setting various state and national records and became a Distinguished Rifleman in three straight weeks. He moved to an area where there is little or no competition in his disciplines and as a result has competed in only 12 matches over the last 25 years. He follows his own advice and legally reclassified to a lower class after not competing for 11 years and will work to move up again. He emphasizes that the rules, basics and hard work still apply if one wants to be competitive or at least a better shot.