Every year, right after Christmas, I like to look back at the year and consider what went well and what didn’t. The things that went well are likely things that I want to continue doing next year while the things that didn’t are things I’ll focus on changing or at least try to avoid. It’s all part of the annual goal setting and planning process which rarely pans out according to plan, but that life. This year has been no exception. Many goals were missed and several parts of the plan for it went out the window. Nevertheless, there were some amazing highlights and fantastic achievements that are worth noting and carrying forward into next year.
I had big plans for hunting this year. I was hopeful about a hunting club a buddy and I joined in late 2021 and was planning on one hunting trip per month (unless that month had a major competition or I was attending training course) for this year. That didn’t happen. It wasn’t even close. I did manage to make a couple trips out early in the year, but after a handful of trips I began to realize that the hunting club wasn’t what I thought it was. The return on investment in terms of both time and resources just wasn’t there. We considered other options, but the means to make those happen just wasn’t in the cards.
The net result was an empty freezer and basically no new hunting related content on the blog this year. I did manage to try out a new hunting rifle scope and review it. I also got a chance to write about my first deer rifle. But that’s about it.
This might be something that I will attempt to change next year. I’ve certainly had the itch. The freezer most definitely needs filling. Yet I’m not ready to commit to changes until I’ve finished this year’s retrospective.
Like my plans for hunting, I set a goal to participate in one match each month unless that month had a hunting trip or training class planned. That goal was crushed. I ended up shooting 33 matches this year and there is a good chance I will shoot one more before the year is over. That’s an average just shy of 3 matches per month. I also ventured beyond IDPA and tried my hand at USPSA and Steel Challenge. Last but not least, I also shot my first two gun match.
I suppose I might as well dub this year the year of the pistol. Given I went through a little more than 4,000 rounds of 9mm attending those matches. Not to mention there was quite a bit of dabbling with competition gear and pistols that yielded a fair number of blog posts this year. Here is a list of competition related posts in chronological order:
- Trijicon SRO Reflex Sight
- Ben Stoeger’s Practical Shooting Fundamentals
- Trijicon RMR versus Trijicon SRO
- Grip and Trigger Control Things
- Buy Ammo, Take a Class
- Cashing In Pistol Mounted Red Dot Sight Benefits with Occlusion
- Recognizing and Adapting to Target Difficulty
- Heckler & Koch VP9 Match and Trijicon SRO 1000 Rounds Later
- Size Matters and Bigger is Better
- KR Training Skill Builder
- CZ Shadow 2 Optics-Ready
- Weber Tactical USPSA/IDPA Holsters
- What The IDPA?
- Zo’s USPSA Competition Belt Rig
- Thoughts From My First Carbine/Handgun Match
- Backup Irons with Pistol Mounted Optics, Yea or Nay?
Honestly I think this is just the tip of the iceberg for me as far as competition goes. I had a lot of fun and improved quite a bit this year. I want to keep the party going as it’s also yielded some fantastic friendships.
The bulk of my goals for this year were around developing my knowledge and skills related to self defense. That plan included receiving 44 hours of instruction. Granted 16 hours of that was oriented towards competitive pistol shooting, but nevertheless shooting is shooting and I strongly believe participating in competitive shooting yields many benefits for armed self defenders (a blog post on this topic on the horizon).
Those goals were met and exceeded. I ended up receiving 68 hours of instruction last year. Some of the notable accomplishments include receiving a coin for completing the KR Training Defensive Pistol Skills Program, becoming a Rangemaster Certified Instructor, and being awarded a light pin by Gabe White.
As one might guess, there were a fair number self defense related blog posts published this year as well. Here is a chronological list (excluding the posts already linked in this post):
- KR Training Handgun Beyond Basics
- Right To Bear Insurance
- Home Defense 101: Deterrence
- Home Defense 101: Fortification
- Can I Shoot? May I Shoot? Should I Shoot? Must I Shoot?
- KR Training Advanced Handgun
- What Gun Should I Get First For Self Defense?
- Preparing for the Rangemaster Instructor Qualification
- Caliber Considerations for Capacity Restricted Jurisdictions
- What Is My Dry Fire Regimen?
- Qualities of a Defensive Handgun
- Preparing for Gabe White’s Pistol Shooting Solutions Course
- To Open Carry or Concealed Carry?
- Gabe White’s Pistol Shooting Solutions Again
- Preparing for the Rangemaster Advanced Instructor Course
My interest in self defense hasn’t waned. In fact, I’d say it has grown and it appears to be the primary topic most of y’all seem to have questions about. Therefore, I’m going to keep on training and growing my knowledge on the topic. That means the posts on the topic will continue to flow. With a little luck, Karl Rehn will keep reading the blog and continue pointing out things I’ve overlooked or failed to consider in the self defense and pistol shooting skill posts I author. His comments are valuable contributions that benefit both readers and me.
Readership continues to grow at a steady pace. That growth provided opportunities to review a number of products which were provided at no cost to me by retailers and manufacturers. I’m very thankful for these opportunities. Especially, since the parties involved have agreed to allow me to freely criticize their products and services. It’s also pretty neat to see some of my feedback make it all the way to design teams. At the same time, the relationship with these organizations has helped to fund the operational costs associated with running this blog. It’s a win-win-win in my book. Readers get honest reviews. Organizations get some business. Blog gets some funding.
Here is a list of content that may not have otherwise happened had it not been for these relationships:
- XS Sights read about my woes with finding back up iron sights for the VP9 and sent me a set of their Minimalist Tritium Night Sights to try.
- Right To Bear asked me to review their self defense insurance program as they went to market with it. They also provided an exclusive 10% discount code, “UNCLEZO”, for y’all.
- Viridian Weapons Technology asked me to test and review their RFX35 Green Reflex Sight as part of the go to market strategy.
- Primary Arms graciously sent me a Holosun 507C X2 with their ACSS Vulcan reticle to evaluate and review at my request which I made after having received numerous requests from readers to review it.
- GunMag Warehouse sponsored the 9mm ammunition used to review the Staccato P.
- Primary Arms invited me to evaluate and review their new Classic Series Mini Reflex Sight and their new Classic Series Micro Reflex Sight as part of their go to market strategy. I’ve been told my feedback made its way back to the design team.
- MantisX sent over one of their BlackbeardX units before it was released to the market for review. It’s a fantastic dry fire training tool which I’ve been putting to use regularly and as such has also helped me to improve my skills.
- GunMag Warehouse supplied enough magazines to allow me to start running the Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Lite in Steel Challenge matches which helped fuel the initial review of that pistol and will undoubtedly be used to fuel future follow up reviews of it.
- Palmetto State Armory recently provided a PSA 5.7 Rock for review at my request which I made after receiving requests from y’all to review it. The review is currently in progress and can be expected early next year.
The thing is these relationships wouldn’t be in place if it wasn’t for y’all’s readership which I am sincerely thankful for.
Beyond the relationship sponsored reviews, there were many other reviews that took place this year. Some of these were a result of unplanned impulse acquisitions fueled by curiosity and perhaps the occasional libation. The unplanned acquisitions are something I’m working on avoiding as it steals resources away from other planned goals and activities. Nevertheless, here is a chronological list of reviews not previously mentioned in this post from 2022:
- Vortex Optics Razor HD LH vs Razor HD LHT
- Vortex Optics XLR-2 Reticle
- Heckler & Koch VP9 Match
- Nobody Bandz
- Palmetto State Armory Dagger Compact Pistol
- The Mantis X10 Elite Shooting Performance System as a Dry Fire Aid
- Glock G48 MOS
- Holosun 507K X2
- Johnny Glocks Evolution X Drop-In Combat Trigger System
- Shield Arms and the G48 MOS
- Sig Sauer P365 XL
- 5,000 Rounds and Counting with the VP9 and RMR Combo
- Wilson Combat Grip Module for the P365
- P365 XL vs G48 MOS
- Revisiting the Magnum Research Desert Eagle XIX
- CherryBalmz Black Rifle Balm
- Smith & Wesson Performance Center Pro Series Model 640
- Smith & Wesson Model 66 Combat Magnum
Overall, it’s been a good year. Sure things didn’t go exactly as planned, but they rarely do. Now it’s time to take this info and start figuring out my goals for 2023.