Friday the 13th and Superstition in the Shooting Sports World

The second Friday of October this year falls on the dreaded the 13th. Many individuals regard this date as unlucky (or they have triskaidekaphobia and anything involving 13 is full of bad juju). Let’s have some fun with that theme. We’re going to explore some shooting sports superstitions that I’ve encountered over 17 years in the shooting sports. 

Why is Friday the 13th Unlucky?

Both Norse Mythology and Christian tradition regard the number 13 as unlucky. The Norse root is due to a dinner with 12 gods. Then Loki shows up and causes trouble, making 13. In Christian tradition, it’s because there were 13 people in the Upper Room on the night before Jesus’ crucifixion.

Friday has been regarded as an unlucky day dating back to the 14th century, where it’s referenced in Canterbury Tales. The earliest recorded reference to Friday the 13th being unlucky occurred in the 1800s. However, it’s thoroughly grounded in pop culture as an unlucky day thanks to the Friday the 13th movies. Those revolve around the character of Jason Voorhees. But since many Westerners regard both Friday and the number 13 as unlucky, Friday the 13th remains an especially unlucky day.

Superstition in the World of Sports isn’t Unusual

For whatever reason, many athletes tend to be pretty superstitious people. Hockey and baseball are two sports with well-known superstitions, and baseball is especially so. Players have lucky bats and lucky gloves.  There are also tales of players not changing their jock strap when they’re on a hitting streak. Other baseball superstitions include rally caps, and not stepping on the foul lines when running on and off the field. 

It makes sense that shooting sports athletes and competitors would have their own superstitions as well.

Would You Shoot a Match on Friday the 13th?

Personally, I wouldn’t. I’ve been described by friends as “the most superstitious person about weird things” which is fair. Here are a couple of my shooting sports superstitions:

  • I think it’s bad luck to clean your gun before a match. Unless you fire at least 100 rounds after you clean it, but before the match.
  • I had several bad performances in a row wearing a hat I really liked. So I washed the hat to get the bad juju out of it, and won the next match I wore it to.

Other shooters I’ve run into have superstitions of their own. These may not rise to the level of not walking under ladders or being afraid of black cats. However, I’m certain that these men and women wouldn’t want to start a match on Friday the 13th either.

Shooting Sports Superstitions

One of my favorites was the shooter I knew who firmly believed he had a lucky magazine. Most serious competition shooters number their magazines, and this guy believed that magazine #3 was good luck. He would go so far as to make sure that his magazines were ordered so that #3 would be the mag in the gun on whatever he thought the hardest part of the stage was.

Another one of the rituals I’ve run into was a friend of mine that would always eat the same meal the night before every match. He’d go to Chili’s and order the exact same thing every time. I don’t know if he was just worried about upsetting his stomach, but that was his pre-match ritual before any major match.

And of course, there’s also the elaborate “load and make ready” rituals that some USPSA shooters have. Just like baseball players do a specific set of actions before stepping into the batter’s box, many shooters have an extremely elaborate ritual before shooting the stage. This has never been one of my tics, but I’ve seen people get really flummoxed when they can’t complete their normal routine.

Friday the 13th Traditions

If you won’t stay on the 13th floor of a hotel (which most don’t even have) or knock on wood when you say something bad, you probably have a pre-match ritual too. Do you have a special treat on Friday the 13th like watching a horror movie? Or maybe you like to watch a good shoot-’em-up to remind you that guns are cooler than some dude in a hockey mask with a machete.

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