Re: Game Improvement Irons making me worse?
Since there is only an inch of difference between men's and women's clubs and some of that is due to perceived strength differences, you have to be riding the skirts of the bell curve before you need to drop down in shaft length. However you might need a lie adjustment if you are pulling a lot of shots.
Overall I think there are more free points in golf clubs from shafts, and then from getting everything else right also. Heads are really low in importance, which you can tell by the number of rocking players who used to play super game improvement heads that were all wrong for them. Happily those days are on the wain.
Game improvements is a crock. It is a one size fits all concept of what a given golfer needs, based on the needs of beginners from the segment that spends the most on golf, not even the majority of players. This is combined with dubious ideas that in many cases do not pan out even for those for whom they were intended. The marketing that is then laid over this is normally highly deceptive. There may be truth in it, but if these guys apply their knowledge of clubs to anything it is most likely rigging a test so it truthfully misleads the public in a particular direction. Iron Byron type tests being a classic example of misdirection.
The first thing you need to understand is what you want to do with the clubs. If in fact you want to play golf, the game of personally achieving low scores, then you need to figure out how you will do that. The easy points in a set of clubs are to get a set that is very consistent. You need to think like the Rifle shaft you tried, you are hunting targets, not freakish occurrences of distance. You need a set that will emphasize the scoring game, no ten degree gaps in loft, no overlength clubs, no fake numbering, etc... Even drivers should be played to targets.
If you prefer to play best ball tournaments, then you are in a different world. You need to consider where you can add something. Normally big jumps in distance come more reliably from physical exercise than clubs. I once gained a real 20 yards on my 7 iron from only a month spent on crutches, and it wasn't from my leg action...