Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Post Holiday Pondering

Well, we had a great low key Independence Day, which is what my Sweetie and I hoped for. We did a one hour mountain bike ride on the secondary roads around here, which is a lot of climbing, followed by a trip to the gym and laps in the pool. Obviously, my Sweetie wants to do a triathlon later this year, and since I'm training with her I'll probably do one as well.

As you know if you've read OVER THE EDGE (hint hint, damn it!), you know I've done lots of triathlons...yeah yeah, I don't look like what? I've swam from Alcatraz to San Francisco three times, using my classic "Ancient Crippled Manatee" style; in truth, I think I did it just to make the genetically gifted feel bad — he looks like that and he still finished; are there any PowerBars left?

Anyhow, I do appreciate the mindless repetition of laps in the pool. And speaking of mindless, I got a couple of hot flashes from the Internet today about the upcoming Steel Challenge and the OUTDOOR CHANNEL/SIGARMS $30,000 Challenge.

Here's the deal, and it's not really complicated — this year's Steel Challenge added an eighth stage — ACCELERATOR, sponsored by my pals at Para — and we added an additional $10,000 if you can hit the magic number, 80 seconds for the entire match. Last year the number was 72 seconds for the 7 stages...a number reached by TGO, Rob Leatham, once in 5 years. I asked Mike Dalton and Mike Fichman, the owners of the Steel Challenge and the greatest living experts on that match, to give me the new number...they, in turn, had their Obsessive Steel Challenge Shooters run Accelerator. They cam back to me with "80 seconds." So be it. Not impossible, but DAMN HARD!


Yo, that's why you get the money! If it was easy, Alf the Wonder Beagle would be supporting the whole family by being the best trap shooting beagle in America. Let me repeat that really slowly so even the dimmest of us reading this can catch on — you get a lot of money because the Challenge is hard.

It's sort of the same principal as Roger Bannister doing the 4-minute mile on May 6, 1954...that was a lot harder than Michael Bane doing the 12-minute mile on the same day in 2006, and it made Roger Bannister rich, famous and a knight, with his own entry in the Wickipedia. As it should have.

BEFORE Roger Bannister ran the 4-minute mile, it was considered an impossible feat, beyond the reach of mere mortals. AFTER that amazing May 6, a dozen or so people did it in the next 24 months. How can that be possible? Because Roger Bannister changed the baseline for what a single runner could do; in essence, he reset the mental clock for a generation of runners.

I will grant you that 80 seconds on the new Steel Challenge course is really really honest-to-goodness we're-not-kidding hard; but regardless of what you've read in this or that e-mail, it's not impossible. It's not a conspiracy by the Knights Templar or the U.N. Expeditionary Black Helicopter Brigade to make shooters look stupid — that is the endless whine of the perpetual second-rater!

It is an opportunity to push the boundaries of what we can do.

I think me and Paul Erhardt at SIGARMS are going to give the money away this year — J.J. Racaza, K.C. Escubio, Tasuya Sakai, Doug Koenig, Max Michel Jr., Jerry Miculek and my old and dear friend Todd Jarrett all have the proven ability to step up and run a 4-minute mile.

And, darn it, I'd love to see it, because as a relentless amateur athlete there is nothing I love more than to see greatness in action because it speaks to the central core of why we all compete, why every single one of us reaches again and again for the brass ring. SHOOTING GALLERY will be there, and if it happens, you WILL see it!


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Anonymous said...

Uh, Michael, TGO never hit 72.. at least not with the same courses of fire.

80's going to be a lot harder than 72 was. 8 seconds for Accelerator? The only stage anybody runs under 8 total is Smoke & Hope, and that club consists of about 3 people, total, ever.

The boys might have the skillz, but putting it together over 8 stages is going to be very very tough.

I'm shooting for a 90. ;)

Michael Bane said...

Mike and Mike refigured TGO's score with the Speed Option juggled the way they presently score it. I trust 'em...they invented the thing.

From the beginning, I was adament that the new "magic number" be hard but not impossible, a la the 4-minute mile analogy.

And from the realm of us mere mortals, if I culd shoot a 90 on the existing SC course, I'd probably retire!

An 80 will be impossible right up until someone shoot it, then everyone will wonder what the fuss was about...

Michael B

Anonymous said...

Hm. Somebody's math isn't adding up. Could be mine (probably is), but here goes. TGO's only won in 1985 and 2002 (aside: 20 years and still kicking butt is why he's TGO..). Assuming 2002 is when he did it (I'm not seeing how it could be otherwise), he shot a 68.x. Back then they had Flying M instead of Pendulum. That's good for about a second or so, so call it 67. Add back the 8 seconds for the option plate and my Pentium-based calculator keeps coming up with 75. Probably makes for better TV as 'only done once..' though.


The total of the world records is in the 67 range, so all somebody has to do is shoot world record runs on all the old stages and loaf along with 3-second runs on Accelerator. It's doable, just..

Anonymous said...

Tatsuya Sakai was on a pace to set world records before his AD. Speed is with the younger guys like JJ, KC and Max. They have the ability and the reflexes. It just becomes a whole different game when the money is on the table and the pressure is on.

Anonymous said...

J.J. Racaza had it won last year and fell apart on the final stage. He needed 11.69 seconds to win and there were 4 others who shot that or better. When it was his turn he couldn't pull it together and he can do that time in his sleep. Big money creates powerful pressures on the mind. When you put up that kind of prize and put that kind of challenge before the competitors that is what you want to have happen - drama. It was within reach and the only person at fault is the shooter. I'd bet money he won't make that mistake again.

Anonymous said...

I can't belive people would actually complain about it being hard to win $30,000. What the hell is wrong with them? They expect that is should just be given to them in a cake walk? Wow, money really does change people (for the worse)I guess.