First off, congrats to SG & COWBOYS regular Evil Roy — the irrepressible Gene Pearcey — for taking High Modern (and High Overall) at the 2nd SASS Wild Bunch championships at Founder Ranch, NM. He was joined by Fast Hammer as High Traditional and at 4th overall Holy Terror — Glock shooter Randi Rogers — as High Woman. Congrats, guys! It was big, big fun!
The top trophies — sponsored by us here at DOWN RANGE Television and the Evil Roy Shooting School, were laser-cut metal copes of the emblematic scene from the movie pictured above, mounted on big chunks of sandstone. You can read the results and the initial story on DRTV, and we'll be adding interviews and video material later this week.
I ended up 47 out of 60, and given all the mistakes and gun ickiness I'll take it and be happy as a clam. Next year...watch out! What will I do different? First and foremost, dot the "i's" and cross the "t's." Bulletproof my gear well before the match. I had plenty of time to get the Retrto-Para finished, but kept shoving it off to the back burner. So off it goes next week with a sack of parts to Cylinder & Slide, along with the Wilson Duty Magazines that flatly wouldn't lock the slide back on my Heinie 1911 I shot...not a big deal in USPSA or IDPA shooting, but huge in Wild Bunch competition where all the strings are 5 shots and all reloads are from slide lock.
I haven't decided what to do on the '97 front. The gun I used that caused me so much pain is my regular workhorse SASS match gun, so before this match (Rookie Mistake #4, I think) it had never been fired with rounds loading from the tube. Quick explanation...in cowboy action shooting you can't load more than 2 rounds in the shotgun, which is always staged empty with the action open. Consequently, CAS shooters — a significant percentage of which are law enforcement officers and trainers — have become masters of loading the pump shotgun...we've talked about this topic several times on DOWN RANGE Radio, BTW.
Wild Bunch shooting, in keeping with the movie, allows the shotgun to be loaded with the full number of rounders required for the stage. My Coyote Cap .97 clone, which has run like a top since I got it a couple of years ago, choked all sorts of different ways on rounds in the tube. I can get those problems corrected or go to a different gun. I have 2 other '97s, a 1905 solid frame that's being overhauled by Old West Gun Repair (specialists in original '97s) and a Chinese "Trench Gun" '97 in the proper trench gun configuration. The Trench Gun has had some work on it but still has issues with the ejector — the early Chinese guns were, to be honest, junk in a box. I may have Old West look at the gun and see if it can be tortured into something that would hold up in competition. I like the trench gun stuff...worst case I may cannibalize it (the Chinese guns were dirt dirt cheap 5 years ago!) for the trench parts and fit them to a '97 that works.
Riflewise, no complaints on the Legacy '92 .44 Magnum. It's a wonderful rifle to shoot and is fiercely accurate. As long as I look at the sights, the bullet goes where it's supposed to. BTW, I like it that the Wild Bunch rules specify a major caliber (.40 and above) lever gun. I shoot a .38/357 1873 in regular competition, and there is a huge difference in shooting the bigger bore guns, even at the mild cowboy loads.
Skillwise, I need practice practice practice, especially on the transitions. In CAS, changing from gun to gun can really eat up the seconds it you don't think it through. I am also finally going to suck it up and address my inability to hit clay pigeons shooting off my left side. There were two "flippers" in this match — steel targets that when they fall launch a clay pigeon — and I missed them both. I'm going to spend some time at the Kiowa Creek sporting clays club with my old Remington 870 20-gauge. I'd love to have a Winchester '97 Black Diamond trap gun, but not enough to shell out what such a thing would cost! I figure the 870, being a pump, will teach me what I need to know, and 20-gauge will make me focus...at least, that's my theory! Kiowa has an excellent clays instructor, Warren Watson, and I thought I'd spend a day with him.
So anyway, it's back to the the Real World! If you have a 1911 and would like a different challenge, try out Wild Bunch shooting...DRTV is going to be working hard with SASS and the Evil Roy Shooting School to take the sport to the next level, so expect to see matches all over the place...