Monday, November 05, 2012
Escape From Texas!
Home from Comin' At Cha, the big cowboy action shooting regional in English, Texas, that we filmed for SHOOTING GALLERY 2013. What a great great match! I have to say that if you're a cowboy action shooter who hasn't traveled to any big national matches, you could not have a better experience than at Comin' At Cha. T-Bone Dooley and his Dooley Gang do a magnificent job of not just running a fine match, but in creating an fun experience around that match. "This is all about the entertainment dollar," T-Bone told me yesterday. "It's not just a competition."
Those words should probably be tattooed on every match director's forearm where he or she can be reminded every day. Yes, the competition has to be world class — and most big match directors have that down pat — but match directors truly need to understand that they are competing for a decreasing amount of leisure time. And traveling to a big match is flat out expensive. Each year the organizers of Comin' At Cha sit down and figure out how to get more value-added activities in the event. There are banquets and activities every night, much of the food is included in the match fee, a good selection of vendors, both traditional and eclectic side matches and a relentless attention to detail. Small point...in addition to experienced and well-briefed squad leaders ("posse marshals," in the lingo os SASS), there are several range masters constantly roaming from bay to bay to head off any problems before they start. And T-Bone and the Dooley Gang are everywhere, talking to shooters, visitors and vendors and asking how they can make the experience better for participants.
As the shooting sports continue to grow in popularity, it falls upon match directors to make sure their matches stand out in the crowd. Hornady did a masterful job of that with their Zombies in the Heartland 3-Gun Shoot this summer. Ditto for Crimson Trace and their Midnight 3-Gun Invitational. My friend Paul Erhardt has written extensively over the years on how to make matches more competitive in the increasingly crowded marketplace.
So how'd I do? In a word...sigh. I've been shooting well and went into the match feeling pretty solid, shooting up to my potential on most of the early stages. On the second day, my last minute lack of match prep caught up with me. Normally for a big match, I will take every reloaded round and "drop test" it, that is, drop it into either a chamber gauge or, better yet, remove one of the cylinders from a match pistol and drop the round into the cylinder to make sure I hadn't screwed up reloading. Time, laziness, whatever, I didn't, which gave me the wonderful opportunity to lever a .357 round that had somehow missed the taper crimp final stage on the reloading press into my 1873 rifle. What happens is it jams the crap out of the lifter — you can't clear it on the line. So I ate 9 misses from that little stunt, giving me a middle-of-the-pack finish among 400 shooters. Learn from my mistakes, little grasshoppers!
Finally, congratulations to K.C. Eusebio for winning the overall Steel Challenge last weekend with an Open Glock. SHOOTING GALLERY regular B.J. Norris took the iron sighted division and Taurus' Jessie Duff repeating as high woman. Dave Sevigny won the Rimfire Steel Challenge.
Tomorrow, VOTE, for America and for those who will never cast another vote.