Monday, August 29, 2011

Home Again!

On the AR15/Rockcastle 3-Gun Pro/Am, first, I gotta give full props to name sponsor and match "imaginer", Match Director Jeff Crambit, Match Chairman Joe DeBergalis, all the guys at Rockcastle, especially the Noble family, and the match sponsors (including but not limited to Brownell's, Sinclair, Hornady, and a who's who of the industry) for a spectacular and I believe game-changing match.

I'll be talking about the match on Wednesday's podcast, but I did want to at least touch on it on the blog. I shot 3-gun back in the day...I enjoyed it thoroughly, but at the time I was a pretty good pistol competitor and I decided to focus in that direction. We have covered several of the big 3-gun matches for SHOOTING GALLERY, including the Rocky Mountain 3-Gun and the FNH Midwest 3-Gun, and none of them had really captured my imagination. Great matches; great television "fodder," but the commitment to a sport requires a sort of immediate connection to what's going on, and at least for me, that connection was lacking.

Which was surprising to me, because I'm a cowboy shooter, which is a multi-gun sport. One of hte things that attracted me to cowboy was the transitions (I am an old, overweight former triathlete, after all). I thrilled at the amazing athletes of 3-gun — Daniel Horner, Michael Voigt, Bennie Cooley, Robbie Johnson, Jerry Miculek (of course) — and their ability to deliver any shot cooked up by Machiavellian match directors, but it was with the same view as one might look at a magnificent basketball game or a NASCAR race, something for the genetically gifted, superbly in shape and lucky enough to be sponsored athlete.

I did some consulting on the future of various shooting sports, including 3-gun, and in doing so I found a lot of similar opinions...that the barriers to entry for 3-gun essentially capped that sport far below the more mainstream sports. Those barriers go beyond the simple expediency of having to purchase 3 trick (and often expensive) guns. The long-range (500 yard+) shots called for in many matches require both a place to practice and a heavyweight commitment to training that's increasingly rare. The athletic challenges for some of the big matches are daunting.

This is not criticizing those matches or 3-gun, only pointing out the barriers to entry. That's why I thought the Arfcom/Rockcastle match was such a brilliant idea...the longest shots for the pros were in the 300-yard range; a little less for the amateurs. I know from experience that you can tune up for shots at that distance on a 100-yard range, which are much more accessible to larger numbers of shooters. The stages were all pretty contained, while remaining very interesting and darned challenging!

In short, it was a match that I and a lot of other spectators thought, "Wow! I wish I was shooting this match!"

I talked to MD Jeff Crambit a little bit, and he was like a kid who had gotten what he wanted for Christmas. His goal, as he told me, was to make a match that was exciting and challenging and accessible. I told him I thought he succeeded. If 3-gun can be a competition that can be run on a majority of what we might think of as "normal" ranges and appeal to the larger body of practical shooters, I think the sport will soar. I also think that such a path would enhance the current big matches by funneling new shooters to them.

It'll be interesting either way!


dillonhelp said...

I think you should attend the Superstition Mystery Mountain 3 Gun event at Rio Salado Sportsmans Club in Mesa AZ. One of the longest continuously-running 3 gun matches, A long rifle shot is about 300 yards.Stages are very innovative, with unique props.About half of the stages are in 50 yard deep bays,but still a challenge.

Cowboy Blob said...

+1 on the SMM3Gun! I guess I'm spoiled because I live close enough to drive and have a friend's guest-room to flop into once I get there, but the Annual match is just a somewhat grander version of the multi-gun matches they hold every month. I just turned 50 and have NEVER been an athlete, but I have a blast every year I go. I don't judge my annual progress on the goodies from the prize table, but from how much further I finish from the bottom than I used to.

Where else can I charge (read: "waddle") from bunker to helicopter or shoot from a parachute harness or mine cart, and get to rub elbows with Iain H., Jerry M., and other luminaries? And do it wearing shorts in March?

In Arizona, it's almost as popular and just as accessible as GOLF (i.e., you should have a job and an understanding spouse), but GOLF doesn't let Joe Lunchbox in the same tournament as Tiger Woods. There's no Ladies tees and no Putt-Putt course to keep the Juniors amused.

As participants, we're spectators and fans too, but not just for the superstars. This year we had a new Lady shooter and the whole squad cheered as loudly as her husband and practically swelled with advice when it was sought and sometimes when it wasn't.

I think I should shut up now and maybe blog about this.

Michael Bane said...

Heck, you guys are right and, besides, I'd love to come to Heat World and hang out with you.

IO wish I could cover a lot more of the great events in our sport...I've been trying to put together a sort of Shooting Sports Center on the Internet as part of DRTV, but that's grinding slow.

Blob, love the blog!


Cowboy Blob said...

Whoohoo! Thanks!

Tim/GA said...

MB, glad to finally get to meet you at the Rockcastle match. I am the big guy that ran into you in the parking lot before the Am prize table, etc. I agree completely that this was a complete success. I sort of look at it like Blob, this match was the more like the Superbowl of local type 3gun matches. No need to get fancy with your equipment, on the other hand if what you have is fancy it fits to. No stress between stages (unless your car's back window shatters like mine :( and lots to do. It is also something we needed over on this side of the country. Look forward to more! And thanks for covering the match, was glad to see you there and know that we would get to see it on TV along with a lot more people.

I know a few people kicking themselves for not going. And, no it was not the prize table (which was unbelievable)- hell my name was chosen in the random draw dead last- 145th out of 145! And I was pretty happy with 30th out of 145, Could have been better but not bad.

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