Wednesday, May 07, 2008

2008 Man of Steel Pistol Match

Bright and early KeeWee and I jumped into our land yacht and headed South on Interstate 5 in the general direction of Oregon, specifically just South of Portland, to the Tri-Counties gun club. The traffic through Seattle and Tacoma only sucked to a normal level and fortunately there were no major backups. From Olympia clear to Kelso it rained, and rained, and rained even harder, making the driving much less than a fun experience!

Once we crossed the Columbia into Oregon, though, the weather wasn't bad at all, and by the time we got to the gun club it was quite pleasant.

It's hard to describe the amazing facility they have at TCGC. First, they own 263 acres of their own land for their facilities. On the club grounds is a large gravel pit, and the club sells gravel and rock out of the pit on a steady basis, producing income to run the club. The club has approximately 3,600 members, and the dues plus the gravel pit income allows the club to set up and run a first class facility.

When I got there I flagged down a Range Officer in his range officer marked car and asked him about the club and where the Man of Steel match was being held. He invited me to jump in to his car and he'd give me the tour! The facility is so big you really need to drive to see it all! There are long range rifle ranges, covered pistol ranges, black powder ranges, small bore ranges, and a whole bunch of bays for steel and IPSC competitions, all without interfering with each other. When I got there Saturday afternoon there was a group of Marines doing some rifle qualifying in one of the large pistol bays and also camping out on one of the long range rifle ranges. In two other bays there were a large group of cops doing various forms of of live fire training. On one of the small bore rifle ranges they were holding a junior small bore rifle championship match. On another range the Cowboy action shooters had been holding a practice session. In three other pistol bays they were doing IPSC certification classes. In a bunch of other pistol bays Nick, Ryan, and some other folks were setting up the target stands for the Man of Steel Match. All of this was going on without one activity interfering with any of the others. Amazing!

We were able to park the RV just a few hundred feet from the pistol bays where the Man of Steel match was going to be held the next morning. I even got a chance to shoot one of the stages a few times for a little practice. The stage was called Dragstrip, and I could either shoot slow and hit the plates, or try to speed up and miss! I just couldn't seem to figure out the right tempo, or something. I was kind of discouraged since Dragstrip was my favorite kind of stage, large plates, close together, and close in.

The next morning the shooters meeting and registration was at 8am in one of the clubhouses on the grounds. You could sign up for which ever squad you wanted to shoot with, but I didn't know any of the other shooters, so I just picked a squad that wasn't filled up, and that was squad number seven. Earlier that morning I had been visiting with Jeff, who mentioned that he was going to shoot the Rimfire Open class too. By luck, Jeff and I ended up on the same squad.

Our first stage was the classic "Outer Limits" Steel Challenge stage, and one of the ones I have the most trouble with as you shoot two plates from one position, then move to a second position and shoot the last three plates. First thing in the morning, barely awake, and I get to start with what's my worst Steel Challenge stage. "At least it will be out of my way!", I thought. My plan was to shoot it very conservatively and try really hard not to collect any penalties, or fall on my butt in front of everyone. I managed to better Jeff's time by a very small amount, but it was very close.

Jeff shooting a stage with his Ruger.

Our second stage was much more to my liking, but it was the Dragstrip stage I had struggled with the previous evening. What a difference a good night's sleep seems to have made. We shot five times at each stage, and on Dragstrip I shot a fairly decent time on the first run. Each run I tried to go a little faster, and after four really decent runs without a miss, I had a fifth "Throwaway" run to let it all hang out. I couldn't believe it when the timer called out 1.72 seconds for the five shots! Then Jeff came up, and Jeff wasn't going to take that lying down! Jeff ripped of five excellent runs, and tied my 1.72 seconds, but couldn't beat it. My total time for my best four runs was only one tenth of a second faster that Jeff's! It doesn't get much closer.

A great action pic showing Mr. C. moving to the second shooter's box while performing the mandatory reload. In the picture it looks like I knew what I was doing. The picture lies.....

One stage, called "4 T 5", required you to shoot four plates, then run to another shooting box while doing a reload on the way, then shoot the four plates again, then the stop plate. I have enough trouble just moving, and you want me to reload, too? Again I tried to keep it conservative and not stack up a lot of penalties. My times on this stage weren't great, but at least no penalties. Jeff shot the stage well, and the reload was no problem for him as he shoots IPSC matches with reloads all the time. By now Jeff and I were having a grand time kidding each other, making jokes, and just enjoying ourselves no end. As the day progressed we had a lot of fun pushing each other to try and beat each other's times.

Here's Jeff running the timer as another shooter in our squad (Forgot to write down everyone's names) reloads on the way to the second shooter's box.

I think this stage was called "Eight Inch Nightmare". The looked even smaller from the shooter's box. Not only are they small, they are spread far apart. Accuracy instead of speed is the key on this one.

As the day progressed the kidding back and forth finally involved just about everyone on our squad, and by the end no one was laughing and carrying on as much as we were. Jeff and I went back and forth, and on every stage we were just about the same with our times.

Most of Squad #7 in one picture.

More unidentified Squad #7 folks.

I really should remember to write down names.
Yup, I really should.........

After each shooter shoots, we would spray paint the plates so you could see the hits as they happened.

The weather was excellent, the folks in our squad a joy to shoot with, and all to soon the tenth stage was finished. I must admit, though ,that all that excitement and adrenalin was starting to take it's toll, and I was really starting to run down. Jeff and I had had a great time trying to top each other's times and wisecracks, and it had been a great day. Since we were both from out of town, and since we had no other Rimfire Open class shooters in our squad, we both had absolutely no idea of how we had fared against the other Rimfire Optic shooters. We could have been first, last, or anywhere in between. I was pretty sure that Jeff had beat my times, but not by a lot. I was also listed in the Super Senior class, and I had no idea how I had done there, either.

We packed up our gear and found something cool to drink and a shady spot to sit and wait for the results. When the results sheet was finally passed around, I was surprised to see my name in 13th place overall, with Jeff above me in seventh. Jeff had won the Rimfire Optic class, and I was second! I had posted the fastest time of all the Super Seniors. On the Dragstrip stage the 1.72 seconds for a single run shared by Jeff and I was the fastest stage time of all shooters, and my stage time was the fastest overall for the stage. You could have knocked me over with the recoil from a squib load! What a day. I even won an absolutely beautiful hunting knife for the second place finish. Very cool!!

In September the Steel Challenge Northwest Regional Championships will be held in Albany, Oregon, and Jeff plans to be there. So do I. I better start practicing!!

After thanking Nick, Ryan, and the other folks that put on this fine match, we climbed back into our land yacht for the long drive home. We stopped near Kelso at a Denny's for a pair of apple crumble and ice cream desert sundays, topped up the petrol, and headed home. We finally pulled into the driveway of Castle Completely around midnight.

"Tired" wasn't even close.......................

Note: All picture credits to KeeWee, who did a wonderful job taking pictures and videos. I'll have some of the videos posted over the next few days.

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At Thursday, May 08, 2008 10:31:00 AM, Anonymous DoubleTapper said...

This looks like fun. I look forward to the videos.

At Tuesday, May 27, 2008 10:26:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I may have won the match, but Mr. Completely was the talk of the town, shooting that thing he thinks is a pistol.

Thanks to him for setting the bar so high, helping me push myself to go faster. I was lucky enough to follow him in the shooting order. If the order had been reversed, he would likely have beaten me.

I can't wait for the Steel Challenge in Albany. Friday - rimfire, Saturday - Open, Sunday - Revolver. Woo Hoo!

Man of Steel was a Great Match! Great Pics & Vids.


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