Monday, October 26, 2009

Prescott, AZ Steel Challenge Report

As I mentioned in a previous post, it was going to take a lot of traveling and connections to be able to shoot the Yavapai Recreation League's Steel Challenge Money shoot in Prescott, Arizona last Saturday.

I had planned to fly from Seattle to Phoenix, rent a car, and drive to Prescott on Friday, shoot the match on Saturday, and drive back to Phoenix on Saturday night and Sunday morning ,then catch a red-eye flight back to Seattle, and a shuttle bus back to Whidbey Island. Somewhere in there was also some sleep, and some food, too! I had everything planned out and reserved in advance, and it all went together just as planned. Amazing!

A Nissan Rogue SUV rental car.
(For a bigger picture, either sit closer, buy a new monitor, or click on the picture you want bigger.)

In Phoenix I rented a Nissan Rogue SUV. Not a bad little car, but visibility to either rear quarter or directly behind is almost non-existent. It was fairly peppy and reasonably comfortable, but hard cornering (don't ask how I know) on winding twisty roads left a bit to be desired.

Prescott, Arizona is only a few hours drive North of Phoenix, but the change is spectacular. Where Phoenix seems big, hot, flat, and sprawling, Prescott has a nice home town feel, nestled in a valley at an altitude of 5,300 feet and on the edge of Prescott National Forest. The altitude and location also make for much cooler days, compared to much hotter areas to the South.

On Friday evening I met up with Dean Dudden, the match director, and we went for Mexican dinner at a place called Garcia's in Prescott Valley. The food and conversation were both excellent! After dinner I headed to the motel for some sleep. Saturday was going to be a busy day.

Saturday morning I met up with Dean and followed him out to the range. Less than a half hour’s drive outside of Prescott, well isolated in the National Forest area is the twenty acre range of the Yavapai Recreation League range.

The topography lends itself well to a pistol and rifle range, with no close neighbors and lots of gullies and ravines, perfect for turning into shooting bays. The layout of the bays was good, but it was a bit of a climb up the hill from the lowest bay, bay eight, up to the first bay at the top of the hill. The thin air didn’t help a bit, either! Scattered around the range area are a few cactus, along with other smaller shrubs and bushes. Trees are fairly few and far between, but a number of pines dot the range, along with the man-made shelters, providing welcome shelter from the sun, particularly for those of us from parts of the country where that “Bright Thing in the Sky” isn’t seen quite so often!

Before the match got underway I was examining one of the cactus, and I half expected a weathered old cowboy to wander up and remark “You ain’t from around here, are you……”.

The Yavapai Recreation League SCSA Cash Bash, a level one Steel Challenge sanctioned match, was set up as a full eight stage match, so shooters would be able to get in a full day’s shooting. The weather on match day was absolutely beautiful, blue skies, no clouds, and a forecast for temperatures in the low to mid seventies, and the climate gods delivered exactly as promised.

Dean Dudden, the Match Director, going over the match and safety rules at the shooter's meeting.

Dean Dudden, the match director, called the shooter’s meeting to order at 9am, explained the match and reviewed the safety rules.

Bob Reister in the Toy Hauler/Scoring Shack/IT Department!

Bob Reister was all set up in the toy hauler trailer with his computer, printer, and everything else he needed to take care of the scoring tasks. It was clear that the YRL club had a good and enthusiastic group of core members who all pitched in to help Dean put on a first rate match.

After the shooter’s meeting the score sheets were handed out, and the squads gathered and headed off to their first stage to start launching some lead down range. Although the turnout was a bit lower than expected, there were some world class shooters entered, including Nick Saiti and Angus Hobdell, and it was clear that this was a match that was going to take some really good shooting to prevail. I was fortunate to be on the same squad with Nick and Angus, and it was fun watching the two of them pushing each other for their maximum speed.

Rob scoring, Angus timing, and Nick, the Open Class and overall winner, smoking the plates!

Rob Bagnato shoots his way to seventh place finish in Open.

Vince Pesuti hoses the steel on his way to fifth in Open. The Steeler’s hat seems appropriate!

It seemed like the match was over way too soon, so everyone gathered back at the trailer to find out the results. It wasn’t a very long wait until the results were posted. In Open, Nick Saiti had turned in a world class time of 88.50 seconds, with Angus Hobdell trailing by over eight seconds at 96.76. Vic Pickett rounded out the top three in Open with a very respectable 109.40. Limited was dominated by Angus Hobdell, with 102.39, followed by Chad Reilly and Ron Younger. Rimfire Optic only had one entry, but I managed to turned in the third fastest time of the day overall at 99.22 seconds. Rimfire Iron Sight was another story with plenty of shooters and with Mike McDannell, Stewart Wilson, and Arlan Averyt taking first, second, and third.

Although the total number of entries was fewer than hoped for, Dean and the rest of the guys from the Yavapai Pistol League put on a first rate match. I’m sure word of this match will spread through the ranks of the Steel Challenge shooters around the country, and next year this is going to be a match you won’t want to miss.

If it is scheduled the same next year as it was this year, Sunday, the day after the Steel Challenge, they shoot an ICORE Revolver match, so you can get in two matches on the same weekend, too. I’m hoping to be there next year, and this time I think I’ll even set aside an extra day or so to spend a little time wandering around Prescott. It seems like a place worth exploring!

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