Sunday, April 01, 2007

CWSA Steel Challenge 03/31/07 Report

The Saturday night before the match I talked to LouG on the phone, it was raining pretty good and it didn't look like it was going to be dry enough to shoot a Steel Challenge match, so it was looking like it was going to be a rimfire falling plate match. That sounded fine to me, as you get to do a WHOLE lot more shooting, and a lot less waiting around for your chance to shoot.

Just to be sure, I packed lots of rimfire ammo in case it was a falling plate match, and lots of guns and ammo in case it was a Steel Challenge. As I was driving to the CWSA range, it rained steadily until I got to within eight or ten miles of the range, and the rain had stopped. By the time I reached the range, the roads were even starting to dry out. When I pulled in to the range I could see by where cars were starting to park that it was going to be a Steel Challenge match, as originally scheduled. That's a nice thing about shooting handgun matches at CWSA, we never get rained out. It might not be the match you were originally planning on, but at least you get to shoot, regardless of the weather!

It looked like we were going to have a good turn out, and there were even several shooters down from the Custer club. I entered four classes, Open Revolver, Open Centerfire, Open Rimfire, and Limited Rimfire. That ought to keep me busy all day! I got signed in and my entry fees paid, we had a short shooter's meeting, and then we got right into the shooting. We had two stages set up, "Roundabout" and "Five To Go". All Steel Challenge stages have five plates, one of which is the stop plate, which must be shot only after the other four have been shot. It was all against the clock, and you made five runs through each stage, and your slowest run from each stage was discarded. The total of the remaining eight runs, including any penalties, was your final score. Centerfire class shooters either started with a holstered gun, or held the gun in front of you pointed at a marker on the ground in front of you with your other hand in the air. Although there is very little difference in the time it takes to get off your first from either start position, there is a 1.25 second per run penalty assessed if you are not using a holster. This is to encourage shooters to buy holsters, I guess. Starting ten seconds in the hole makes it just about impossible to be competitive, but I'm too cheap to spend the $300 it costs to buy the special belt and two holsters, so I just take the penalties and shoot for the fun of it in the revolver and centerfire open classes.

Rimfire rules are different, and no holster is required. The start position is a two handed grip with the gun pointed at a marker on the ground 12 feet in front of you.

In case you were wondering, the Open classes are for modified "Race" guns, usually with optical sights and compensators. The "Limited" classes are for more basic, more or less stock guns.

I chose to start the day shooting my High Standard Rimfire Open class gun. I tried to concentrate on being as smooth as possible and not making any bone-headed mistakes. I saved all of those for later! It felt pretty good, but I knew it probably wasn't up to Evil Al's "Full Auto" imitations.

Just for the fun of it, I drug out a box stock High Standard Supermatic Citation I had been working on to cure a random feed problem. It had stock iron sights, and a 5.5" barrel. I shot it much better than I had expected on the first stage, where the plates were fairly large ,but I struggled on the second stage with smaller plates, as I couldn't hear if I had missed a plate or not, and I ended up picking up a couple of penalties. The gun seemed to be feeding beautifully, and that was good news.

Next up was Open Revolver. This time I was shooting my Taurus Model 66 .357 with a red dot sight. I was still having trouble hearing the plates if I hit it or not, and ended up shooting a few plates twice! No penalty for that, but you just waste a lot of time stopping or going back and re-shooting the plate. I think I'll load up a little heavier bullets, and see if that helps in the future.

Finally it was mid afternoon, and time to shoot the Taurus PT92 Econo Race Gun with a red dot sight. First, the good news, The Taurus worked perfectly, however, it seemed to shoot exactly where it was pointed when you pull the trigger, and that didn't always happen to be pointed dead center on the plates. I didn't do horribly, but let's just say that I'm not expecting any phone calls from Taurus in the near future regarding sponsorship deals! The stage with the smaller plates was a stage you just want to forget. The second stage, and my final stage for the day, was the larger plates, closer in. Gerald, from Custer, was filling in running the timer when I got to the line to shoot. Let me tell you a little about Gerald. Gerald is not only a super nice guy, he's spooky fast. He holds the CWSA bowling pin record at 2.54 seconds for 5 pins. In rimfire pin tops he's almost unbeatable. He's also the guy who got me started using a "Taco" grip for pin shooting. He's a master of the Taco grip.

I decided "What the heck", and told him I'd decided to shoot the stage with the Taco grip as a tribute to Gerald! To my surprise I shot some of the fastest times I'd ever shot! I think Gerald got a kick out of it, too!

That wrapped up the shooting, and now it was time to find out how everyone did.

In Open Revolver I was somewhere around sixth, and considering the "no holster" penalties, I really couldn't complain! Evil Al won it, followed by Tony The Kid, and LouG in third.

Open Centerfire results were about the same. The good final stage wasn't nearly good enough to overcome the terrible other stage with the 9mm.

Limited Rimfire was a big surprise. Although I had one stage that didn't go too well, I had a second stage that went very well, actually, well enough that I won that particular stage! JimP had two good stages back to back to take the class, with RandyN in second, and wonder of wonders, I had managed a third place with an iron sight gun! I couldn't believe it!!

Open Rimfire was perhaps the most tightly competitive class of all, with Evil Al, Gerald, JimP, Kim, Pete, and Megan all capable of winning the class. Out of fifteen shooters in the class, any one of seven could win it. It was no surprise when it was announced that Al had won it, but to my surprise, I was there in second place, only six tenths of a second behind Al's time. In third place was Gerald. The difference between my total time and Gerald's was one one hundredth of a second! Yup, .01 seconds difference over a whole day's shooting. It can't get any closer than that!

We all had a grand time, got in lots of shooting, and didn't get rained on, even once! Sorry about no pictures, I just didn't have time to take any, and yeah, I also forgot the camera............



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