Thursday, April 27, 2006

Steel Is My Friend

Steel targets can be intimidating when you're shooting an IPSC match. Some competitors are daunted when presented with a steel-target array (plates, US poppers, Pepper Poppers) and, conscious of the inexorable movement of the clock, shoot too fast ... and miss.

Steel targets are smaller than IPSC targets. You don't get to hose them down, because there is no chance of getting a 'near miss' that counts. You either hit the A-zone, or you don't. When you miss the A-zone on a steel target, you get no credit. Your only choice is to eat the miss, or make up the shot.

Two years ago, SWMBO was uncomfortable with shooting Steel targets. Our friend Randomly Hittin' Witten and I took her to the range and spend a few hours shooting at steel-only stages. The theme was "Steel Is My Friend" ... because when you hit a steel target, it's reactive and you know if you hit it or not. The lesson: slow down (and get the hits) to shoot fast.

Fast-forward to the Dundee club match in April, 2006. This was a classifier match, but there were two non-classifier stages presented as well, for variety. The classifiers were 'technical stages', and generally not as exciting as one might wish. They tested for pinpoint accuracy, reloading, strong-hand / weak-hand shooting and shooting from an awkward position. These are all of the skills we must master to be competitive, but they are B-O-R-I-N-G!

Of the two 'fun stages', perhaps the most challenging was the Steel stage.

Picture this:

Start from a position where you can't see the targets, draw and run to the first shooting position.
Arriving out of breath and off-balance, you shoot at;
A plate rack with six 8" plates, plus two freestanding 8" plates and a US popper on the ground.

Move to another shooting position, where you can see a six-target array of US Poppers (very small) arranged like pins in a bowling alley, with a wide index to pick up another 8" plate which is hidden behind a barrel from any other position.

Transition to a final position, where you can (with some body-language movement between targets) engage a final 8" plate, two more US poppers and a final Pepper Popper.

She did everything exactly right. Didn't hurry, got a good sight picture on every target, took some chances by shooting on the move and cleaned the stage. She ended up 15th overall on the 20-round stage for the match (stage #6: Speedy Steel). And what's more, she did it with a borrowed gun.

To musically accompany this video, I've chosen "Witchy Woman" by the Eagles, if only for the line:

"Raven Hair,
And Ruby Lips,
Sparks fly from her fingertips"
Somehow, it seemed to fit.

Bang. Clang!

(Thanx to Caryn S. for the video!)

Monday, April 24, 2006

Shooter strips to raise funds

Shooter strips to raise funds -

Aftenpost, the Norwegian online newspaper, is one of my favorite online sources of bizarre news, challenged only by the WaiWai section of Japan's Mainichi Daily News.

They don't promote themselves as a source of Strange News, Aftenposten doesn't seem to have any problems finding odd people doing odd things.

Case in point: a candidate for the Norwegian National Olympic Shooting Team has found an unusual way to finance this trip to Beijing.

Are Hansen seems to be shooting from the hip, quite literally. The 24-year-old shooting champion has taken to posing naked, with his rifle strategically held, in a quest to raise funds needed for competition.

Hansen is quick to reveal the naked truth behind his unorthodox move: He needs money if he hopes to be able to compete in the next Olympics in Beijing.

He hopes that posing naked for all but his guns and medals, and then selling the photos, will attract some attention and some funds. The main problem is that the Norwegian shooters' association (Norges Shytterforbund) has no main sponsor, and that means those taking part in international competition need to bear a lot of the expense themselves.

Free Image Hosting at

Hansen, for example, took part in the World Cup opening in China in March, made it to the finals and ended in eight place. But it was an expensive presentation. "We had to pay half the tour ourselves, and for me, that amounted to NOK 10,000," he said.

That's a lot of money for the engineering student who lives in Sarpsborg. Hansen doesn't mean to be firing away at Norway's Olympic committee, but he'd hoped his good results would have attracted more funding. He does have a NOK 50,000 grant from the committee, but that only covers his weapons and ammunition.

"We simply can't afford to send out all the shooters who qualify," admits national shooting coach Christian Lilleng. Even when Norway has never had so many good shooters as it does now.

In the meantime, Hansen figures the shooting season will cost him around NOK 150,000, and that uncovering himself may help him cover his expenses.

It's hard to predict whether Hansen can generate sufficient interest to finance his trip, but nobody can't question that he is highly motivated.

This is a young man who really REALLY wants to compete. I admire his determination, and when I compare it to my own personal indicision about shooting the ARPC Single Stack Championship, Columbia Cascade Sectional Tournament, The Croc Match and USPSA's Area One Tournament (all held in Oregon over the 2006 USPSA Shooting Season, and all 'lost-brass' matches) because of the expense, I would be the first to admit that my own dedication does not stand comparison.

Here's an offer: Send money. For every match that is fully funded by public donations, Jerry the Geek will NOT walk naked through the range protected from the sight of revolted onlookers only by an STI Open Pistol.

While a mere Derringer is sufficient bulk to conceal The Geek's "ultimate privacy", the rest isn't all that appealing, either. [shudder!]

Send your checks to Jerry the Geek, 1 Main Street, Geekistan, Oregon.

To paraphrase Cleavon Little in Blazing Saddles; "Everybody gives, or the Geek shows it!"