Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Day After, 9th Annual Single Stack Championship

I told you Friday that I didn't expect to place highly in the Albany Rifle & Pistol club's Ninth Annual Single Stack Championships.

Those expectations were well founded, as I started the first stage by accumulating FOUR misses in a stage which only scored the best 24 shots. Actually, I didn't do all THAT badly (although I was slow ... very slow) all day because I wasn't accustomed to handling the recoil. That meant that I wasn't waiting for clean slight-alignment on my second shot at each target, so that shot often went south. Or West, depending on how you look at it. Anyway, I missed to the left quite consistantly, thank you. I DID manage to slow down and hold it together until the last stage, where I did the same thing on one long-distance target and got another miss, and a D-hit.

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(click on all images for enlarged views)

In this photo, I'm scoring someone else's targets on the same stage where I missed four of 'em. Seems difficult to believe that I could completely miss targets this close, doesn't it? A determined Geek can do ANYTHING! But I missed very very fast. The good thing is, after shooting this stage I knew that for the rest of the day I was going to be shooting for fun, not with the expectation of winning anything (as if I thought that before I started the first stage!)

I ended up in 43rd place out of 108 competitors. Well, nobody said it was going to be easy, and I had a LOT of fun so I'm not complaining.

(For those who care about the details, you can find a short write-up about the match and a link to the results at the ARPC IPSC website.)

The weather cooperated perfectly. Although we had to cover the cardboard targets because of a light rain during 7am setup, by the time the match started at 9am we could pull the bags off and shot dry the rest of the day.

I saw some old friends whom I haven't seen lately.

My friend Zippy from Washington was there. Unfortunately, I was busy with setup in the morning and we weren't squadded together, so I only had a few moments of essentially meaningless conversation; not more than shake hands, good to see you, regrets that I had to change my plans to shoot with him at the NorthWest Challenge at the end of the month (work and family obligations), and "have a safe drive home".

Zippy was a D-L10 shooter when I first met him, and a friend of my friend Bumstead (another near-Seattle native and denizen of The Unofficial IPSC List.) We both were shooting Kimbers ... he had won a custom-built Kimber in the NorthWest Challenge, and I had my $279 Kimber nicknamed "The Beloved Kimber" because it ALWAYS works.

Today I discovered, to my great surprise, Zippy is a Master-Class competitor in Limited 10 Division.

I ... am ... IMPRESSED! Way to go, Zipster! (Sure wish I had been following his career more closely over these past five years! That's the way it goes, though. You meet somebody, you become friends, and you lose touch with each other for years. I think it's the "Tournament Circuit" thingie at work. You go to matches out of your area, you meet great people and make new friends, but the only place you ever see them again are at matches out of your area.)

Almost the first thing Zippy asked me when we met again Saturday was "So, you'll be shooting The Beloved Kimber?" I confirmed the rumor, and also that SWMBO would not be competing because she is so completely taken to The Dark Side that she refused to compete in a match which would forbid competing with the STI Tru-bore named SHIRLEY1.

Well, it IS a "Single Stack" match, and the MD had set the rules: Single Stack 1911's compete for plaques, non-1911 and non-singlestacks compete for ribbons. Every other handgun design is outside of the spirit of the game.

While we were setting up the props, steel and target stands on Friday, Willy and Sam (husband and wife) showed up. They also had just driven down from Washington in their VW van, and were looking for a place to park so they could camp overnight in the van. Mike McCarter, the Match Director, was happy to let them take the premium parking place RIGHT by the Stats Shack so they were in convenient proximity to the 'facilities', as their van doesn't have plumbing. Willy and Sam make it down to Oregon two or three times a year, taking in the Columbia Cascade Sectional (August 6 & 7 this year) and the super-high-round-count Crazy Croc Dundee Banzaii Ballistic "You Got Bullets?" match (Labor Day Weekend this year) at least. Willy use to shoot a 10mm Glock, and we became good buddies because I was shooting a 10mm STI Edge. When there was nothing better doing during a match, we chatted together in cheerful superiority over our benighted friends who chose to shoot the .40 Slow&Wimpy cartridge instead of the plainly superior Mighty Ten.

But I went to the Dark Side a couple of years ago, taking up a full-race STI in Open class, and Willy gave up the Glock in favor of a 1911 ... both for reasons which seemed reasonable to us both, but not without regrets.

Here's a photo of our host and Match Director, the always-courteous (if sneaky match designer) Mac:

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The stages were well designed and [ahem!] well constructed, and I spent much of the setup day remarking that "Gee, this sure would be a great match for an Open Gun!" Mac was amused, but not swayed. Here's an example. The stage contains not one but TWO Texas Star targets (one of which you can partially see over the visquine (sp) vision barrier.

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The shooter in the start box is Rick. He seems to be praying. Good idea. It can't hurt, may help. The RO is Harold the Barbarian, he of February Fame in these pages. One surprising trend appeared on this stage: The Texas Star arrays included one 2-shot IPSC target, and the 5-shot Texas Star. We all started with 10 rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber, for a total of 11 rounds to get 9 hits (with the exception of Shirley A., who was shooting a .38 Super singlestack with 9-round magazines!) Several people didn't quite manage to get all of the hits on the first array, and had to do a standing reload. I saw THREE people in our squad reload on the first Star array, then turn around and get all 7 hits on the SECOND Star array without a reload! None of them shot the gun dry on the 2nd array. Apparently, they 'went to school' on themselves, and learned how to shoot the Star with no (0r few) misses. This is a credit to the determination and the ability to take risks and make it work which typifies IPSC competitors.

I wouldn't have chanced it. I just don't have the guts to go against the star and an IPSC target with fewer rounds than I can cram into the gun.

Here's a better picture of the star, along with it's creater. All of the clubs in the Columbia Cascade Section own, and use, a Star target.

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Mac has been working hard to develop a Juniors program in the Columbia Cascade Section. Toward that end, he has been actively seeking sponsorship. So far Glock America has provided a few Glock 17 pistols and magazines, and other sponsors have provided magazines and magazine carriers, for the Junior Program. I don't yet know who is providing ammunition, but these young people have been practicing HARD for this match. When I went to the range last Wednesday after work, I found Mac and a handful of the juniors at practice. I stopped in and watched them for a few minutes, and was impressed not only with the quality of the training which Mac is providing, but with the maturity and eagerness to learn of the students. I watched a few of them go through a simple field course, then Mac had them lined up at a shooting counter to practice the RIGHT way to do a reload ... with the pistol still mounted, instead of dropping it to waist level.

Not all of the Juniors attended this match, but SWMBO caught three of them waiting their turn at the Timed Fire exercise stage. Chris, Drew and Justin are impatient to shoot, and all three received special recognition at the awards ceremony at the end of the match.

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I might mention that the Juniors managed to kick some Geek butt from time to time during the match, and it wasn't only on my disastrous first stage. Those young men are having a lot of fun, and they are enjoying the opportunity to play big games with the grown-ups, but they're also serious about their sport. But they don't let that keep them from the fun.

Chris' dad, Jeff, got his son into IPSC because Mac encouraged him. Jeff didn't shoot IPSC at the time, but after a few weeks of watching Chris have so much fun, Jeff got into the game too. It's an uphill battle for Jeff ... Chris is hard to beat! But they go to the matches together, and you never see either of them without a big grin on their faces.

Chris and Jeff help set up the match on Friday (Chris has already designed his first stage, which we shot at the ARPC match in June. It had not two, but THREE Texas Star targets! We don't like Chris much after that one! Okay, we do, but that young man has a mean streak, I think.)

While we were doing the setup, we were conscious of the need to insure that the same shooting challenge was offered to every competitor. Toward that end, all of the props, all of the steel targets, and the stands which supported the IPSC targets were fixed in place by driving ten-inch spikes into the ground, using a three-pound hammer. Chris was designated Official Hammer Guy, because he was so good at it. (Also, because us Old Guys didn't want to do the hard work.) As we were finishing with the last stage, Chris was spiking the steel target frames. ARPC President John (who also shoots IPSC) was watching Chris and finally said "Your arm is going to be SO sore tomorrow, you won't be able to shoot right; maybe I can FINALLY beat you!" Chris looked up at John, beamed a big smile at him, and said: "That's okay, I'm going to win a free gun tomorrow!"

Who can beat that kind of optimism?

Oh, maybe I should explain that "win a free gun" comment.

EVERYBODY who shot the match received a ticket for a drawing. The match was sponsored by Springfield, which had provide FOUR hard-chromed Springfield Single-Stack pistols. The only restrictions were (a) you MUST be present during the drawing (at the end of the Award Ceremony) to win, and (b) you must prove eligibility to own a firearm via the usual BATFE process.

As it happened, Chris didn't win a pistol, and neither did Jeff.

However, my friend Fish ... did!

He had trouble with his Kimber through the match. No reason for the feeding problems have yet been identified, but the same ammunition and magazines worked just fine in the pistol he borrowed from another competitor. (Just one more example of how everybody supports the game ... we're all friends here, and nobody wants to win by making the other guy drop out just because he has equipment malfunctions. Heck, the MD, Mac, broke an extractor during the match; it took him about 5 minutes to find somebody at the match who had an extractor that would fit his gun, and who would not only loan it to him but stick around at the Safety Table while he fitted and tuned it.)

Because of his mechanical problems, Fish was clearly out of the running for winning an award, so it was entirely appropriate that he won a free gun 'just for showing up'.

As I remarked to Fish later, this is the only sport where you are awarded not only for doing well, but for being old (more later) and for showing up.

Some people refer to this "door prize" process derogatorily as "IPSC Welfare". I call it just one more way to make the game more attractive for people. I've been to so many matches which included prize tables, but only the very best shooters ever won the "Good Stuff". It's discouraging to the people who love to shoot, but don't have the skills (or time to practice) to get good enough to win. Everybody pays the same match fee, but the top ten percent get the goodies ... and they usually turn around and sell their prize, often before they leave the range. It seems appropriate to me that, since people who probably aren't going to win a trophy constitute 75 percent of the match fees, they should also be eligible for a prize.

I can't recall off-hand who won all of the other 3 guns, but I think only one of them finished in the top 25 percent. Seems reasonable to me.


Essentially, I came home with a T-shirt;

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It's a very good shirt, as are all of the shirts available at ARPC SS matches. Emmanuel Bragg provided the trophies, the designs, and I don't know for sure whether he provided the shirts or not.

Here's a close-up of the design, which I think just about says it all:

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Note the "No Yuppie Guns" icon. I love that, even though I usually shoot a 'yuppie gun'.

But that's not to say that I went home entirely empty-handed.

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This is my trophy. I won SECOND Really Old Coot, which is a first for me. I've won Second Old Coot before, but I turned 60 this year and made the mistake of telling Mac about it.
Ever since, even though I tend NOT to register for the Super Senior category, Mac makes sure that I'm in the running.

I've talked to him about that. He just chuckles, doesn't say much, and continues to make sure I'm considered for the Super Old Coot award at every match.


He did NOT win a place in his class. Mac worked his skinny butt off during the match, before the match, and after the match. He was constantly called away from his squad during the match to solve problems, and he never complained. When he wasn't being called away, he was coaching the Junior Team. (He made sure that he was squadded with them, for just that reason.)

At the end of the awards ceremony, when it was time for the drawing for the guns, he had a special drawing ... one of the four guns was devoted to the people who worked the match either as Squad Leaders, setup crew, or match administration. This is just one of the ways that Mac insures that contributions are recognized.

The first drawing was for the Match Staff. Keith T., who won the match for the fourth year in a row, came forward to draw the winning ticket. He handed the ticket to Mac, who looked at it and laid it down on the table. Mac shook his head, laid the ticket on the table, then pulled a ticket stub from his pocket and laid it down beside the other half of the ticket. Then he told Keith to draw another ticket.

It was obvious that Keith had drawn Mac's ticket.

There was a pause, while Brian B. (who was helping with the ceremony) checked the tickets, then looked at Mac.

Then a voice from the crowd shouted:
"Mac, take the gun!"

The cry was taken up until everyone was chanting "TAKE THE GUN! TAKE THE GUN!"

Mac took the cased gun. Held it against his chest with both arms. Then put it down on a separate corner of the table. It was his, we all wanted it that way, and he accepted it.

We didn't all win a trophy, or a gun, or a Springfield hat. But nobody went home empty-handed.

Damn, I love this game.

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