Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Still Crazy: 2006 Croc Match

I'm going to The Croc Match.

Hear the phrase in your mind.

I'm going to The Croc Match.

Now make it sound like the Disney character, "Goofy Dog".

That [guffaw!] goofy childish enthusiasm, unabashed, heart-felt. This is the way I feel about the Croc Match.

A moment of dignity, please. The proper name for The Croc Match (historically) is:

The Crazy Croc Banzaii Ballistic (You Got Bullets?) Match.

Yup, I've got bullets, yup yup, and I'm going to The Croc Match with a bunch of bullets all loaded up in my LAST 1200 cases after experiencing one too many "lost brass" matches.

I'm not sure whether we'll be permitted to pick up brass on this match, either. Sometimes you can, sometimes you can't. Mostly, as long as it doesn't slow down the match, you can grab a case or two on most stages.

Mostly, you don't have time or energy. You're too pumped from the endorphin rush of blasting a box (plus) of ammunition downrange all day.

This year's match is scheduled for Labor Day Weekend (September 2-3, 2006) and it may surprise you that you have two days to compete in a match with "only" eight stages.

It sounds more reasonable when you consider that they will require more than 450 rounds to complete the match. If you use the minimum, you can figure on an AVERAGE stage of more than 50 rounds per stage.

Expect some 60+ round stages. It's traditional. And expect to see a lot of steel targets including large arrays ofPepper Poppers and US Poppers, free-standing plates, plates that pop-up IPSC targets, plate racks and at least two Texas Stars. Again ... "You Got Bullets?" Also, the Dundee Boys (Paul and Bill) are big on special props and activators and moving targets. My prediction: you'll see at least one Swinger that moves really, really fast!

Don't show up with only 450 rounds. Don't show up with only 500 rounds, either, because:
  1. We don't know the minimum round-count yet. In fact, the guys at the Chahalem Valley Shooting Club ... the Dundee Practical Shooters ... probably don't know, either. It could take over 460 rounds, based on past experience.
  2. It only takes one re-shoot of a 50+ round stage to completely screw up your ammo supply. (One year, I reshot a stage 3 times because I kept hitting the cable between a pepper popper and the moving target it activated. About 200 rounds on ONE stage; good thing I brought 800 rounds to that match that day!)
  3. Count on at least one malfunction; the biggest hi-round-count match in the PNW, perhaps in America, is tough on guns. You'll lose track of where you were and end up re-engaging at least one 4-target array. Take my word for it.
  4. In a major match, if there's any way to screw up -- you'll find it. I always do.
So are we clear now? If you're going to The Croc Match, bring a LOT more ammunition than you think you will need. Best advice I can give you is to bring twice as much as you think you will need. Better to have too much, and not need it, than to bring too little, and need it.

SWMBO and I will be there with something like 1200 rounds. Minimum. A lot of that (over 500 rounds) will be loaded with new, never-been-used, Winchester brass. In case you missed it, Dillon is now selling Winchester brass for the .38 Super at $141/thousand. I just ordered another thousand, because after I finish this match I won't have a lot of brass left.

Oh, by the way, if you haven't already signed up for the Croc Match, the match fee bumped up from $65 to $90 as of August 7th.
NOTE: See the UPDATE at the bottom of the page.
The theme is "Still Crazy" (Crazy Croc Match?) and refers to the Paul Simon song "Still Crazy After All These Years". That's appropriate, because I know you're asking "Hey, Geek, if you're so short on brass and the match costs so much, why are you even going there?"

Well, the title speaks for me. After all these years (ten) of shooting The Croc Match, I'm still crazy about it.

The fact is, I passed up a match (The Columbia Cascade Sectional) this month simply because I wanted to save brass so I could shoot The Croc Match. The Sectional Tournament was a big part of the 2006 Points Race ... class winners are awarded a slot to the USPSA Nationals. Yeah, you still have to pay for it, but you don't have to wait for an opening and you don't have to pay premium prices for it. All that, plus bragging rights. I would rather go to The Croc Match than to the USPSA Nationals, given the need to make a choice.

You may recall that last year I shot the match but SWMBO didn't. Instead, she took my digital camera and spent two days watching OTHER people shoot, and filmed them as they did that. Between here excellent photos and videos, and the contributions of Ron Downs, I ended up with a HUGE library of IPSC Video footage and Still-photos. I spent much of the rest of 2005 pumping the match with videos of The Croc Match, including The Jungle Run (which must be experienced to be believed, but the videos go far in providing the 'look and feel' of the stages.)

However, I've always felt guilty about making SWMBO shoot pictures, while I shot targets, so this year I have been determined to sign us up for the match -- both of us -- even if we're so short of brass that I may have to fall back to a back-up gun (probably the excellent STI Edge in 10mm, even though I can't really see the sights) if we run short of ammunition for the STI .38 Supers.

Note to The Hobo Brasser: Yeah, I hear you out there in Cyber-land, talking loud about how I should be ashamed of my selfish self. Well, I don't need your encouragement to feel shame. If one of us finishes the match with the same gun used at the start, it will be SWMBO. I don't expect to win my class anyway so I may as well admit that I'm there for the sport, not for the competition (which is fierce!)
For a look at last year's match, you can see blog entries of Yong Lee's winning performance on Stage 5: The Doors, Junior Stephan Kemper's Jungle Run, and a summary of stages one through five as well as stages six through eight.

The Jerry the Geek's Video Shooting Gallery has even more photos and videos of the 2005 Croc Match, so you can see what you may be face this year. (Videos are thick here.)

You can still sign up for this match. Here is the entry form. (I just sent in my entry today, one for me and one for SWMBO.)

And if you don't sign up, you don't get your picture taken!

UPDATE: August 24
I just received an email from Bill Marrs, one of the Croc Match organizers. He informs me that the 'fee increase for late entries' has been waived. Everybody pays $65!

At last count, they have 90+ entries. Last year they very much wanted to have over 115 competitors, and I suspect their goal is even higher this year.

The Columbia Cascade Section has hosted a LOT of Major Matches this year, including the Area 1 match and the USPSA Multi-Gun Nationals. Add to that the Columbia Cascade Sectional and the Single Stack Tournament, local shooters have had four Major Matches in less than two months ... and we still have the Croc Match and the Glock Match (alliteration is coincidental, I'm sure) to go before the end of the season.

My guess is that "out of town" sign-ups have been as heavy as previous years, but local shooters are finding this a VERY expensive competitive season.

The Croc Match has been scheduled as early as May in some previous years, and the Sectional as late as September. That helped spread out the season, oftern providing no more than one Major Match per month -- or, to look at it another way, per paycheck.

I can't find a competitor list, or a web site for registration confirmation (which is suggested on the entry form), but I expect to see that locals are in the minority at this match. Which means that if you've never been to a Croc Match before, this is your best chance to compete in the biggest high-round-count match in the country where there are short lines to the rides!

You can't find that at Disneyland.

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