Another year, another Rocky Mountain 3-Gun Championship goes into the books. As always, Denise and JJ Johnson put on an excellent match. This year I managed to injure myself repeatedly, shoot poorly, shoot well, embarrass the heck out of myself (sorry, Patrick, but you two really do look similar…), and generally have the time of my life.
We decamped from Colorado Springs this past Wednesday morning, and drove down to the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, NM. An aside here – if you have never been to the Whittington Center, find some excuse to go out for a visit. A better facility for practical shooting does not exist in this country.
What follows are some quick impressions of the stages. More details, video, and stills to follow.
Day One, our squad started off on stage 8, and was a straightforward rifle/shotgun stage. I had a bit of a train wreck, as I tripped over my own feet leaving a shooting position, and took a header down a flight of concrete stairs. Fortunately I managed to avoid any sprains, tears, or breaks, but I wasn’t far from an ice pack for the next couple days. Needless to say, my score on stage 1 wasn’t the greatest.
The wind started to pick up on stage 1, and several of our squad members ended up shooting 400+ yard rifle targets in 30mph wind. Handy. I shot fairly early in the squad, and turned in what I thought was a dismal performance, until I looked at the scores. Apparently the wind was screwing with everyone about equally.
Stage 2 was a hoot – a 32-round shotgun-only hill climb, lousy with activators, swingers, pigeon flippers and aerial clays. I turned in a fairly good time on this one.
Day Two dawned early with Stage 3, and it was a real nasty piece of work – 100 yard shotgun slug targets, 50 yard pistol steel, and a couple of long-range rifle shots out over a valley. I would have had a pretty decent run on this stage, but I managed to nail a pistol plate with a slug, which incurs a 30-second penalty, and kicked me down into the bottom third of the pack.
Stage 4 was a very fast pistol/shotgun run with mostly lateral movement. I pulled off a very good time on this stage, which is easy to do when you miss targets and fail to stow your shotgun according to the stage description. Actually, check that. The shotgun thing was actually a mechanical malfunction (my shotgun locked back with a round left in the magazine, I thought it was empty, and the bolt went forward and chambered the last round when I dropped it in the barrel…) Still managed a mid-pack score, but without all the penalties it would have been up there in the top quarter. Dammit.
Stage 5 was a gully run, starting with two shotgun slug plates, then a handful of static clays, then some mid-range rifle steel, and finishing up with a long run of pistol targets. Fun stage, and I managed a fairly good performance. I had one more shotgun malfunction, a shell that failed to advance onto the lifter. To be fair, the shotgun was pretty dirty by that time.
The evening of Day 2, we had the Trijicon Shooters Bar-B-Que and gun stuff raffle. I’ll let co-blogger J. relate the luck he had at the raffle…
Last day of shooting, we started on Stage 6, which was a blind (no walkthrough) rifle/pistol run up a narrow and deep ravine. The rifle targets were all out around 225 yards, but had to be engaged from some seriously awkward positions (shooting sticks, anyone?) I managed a fair score, got all my hits, and was feeling pretty good.
We ended the match on a high note. Stage 7 was a rifle/full-auto AK-74 pickup gun stage (thanks, Alan!) Start with an AK at low ready, hose a pair of close targets, then retrieve your rifle and engage a bewildering variety of paper and steel while running down a trail. I also turned in a pretty good time, which was nice after the ceaseless brutality of the first two days.
The final bit of awesomeness came at the awards ceremony, which managed to outdo itself once again. Frankly, the prize table deserves a post of its own. For now, I’ll just say that shooters are the Best. People. Ever.
The JP Enterprises Rocky Mountain 3-Gun Championship is, and remains, one of the best multigun matches in the country. The match staff and ROs put an incredible amount of work into this match, and it shows. Special thanks are also due to JP Enterprises, the major match sponsor, and all the other sponsors who contributed time, money, and schwag. You all know who you are, and how much you rule.
Thanks again to all of the great people on Squad 16, and everyone else we hung out with. We’ll see you in 2010!