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Massad Ayoob on Guns

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Archive for the ‘Competition’ Category

Massad Ayoob


Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

June, 2017 was definitely “nostalgia month” for the old guy here.  You saw how many blog entries I devoted to The Pin Shoot, the reincarnation of the iconic handgun/rifle/shotgun match Richard Davis founded more than 40 years ago. For about two dozen years, that match was the one vacation I guaranteed myself annually, and nineteen years later going back to it was like a high school reunion.  Hell, I’m still buzzed over it.

However, my “nostalgia month” had begun earlier in June, when I taught a MAG-20 (Armed Citizens Rules of Engagement) class at the great old Wilson Hill Pistol Club in Manchester, NH. Back in the ‘60s, I was nineteen years old when my friend Nolan Santy took me there to give traditional bulls-eye pistol shooting a try.  My only suitable gun at the time was a pre-WWII Colt Match Target Woodsman .22, and on the first try I managed to score a 263 out of 300 possible points…and was promptly hooked.  Earlier in my teens I had shot informal competition at the “turkey shoots” held by local sportsmen’s clubs around the Granite State where I grew up, but formal competition was a new high.  I’ve been doing it in one form or another ever since, though I had gotten into the more practical “combat shooting” games by my mid-twenties.

The club was much the same as I remembered it, which in turn is much the same as it was when Wilson Hill was founded in 1935 and has become something of an icon among traditional  shooters. For many years, the club hosted the annual NH State Gallery Pistol (.22 caliber) Championship.

Don Mara

Don Mara

I learned more than I can say from some of the great shooters there: Al Payant, Fran SanSouci, Ken Howard, Stan Dzadura, and many more.  Perhaps the one guy I learned the most from was a local hero, Don Mara, USMC.  Don won many medals as a combat Marine in Vietnam during that period, and as a shooter, he was the guy to beat for the State Championship, which he held God knows how many years.  While all the other heavy hitters were shooting expensive target pistols, Don used a $57 Ruger Mark I and kicked mucho boo-tay, proving it’s about the shooter a lot more than about the gun, the Indian more than the arrow.

I got to meet Don again in June, after almost 40 years. He retired from the Corps as a Sergeant-Major, and is still globe and anchor through and through.  And he still, at about 78, mentors new shooters.  He’s the kind of person who makes you proud to be part of the gun culture.

Under training director Al MacArthur, Wilson Hill has become a local hub of firearms safety and self-defense training. It was great to see this iconic gun club keeping up with the times without losing its sense of tradition.

Even if it did make me feel kinda old…



MAG20 Classroom Class this last June.

MAG20 Classroom Class this last June.

Massad Ayoob


Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

The Pin Shoot I’ve been talking about the last couple of entries is in the history books now. Great time had by all.  Only about 140 or so shooters, when in the old days it was hundreds, but after a near twenty-year layoff, the word many not have gone out soon enough. On awards night, I lost count of the prize guns somewhere around sixty or so.

Notable points: Kimberly Heath lowered the overall testosterone level when she won the Concealed Carry event shooting a micro-size 1911 .45.  Nothing new for her: she was overall winner at the National Patrol Rifle Championships a few months ago too.  She and her husband Jeff Chudwin, a several time NPRC winner himself, dominated the two-person rifle event.  No surprise there, either.

Old friend Pat Sweeney, Handgun Editor for Guns & Ammo, upheld the honor of gun writers better than I did, winning a bunch of guns and the overall victory in the revolver match, which requires eight bowling pins to be blown away with a mandatory reload after the first six shots.

Lots of folks brought their kids, and old folks brought adult children.  Ashley Gibbons was in a stroller when her mom and dad brought her to the shoot the first time in the late 1970s; for this one, she was there pushing the stroller instead of riding it, with her adorable nine-month-old twins Lily and Madeleine.  And, of course, her parents.  Three generations at once – yes!

This week was the first time I saw Jerry Moran, the past master of Colt Python action jobs, in about forty years.  He had never met Denny Reichard, whose Smith & Wesson revolver action work today is unexcelled in my opinion.  One of the pleasures of my life is introducing people who will benefit from knowing each other.  I introduced these two, and their conversation that ensued would hold any revolver enthusiast rapt.  I wish I had thought to record it.

Shooting competitions aren’t just about the shooting.  They’re about the people, too.  Hell, I can shoot at home; I go mainly for the people.

Same place next year, along about the second week in June. Keep an eye on their website,

Kimberly Heath, here with full size 1911, shows the form she used to win the Concealed Carry event with a smaller .45.

Sara Campos shoots two-person team with her dad, a regular pin shooter in Ye Olde Days.

Rich Davis, founder of the shoot from its earliest days and rangemaster now, autographs the Second Chance (his old company) toddler size tee shirt Ashley Gibbons wore when she first came to the shoot as a rug rat.

Here’s Ash at the shoot this week, with her own twins — future shooters, no doubt.

Revolver mavens Denny Reichard, (S&W guy,left) and Jerry Moran (Colt guy, right) talking shop in the pavilion at the shoot.

The prize tables were piled deep with guns and other goodies at The Pin Shoot.


Massad Ayoob


Friday, June 16th, 2017

As I write this, the last day of The Pin Shoot dawns. It has been a reunion for a lot of us shooters, many of whom haven’t seen each other in almost 20 years after two dozen years of shooting pins every year here in Central Lake, Michigan. We respectfully and wistfully discuss our fellow shooters who have passed in the interim, and get caught up after the long hiatus.


In the previous blog entry here, James Pritchett commented, “…any practice is good practice. Seems I remember a young, early teens maybe, giving everyone a severe whipping in clearing the table.” Brother Pritchett has a good memory. That would be Johnny Robbins, circa 1977 and thirteen years old at the time, who smoked us all with a 3.9 second run to react to the start signal, come up with a .45, and blow five pins a yard back off the table 25 feet away, the time being stopped when the last pin hit the ground.


Time has passed. John is retired now! He was there at the shoot, and shot some damn fine runs. As a boy batching it with a great single dad, they shot the “pro tour circuit” of the time together. We lost Jack Robbins, Sr. altogether too soon to cancer, but I like to think that somewhere, Jack Robbins is smiling this week.


It all wraps up tonight at an awards ceremony. It is good to see this iconic event back in business. Met some Backwoods Home readers there this year, and hope to see more in 2018.

With Rosanna and Randy Ray. Randy is an old-time pin shooter and a regular here at the blog.

Rosanna Ray, Randy Ray and Massad Ayoob at the Pin Shoot 2007

Forty years later, now retired, John Robbins shows the form he used to win the match overall when he was thirteen.

Johnny Robbins at the Pin Shoot 2007

Denny Reichard manages the recoil of S&W .500 Magnum as he blows the last of 3 pins 14.5 feet backward in new event, The Big Push. He is in second place by a tenth of a second at this writing.

Denny Reichard shooting the Big Push at the Pin Shoot 2017

Estrogen power! Front to back, Gail Pepin with Springfield XD .45 GAP pistol, and Deb Higgins and Bonnie Young with 12 gauge shotguns, destroy two dozen bowling pins at once.

Gail Pepin at the Pin Shoot 2017

Massad Ayoob


Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

Old gunnies will remember the great Second Chance bowling pin match, with events for handguns, rifles, and shotguns, that ran from the mid-1970s to 1998.  It’s back this week, at its old location in the quaint resort town of Central Lake, Michigan.Pin Shoot

It’s good to drive into a town under a banner that sweeps across the street saying, “WELCOME SHOOTERS.”

The match was founded by Richard Davis, the inventor of concealable soft body armor, who started the Second Chance company. He long since sold Second Chance and retired, but his son Matt is the CEO of Armor Express, also located in Central Lake.  It’s the brand I wear, and the brand that saved guest speaker Brian Murphy, who survived being shot fifteen times during the Sikh Temple massacre in Wisconsin a few years ago.

Lots of old friends here, kind of an “old home day.”  More to come as we share the fun with ya.

Wish you were here.

Pin Shoot Range

Massad Ayoob


Monday, April 24th, 2017

Well, not all that new, but not widely known.  The Evil Princess and I enjoy shooting Glock matches, hosted by the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation.  A third of each run is Bianchi Cup style 8” diameter falling plates shot from eleven yards, four plate racks per entry.  A third is the Five-To-Glock stage, shot on that many buff-colored cardboard targets at various ranges, the targets being the tombstone-shaped NRA D-1 developed originally for Bianchi Cup by my late mentor Ray Chapman. Finally, there’s the Glock M, an array of four D-1 cardboards and one piece of steel.

GSSF was designed for outdoor ranges. Fragments of lead or jacket coming off steel play hell with the lights on indoor ranges.  For indoor shooting, the GSSF folks came up with their gallery match, which of course can be shot outdoors too.  You only get one target at a time to shoot at, and it’s in five- and ten-shot sequences at fixed time.

The Princess and I were planning to shoot one of those, the last of the season, not far from where we live.  Unfortunately, something came up and we couldn’t make it.  I had been psyched up to shoot the darn thing, and E.P. came up with the idea to just shoot it for fun on our range, video it, and make a tutorial out of it.

So, we did.  I blew a shot, dammit, but such is life.  Give it a try; you can shoot it on most any indoor or outdoor range and see how you stack up. You only have to use a Glock pistol if you’re at an official Glock match.

Video follows, run time about twelve minutes. For info go to  There might just be a GSSF Indoor League shooting near you already, and most anyplace in the continental US, you can find a regular GSSF match within a day’s drive.  Lots of fun, and very friendly to newcomers to competitive shooting.

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