Ever hear of the Second Chance Bowling Pin Shoot? Back in the mid-70s, Richard Davis – the armed citizen who won a three-against-one shootout with armed robbers, and invented the soft, concealable body armor that saved thousands of cops in the decades since – created a competition shooting format in which whoever shot an array of bowling pins off a table fastest, won. It sounded at first like plinking tin cans off the back fence, only with bigger guns and bullets and targets, but it turned out to have great spectator appeal with instant feedback.
The match grew, drawing hundreds of shooters and hundreds of spectators. It encompassed great free food, and a carnival atmosphere in which the midway was all live-fire outdoor shooting galleries with different games for pistol and revolver, rifle, and shotguns loaded with buckshot for pins and slugs for heavy steel knockover plates out to a hundred yards.
I shot that match 23 or 24 years in a row, until Life went on. Richard stopped the match, sold his sponsoring Second Chance Body Armor company, and retired. We gun folk missed that iconic match, where many friendships had been made. I always said that if shooting matches were rock concerts, that one would have been Woodstock. It was A Happening. It was…groovy.
What’s that you say? The ‘70s called and wants its terminology back? Maybe…but the 21st Century called and said it wanted this great old match back, too. Richard’s son Matt Davis carried on the family tradition, creating the Armor Express brand that’s now one of the biggest in the body armor industry, and he and his dad have brought The Pin Shoot back!
It will be in its traditional location, the family vacation land of Central Lake, Michigan, near Traverse City. Awards will be traditional, too: guns, guns, and more guns. Entry fee ain’t cheap, but the prize table is good, and deep. For info on what is now known simply as The Pin Shoot. Dates are June 9-16, 2017. You don’t have to be there the whole time to shoot, and win.
For us old gunnies here (Randy and Ken, you listening?) it’ll be like a high school reunion with guns. I’ve rearranged my schedule to be there. Hope to see some of you there, too.
Spending the holidays in the
deep South, where I’m told it’s a tradition to have black-eyed peas for New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day. Got ‘em. The Evil Princess is cookin’ ‘em up with hog jowls. (No. Not kidding. Not making it up. Not a Yankee dissing Southerners with Beverly Hillbillies stuff. Hog jowls are, apparently, “a thing.”) And no, they didn’t have any possum shanks at the Market.
Wouldn’t be New Years without some trigger pullin’, so Bob Houzenga and I spent some time with Jim “Fast E. Nuff” Willis and Bob “Red Rob” George for an introduction to Cowboy Fast Draw as practiced by the Cowboy Fast Draw Association. (www.cowboyfastdraw.com . Bob and I had both shot years ago in SASS, the Single Action Shooting Society, where live ammo is fired at steel from Western-style six-guns, lever action rifles, and 19th Century style shotguns. In CFD, all you need is the one single action revolver and holster, and you’ll be shooting wax bullets at 24” steel targets. The hit registers on an electronic timer, and you start with hand on gun, drawing and firing one hand only when a light flashes. They were kind enough to let us shoot without the requisite cowboy togs.
“Fast E. Nuff,” left, and “Red Rob” show how it’s done. Guns are Ruger New Vaqueros in .45 Colt.
Lights on the 24″ discs indicate it’s time to draw and fire; hit time appears on LED readout.
Special casings take #209 shotgun primers to propel wax bullets.
Bob “Buck Staghorn” Houzenga, foreground, shows “how fast is fast.” Mas “Camelback Kid” Ayoob shows “how slow is slow.”
It has been a good year for female shooters. America’s first Gold Medal in this year’s Olympics was captured by young Virginia Thrasher, competing in ten meter Women’s Air Rifle. Kim Rhode went Gold, too. Having won her first world shooting championship at the tender age of 13, Ms. Rhode is described thus in Wikipedia: “A California native, she is a six-time Olympic medal winner, including three gold medals, and six-time national champion in double trap. She is the most successful female shooter at the Olympics as the only triple Olympic Champion and the only woman to have won two Olympic gold medals for Double Trap. She won a gold medal in skeet shooting at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, equaling the world record of 99 out of 100 clays. Most recently, she won the bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics making her the first Olympian to win a medal on five different continents and the first Summer Olympian to win an individual medal at six consecutive summer games.”
As an American, I’m proud of them both. Personally, though, I’m proudest of a female champ I do have the honor of knowing, Kim Heath of the Will County (Illinois) Sheriff’s Department. An awesome trainer, she showed her mettle this year when she won the National Patrol Rifle Championships where the competition is not only very tough but very strenuous, beating all the men present as well as the handful of other female officers. Here’s the story on that.
With a rare weekend not teaching and realizing we hadn’t shot a match since first quarter 2016, the Evil Princess and I did a quick look for what was available and found a .22 steel match at the friendly Little River Sportsmen’s Association. We grabbed some bulk box .22 ammo, threw an ACOG atop her 10/22, blew the cobwebs out of the Clark Custom 10/22 I had used years before to make Rifleman at my first Appleseed event, and as an afterthought grabbed an out of the box S&W M&P15 .22 rifle I had won at a match in 2010 or so. For pistols, we grabbed two of the EP’s Ruger 22/45 pistols, the only .22s we had on hand for which we had four magazines) and headed for the shoot.
We didn’t win a damn thing, but the shoot was still a hoot. We were reminded that when you’re “away from the game,” you get slow. Lesson learned. We were reminded of something else: autoloading .22 rimfires are not the most reliable firearms on Earth. Long and narrow with a big protruding rim at the rear, the .22 Long Rifle cartridge is not ideal for feeding from box magazines. On our whole relay, only one shooter escaped malfunctions, and the EP and I both had several.
Our ammo had been purchased during the long ammo drought of the Obama administration, brought on by the well-grounded fear that there was an anti-gunner in the White House. In discussing the matter with other shooters who regularly hit this neat little .22 match, the general consensus was that CCI Mini-Mag is currently the most reliable ammo for self-loading .22 firearms.
The Evil Princess took some iPhone video, and on the way back I remarked, “You should be able to put together a helluva montage of jam-clearing vids.” “Oh, (expletive deleted)!” she replied. “I didn’t think of that, and I deleted most of them. They mostly had comments you wouldn’t want on the Backwoods Home blog, anyway.”
Still fun. And cheap. (The ammo, not the Evil Princess. She is fun, but not cheap.) Yes, we all kvetch about the price of .22 ammo, a direct result of its near-unavailability for the last eight years. I recall being offered a 500-round brick of economy grade Winchester .22 in West Virginia in 2013…for a hundred dollars even. (I passed.)
On Facebook today, friend (and occasional commentator here)
22 Ammo on sale today in Lewis County Washington. Photo courtesy Tom Walls
Tom Walls posted a photo of Federal’s good quality American Eagle .22 ammo for sale in Lewis County, Washington at $2.89 per box of fifty. While that provokes us geezers into fits of what the Evil Princess diagnoses as “fogey-ism” – “When I went to the Western Auto and bought .22 Long Rifle for my dad when I was a boy, it was fifty cents a box!” – we have to remember that just about everything else costs ten times more now than it did then. That would translate to .22 Long Rifle at under thirty cents a box if old money were new…not as bad a deal as we seem to think it is today.
My take-away? .22 rimfire in a semi-automatic firearm is not reliable enough (and certainly not powerful enough) for life-or-death firearms use…but it’s still affordable…and it’s darn sure still FUN!
Evil Princess runs her RB Precision Evolution stocked Ruger 10/22 under Trijicon ACOG. You know they’re serious when the sight costs more than the rest of the gun.
Lee Turner does a masterful run with Ruger 10/22 rifle.
I try like heck not to make mistakes, but every now and then I suffer a brain fart. This month, I’ve felt like the Cerebral Flatulence Poster Child.
For one thing, I learned I had made an error in my article on pistol-caliber carbines in the current print edition of Backwoods Home. I had described the neat little Tresna 9mm carbine, which runs on Gen4 Glock 9mm magazines in an AR15 format, as having a polymer lower. It does not: the lower is 7075 aluminum, thank you very much. The gun was not in front of me when I wrote the article, and I suspect what happened is that since I was impressed with its light weight, it looked polymer-ish to me in the photos I was working with that we’d taken while shooting it, and I also had an assignment at the time to write up the polymer-lower PolymAR from ROBAR, some conflation occurred.
All I can say is mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
Within the same week, I found myself shooting a United States Practical Shooting Association match. Hadn’t shot one in a while, but remembered that while the International Defensive Pistol Association game I shoot more of has very tight rules about shooting sequence, shooting from behind cover, etc., USPSA is more free form. Basically, solve the shooting problem however you like so long as you’re safe, and whoever gets the best finish (time divided into target hit score) wins.
Not as free form as I remembered, though. On my first stage, the range officer told me I had four penalties because I wasn’t standing where I should have been when I shot a series of targets. Happened again on the second stage. And again on the third: acute and chronic brain farts! By then I had accumulated about 140 penalty points and was totally in the tank. Finally got focused and managed the next three stages with no penalties and won one of them in my division (I was shooting Limited Minor with a 9mm Springfield XDM 5.25 out of a Comp-Tac holster). The one I won was a classification stage that had no running and was therefore geezer-friendly.
I was reminded of a time a while back when I forgot something and asked my significant other, “Gail, could it be early Alzheimer’s?”
“No,” she replied sweetly, “at your age, it wouldn’t be early.”