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Old Dogs

Learning
New
Tricks
Photo of Melvin Gildow by Pat Kelley.

USPSA’s FIRST Area-Level


3-Gun Championships
BY PAT KELLEY, A-14401 Oregon to Barry after the Sept. 11 at- range that big just wasn’t available.

A
pril 13th and 14th marked tacks shut down air travel. That much The COSSA (Central Oregon Shooting
the next direction in USPSA time gave them plenty of time to talk, Sports Association) range was avail-
3-Gun competitions: the to share ideas, and to dream. Origi- able, but it only had a couple of bays.
Area-level 3-Gun champi- nally their plan called for a regional 3- Sure, it had plenty of acreage for the ri-
onship. One hundred and one shooters Gun event, but once the ball got fle events, but six pistol bays and some
flocked to Bend, Ore., for this historic rolling, it grew like a snowball. People open ground does not a major range
event, bringing with them perspectives were signing up right and left, until fi- make! As the dream grew, a plan
on 3-gun competition from all over the nally Area Director Bruce Gary con- started to take shape.
West. Shooters from California to tacted the pair and asked, “Why don’t
Washington shared notes and built we make it the Area 1 3-Gun champi- Within a few months of their re-
friendships as they enjoyed this unique onships?” turn, and with a lot of help from a
trophy-only event. small group of hard-core volunteers,
Gary squared things with USPSA, the COSSA range was transformed.
and Chambers and McCarter found Ninety days before the Area 1 3-Gun
Background: themselves in the fast lane to USPSA Championships were to be held, the
The Area 1 3-Gun Championships history. ground was cut, ripped, and piled high
blossomed from the minds of two to turn six bays into 20! This range,
weary travelers on the road home from As it happens, launching this match still under construction, will host the
the 2001 Back-to-Back Nationals. was a lot easier said than done. What USPSA Race Gun Nationals this fall. If
Mike McCarter and Tom Chambers range in Oregon could host the match? the first 90 days of 2002 are any indi-
opted to drive 36 hours from western With plans for 150 shooters and nine cation, we will have an excellent new
stages, plus a side shoot for each gun, a

30 FRONT SIGHT • July/August 2002


venue for the traveling Nationals very
soon!

Match Day
With representatives from the
USPSA home office looking on, Mc-
Carter, Chambers, and their crew
showed a legion of shooters why three
guns are better than one. Nine squads
battled nine stages (three for each gun)
and all that Mother Nature and Tom
Chambers (who designed all the stages)
could throw at them. While Tom did a
good job, Mrs. Nature really made her Photo by Pat Kelley.
presence known. Saturday gave us Double-dot. 3-Gun Nationals
cool temperatures (around 40 de- Range Master Floyd Shoe-
grees), mild winds (blowing sand), sun- maker drills some close targets
shine breaks, and a 90-minute rain using his double-scoped AR.
squall. Despite what turned into a two-
hour rain delay on Saturday, the match tempting the long-range rifle stage, this tored in blowing dust and bullet-de-
still ran close to schedule. Sunday did not bode well! flecting winds — then things get inter-
looked better as we left the hotel the esting! More than a few shooters with
next morning. Bright sunshine and The longest rifle shots appeared on iron sights gave up after the second
beautiful blue skies greeted us that rifle stage #1, “Oh say can you see?” magazine had emptied with some of
morning, only to find 20 to 40 mile per where four self-resetting US poppers those GREEN poppers still unscathed.
hour winds slashing across the range! (painted green, arrgh!) were set at a I hated those green poppers! I hit them
Poppers fell constantly, props blew reasonable 235 yards. Each popper all, but the green was very tough to see
over – what a challenge for shooters had to be engaged twice. That 235 over iron sights.
and match crew alike! For those few at- yards was reasonable until you fac-

July/August 2002 • FRONT SIGHT 31


down range. A couple of to solving stages.
shooters in our squad
shaved a number of sec- When the final scores were tallied,
onds off the fast time us- Joe Desimone, edged out Adam
ing the port provided Sahlberg by less than two percentage
without coming close to points! Congratulations to Joe on win-
any unsafe condition. ning the first ever Area 1 3-Gun Cham-
pionship.
On the Open side of the
match, the battle for the For the Limited match, the high
3-Gun aggregate came wind situation on stage 1 caused big
down to Joe Desimone problems for some of the shooters –
and Adam Sahlberg. and I count myself among them. My
What a great story here! good friends Jim Wall, David Neth and
Joe, a long time USPSA I compared our mistakes and misfor-
shooter (he qualifies as a tunes throughout the day and were
senior) with a list of major prepared to chalk this one up to expe-
Photo by Robin Taylor.
rience. Heck, Jim Sullivan had me by
CHARGE! Steve Hall match credits and a real
40 percentage points on rifle stage #1
rushes the barricade, penchant for 3-gunning,
was expected to place and I was in second place! Well, the
shotgun at the ready.
well if not win. Joe’s ac- large lady had not yet sung, and as it
complishments are nu- turned out, I won the Limited match ti-
Design-wise, the match stages were
tle. Jim and David were close behind at
straightforward, with no shooter traps merous, and reputation formidable.
98.1 percent and 94 percent respec-
or overly difficult shots (at least not in Just in the 3-gun world, Joe has placed
tively. It was a great match for a first
windless conditions). A number of placed 3rd, 4th, and 5th at National
effort and I will be at the second annual
swingers added flavor to the rifle, pis- matches ranging as far back as the 1991
match. I hope you will be there
tol and shotgun stages, and the rifle 3-Gun Nationals in Marysville, Wash.
too.
stages in particular showed a lot of Joe is always a threat to win the
near-to-far variety, thanks to the gener- overall at any match he enters.
ous use of that self-resetting steel. He frequently wins stages and
gives all comers a run for their
With all pistol divisions repre- money.
sented, it was neat to see competitors
solve the various shooting problems Adam, on the other hand, is
according to their choice of equip- still considered a junior by USPSA
ment. Six, 7, 8 or 10 rounds, DA, SA, standards. He may be only 18 but
DAO, or Saf-Action, everyone got a he is a card-carrying Open Master
chance to see how their gun, gear and with plenty of major match expe-
ability would stack up in comparison rience. His youthful exuberance
to others. and natural skill at arms seem to
carry him to Top Junior finishes
Shotgunners were expected to be match after match without the
able to reload fast and make use of benefit of much practice. Why no
their sights. Two of the three shotgun practice? He’s too busy. Adam
stages put a premium on your reload- will both graduate high school
ing skills while the nine-shot all-slug and receive his AA degree from
stage slowed shooters down enough Spokane Falls Community Col-
that a reload would not be needed. A lege in June.
buzz circulated about a possible DQ
hazard on that stage (“We’re Solid!”) Was this a battle of “old age
but it turned out to be little more than and treachery overcoming youth
shooter error. Still, when our squad and skill?” Hardly. Both com-
(No. 2) came up to the stage, competi- petitors are highly skilled and
tors were shooting over a barricade know the tricks of the trade. Joe
wall in order not to shoot a target may have an edge with his con-
through a port provided. This was to siderable match experience but
avoid the possibility of hanging up on Adam plays just as hard capitaliz- Photo supplied by Pat Kelley.
the side of the port in the haste to get ing on his own creative approach Limited match winner Patrick Kelley drove
a Glock 35 on the way to victory.
32 FRONT SIGHT • July/August 2002