Traveling to matches has always been an adventure, but I find that it is even more so now that I am a mom. My first match of the year was the Smith & Wesson IDPA Indoor Nationals. I have been looking forward to kicking off the competition season and have worked the event for Smith & Wesson a number of years. Since the match has been designated as a national championship though, I have yet to compete in it. After winning the IDPA Nationals in September, I was particularly excited to shoot some low/no light stages and to hopefully donate some money with Smith & Wesson to the NRA through my twenty years and $20 promotion.
The trip started with a six-hour drive to Billings, Montana. It usually takes me about 4 and half hours, but with snow and wind, it was slow going. I had my little one with me and was so thankful she took a nice long nap. We got in and made a quick supply run for crayons, a coloring book, crackers and fruit snacks. We checked into the hotel and I called in for delivery. Hotels are nothing new for me but Munchkin was pretty excited and we had a much enjoyed “pizza picnic” on the floor before turning in for the night.
Our first of three flights was at 6:30 a.m. It was brutally windy and cold. The only parking spots left were on the outer rim of the parking lot. I pulled out one of my best purchases as a traveling mom, the transformer I have named Ironride. Ironride is a car seat, airline seat and stroller all in one and it has made my life so much easier. I bundled Munchkin and her beloved stuffed hippo in Ironride and grabbed the Blue Beast (my huge, heavy suitcase), backpack, and purse. Then we set off on the snow and ice. It was rough going and I struggled with pushing the stroller, pulling the suitcase and hauling the backpack, but we finally made it!
Next stop, the ticketing counter. I have traveled with guns so many times that I am used to dealing with airline agents and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). For some reason though they are never really quite prepared to handle a mom with a toddler traveling with guns. The reaction is always amusing…
Agent: “You have WHAT??”
Me: “Unloaded firearms.”
Me: “I do.”
Agent: “Uh…. OK then.”
After that we got the right paperwork and were on our way. I do wish though that gun-toting mom’s weren’t such a rare thing.
We made it through TSA, boarded, sat a while waiting for a part repair and de-iced. The delay was enough to give us just 15 minutes to get through four terminals in Minneapolis for the next flight. Munchkin was strapped in old Ironride as we raced through the airport. She giggled the whole way. I still can’t believe we made it in time to board!
The last connection went without a hitch. I thought for sure that Blue Beast hadn’t made our second flight, but it had! We got the rental car, wrestled the car seat into place and we drove an hour to my parent’s house. Munchkin was going to spend time with my family while I competed at the match.
Day two of travel for me, I was going to drive from upstate New York to Springfield, Massachusetts and complete my match check in. It’s about a four hour drive but Mother Nature had other plans and a winter storm kept me from hitting the road. With a travel advisory issued, it wasn’t worth taking any chances. Instead I spent the day at home, making the best of the situation. Here’s a video of my brother and me goofing around with some chocolate.
After digging out from all the snow, I arrived at the Smith & Wesson Shooting Sports Center in the early afternoon on Saturday. Most squads had only a couple of stages left and there was really no way to catch up without delaying the match. I did have a chance to check out some of the stages though. It always amazes me how creative the safety officers can be with the limitations of indoor ranges. The entire crew worked very hard to produce yet another successful national championship!
The banquet was wonderful. Good food, good company! I had the opportunity to help IDPA’s First Lady, Joyce Wilson hand out trophies and had the chance to wear my new boots. (Shoes are like guns, you really can’t have too many.)
Team Smith & Wesson took home five national titles and our team won all divisions in the match but one!!!
Custom Defensive Pistol – David Olhasso
Stock Service Pistol – Gordon Carrell
Enhanced Service Revolver – Jerry Miculek
Stock Service Revolver Josh Lentz
High Industry – Gordon Carrell
Congratulations to Bob Vogel on winning Enhanced Service Pistol, Most Accurate and posting the fastest overall time. He shot an incredible match. I’d also like to congratulate Randi Rogers on winning the ladies title. I really enjoy shooting with Randi and would have loved the to have been able to compete with her in the match. Next time, Randi! Finally congrats to all the special category winners and to those who placed in their class. Here’s a link to the results.
Though I was disappointed about not shooting the match I was looking forward to the next few days filming with the Outdoor Channel’s Shooting USA. I had the chance to work with John Scoutten for a series of Pro Tips several years ago. I call them my pregnant pro-tips. Because I was several months along I wasn’t shooting and I suffered from what I call “baby brain” and inability to remember and recite more than ten words at a time. John & the crew helped me through it all and I was very excited to be on the show as a “Pro.”
This time around I got to work with Mike Irvine (producer), Michael Beckett (camera) and Randall Reed (grip). And, unlike the last set of Pro Tips, I got to shoot! We did tips on several different action shooting sports and all around had a great time. They’ll air in the next few months on the Outdoor Channel’s Wednesday Night at the Range on Shooting USA at 4pm, 8pm and 12 Midnight EST.
Filming is definitely hard work and I was beat when it was all said and done! With our three days up, I spent over 8 hours on the road driving to New York to pick up Munchkin and then back to Massachusetts for a flight out of Hartford. She was super excited to see me. It’s hard to have to leave her for these trips, but she was in great hands. A HUGE thank you to Mom, Dad & my brother Bill for taking care of her!!!
We started out with another early flight and I was dreading it, especially since Munchkin had a stomach bug that had me worried we would miss our first flight. The people in Hartford were just awesome though. Hertz Rental Car took us straight to the terminal in the car we rented so I wouldn’t have to juggle with Ironride unnecessarily. To anyone traveling with small children, I was told this was a service you could request. It’s such a convenience!
DEJAVU! I had the same conversation with the ticketing agent about traveling with guns but it all went well. TSA was friendly and a very nice couple helped me juggle all my toddler support gear through the security checkpoint. Our two flights ran on time and we were at baggage claim even a bit earlier than planned. The highlight of my day though was when we watched for Blue Beast to come out on the baggage carousel. Munchkin spotted it first and yelled out, “There it is, Mama! I see it! I see it!”
I replied with, “OK, you stay put right here and I will go grab it.”
Stepping up, I pulled Blue Beast off the belt. Munchkin suddenly yelled, “YAY MAMA!!!!”
Everyone smiled and chuckled at her enthusiasm and I have to say it was a pretty cool moment as a mom. Two cheeseburgers and five hours later we were home sweet home. It was a good trip. Munchkin got some grandma and grandpa lovin’. I was able to spend time with good friends. Working with Shooting USA was a ton of fun and I learned so much. I wish I had made it in time to compete, but as my friend and teammate Gordon Carrell says, “Sometimes life happens.”