What a week! I had such a great time at this year’s World Speed Shooting Championships in Piru, CA. Seeing old friends and meeting new ones is one of the main reasons I love competing. This was the first year I have been to the event since it was acquired by USPSA so in addition to all the familiar faces, many of the fine folks from Sedro Woolley were there too.
The last time I competed at the Steel Challenge was 2006, so I wasn’t sure how I would stack up against the competition. It’s one thing to be even able to shoot the fast times, it’s quite another to deliver them consistently in competition. Thankfully I was able to shoot this year’s S&W Steel Shoot Northwest Regional a convenient three weeks before the Steel Challenge (see below for video). It proved an invaluable warm up to show me what I needed to work on. Combined with some easy to set up targets from GT Targets I was able to put in some training time before the event. The bit of practice at home and the warm up match did wonders for helping me focus when I left for California.
Before I even begin with my match recap I have to thank the many volunteers that make this event possible. To all the Steel Challenge Staff and Range Officers, your hard work is greatly appreciated! I would like to take the time to acknowledge Doug Baumforth in particular. Doug is always up bright and early opening the gates each day at the practice range. He is there well before the main event begins, all day long. Not only does he give up his time year after year, but always offers his help whenever possible, giving a friendly word of encouragement and a smile to all. Thanks to Doug, shooters were able to take advantage of the practice range several days before the match… And boy did we!
My first match was on Friday in the Production division shooting my M&P Pro with Warren Tactical Sights. I have to say I am very happy with my performance. I had a rough Pendulum, Outer Limits and Five to Go, but set personal bests on stages that I have historically struggled with. I finished with a 116.61 that secured me the Ladies Production win and second overall in the division behind “TGO” Rob Leatham. Combining all the IDPA divisions with Production, the score placed me 3rd overall behind TGO and top Enhanced Service Pistol competitor and GM Taran Butler.
Switching gears on Saturday I decided to shoot in the Open Division. Thanks to one of my wonderful teammates, Dave Olhasso, who unfortunately couldn’t make it to the Steel Challenge this year, I was able to borrow the top end from his Open M&P. I am still amazed that I was able to use the same M&P Pro frame I used in Production. In literally a matter of seconds, I went from Production to an Open race gun. Shooting USA thought it was pretty cool too and you may see it in their Steel Challenge coverage on the Outdoor Channel. I have to say, shooting a borrowed gun, I wasn’t able to put much time into my Open match and went in with the goal to have fun. Sometimes having no expectations can be a good thing and I am very pleased to report a third place finish in Women’s Open. To even come close to the stage times that the Challenge’s “lady greats” – Jessie Abbate & Kay Miculek – post in this event was exciting.
Here’s my equipment breakdown for both events (Production/Open):
Firearms – S&W M&P Pro/M&P Open Gun
Holster – Blade-tech/CR Speed
Ammunition – Atlanta Arms & Ammo
Sights – Warren Tactical/Doctor Optic
Eye Protection – Rudy Project Noyz
Speaking of lady greats, I had the pleasure to shoot with several top ladies both days – Kay, Jessie, Randi Rogers, Maggie Reese and newcomer juniors Tori Nonaka and Janae Sarabia. It’s wonderful to see women and junior females participating and shooting here. Without a doubt though, no other woman puts more time into their preparation for the Steel Challenge than Jessie Abbate. Trust me when I tell you it has paid off. Jessie shot an amazing match from her first event, Rimfire on Thursday to her Limited and Open performances on Friday and Saturday respectively. Her Open total set a standard for women that will be more than just tough to beat at 94.94 seconds – a new world record. Congratulations Jessie!
Tori Nonaka (and High Junior)
Rimfire Pre-Teen Junior Female
Team Smith & Wesson as a whole had a GREAT match as well. BJ Norris won Rimfire and the coveted Steel Master title as well as placing second in both the Limited and Open matches. No surprise, legendary revolver champion Jerry Miculek secured yet another Open Revolver win. Elliot Aysen and John Bagakis took first and second in the Iron Sight Revolver respectively. Phil Strader earned the world title in Iron Sight Rimfire. Molly Smith earned High Lady Iron Sight Revolver and High Pre-Teen Female in Rimfire in just her second Steel Challenge. In all Team S&W won 8 world titles!
Congratulations to the all the winners…
Open Champion – Max Michel Jr.
Limited & Law Enforcement Champion – Simon “JJ” Racaza
Production – Rob Leatham
IDPA Enhanced Service Pistol – Taran Butler
IDPA Stock Service Pistol – Jaime Mendoza
IDPA Custom Defensive Pistol – J.T. Tedder
Single Action Revolver– Clyde Harrison
Open Junior – Ryan Leonard
Iron Sight Junior – Tori Nonaka
Pre-Teen Junior – Janae Sarabia
Senior – Vic Picket
Videos of the super squad I mentioned in a previous post are coming. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get any video of me or the ladies this time, but I’ll close with footage from my match at this year’s the S&W Steel Shoot Northwest Regional. If you haven’t had the opportunity to shoot Steel Challenge stages, the S&W Steel Shoot Regional Series matches are a great way to get started close to home!