Written by Sierra Bullets Media Relations Manager Carroll Pilant
Well, shooting season is winding down for the year with only one match left for me. It has been a long summer with a lot of miles, many nights in hotels, lots of meals out, plus a lot of new faces, many new friends, and a whole lot of old friends.
Started off the year with the SHOT Show in Las Vegas. This huge show is where everyone showcases the new products they have to offer for that year to all the shooting industry retailers. This show isn’t open to the general public. We go out a couple of days early to set up our booth, then you have 4 long days on your feet standing at a counter talking with retailers and outdoor writers about all your new products. 7 nights in motel rooms finished out the month.
Had a couple of training classes on reloading and it was a fairly easy month. I didn’t have any nights in a motel.
Started off bad, as my sister in law passed away. I had lived with my brother and her as a teenager plus worked for them for 17 years, so we were very close. My brother had passed away 16 years ago, so I took care of the things around her house for her. She was not only a sister-in-law, but like a mother and best friend also. Since they had no children, they basically thought of my wife and I as their kids. I missed the Missouri 3-Gun match because of her funeral.
The Superstition Mountain 3-Gun match was held in Mesa, Az. and I just went from Arizona directly to the Texas Multi Gun in Marble Falls, Tx. As I was leaving Mesa, I realized that instead of going back across the top of Texas, like I figured my GPS would take me, I was going to be on Interstate 10 and was going to go within 20 miles of where I hunt aoudad near Ft. Davis, TX. I was going to have an extra day anyway, so a quick phone call to my friends down there had an aoudad hunt lined up. I had been going to go down there a couple weeks later anyway. I took a day vacation and had a whirlwind aoudad hunt and harvested a really nice 31 1/2″ ram.
I headed out the next morning for Marble Falls. After the Texas match, I was going to go straight on to the Multi Gun Nationals in Las Vegas. On the last day of the match, I had a sharp pain in my knee and couldn’t hardly walk, so I opted to skip the nationals, since it hurt constantly and driving or walking about brought tears to your eyes. I drove all night just to get home so I could make a doctor appointment and get some relief. He said I had pinched the fat pad in my knee and gave me a shot with a needle about the size of an ink pen in the knee and a couple of days later, it felt a lot better. I only spent 12 nights in motels in April. One other match I was intending to shoot at the end of the month, I had decided to skip because I wasn’t sure how my knee would hold up.
May brought the NRA Show in Louisville, Ky. We always go down a couple days early to get the booth set up. The NRA Show is the showcase for the industry to show the new products to the end product users and is open to the general public and admission is free to NRA members. There is stuff there for hunters, fisherman, archers, backpackers, gun collectors, hunting guides are there booking hunts, you can find stuff for your hunting dog or beef jerky. It is just unbelievable what all there is there. The NRA Show ended Sunday afternoon and I had to be in Columbia, Mo. for the Bianchi Cup the following day. The Bianchi Cup ran from the 23rd to the 28th, since they added a day to the format. That was another 12 nights of motels.
In June, the pace picked up. I left out for Grand Island, Ne. for the Zombies in the Heartland 3 Gun match.
I had to return back to the plant after the match to switch vehicles, pick up different guns, and return to the Heartland Shooting Park for the Sportsman Team Challenge match. I left directly from there to go on to Sundance, Wyoming, where Richard Mertz puts on a 1000 yard handgun match, known as the Cold Turkey Match.
Richard had previously owned and manufactured MOA single shot handguns. After selling the company, he still continues to put on the match where we shoot, 500, 750, and 1000 yards with single shot specialty handguns. This year we were going to try on out to a mile, but time wouldn’t permit it. I canceled the last match of the month because we had an auction that weekend for my sister-in-law’s estate. That was another 17 nights in motel rooms.
This month is always so hot that I have about gotten to where I don’t schedule much just because of the heat. I also had a family reunion and a class reunion that I was wanting to attend. The only match I went to was the IHMSA Internationals at the Oklahoma City Gun Club and I didn’t stay for the full match. I just stayed 4 days and then drove most of the night getting home.
The first match in August that I normally go to is at Ozark Shooters near Branson, Mo. It is a couples classic where a man / women team shoot together with assorted handguns. My wife and I have shot it together for years but she was having knee problems, so we decided not to go. The next week, I headed to the beautiful NRA Whittington Center for the Rocky Mountain 3-Gun match which is shot in all natural terrain.
The match ends up late in the afternoon, so I drove all night so I would have a couple of days before I left for the Pro-Am 3-Gun match at Cave City, Ky. Another all night drive from the Pro-Am gave me about a week to get ready to head to the next match in West Virginia. Another 11 nights in motel rooms plus more nights where I drove part or all the way to the match and just hit a rest area for a couple hours sleep and then drive on so I can get there in time for registration.
The FNH 3 Gun match in Glengary, WV is always a good match, because the RO’s reset the targets. I normally go to a match in Ridgeway, Pa. the week before but the dates didn’t coincide for this year. I drove 19 hours on the return trip so I could get guns cleaned and ready to head for the Gen III match in Lake Ozark, Mo. This is one of the closest matches to me, since it is only about a 1 – 1/2 hour drive. This year we had rain and more rain and it was a muddy mess with vehicles stuck everywhere. Some one had posted on Facebook that the went to a mud run and a 3 gun match started up. The following week, I headed to Brighton, Michigan for the Michigan State 3 Gun match. They put on a really great match for being a very small range with limited bays.
I got back from it and headed to Oklahoma City Gun Club once again for an AR Speed Plate match followed by the Region 4 IHMSA match. That finished the month out at like 14 motel nights.
I usually start winding down traveling. Hunting season is here. I usually only shoot a couple of matches this month. The only match I will shoot this year is the Blue Ridge Mountain 3 Gun match in Cave City, KY. I leave out late evening to get thru St. Louis and over in Indiana and just spend a few hours in a rest area and and head on to the match for registration. This match is over on Saturday night, so I usually drive all night getting home so I don’t have to spend another night in a motel. Then we have a trade show we will be at in Kansas City. I should finish out October with only 5 – 8 nights in motels.
One of the worst things about being on the road all the time out is eating out. I get home, anxious for a home cooked meal and to sleep in my own bed and my wife will say, let’s go out and eat. Everyone asks me if I am married because of being on the road all the time. Surprisingly, after being married to me for 42 years, she still puts up with me. One of the best things about all the matches though is there are a lot of really nice, interesting people out there. You make lots of new friends and maintain a great bond with friends from across the US that are some of your closest friends. The worst thing is, you see a lot of dead bugs on your windshield.