Category Archives: NRA

NRA Silhouette Nationals

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Californians survived the riots, extinguished the fires, endured the earthquakes. We found alternate routes around the col­lapsed freeways for millions of cars. But after the riots sub­sided, the fires were out. and the after­shocks calmed, another kind of disaster struck the California shooting communi­ty, and a new band of heroes emerged to deal with the problem.

Late last winter, only a few months before the scheduled events, the NRA withdrew its sponsorship of the 1994 Pis­tol Silhouette Championships!

The reasons given were related to finances and the priority of near-term political battles vs. match sponsorship. I can’t argue the priorities: nothing is more important to shooters than maintaining our Second Amendment rights.

But the timing of the NRA’s decision was disastrous, and their handling of the issue left a bit to be desired. Over the next year, I’m sure that the parties involved will find a way to make silhou­ette shooting more self-supporting.

Following the stunning announce­ment, a group of shooters and match directors, led by Ron and Lee Cottriel, decided they could indeed put Humptey Dumptey together again. First, they reached an agreement with the NRA that the Association would at least sanction the match even if they could not afford to sponsor it.

Second, they turned to their longtime industry supporters for help, and they were not disappointed. Thompson/Center donated two Contenders for fund raising raffles. Freedom Arms donated one of their .357 Magnum revolvers that raised $4,000 dollars from sale of raffle tickets.

Wesson Arms donated one of their .357 “Maxi” Super Ram revolvers that come from the box all ready to win silhouette matches. And Jim Rock of RPM donated his very first, brand-new XL Hunter Model in .356 Win­chester. This beautiful single shot was topped with a vari­able power 2-6x pistol scope courtesy of Bausch & Lomb. Numerous other prizes were donated, but these were the big ticket items without which the match would not have taken place.

Throw in a few hundred man-hours of range prepara­tion work by lots of southern California shooters, and the matches were on.

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Match Goes On

There were a couple of differences between the ’94 matches and those of previous years caused by the NRA’s withdrawal of sponsorship. First, attendance was down due to shooters who could not change schedules again after the initial NRA announcement of non-participation caused them to cancel their original plans to attend.

Second, the Down Under contingents from Australia and New Zealand were unable to get their schedules reorganized during the confusion of the on-again, off-again championships. If you’ve never had a chance to socialize with and compete against these tremendous people that spend their lives walking around upside down on the bottom of the world, you can’t appreciate how much they were missed. Not to mention that a number at U.S. shooters had been waiting a year for a chance to get e\ t on a couple of tear: matches!

Third, running the matches consec­utively at one location with volunteers made for a grueling two-week stint at the Los Angeles Silhou­ette Club range for the match officials.

All personnel concerned did a remarkable job maintaining their enthusiasm and cheerfulness despite the signs of fatigue that were visible toward the end of the matches. It was a remarkable achievement!

Last, and most important, I missed annual barbeque! Worse than that, the menu had been expanded to include ribs as well as beef and chicken. Worst of all, the deliciousness of everything was explained to me in great detail later, and not a single scrap was left. Needleless to say, this must not be allowed to happen again next year!

Good Shooting

I think there’s an old axiom to the effect that when good shooters get together, you see some good shooting. There was a lot of good shooting at the Nationals, but the two individuals who emerged from the dust and smoke as Grand Aggre­gate Champions were Bob Vaughn for Long Range (big bore) and Marvin Tannahill for small bore.

Bob’s consistency is remarkable. He didn’t win a single individual event, but his aggregate score for the six events was nine points ahead of the next closest com­petitor, who just happened to be Marvin.

Marvin really is a bit of a marvel. In addition to winning Grand Aggregate in small bore by a whopping margin of 21 points, he took second overall in Long Range beating his nearest competitor by five targets.

Marvin dominates the standing events, and provided the match’s touch of deja vu. Two years ago. Marvin missed the first per­fect score in Stand­ing Unlimited with a 79 out of a possible 80. The story line: he was distracted by a fly that landed on his scope.

This year in Unlimited Stand­ing, he left a ram standing for another “almost perfect” 79. Folks, could this be The Fly: Part Deux or maybe Son Of Fly.

What makes Marv’s achievements even more impressive is that he only took up the free-style events in the last year having previously shot just the standing matches. Obviously someone needs to take him aside and explain how difficult this sport is.

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Despite a cumulative lack of sleep from weeks of working round the clock to make this match a reality, the Cot-triels still managed to win their share of championship trophies. Lee won the Ladies Grand Aggregate in Long Range, and Ron won multiple free-style events as well as the Freestyle Small Bore Aggregate.

The “Iron Young Man” award— more accurately called the Junior Grand Aggre­gate Long Range Champion trophy— went to Eric Raisch. Freestyle Aggregate Long Range Cham­pion was Krista Morris who is still not quite as big as her smile, and does­n’t yet shoot the standing events, but shot a pair of equiva­lent back-to-back 39’s in Long Range Unlimited to fall only two points short of a perfect score.

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Brett Henry took the freestyle Small Bore Aggregate Award while Joyce Robertson dominated the ladies small bore events taking both Grand and Freestyle Aggregate awards. Gene Grant captured the Senior Grand Aggregate in both Small Bore and Long Range match­es, while Bob Brissette took Senior Freestyle Aggregate for both matches. Yep, good shooters shoot good scores!

Protest Incident

There was an incident during the shootoffs involving a protest and subse­quent ruling by the committee that left a bad taste with some of the competitors. I don’t have all the facts, nor was I aware of events at the time, so it would be inappropriate for me to discuss it.

But I would offer this comment. I have the utmost respect for the silhou­ette shooters who conducted and partici­pated in the 1994 Nationals at LASC. Given the NRA’s last minute withdraw­al, the efforts of these individuals were truly Herculean. If a bad decision was rendered at the end of those grueling two weeks of matches and months of preparation, I would certainly suspect fatigue, and not any “hidden agendas.” as the contributing factor. I salute all involved for an outstanding achievement!

Published:  American Handgunner – May/June 1995

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1993 NRA Long Range Silhouette Championships

Having proved her total mastery of the elements at last year’s Nationals, Big Mama Nature cast a gentler countenance on the 565 entries at the ’93 NRA Long Range Silhouette Championships.

The winners’ circle was visited by some familiar faces and some new kids. Bob Vaughan displayed tremendous consistency in all events to win the Grand Aggregate Championship, beating his nearest competitor by 15 huge points.

Lee Cottriel again captured the woman’s Grand Aggregate as well as a few individual trophies along the way. Gene Grant won High Senior with a score that made me re-evaluate my plan to dye my hair grayer and lie about my age. And finally, a 12-year-old young lady named Krista Morris won the Junior Free Style Aggregate with some great shooting skills and a dazzling smile.

The number of manufacturers with displays at the match wasn’t large, but the hardware on display was truly representa­tive and showed the continuing evolution of the sport. Hooded front sights, most of them made by Iron Sight Gun Works, were on just about everything. That’s the same outfit that makes the precision rear sight on all the single shots and revolvers except for S&W and Ruger.

Randy Smith from Freedom Arms brought all their calibers and made them available to any competitor want­ing to try one at the end of the day. Great marketing move! Ted Zysk liked the octagon barrel Freedom Arms .44 Magnum so much, he shot it in revolver class scoring one of only two perfect 80s recorded during the week!

Not only is that long octagon barrel a thing of beauty, but also Creedmore shooters maintained that the sharp edges make it “stick to your leg.” I caught the Freedom Arms fever and borrowed Randy’s 454 to knock off 60 of the crit­ters in Standing Unlimited, and while that’s a respectable score with a full power hunting handgun, it doesn’t get you an invite to the shoot-offs against today’s outstanding shooters.

Rock Pistol Manufacturing is slim­ming down the bull barrels of the XL sin­gle-shot pistol from .850″ to .800″ to facilitate making weight. Of interest to the handgun hunter, as well as the stand­ing class competitor, is that it makes for a much better balanced handgun and, while the .05″ doesn’t sound like much, the resulting gun looks much sleeker.

As noted in last year’s match, most of the really competitive unlimited standing shooters are using some kind of high rise scope mount system. Many of these are manufactured by Ken Light, a local shooter whose hardware is as impressive as his competitive achievements.

Machined from T6 aluminum, his ris­ers arc drilled to tit the hole pattern of numerous factory guns with slots on the top rail to accept standard Weaver rings allowing some flexibility in scope loca­tion. Simple and innovative in design, Ken makes a scope riser to comply with the rules of all silhouette events from air pistols to ram ringers.

Seth Wesson announced that a new model Wesson revolver will be in pro­duction this fall designed for the silhou­ette shooter. It will have a 1:16 twist bar­rel with a Taylor throat. (That’s more freebore than usual.) Every gun will have Hoguc grips, 1SGW rear sight, hooded front sight, and an action job. Caliber will be .357 Maximum.

Interestingly, the other revolver class perfect 80 at this year’s Nationals was shot with a Dan Wesson in caliber .45 Long Colt by Hulan Mathis. Hulan has shot more than one perfect score on the half-scale critters with different calibers, so it was no great surprise when he won the shoot-off and revolver championship with that Wesson .45 Colt. I think given a week’s practice and a few semi-round rocks. Hulan could probably bowl a per­fect 80!

A completely new bolt action unlimit­ed gun came to the match with David Dewsbury. Australia’s director of Metal­lic Silhouettes. Called the MAB Model SP and chambered in 7 BR. in Dave’s competent hands it shot the third highest unlimited score of the week.

The gun has a couple of interesting and unique features worth noting. (Dave has a couple of interesting features too, like a big, “down under” grin and one of those great Aussie hats!) The gun’s bolt face is threaded into the bolt to be easily replaceable if you want to change calibers or head space.

The locking lugs are in the barrel, not the receiver, which also facilitates a cal­iber change. Bolt release is by means of an externally accessible lever on the left side of the receiver. The gun is manufac­tured by Graham Bugden in Brisbane, has an Omark match barrel and is Mag-Na-Ported. (MAB is the Mag-Na-Port agent in Australia.) Designed by and for silhou-etters, the weapon is currently only avail­able in Australia.

It was a beautifully run match. When I filled out three identical forms at registra­tion, I chuckled at the thought that per­haps the NRA needed to spend a little less time in Washington. D.C.. but how-many sports would allow someone to par­ticipate in a National Championship with no match scores for over a year?

Throughout the week, the “stat shack” crew processed the paper work and posted scores rapidly and efficiently, while the AFROTC Cadets from Canyon and Crescenta Valley High Schools had targets set and score cards completed before new-relays could get to the line.

And the lady that ran the outdoor kitchen had me trained like Pavlov’s dog. It didn’t matter if she was fixing barbecue or tub-o-spaghetti. she’d ring the cowbell and I’d come running!

Special thanks to E.A. Brown Co.. Rock Pistol Manufacturing, and Wesson Firearms who highlighted the Friday bar­becue raffle with their contribution of firearms.

Published:  American Handgunner – January/February 1994

 

NRA 1992 Long Range Pistol Championships

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Radical new scope mounts debut at national champs!

For an old silhouette shooter, attending one of the national championship matches it is a bit like going to a family reunion: you get to visit with folks you’ve known for years, meet some new family additions and catch up on recent developments.

The extra ingredient at a match is that you see the finest long range handgunners in the world.

Held at the Los Angeles Silhouette Club this summer and directed by long­time participants Ron and Lee Cottriel. the match featured all six of the NRA events which include: unlimited and con­ventional standing, full-scale and half-scale unlimited, conventional single shot, and revolver.

Competitors were greeted with heavy rain early in the week and finished in typ­ical summer California sunshine (spelled h-o-t!) But the temperatures were mild compared to the hot performances turned in by many of the shooters.

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Ron and Lee not only know how to run a smooth match, they know how to shoot one. Lee swept all the women’s cat­egories and took the overall runner-up titles in both unlimited events setting a new woman’s national record in half-scale with a 78/80.

Ron was in the top three of every event except conventional standing, and won unlimited full-scale, grand aggre­gate, and freestyle aggregate.

And he didn’t just win unlimited full-scale: he beat 23 other perfect scores by winning the shoot-off!

John Glennon shot the only perfect score in revolver with a mixture of great showmanship and concentration. John had a one shot alibi on the last ram bank. With everyone on the line watch­ing and knowing this last shot was for the gold, John had 24 seconds to think and deliver.

When the bullet kicked up a dust cloud high above the ram 200 meters down range, the crowd groaned collec­tively, not knowing the bullet had split on the edge of the ram’s back. But as the ram slowly toppled backwards, the groans turned to cheers and applause. It is rumored that John declined to demon­strate his split bullet trick a second time!

Marvin Tannahill set a national record in unlimited standing by leaving one turkey out of 80 targets. Marv said a fly landed on his nose, “and he flinched as the gun went off.” I’m not sure whether it was Marv or the fly that flinched, but if I had come up one target short of the first perfect score ever fired in standing. I’d still be out hunting for that fly!

Manufacturers’ Row

While Manufacturers’ Row was quite a bit smaller than the SHOT Show, many of the game’s dedicated supporters were in attendance. For wheelgun fans. Free­dom Arms’ Randy Smith was there with an assortment of what many folks believe is the world’s finest revolver. Included was the new Model 353 in .357 Magnum that Randy feels will be dominating the winner’s circle in next year’s matches.

Wesson Firearms had their newest addition on hand called the Compensated Barrel Assembly or “CBA” for short. Clever idea: cut ports in the barrel shroud and let it extend 1.5 inches beyond the barrel.

If you already have a Wesson, just buy a new barrel assembly with the built-in port system and slap it on your revolver frame. Should be great on their 445.

Jim Rock of RPM was on hand with a couple of new items for his XL single-shot pistol. His new latch lever greatly eases opening the gun without adding serious bulk or weight. Beneficial to both the multi-round silhouette shooter or the one-shot hunter utilizing max loads that might occasionally stick, this little goody can be retrofitted on existing guns.

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And since the latest approach to unlimited standing has gone beyond the “taco hold” to using elevated optical sights, Jim had his newest “scope riser” on hand. It’s an aluminum parallelogram that raises the optical sight about four inches above the gun and moves it slight­ly toward the muzzle.

According to Jim, the milder calibers suitable for unlimited standing (e.g. 270 MAX) no longer require a muzzle break. because the gun rotates under the chin and the scope stops short of the face.

Available from RPM drilled and tapped for different single-shot pistols, the riser is selling like hot cakes for $40 because it saves the cost of a muzzle break which is around $100+.

Since Jim regularly competes with his XLs and swept all but one event in the seniors class, I’m not arguing with him.

Ron Cottricl had his variation of the riser, called a ladder, on a Wichita bolt gun. Have I mentioned that Ron did pret­ty well at this match?

The Old And The New

Representing perhaps the oldest and newest players in silhouette shooting were, respectively, some examples of the XP artistry available from Remington’s Custom Shop, and the BF Pistol from E.A. Brown Mfg.

What can I say about Remington’s XP? A great shooting gun that just gets better and better.

Although I haven’t personally worked with the relatively new BF single-shot, a situation I hope to remedy, the little falling block pistol has reportedly worked out most, if not all, the initial manufactur­ing bugs and has evolved into a beautiful firearm.

International Flavor

The international flavor came from Down Under with teams competing from Australia and New Zealand. Australia’s Tim Anderson, David Dewsbury and Mike Pomerenke excelled in all events to capture 3rd, 6th, and 10th places respec­tively in the Grand Aggregate.

I didn’t catch up with the Aussie con­tingent, but I did get to chat with Carl Rofe of the New Zealand National Pistol Council about laws and possible handgun hunting opportunities there. Interesting.

If I’m reading my notes right, there were no restrictions in New Zealand until the 1930s when “registration” came into being. At that time handgun ownership became restricted.

Since then, gun owners have been working diplomatically through police to obtain more allowable handgun events. In case you didn’t know, New Zealand has no constitutional guarantee of gun owner­ship like our second amendment.

The final evening offered a sumptuous BBQ, and as usual, I made a big pig of myself, but since I seemed to be among my peers, it apparently went unnoticed. There was an over abundance of meat, (even after I finished) so these incredible slabs of beef were sold at a pittance to anyone who could carry them off. For a few frenzied moments, the traffic from the BBQ to the camper area looked like a parade of troglodytes returning from a successful mammoth hunt. When you fire 500 rounds of high power ammo in a week, some of the trophies should be edible!

Published:  American Handgunner – January/February 1993

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IHMSA 15TH Anniversary Match

The southern Arizona scenery was spectacular coming out of the Baboquivari Mountains toward Tucson.  In addition to the giant Saguaros, mesquite trees, and various cactus plants I couldn’t identify, there was an abundance of lush ground cover from the late summer rains that enhanced the high desert’s beauty.  I thought that this would be a great place to introduce handgun silhouette shooting to the world.

 Like most of my great ideas, this one was a little late.  I was on my way to participate in the 15th Anniversary of handgun silhouette shooting at the Tucson Rifle Club where the first match was held in 1975.  I missed that first match but managed to catch the next one, called the First Western Regional, which was held in southern California during the summer of 1976. Continue reading