Ridgedale, MO....The 2018 Sportsman’s Team Challenge (www.stcnationals.com) doesn’t even open tomorrow, and I’ve already learned plenty from the practice sessions. Not enough to help me shoot any better, because I didn’t get any range time in, but enough intel to report there’s plenty of new product in the pipeline to get new shooters even more interested in shooting in general, and shooting sports specifically.
Even without firing a shot, I’ve seen prototype pistols from three manufacturers, new optics from a “name” brand, and enough custom 10/22 and .22 rimfire pistol work to convince me that the professional shooters love the rimfire for competitions. If you think they’re not taking the rimfires seriously, you only need to check out the image showing how one shooter laid out his extra ammo to make certain it’s at hand - and ready- should they need reloads. With top shooters like Bruce Piatt, Tony Holmes, Max Michel and the number of others here, this isn’t the “relaxed, casual match” that I’d anticipated.
Tomorrow at 9 a.m. local time, one of the most entertaining spectator matches imaginable will begin here at the BPS Shooting Academy. With plenty of spectator arena-style seating available, it’s a great opportunity to come see how good these pros really are. And you’ll have teams like the Round Wheels from HAVA featuring Trevor Baucom and others like the Grumpy Old Men who simply have industry people shooting for the pure fun of it-just in case you need a dose of inspiration or comedy, respectively.
And did I mention there were some still unannounced production-run pistols getting some practical testing this week? I’ve seen three pistols that convince me competition shooting is getting more affordable for anyone. Didn’t run them personally, but the pros putting early production units into competition says they believe them more than capable of producing affordable accuracy for any shooter. These new models, and a couple of others I’ve seen/shot in the past two weeks tell me families with kids who want to get into practical shooting will breathe a sigh of financial relief.
In fact, this event convinces me that competition shooting can be affordable for everyone - if you begin with the .22 rimfires. There aren’t nearly enough .22 rimfire matches, but the popularity of the Ruger Rimfire Challenge, this match and a couple of smaller matches I’ve attended tell me the industry might be missing a great opportunity to open this category up to more neophyte shooters.
You can learn a lot from competition shooting, and not just intelligence about what’s coming down the pike for consumers. Every one of the shooters I spoke with yesterday, despite prepping for a major match, had time to talk, offer help when needed, and visit with everyone in attendance.
That’s probably the best reason for someone coming out to such a spectator-friendly venue. Not only can you see the shooters in a great setting, you see great shooters in a setting where they’re comfortable visiting with you, too.
It’s going to be a great competition - but the competition’s only part of the story. If you’re in the Branson-area today or Friday, consider dropping by and saying hello.
We’ll keep you posted.