There is definitely a segment of the 3-gun community that has a special affliction for open terrain matches. They long for the hills and ravines that were the genesis of the sport in an age when action shooting is taking place on a plane that has more in common with a tennis court. Urban sprawl and the fun-police make natural terrain facilities, capable of hosting a major 3-gun match, harder and harder to find. Sure, once in a while we get to run up on the berms; or maybe there is a jungle run in some protected corner. Truly vast natural terrain facilities are hard to find. Ideally what is needed is…a ranch…say, in Texas… more specifically a ranch in Cresson, Texas.
The wild brain child of one Jeremy Moore, the Vortex/Shooters Source 3-Gun Championship is the bastard child of Rocky Mountain and Blueridge and truly a uniquely Texan terrain match in every sense of the term. There are bays at the Triple C Training Center, but we didn’t use a single one of them. The match was shot 100% in the vast meadows, ridge lines, and wooded ravines of this plains paradise at distances from 0-515 yards. Yes it was Texas in July…honestly, I thought it would be hotter the way people talk about it. Staying out of the bays did keep a lot of the shooting (or at least staging areas) in the shade, which helped quite a bit. Like shooting any match ANYWHERE in July, it’s important to stay hydrated and manage one’s electrolytes. It is also good to have an endless supply of popsicles…they probably don’t help, but they are tasty and they were “all you can eat” at this match.
From a shooting aspect, this match didn’t emphasize any one particular thing. The unique blend of stages tested the full range of skills with all three of the guns; there was no hiding and no crutches to get through this one. There were four single gun stages, which is usually something I frown upon, but they were pretty well done and the round count was evenly distributed across the three guns. There was no real trickery or shenanigans, just solid marksmanship challenges spread out over vast courses of fire. There were enough options to be creative without being confusing. This match also allowed athletes to purchase a single Mulligan to be used at their discretion, which is a mind game in and of itself. There were jungle runs too…a lot of jungle runs. What is more fun than running in the jungle with guns? Nothing, jungle runs are awesome!
For me, this match was my second stop on my recent binge in Limited Division. Sure, I shot limited at the Tri-Gun, but this was the first time I was shooting limited with the clear and present danger of shooting real long range without magnification. I had been doing my homework with the new Vortex Spitfire AR and was confident there wasn’t anything the BDC turret and I couldn’t handle. Of course our first stage was the long range rifle only field course. I pretty much ran the flashers and the Texas Star (at 165 yards), got bogged down a little on a plate rack and then spun the turret to ring the 515 yard bonus target in one shot. I decided to burn my Mulligan 2/3’s of the way through the match on Stage 10 which was a ridge line run. The shotgun component was pretty standard fare for what we do at home, there were some long range pistol plates that ate my lunch and then I smoked the long range rifle shooting (pretty much one for one). Convinced I could repeat the first and last part while cleaning up the pistol, I pulled my Mulligan card. The shotgun went even better than the first time, I smoked the pistol (just like I hoped), but the reshoot gods decided to cast a shadow over a 200 yard rifle plate. Squint as I may, squint as I might…I could see the frame from which it was hanging, but I couldn’t get the bullets to find the plate. I ended up shaving a couple second off my time, but left the plate for a net loss on the stage…so it goes.
I didn’t come into this match with any expectations, other than Jeremy knows how to throw a party. These days so many folks are putting on major matches…some of them are more major than others. My expectations are always the same – perhaps even unreasonably high. To me, when I decide to go to a major match, take the time off work, invest the money, and travel across the country – I expect a spectacle. I expect something I can’t get at home, something that truly only comes together and happens once a year. I don’t care who shows up and I certainly don’t care what is on the prize table. I am out for an epic experience, an adventure. I can without a doubt say that Jeremy accomplished that with this match. This isn’t just another prize table match on a calendar. This, my friends, is an experience that will make any red blooded 3-gunner weak in the knees. Mark your calendars for next year, space is limited.