This past weekend I accompanied a host of other shooters as we traveled to Versalles, Missouri for the 2016 Missouri 3-Gun Championship. This is the 2nd year of this match, located at the Lead Farm Range (Home of Tooth and Nail Armory). The long running Midwest 3-Gun folded up shop two years ago, and the Loganbill’s didn’t want a major 3-gun match to leave Missouri. Some background on this venue and its hosts: The Lead Farm Range is a vast farm property owned by the Loganbill’s, with a background in motocross racing – I’m guessing that moving dirt is not a new venture for them. Several years back they shifted gears towards shooting, and decided to pile up some earth in the form of shooting bays. They also built some very nice competition guns, starting with the MKA-1919 magazine fed shotgun and most recently have stepped into custom 2011 pistols. They also have a knack for burning metal in the form of targets and were the innovator of the flip target (mostly due to getting frustrated with digging in the mud for lost 5×5’s as anyone who shot a few Midwest matches has undoubtedly done). More on their targets later.
The match was laid out in a two day format with 10 total stages. Seven were multi-gun stages, and one single gun stage for each gun that was a higher round. As tradition, there was a long shotgun stage set to challenge the “load out” of shells that one can wrap around their body. However, one would expect nothing less from a company that has a bread and butter gun which uses shotgun magazines that are taller than most junior shooters stand. The schedule flowed very smoothly and uncharacteristic for a major – staying on time throughout.
Much like our solid crew of Minnesota shooters who step up to help at our matches, the Missouri crew is no different. Those who have shot Midwest for years, and now this match, can attest that faces of the RO’s don’t change much. They have a lot of local talent that works the match every year and they are a great bunch!
What’s That Thing
If anyone followed the Facebook thread from this match, or saw the videos that Matt Loganbill put on some other internet sources, you would have seen some targets that made you “say whaaaat”. These targets included the infamous 3GN Death Star, along with the Amish Plate Rack. The Death Star was a Texas Star that was on a swinging arm and would make some unique movements if engaged improperly. The only way to describe the Amish Plate Rack is to think of the love child between a Polish Plate Rack and a Texas Star. Of course, to add to the difficulty of these targets, one needed to first engage the activator to get them moving. From watching other competitors shoot and listening to a few horror stories, it’s obvious that these targets ate a few people’s lunch to say the least. One of the South Dakota crew told me about the number of rounds he threw at the pistol only Death Star. I won’t say who it was (however he arguably has the sweetest goatee in 3-gun), or the number of rounds he shot at it (too darn many), but I felt his pain. I know that some people felt that the targets weren’t consistent from one shooter to the next, due to the appearance of how they spun from one shooter to the next. But in reality, it all comes down to sight alignment, trigger control, and timing. A stationary Texas Star can look like a helicopter rotor if you shoot it in the wrong order vs it barely moving if shot properly.
All of the rifle targets had giant yellow backer cards behind them and were easily visible, regardless of paint on the targets or shadows. The 1x guys had no trouble finding them and hitting them. The only complaint I could have is with the way the bays are laid out. Some rifle targets, from other stages, were visible from the stage that you were currently shooting from. It did bite me on one stage, but it comes down to me knowing where the targets are that I need to engage.
The rifle targets ranged out to 600 yards, but the toughest targets are usually the smaller skinny sammies from odd positions. Rifle targets had to be taken from roof tops, through sideways ports, and free-hand off a spring-loaded platform. There were also slug shots from another spring platform, and prone pistol shots from under a spool. The diversity of shooting positions made normally easy targets much more difficult. One would be safe betting similar things could possibly be seen at a local range in June.
There looked to be around 25 shooters from Minnesota at the match, give or take a few, plus some of our close neighbors from South Dakota and Wisconsin that frequently shoot our (MN) matches. I still feel that we are one of the most well represented states in the shooting sports (both for shooting ability and especially for kind attitude). Given that we have snow the number of months that we do, compared to people who never stop shooting all year, we fair pretty well in the standings. This match proved no different, as we ended with at least 2 shooters in the top 10 of the four divisions at the match. As far top 3 spots go, Jake Latola put up a very impressive 2nd place finish in TacOptics, being bested by junior phenom Nate Staskiewicz. Jay Schmitt battled back from a rocky start to claim a 2nd place in TacLimited, behind Justin Morris. Chris Cazin took the top spot HeavyOptics, followed by Jomar Villamor taking 3rd place, despite shooting the match with his HeavyLimited gear, including 1x optic and pump shotgun.
I think all of the Minnesota shooters had a great match, and I know it was an eye opener for many who had their first major match experience. The next MN3GG match they attend, they will understand why we shoot plenty of 5×5 steel, and why we push the distance of those shots. Plenty of majors have no problem putting those steel out there, and plenty saw the struggles that can ensue with them.