That wasn’t quite as bad as I thought it would be

Yesterday I participated in the Washington State Steel Championship. I knew this was going to be a whole new level of competitors for me and I didn’t expect to have results that would appear to be anything beyond, maybe, average. After shooting a couple stages I was concerned I would come in dead last even though, from my perspective, I was shooting pretty good. I was clearly the slowest shooter in my squad.

I started out shooting polymer coated lead bullets in my STI. These have almost zero hazard of bullet fragments returning to hit shooters and observers. I had put every single round through the case gauge and hoped that would fix my feeding problems I had last week. The first and second stages were fine. On the third stage I had one failure. On the fourth stage I had something like five or six with one set of three failures in a row.

I brought out my handloads made with Montana Gold JHPs which I also had run through the case gauge. I switched to that ammo and never had another failure. There were lots of fragments coming back but that was no different than anyone else.

I was shooting fairly consistently. I had few misses but many of the other shooters on my squad would have multiple misses and still have times a second less than me. And this when my time for a string might be in the four to five second range. So they were shooting, including multiple misses, in 25 to 30 percent less time than me.

Pat Kelley was in my squad and there were other shooters in our squad doing as well or better than he was. I consider Kelley god-like with a shotgun and wonder of nature with any other gun.

The overall results are here. I came in 44th with my iron sighted .22 and 58th with my STI in .40. This is out of 105 entries. I was actually concerned that I would come in dead last so I feel pretty good about being in the middle of the pack.

But look at where Kelley came in! He shot his Limited gun in the open division as well as limited and came in 30th and 40th overall. Mike Gallion (he went to the European Steel Challenge Championship and came in 12th) came in 39th! The competition was really tough.

That was overall. In Limited division Kelley did win and I came in 11th out of 35. Okay. I don’t feel bad at all about that. Especially with a gun that was malfunctioning on some of the stages.

In Limited Seniors I came in second, behind Kelley, out of nine.

In rimfire iron sighted pistol I came in 9th out of 21.

In rimfire iron sighted pistol Seniors I came in 1st! I also came in last as the only senior in this division.

I had fun and wasn’t completely embarrassed by my results so it was a good day.


7 thoughts on “That wasn’t quite as bad as I thought it would be

  1. Good job, well done. Even if you’d have finished last, experiencing a higher level of competition would have been worth the effort.

    I’d assumed I was too old to start shooting in matches, but you’ve given me a deserved kick in the butt. Once my club (Dallas Pistol Club) dries out, I’m going to begin with learning the competitions and participating.


    Jeff B.

  2. Feeding problems can be caused by a number of problems having to do (obviously) with handloading. If you are seating bullets too deep, the overall length may cause the round to hang up when trying to feed into the chamber. This is especially so on bullet shapes such as semi-wadcutter; the problem may be exacerbated by insufficient crimp on the case neck. I just bought a lot of loaded (lead semi-wadcutter) .45acp ammo from a handloader, and I’m in the process of running every round through my crimp die. As is your situation, Factory and Ball ammo are feeding reliably.

  3. Somebody has to come in last. But remember – even that guy came in ahead of the guys that didn’t show up…

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