Five Years

In this month of 2005, I competed in my first Bullseye competition.

(That’s me in the picture, second from the right in the florid shirt back in that first competition.)

Next week, I will again compete at that same annual event, the Phoenix Rod and Gun Club’s Desert Midwinter competition.

This is the big event of the year for the southwest. Shooters will come from dozens of locations all over North America to compete. Some will drive and camp out while others fly in and stay at area hotels.

Tony Brong, a good friend I’ve made through this sport, is flying in from Pennsylvania for the event and will be staying at our home. Tony shipped his ammunition and empty gun box a few days earlier via UPS whereas his guns will fly with him, securely locked in baggage of course – er, the guns, not Tony.

Also competing will be the top finishers from the annual US Championship in Camp Perry Ohio, and several teams from both the US Army and Marine Corps.

I haven’t seen the roster but last year nearly 80 shooters, ranked from beginning Marksman through Master and High Master ratings, will stand side-by-side and shoot their targets at 50 and 25 yards.

In what other sport would you get to compete with the likes of Tiger Wood, Yogi Berra or Wilt Chamberlain?

And yet that’s exactly what happens in Bullseye.

“Hi guys, good to see you again!”

Events begin Wednesday with the International shooting forms, the same as fired in the Summer Olympics. This includes Free Pistol with some of the strangest-looking handguns I’ve ever seen, Rapid Fire (five shots in four seconds at four different targets!), Standard Pistol and Air Pistol.

Thursday will see the final International event, Center Fire, and the beginning of the Conventional Pistol (a.k.a. Bullseye) competition with a Service Pistol 900, so-called because there are 90 shots fired worth a maximum of 10 points each.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday have the 22 caliber, Center Fire (32 caliber and larger), and 45 caliber events, both individual and team. Ending the competition is the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) sponsored Excellence In Competition (EIC) event where the top finishers win “leg points” toward the much sought-after “Distinguished Pistol” award. (Tony earned this high-honor last year!)

And as much as I will enjoy the competition – I’m taking a week of vacation so I won’t have to miss a single second – I look forward even more to renewing the friendships I’ve made around the United States on my business travels where I was able to “work in” a local competition at clubs in nearly a dozen states.

And without question, I’ll be making new friends every day next week as well.

This week when they call, “Shooters to the line,” I’ll be stepping up.

10s and Xs!

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