2008 Western States Single Stack
The Western States Single Stack Championship match is fast becoming a favorite match for single stack shooters across the country. With shooters from as far away as Florida coming back each year the match keeps getting better and this year was no exception. The 2007 WSSS was unforgettable to all who shot as the rain, wind, freezing temperature and finally snow accumulation in the middle of Mesa AZ surprised even long time residents let alone unprepared visitors looking for some mid-winter sunshine.
This year the 2008 WSSS weather was excellent as promised by our match director who ordered up sunshine and canceled the rain and snow. The match is held January 12-13 at the Usery Mountain Shooting Range in Mesa Arizona. This years match deceived the shooter into believing that the stages were simple and for the most part they were, yet everyone seemed to find a way to clip a no-shoot, blow by a target, or mangle a perfectly good stage. In the end Taran Butler managed to come out on top a mere 2.92 points ahead of the kid, Nils Jonasson. In third was Rob Leatham a scant 1.9133 points behind Nils. The top three shooters were separated by less than one half of one percent.
Nils and Taran’s squad was the final squad to shoot Stage 1 a 24 round stage. Stage 1 was their last stage. Nils shot a blistering 13.96 seconds 8 points down almost 3 seconds faster than the best time to that point and that shooter had a miss! Taran then shot a equally impressive 14.66 down 9 points to solidify his win. Nils impressively finished 2nd in spite of 8 misses for the match. His times were just so much faster he almost missed fast enough to win. But he didn’t. Taran had only 2 misses for the match and finished out of the top 5 on only 2 stages. While he had only 2 stage wins to Nils 4 wins and Robs 4 wins his consistent performance won out.
There were more than 187 other shooters who also shot the match and posted some impressive scores of their own. The match consisted of 12 stages. Stages 1 to 8 were field courses all of which had several ways to shoot. Some shooters chose to run and gun while others found a prime spot and shot with precision. Finding the blend that allows the shooter to solve the shooting problem is a skill and the course designers came through. Stages 9 to 11 were short speed shoots and 12 was a standards. On stage 9 a speed shoot that required 1 shot on each of six targets, reload six, reload six found Rob with the first shot from the draw failing to fire. In spite of having to rack in a new round Rob managed to finish 3rd on the stage. It turned out the first round had a reversed primer.
Stage 3 showed the ingenuity of the stage designs. A 23 round count stage that consisted of 2 Texas stars, 3 poppers, and 5 paper one of which was a swinger. The shooters started standing at the center of a wall that ran 20 feet wide. At each end of the wall stood a Texas star. Fences starting at each end ran down range meeting at a point forming a triangle. The shooter had the option of stepping to two ports in the wall and running to each end of the wall to engage all the targets never running down range but shooting more difficult shots. Or they could run to one end of the wall, engage the star at that end then move forward in the triangle engaging targets closer and finally running back up range to engage the remaining star. Or they could shoot some combination of the two. If you could run better than you could shoot long shots, you ran. If you don’t move as well you could stand and shoot.
Stage 5 had the highest round count at 26 and was a wide open run-and-gun field course down a desert wash. The shooter had options of where to do their reloads. Stage 6 was a small house stage with 22 rounds again giving the shooter options of where to do their reloads. Stage 7 was a 22 round field course if you wanted it to be. You could also choose to stand in one spot and take some longer shots and do standing reloads. Shooters choice.
This years match was the first big match shot under the new Single Stack rules. Although a level 1 match, this year the holster and magazine positions were checked. The guns had to fit in the box and each one was weighed and chronographed. Several shooters fell to minor and several others found they were shooting for fun since their guns were too heavy. This seemed to afflict the 9 mm guns and .40 cal with titanium guide rods and/or Aluma type grips. The .45 cal’s seemed to have less problem making weight. Steve Horsman the Match Director threatened last year that 2008 would be checking not only chronograph but all restrictions and he did. If you plan on shooting a single stack match you better weigh your gun now that the division is official.
The match staff did a great job from set up to Range Officers to tear down. The match ran smoothly with very little waiting and usually each stage was ahead of time. This match has become one of the must shoot matches of the year and early in January in Arizona it’s hard to get any better, except 2007 which we’ll attribute to global warming or cooling, or maybe we just had a winter storm. Whatever, you’ve got great odds year-in, year-out we’ll have great weather and a great match. See you in 2009.