Just got home from that Pin Shoot in Michigan I’ve been writing about. Couldn’t stay for the awards ceremony and will have to get back to you later on who won what, but on the return trip I was ruminating about some of the lessons learned and reinforced watching 150 or so skilled shooters running their guns under pressure.

Take your time, quick.  Wyatt Earp, Bill Jordan, and Texas Ranger John Hayes all said that about gunfighting, if not in the exact same words. Ross Seyfried, the second American after my late, great mentor Ray Chapman to win the world championship in combat shooting, was famous for saying “You can’t miss fast enough to win.”  The sniper’s mantra “One shot, one kill” reinforces the point.  If you want to do well, don’t shoot faster than you can hit what you’re shooting at. 

Shooting the Stock Gun event. Pistol is Springfield Armory Range Officer .45.

Or Watch Video Here.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t shoot powerful guns quickly. You just have to know how.  As the aforementioned Chapman liked to say, “You just have to be smarter than the gun.” We saw some incredible times on the Big Push event, where three bowling pins have to be blasted fourteen feet back to clear the table they rest on.  This requires powerful guns: we saw .50 caliber Desert Eagles, a gigantic BFR revolver firing the .450 Marlin big game rifle cartridge, and most popular, the giant X-frame Smith & Wesson revolvers in .460 and .500 Magnum. We watched defending champion Richard Hupp shooting a 3.3 second run with his S&W .500.  Grasp, stance, experience and absolute mastery of technique are what’s required.

Dave Gentzvein expertly wields monster Magnum X-frame Smith & Wesson on the Big Push.

Or watch Video Here.

Luck gets a vote.  I had a five-second or better time going on one string when I managed to get seven pins with five shots.  Unfortunately, I was only supposed to shoot five of them.  For the past three years we’ve had blue no-shoot “hostage pins” on the tables, and each one tipped over is a five point penalty added to our time.  I nailed the five white pins with five shots, but one of them rolled and knocked down both the hostage pins it shared the table with.

Watch the white pin at lower left…:-(

Or watch Video Here.

Age doesn’t matter.   We’ve had some millennial age shooters do great here (the Hauserman family includes more than one such), and some great-shooting geezers, and every age group in between. The year Ken Tapp set a record in this pin game some quarter century ago, he was 63.  Craig Wood and I have been shooting against each other for decades, since back when he was a Vermont state trooper and I was a young municipal cop in New Hampshire. At the Pin Shoot we shot as a two man team and posted a respectable time.  Another lesson from that:  Have a plan before you start pressing the trigger. We started from opposite corners of the three-tier target array, working inward.

Craig on the left is running 255 grain handloads with wide flat noses in his .45, left, and mine is stoked with Federal 230 grain +P HST hollow points.

Or Watch Video Here.


  1. I thought Ross Seyfried won the first one using the holster & gun he carried daily on his ranch. (I have a nice pair of scrimshawed grips his wife made on one of my 45s)

    • James, Ray Chapman won the first world match in Zurich in 1975, when the International Practical Shooting Confederation was still embryonic. Ross Seyfried won in 1981 in Johannesburg, the second American to win the world title. Ross used a Pachmayr Custom Colt 1911 .45 auto, similar to Ray’s, drawn from a Milt Sparks hip holster (#1AT if I recall correctly). He wore a #1AT at the ranch in the same spot, but he once told me that on the ranch it carried a blue steel Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum revolver with 4″ barrel most days, in case he had to deal with rogue livestock.

  2. Ah, the blue pins…wouldn’t that get your goat?! Personally, I really like a hot loaded .357 Magnum for this game, a friend and I developed an absolutely gorgeous load using an odd weight lead tipped copper jacketed bullet which dropped them like rocks in water back in the day. I wonder what a heavy bullet .357SIG might be able to do, Mas?

      • I have never shot pins but I do have a .357 SIG barrel for my FNX-40 and, with this barrel, I think that the pistol shoots tighter groups with the .357 SIG ammo as opposed to the .40 S&W ammo used in its factory barrel.

        I believe that Hornady has a heavy bullet .357 SIG load in its Custom line of ammunition. It uses a 147 gr. XTP bullet at a claimed 1225 fps. This gives about 490 ft-lbs. of muzzle energy which (I would think) would take down a pin easy enough. It is my understanding that the XTP line of bullets tend to give good accuracy. Maybe this would be a good “Pin Killer” load for a .357 SIG pistol?

      • Okay Mas, there ya go. Take your G31, load with the 147 XTP (I’m a Hornady fan too), and go spank those pins!

      • A Mozambique Drill contest for the bowling pin shooters could be introduced. The third shot in each of these drills would then only be for the pinheads.

        Actually, these pin shoots look like the most fun, and practical practice at that, one can imagine. What an amazing competition!

  3. Mas,
    I am friends with a retired sheriff from Oceana county, which is on Lake Michigan, and the county seat is Hart. We played sports in high school together and also played fast pitch softball together after school.
    He had his life saved when he was a deputy sheriff, by his bullet proof vest, but not in the normal way. He was chasing down a DUI suspect, out in the country, which is pretty much most of Oceana county. This was at night, with a cloudy sky. The suspect came to a T in the road, and turned, and my friend missed the T and drove across the road, and hit the bank on the far side of the T. He had his seat belt on and was wearing his bullet proof vest. They told him at the hospital that if he was not wearing either one, the vest or the belt, he most likely would have been killed by the sudden jolt of hitting the steering wheel of the car into his ribs.
    I don’t know what type of vest he was wearing, but it was back in about 1982 or so. We both actually attended a program called the Student Trooper Program at the Michigan State Police Academy, him in 1976 and myself in 1977, in the summer between our junior and senior years of high school. It was meant as a trial to find out if you were interested in joining the State Police after high school.
    As I am sure you are aware, the Michigan State Police Academy is one of the most respected in the country, and the one week I was there, I could see why. I not only learned a lot, but I was impressed by the professionalism of the training officers. The only difference between what the troopers do and what we did as high schoolers is that we had more free time in the evenings. And we of course were not actually issued firearms, but we did have training in gun safety and shooting, back then it was with S and W .38 specials. They were wonderfully smooth guns from what I can remember. And the range was really well set up, with individual speakers in each station, where the RO could speak to either one or several or all the shooters.
    Anyway, sorry for such a long drawn out note, but welcome to this state, and come any time you wish. It really is a beautiful state.

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