…the second week in June, my lovely bride and I will attend our favorite match, The Pin Shoot. Back when this “shoot the bowling pins” event was known as The Second Chance Shoot, I attended every one from the mid-1970s to when it ended in 1998.  Richard Davis, the founder, and his son Matt resurrected it as The Pin Shoot in 2017, and Gail and I have competed there each year from then on.  One of those years, it constituted our honeymoon.

Why do we go? Because, dammit, it’s fun! 

Don’t take my word for it. 

While researching for another article on the topic elsewhere, I talked to three of the great champions of this sport.  I asked each of them where this event was on the Fun of Shooting Scale.

 The legendary Jerry Miculek was one: go to YouTube, put his name into the search function there, and marvel at this man’s nearly superhuman shooting skills. Second Chance was where he first shot his way to fame. If I recall, he still holds the current all-time record there. He says, “It was a unique adventure! You could shoot for eight or nine days at one time.”

Bill Wilson is famous today for the fine firearms built by his company, Wilson Combat, and you can meet him on his own YouTube channel, where he demonstrates his considerable shooting skills sometimes. Bill, too, made his competition bones at the early version of The Pin Shoot, winning overall multiple times and always placing high. He went on to shoot with the US National Team at the World Championships of the International Practical Shooting Confederation, and founded the concealed carry sport, the International Defensive Pistol Association. Bill told me, “This match was always Number One for fun factor. Back then I shot every damn event there was: Bianchi Cup, IPSC, Steel Challenge, Soldier of Fortune, but Richard Davis’ match was the most fun!”

Jerry Barnhart won so many National and World Championships in practical shooting that he has to pause to remember the count. He won the old Second Chance Pin Shoot multiple times, and was always at the winners’ prize table from his first such event in 1984 to his last one in 1998.  He reminisces fondly, “I would say Richard’s match was probably the most fun on the social side. There’s always a lot of camaraderie. I talked with my fellow competitors more there than anywhere else. Richard is a caring people person. We were his guests. He made the event fun.”

There you have it.  Info is available at www.pinshoot.com: rifle, shotgun, pistol and revolver events, individual and team, you name it.  Springfield Armory’s sponsorship of the event has fattened the gun prize table considerably. It takes place in a pleasant, family-oriented vacationland in rural/small town Michigan and the weather is generally beautiful.

We hope to see you there. 


  1. I tried pins this past summer, and found them incredibly challenging. You need to keep your eye focused on the front sight, but everything in shooting pins pushes you to watch the pins. If you look at the pins, you miss.

    When do you look to see if your hit knocked the pin off the table? After each shot, or shoot all six and then look back?

  2. I shot the match 14 years and won high Master Blaster 7 times.
    Twas my favorite shoot, I. Could ever do as well at other matches, I reckon cause I was a Pinhead.
    Hope the fun keeps on keeping on.

    • Ken, I always wanted to grow up to be just like you. We’d love to see you back at the match this coming June.

      • We would love to see you Ken! I always wanted to shoot like you too! We start gearing up for the Pin shoot in another month or so. I’ve been at every Second Chance and The Pin Shoot since 1990. Love this shoot!

        My son started shooting pins a couple years ago, and many of us talk about Ken, Jerry, and Brian. He won the 2 person rifle event last year and he can’t wait till next June!

  3. brings back memories of our pin league. I used a Les Baer mostly but switched to my G23 to sharpen up prior to taking the MAG 40 course. I am eagerly looking forward to your analysis of the Eli Dicken Indiana Mall Shooting, using his G19 from 40 ft? with ball ammo? when it is no longer an active case.

    • No longer active. Young man has been cleared 100% on criminal charges, though we don’t know if a BS lawsuit by the estate of the psycho murderer he killed is in the wind or not. I’ve not met him — I’m told he’s not giving interviews — and don’t know any more about the incident than what has been in the news.

  4. Regarding the recently reported shooting of a teacher by a child six years of age: Based on teaching thousands of students in a variety of schools, by choice, I am surprised that more students, particularly boys, do not come to employ weapons in expressions of anger, especially in imitation of screen-based violence. Educators need to be aware that students may feel set up for unfair consequences brought out of jealousy, snobbery, prejudice, grudges, or some other insensitive motivation. Resentment can easily build to a suddenly explosive level when children feel that they are thus being treated badly for no good reason. Students need to be “researched” (actively understood) individually, hopefully by forgiving, unselfish, humane, and perceptive educators. Classroom discipline is nevertheless essential. A regular class “Circle,” a moderated group discussion, is one way to humanely help head off trouble while promoting cohesion by carefully airing “situations”openly. Hopefully “borderline” individuals will be conspicuous, and followed up. Parents tend to be highly defensive about discussions of family issues, so perceptive moderation is essential. The most reliable warnings, though, surely come from the grass roots. These days regular inspections are a good idea.

  5. Just finishing up reloading a batch of some pin busting ammo for the pin shoot. I remember shooting against Ken back when I was a pup. I remember going to the pin matches in Iowa and we would always find that Ken had already been there for a few days warming up the tables. In my humble opinion Ken Tapp was the greatest pin shooter of all time. He was incredibly quick on pins.
    So Mas, I am hoping we can run some tables of two man again after we get all the main events done.
    Well back to the loading bench!

  6. Posted this on the ‘tools for the job’ thread but since people have moved on…

    Wr_Moore wrote
    But, lugging around a backpack large enough to take even a short barreled rifle is similar to waving a flag around.’
    Take a look at this 5″ .300 SBR in a backpack half it’s size!

  7. For a long time I have thought that Howdy Doody must have been smoking crack with Buffalo Bob, or somebody else close to Howdy, to act so stupefied all the time without collapsing. Now I wonder if a zombie might not have bitten Howdy, perhaps better explaining why he wanders around in such a daze. Not being able to remember where you are or whom you just met may not be a handicap to dummy diplomacy, I guess. It could be an advantage to be free to do stupid, crazy stuff as long as you are considered a zombie? And Buffalo Bob surely prefers a well-controlled dummy, anyway. Too bad it is not funny.

  8. I have to agree with David. Growing up watching all the pin shooters over the years, Ken was definitely the biggest pinhead! And, likely the greatest pin shooter of all time. He the most Second Chance championships on record. So happy to see your name pop up in this thread Ken. You’re on the house if you’d like to join us in June. Call or email me anytime.

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