Ever hear of the Second Chance Bowling Pin Shoot?  Back in the mid-70s, Richard Davis – the armed citizen who won a three-against-one shootout with armed robbers, and invented the soft, concealable body armor that saved thousands of cops in the decades since – created a competition shooting format in which whoever shot an array of bowling pins off a table fastest, won.  It sounded at first like plinking tin cans off the back fence, only with bigger guns and bullets and targets, but it turned out to have great spectator appeal with instant feedback.

The match grew, drawing hundreds of shooters and hundreds of spectators. It encompassed great free food, and a carnival atmosphere in which the midway was all live-fire outdoor shooting galleries with different games for pistol and revolver, rifle, and shotguns loaded with buckshot for pins and slugs for heavy steel knockover plates out to a hundred yards.

I shot that match 23 or 24 years in a row, until Life went on.  Richard stopped the match, sold his sponsoring Second Chance Body Armor company, and retired. We gun folk missed that iconic match, where many friendships had been made.  I always said that if shooting matches were rock concerts, that one would have been Woodstock.  It was A Happening. It was…groovy.

What’s that you say? The ‘70s called and wants its terminology back? Maybe…but the 21st Century called and said it wanted this great old match back, too.  Richard’s son Matt Davis carried on the family tradition, creating the Armor Express brand that’s now one of the biggest in the body armor industry, and he and his dad have brought The Pin Shoot back!

It will be in its traditional location, the family vacation land of Central Lake, Michigan, near Traverse City.  Awards will be traditional, too:  guns, guns, and more guns.  Entry fee ain’t cheap, but the prize table is good, and deep.  For info on what is now known simply as The Pin Shoot. Dates are June 9-16, 2017. You don’t have to be there the whole time to shoot, and win.

For us old gunnies here (Randy and Ken, you listening?) it’ll be like a high school reunion with guns. I’ve rearranged my schedule to be there.  Hope to see some of you there, too.


  1. I never made it to Second Chance but did attend competitions hosted by the now-defunct International Pin Shooting Association and local events.

    While it’s a logistical hassle to host, Bowling Pin matches are great events!

    I have Ayoob’s “Hit The White Part” and “Pin Shooting: A Complete Guide” by Mitchell A. Ota. Both are recommended.

  2. Blast from the past! I was fortunate enough to attend four of the Second Chance events in 1980, 1981, 1982, and either 1987 or 1988.

    I ranked only middle of the pack, but had tons of fun and even took a night shooting class in 1982 taught by John Farnam and Mas, which helped me a lot several years later when I got into police work. I still remember the day Rich Davis personally banned John Shaw, in front of hundreds of people from ever attending another Second Chance event because he was disruptive and rude to the timekeepers. Those were the good old days.

  3. Ah, I remember reading all about those matches in CH when I was growing up. Very cool that it’s coming back.

  4. Good to hear from the old pin shoot vets!

    Marty, I have a query in to the sponsors on camping options and will get back to you when I hear.

    Eddie, closest my schedule will let me get to West Coast GSSF this year is Boulder City, NV. Will be shooting Sunday, if you’re there look me up.

  5. I have shot pins a few times at local ranges–great fun and harder than it looks!
    New life for the .45; 9mm just can’t move the pins as well.

  6. Sounds fun. Hmmm . . . I do notice that in the rules for Optional Events, females get 1 second off; same as for using a pump-action shotgun.

    Just found it interesting.

  7. Hey Mas- This is Mic. You and I shot together a few tables of 2-Man Team back in ’97 or ’98. Shot me an email back with your current contact number so you and I can chat. I’m thinking my son (new shooting blood) and I will be there. Maybe not for the entire week but for the opening weekend. I believe that Dave Blough and his son Greg plan to attend as well. Give me a shout. Love to hear back from you. Later- Mic

Comments are closed.