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After four days of intense competition, the competitors enjoyed a day of rest while the range crew reset the stages for the Limited and Production Championships. Both Julie Golob and Lisa Munson were on the hunt for a back-to-back win at this years Nationals, standing in their way was the exceptional talent of Randi Rogers, Maggie Reese, Sara Dunivin, Jessie Harrison, Carina Burns and Tori Nonaka.

This part of the competition was spread over just three days which meant more stages for the shooters to get through in each session leading to some long days in the sweltering heat of Nevada.

PRODUCTION DIVISION

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Team Smith & Wesson were off to a strong start at Nationals with Julie Golob, fresh from her victory with a 625 revolver switching over to her trusty M&P in her quest for the Production title.

Julie immediately got down to business, opening up a lead on the Stage 7 speed-shoot and holding it convincingly throughout the day. A superb run on the days only field course (Stage 9) increased her lead still further. She then turned her attention to the House Stage,”Anyone There?” beating the rest of the squad by a comfortable margin. The intensity of Julie’s shooting was a marked contrast from the previous year when she was suffering from the effects of a long flight from Australia.

"Last year I was definitely jet lagged. I had also been training more for the Action Pistol World Championships in Open Division than for Production. This year though, thanks to my husband and my parents, the weeks before the nationals I was able to really focus on training." Julie Golob.

Randi Rogers suffered from a series of misfortunes on the two largest stages of the day, a slow time on Stage 9 dropped her back 13 points from Golob and a miss and no-shoot on the house stage cost her an additional 20 points. But Rogers came back a little on the bridge stage, 'Just a Swinging' to snag a single point back from the current leader. I spoke to Randi why she chose Production over Limited for this match.

"I considered shooting Limited however my teammate Tori was also shooting Limited and I have always had a warm spot in my heart for Production so I decided to stay in the category.", said Randi.
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Thirteen points back from Rogers was CZ Shooter, Sara Dunivin. After winning the 2011 Single Stack Nationals, Dunivin was clearly in contention at this match. She finished second to Julie on Stage 7 but suffered on Stages 9 and 10, dropping over thirty points to Golob.

The second day of shooting and after a grueling nine stages in the morning, the Women's Production race was between Golob and Rogers with Julie increasing her lead from 36 to 39 points. It was a rocky start for Julie with a miss on Stage 19, but a faster time and better hits reduced the damage and left both contestants finishing within one point of each other. Golob then hammered her squad-mates on Stage 20, 'Double Down' pulling another seven points from Rogers. Julie commented on the long second day;

"That was a tough day. I know my last stage of the day is always the most difficult, especially when I am tired. So many double stages on day two was mentally exhausting. I had a miss and a slow time on our last one. I was definitely glad when it was over." - Julie Golob.

A few reshoots were required on ‘Double Down’ due to a clam-shell target getting tangled in the activating wire. The problem was soon rectified by an efficient range-crew by altering the angle of the wood supports for the target.
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It was a solid day for Randi Rogers, despite some tough target arrangements the Glock shooter avoided any penalties. Although she dropped over 25 points from Julie over the first eight stages, Randi clawed back all but three of them by the end of the day. The majority coming on Stage 18, where Randi finished 19 points ahead.

I asked Randi and Julie about their match preparation.
"I had a regimen of shooting, working out and dry fire that I followed almost every single day leading up to the match. A typical day started with training 400-500 rounds with my S&W M&P9L. A brisk lunch and then a Cross-Fit workout was next on the agenda followed by another 200-300 rounds. After live fire it was dry fire stage work with the revolver for about an hour with focus on trigger control, reloads and transitions." - Julie Golob.
"I was not able to get as much range time in this year as I would have hoped. I stretched myself a little thin with some additional travel and I wasn't able to practice as much as I wanted." - Randi Rogers.
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Like Randi, Sara Dunivin also had a clean day, but some disappointing finishes pushed the CZ-USA shooter further back in third place, leaving her vulnerable to Russian shooter, Elena Bykova who had some comparable scores on the stages that Sara had shot on day one.

The last day and as the final hours of the match approached there was the sound of thunder in the distance and a few minutes later some heavy winds pounded the upper sections of the range, holding up some of the action as shooters faced into a sand-blaster. A slight rain-fall seemed to clear the air and the match resumed

Sara Dunivin shot clean to increase her lead over Elena Bykova and eventually take third place by a comfortable margin. Sara will be a last minute replacement for Tasha Hanish on the Women’s Production Team in Greece.

Julie Golob seemed immune to the pressure of holding the lead for two days, she had a clean day of shooting, hitting only three delta's on the last six stages of the match. Randi was pushing back all day as she tried valiantly to close the gap, but suffered from four misses and a no-shoot as she drove her Glock as fast as possible.

"Even if I don't get a chance to see the full results, I am always aware of where I am in the standings. I used this to my advantage for both the Revolver and Production matches. In both cases I had a solid lead. I didn't need to take any crazy risks, I just needed to shoot my game and get my hits. Some people don't like knowing where they are in the results because it's too much pressure. For me, I like knowing whether or not I need to kick it in the next gear and take risks or just shoot solid." - Julie Golob.

Things got a little wobbly for Julie on Stage 1; Running towards the right side of the stage she tried to stop but both feet threatened to slide out from under her. Barely managing to keep control she was still able to come to a graceful stop right on the line, then leaned out and low to drive her gun hard on the targets before speeding away to the next shooting position.

Julie’s consistency was leaving little room for Rogers to move up, with solid shooting Golob finished the match an impressive 71 points ahead of last years Champion giving Julie a back-to-back Nationals win. Julie’s intense training in the weeks leading up to Nationals had paid dividends…

LIMITED DIVISION

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After resetting the stages on Wednesday, the second half of the 2011 USPSA Nationals was underway. And after the first day of shooting fifteen points separated Jessie Harrison from 2011 Limited-10 champion Lisa Munson, about what a miss is worth...

Which is rather ironic as Harrison suffered from a missed plate on the swinging bridge stage. She must have thought she had hit it as she darted rapidly to the right-side of the bridge to engage the remaining targets.

Jessie was stunned to see the plate still standing and after a discussion the Range Master was summoned and a re-shoot was determined to be in order. The reason for the re-shoot was not immediately clear at the time.
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After speaking to the Range Master the next day, he indicated that the Range Officer had called for a reshoot on the grounds of Range Equipment Failure as the plate did not fall when hit. When the RM arrived at the scene the plate had already been reset and lacking any evidence to counter the RO’s decision he accepted the original call.

It was a strong day for Jessie who won four of the five stages which had started with the house stage before moving over to the bridge. But Lisa Munson was dogging Jessie's heels all afternoon never finishing more than five points behind Harrison.

With some extra rounds in her gun Tori Nonaka was shooting more aggressively than the previous match, finishing just five points behind Munson on the house stage despite tagging a no-shoot. She followed with a respectable run on the bridge then took Stage 8 from Jessie by two points, getting top score among the Super Squad and finishing only a single point behind Harrison on Stage 9, 'Round up'.
On the second day of shooting, Lisa Munson sliced and diced Jessie’s lead from fifteen to five points. Harrison was off to a strong start in the morning, increasing her lead by ten points after Lisa Munson suffered a miss on Stage 16, 'Hosing'. That victory was short lived as Jessie snagged a no-shoot on the next stage dropping all but one of those newly acquired points back to Munson.

Problems for Jessie on Stage 19 when she had some misses on the activating steel and had to make up some extra hits on the bobbing target. She ran the gun dry earlier in the stage than she had planned causing her to stop while reloading to avoid over-running the targets on the left of the stage.

Jessie’s remaining five stages were solid performances though grabbing back all but eight of the thirty points she had lost.
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Carina Burns-Randolph jumped over Tori Nonaka to take third place. Solid, consistent shooting is Carina's strength and it paid dividends on the second day. A devotee of Cross-Fit, Carina’s fitness level is unquestioned, but a long day of shooting caused some issues as she suffered from a series of uncharacteristic misses on the last three stages. Despite those minor hiccups she was able to move within forty-six points of Lisa Munson. With some big stages on the final day, the title was within reach.

The gremlins again hit Nonaka’s purple Glock causing the slide to lock back throwing Tori off her rhythm. When the gun was working she was on par with the rest of the squad, but a few too many of these malfunctions and she was forced to swap to her backup gun (something she had to do in the Limited-10 match as well). Tori would finish the day in fourth place, nineteen points back from Carina.

Day three beckoned and Lisa was within five points of victory, and Jessie knew it.

"I knew I had the lead after the first day, and going into day two. I had a few stages that I was not happy with, and knew that I had either given up my lead, or made it extremely close. Going into the third and final day, I was aware of the points separating us, and knew I had to perform my best that day." - Jessie Harrison.
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The Super Squad started on Stage 3 and Lisa Munson immediately took seven points from Jessie and jumped into a slender two point lead for the match, but Jessie just edged out Lisa on Stage 4. There was only one point in it !

Onwards to Stage 5, and disaster for Lisa Munson! Lisa explained what happened...

"I knew we were in a dead heat going into Stage 5. I have to admit I was a bit nervous about shooting this stage. This was a stage that had cost me a lot of points in the Limited 10 match. (3 misses/ 1 no-shoot...YIKES!!)  My only goal for this stage was to shoot it cleanly.  Everything started out smoothly...activator popper, drop-out target, swinger.  A reload mid-way through the stage; everything going fine...then at the last port, with 3 easy targets left to engage; the slide locks back with the rounds failing to feed to the top of the magazine. It was a death jam where the rounds were too low in the mag to feed properly, but jammed in the feed lips making the mag nearly impossible to remove. I frantically fought to remove the magazine, first by grasping the base-pad to try to wrench it loose. Then jamming my fingers down from the top to try to force it out. Finally the offending magazine came out and I was able to finish the stage.  Amazing how 12 seconds of agony feels like a lifetime." - Lisa Munson
When the clock stopped, so had Lisa's chance of victory as she dropped 38 points to Jessie Harrison. It was a cruel and brutal end to a phenomenal match performance. Lisa fought to the very end, driving hard on Stage 1 she took back seven of those points, but pushed too hard in a last frantic effort on the final stage, earning a miss and a no-shoot. It was a valiant effort and a lesser competitor might have given up after such a malfunction, but Lisa is a fighter.

Carina Burns-Randolph increased her lead on Tori Nonaka to 39 points after the short Stages 3 & 4. Then Tori kicked it up a notch, slowly eating away at the lead, she took back three points on Stage 5, took eight more on Stage 6, another eleven on Stage 1 and finally down to just five points after finishing the match on Stage 2. Both shooters were making mistakes as they pushed each other to the limits on the final day, but Carina just managed to hold her off.

For Jessie, she retains her Limited title after an exceptional day of shooting. I asked her about the final stages of the match.
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"I was so focused on cleaning the Standards, that I was not even aware of the points after those two stages. I am never happy to see a competitor suffer from equipment problems, much less when we are in the final stretch. I always want everyone to compete at their best, and that goes for their equipment too! I did not think that the match was won at that point, because I know for a fact that anything can happen! I have made come backs that I would have never thought possible, and I know Lisa doesn't give up. So, I don't consider a match won to anyone, until the last shot is fired!" - Jessie Harrison