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The Heartland Public Shooting Park is nestled just a few miles off I-80 in Nebraska and was the home for the 2012 USPSA Area 3 Championship.

Local manufacturer Hornady picked a terrific match to sponsor, an excellent range, challenging stages and the remarkable performances of their own sponsored competitors. Team Hornady members Max Michel, Blake Miguez and Jessie Duff dominated the match in their respective divisions and categories.

The range also had the benefit of being within range of a solid 3G network, which allowed (almost) live coverage of the match. Video was recorded for many shooters and that video was uploaded from the range and appeared automatically on the LiveShots page at www.liveshots.net. Some competitors traveling to the match were able to watch the Friday Super Squad shoot all the stages as each video was posted before the shooter had signed their score sheet, essentially a one minute delay in the coverage.
Competitors could choose to shoot the entire match on Friday or half the match on each day of the weekend. For the Friday Super Squad completing all fourteen stages at once made for a long day in the hot sun, but with a limited number of shooters that day the organizers were able to keep an empty stage between squads so there were only a few hold-ups. Temperatures and humidity were a little kinder over the weekend though Saturday started out chilly, catching a few competitors unawares as the large number of ‘shorts and tee-shirt’ clad people shivering on the range would testify.

The stages were a combination of close fast targets, tight no-shoots and some wicked long range steel. Some of them, namely Stage Five carried with them a huge ‘disaster factor’ but more on that later.

Friday’s Super Squad started out in bed on Stage 11, with magazines and an empty gun on each of two bedside shelves, they had to grab a magazine, flip over, load the gun and engage 8 poppers through a small port, with an unusual start position this stage was more about loading fast than shooting fast, but missing that steel could be costly if additional reloads were required. There were many variations of loading, some remained prone, others stepped off the bed completely and lay back down to shoot, others just sat up to load. Having to retain the holster and magazine pouches made this an uncomfortable start position for many, but the rule was applied evenly.

Later in the match, more than one competitor would be moved from Production to Open after starting this stage with an eleven round magazine.
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The Super Squad could have used a bus to take them all the way from one end of the range to the other, some opted to catch a ride on a golf cart as the bus was the starting position for their next stage, requiring them to shoot from within at four full-size poppers about 40 yards away.

From outside it was possible to hear the hits against the brown-painted steel, but inside the bus all the competitor could hear was BANG! One of the falling forward poppers was slow and received some un-necessary hits as a result, it was not an issue for Tori Nonaka as she went one for one on the poppers and bolted down-range to engage the remaining targets that were spread out over the length of the berm.
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KC Eusebio shooting an Open Glock finished over 1.5 seconds faster than Max Michel, but some better accuracy from Max kept the damage down to a single point.

Despite some extra (un-necessary) shots on the steel, Blake Miguez owned this stage in Limited, beating out his competitors by over 2.5 seconds with some rapid shots on steel and a high speed dash down the range.

Jessie Duff had her best stage on Stage 4, ‘Triple-Tap’. Requiring three hits per target it caught out more than one competitor as they had to stop on the first couple of targets with that extra required hit.
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Jessie finished in seventh place here with a smooth run on the final double drop-turners at the end, a tight shooting box at the start required precise muzzle control as the shooter transitioned from left and right before tearing through an archway towards the back of the berm.

Production shooter Kale Garretson took this stage from Matt Hopkins with some tightly controlled shooting, dropping just 6 points, no mean feat considering the speed of the drop-turners. Ben Stoeger suffered a miss on this his worst performance of the match, bumping him down to an eighth place on this stage.
Stage 5, ‘Triple Threat’ was all about the chains; The stage was fairly straight-forward, there were five banks of three full size targets, one bank on the left and right at the far ends of the shooting area behind walls, one bank directly in front and two others hidden from view just to the left and right of center. These were mounted on diagonal sliders. The targets were revealed by pulling on the two chains, the left chain pulling up the right targets and vice-versa. The start position was in a box ahead of the shooting area holding one chain in each hand, simply back up to the shooting area holding one or both chains to engage the sliding targets. Sounds simple, right? Not so much...
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The disaster factor here was huge ! It was easier(?) to transfer one chain to the weak-hand and holding both, back into the shooting area and shoot both banks of sliding targets while keeping tension on both chains. Some decided to hold both chains and drop one after shooting one set of targets, this made it easier to move left and right, but if the wrong chain was dropped the time penalties were enormous... ask Travis Tomasie, who inadvertently dropped one of the chains and finished 66th on this stage. Max gave a master-class on how to shoot awkward targets as he pulled off eight points from Shane Coley and KC Eusebio on this diabolical stage.

For the Production shooters there was a neat way to deal with this challenge, the final target on the left side was slightly visible when the slider was at rest, Ben Stoeger capitalized on this to shoot the right-hand sliders first then scoot over to the left and engage the targets left to right engaging the last target with a single-round. After a quick reload to the far left array he could just edge out a ‘D’ hit, and engage the center targets before rushing to the right for the final array. This was a smart plan provided that the competitor started on the right-hand slider, left-handed Allie Barrett had some issues here as it was a much tougher challenge.
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They were not done with the chains; Stage 6 tied each competitor by their weak hand, it was necessary to step into the box to engage two arrays of targets with a mandatory reload thrown in for good measure. The chain was short enough that the shooter had to step back out of the box to get enough slack to perform the reload. Travis Tomasie had his only stage win here narrowly edging out Colorado shooter Jeff Morgan.

After Stage 6 was a simple exercise; Eight poppers, four on each side, two large stacked one behind another and two smaller ones stacked behind those, repeated on each side of the stage. A simple stage that nearly wrecked Blake’s match, inexplicably hitting two no-shoots he finished 66th on this stage dropping over 28 points to Manny Bragg who wiped this out in 5.4 seconds, half a second faster than Max Michel.
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Stage 9 contained another twist, the one called ‘The Swinger’ it contained an unusual mechanism for the swinging targets. A pivoting bar with a set of three targets that rotated 90 degrees left and right, it may be that the designer of this contraption had inadvertently created a perpetual motion machine; The three targets would rotate while the pendulum moved the entire mechanism in an arc, after a while the rotating targets would start to slow down, which was a good thing as they were tough to hit, but then they would speed up again, which was odd to say the least.
As the swingers had no respect for the laws of physics, so Max Michel had little respect for this stage, tearing it up to take his fifth of six stage wins and another nine points away from Shane Coley. Blake Miguez narrowly edged out Manny Bragg on this stage. Ben Stoeger would take away eight points from Matt Hopkins here on his way to a solid victory over Matthew Mink in Production Division, Nancy Huspek would take top honors in the Women’s category.

For IPSC World Champion, Blake Miguez it was another convincing victory in Limited, finishing ninety points ahead of Manny Bragg who shot on Saturday and Sunday, the top Lady and top Junior title went to Glock’s Tori Nonaka who shot the entire match on Saturday, she finished 19th overall.

For Open shooter Jessie Duff it was another victory, finishing 17th overall behind first place Max Michel, sponsored by Sig-Sauer, US Army’s Shane Coley was nearly sixty points behind and another 100 points ahead of third place KC Eusebio.

Match Directors, Sherwyn Greenfield and Chris Davies organized a tremendous Championship match that challenged every aspect of practical pistol shooting. Range Master Frank Thompson ensured that the match ran smoothly from start to finish. Undoubtably many long hours of work went into this contest and the results of that hard work were visible for all to see.

Over the course of the match, spectators from thirty countries were able to watch the action from the more than 350 LiveShots videos that were taken over four days. During the match and in the days that followed, more than 11,000 videos have been viewed. The videos are archived to the Video page a few days after the match.