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Stock cars are built to rigid standards that level the playing field between teams and drivers, no car has a measurable advantage over the others. Parts can be customized within reason to bring the vehicle closer to the individual requirements of the driver, but there is little difference between them. After the fine-tuning has completed, driver and machine must engage in testing and practice regimes for the driver to become attuned to the car and best exploit its potential;

The sport of Stock Car racing and the Single Stack Division of USPSA carry a lot of similarities, with essentially the same guns and ancillary equipment the race is between the shooters themselves, who is the faster, the more accurate, the more prepared and focused to win ?

"Everyone shoots the same thing, and no one has an equipment advantage." - Nils Jonasson
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At the 2012 USPSA Single Stack Nationals in PASA Park, that answer was Nils Jonasson. Shooting essentially the same pistol as last year, it has seen the addition of some 10-8 grips, a 10-8 long, wide slide-stop along with a longer trigger. His gun was built by Matt McLearn on a Caspian Frame & Slide, .40 Schuemann Barrel and SP Techwell. Nils runs with Wilson 10mm magazines.

Electing to shoot on the Thursday was a fortuitous decision for Nils, the weather was the best of the competition with light clouds for much of the day, the temperature was around 77F with 74% humidity. With a lighter squad roster their match was completed around 2pm.

I asked Nils what he thought of the Single Stack Nationals.

"The match was what it has always been, an accuracy intensive, low round count match with very little movement. I wish standards wasn't the largest stage and that they had a higher round count, but the stages were difficult with hard shots and no room for mistakes." - Nils Jonasson
The standards this year counted for 120 points with USPSA President Phil Strader coming out on top with 109 points after getting a reshoot. The heat and humidity were taking their toll on the pasters causing them to fall off the targets. Strader’s score proving that working 12 hours a day is no detriment to his shooting ability, Mike Seeklander finished a further two points behind while Nils dropped 25 points on this stage.

The entire match was one of solid consistency for Jonasson, while racking up only one stage win on Stage 13, the others were all top seven finishes or higher except for Stages 5 and 9 where he finished 20th and 17th respectively. I asked Nils about his match preparation this year;

"What helped most this year was knowing I was going to shoot. My main sponsor 10-8 Performance covered all expenses and made sure I had all the equipment I needed. I shot primarily single stack between Western states single stack championships and SS Nationals except for a couple of major 3Gun match's in which I shot my M2i 9mm Limited gun. I also upgraded my shooting rig. Blade-Tech a great new sponsor, set me up with 1911 mag pouches and holster.

This year I didn't have nearly the amount of ammunition I would like, I probably shot less than 1000 rounds in practice. In fact the week before Nationals I was in Texas shooting the Larue Tactical Multigun, and I knew I was out of .40 and wouldn't have time to load any, so 10-8 ordered 1000 rounds of Atlanta Arms & Ammo black box long .40, Danny Wisner had it shipped to my door in time to zero and chrono, it's very accurate ammo.
" - Nils Jonasson

After finishing his match, Nils would have to wait two full days to find out if his performance was enough to beat Dave Sevigny, Rob Leatham, Max Michel et al.
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Day two of the match and the weather had turned much colder and it was not long before the rain started to fall. Bags were placed on the targets and the shooting slowed to a crawl as they had to be lifted to apply pasters and shooters had to strip out of wet weather gear before they got to the line. Shrugging off the inclement weather, Julie Golob seemed to take Mother Nature in her stride and remained focused throughout the day to record some impressive scores. Golob was shooting as aggressively as she was at the 2011 Handgun Nationals in Las Vegas; Driving her 9mm Smith & Wesson through some very tight shots and twisting course designs she raised the bar too high for her fellow squad-mates, last years champion, Sara Dunivin and Canadian Doni Spencer the latter making a welcome return to a US Nationals.
Also shooting on Friday were Max Michel shooting a 1911 Sig Sauer and Top Shot competitor Blake Miguez. Just before lunch the bags were pulled from the targets and the weather began to warm up but the rain delays had taken their toll as the weary competitors did not complete their match until nearly 5pm, three hours longer than the previous day.
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For the Super Squad the sun came out; A welcome change from last year when the temperatures dropped 30 degrees, but you can have too much of a good thing. As the final day of shooting progressed the mercury climbed higher and higher, topping out at 86F with 59% humidity.

For Dave Sevigny it was an opportunity to repeat his historic win from last year, and an opportunity for Rob Leatham to stop him. Without hindrance from knee braces, Leatham was on fire posting some impressive runs which by lunch-time had opened up a 12 point lead over Sevigny.

Lisa Munson and TD Roe were on the same squad battling to match Julie Golob’s stellar performance from the previous day. Noticeably absent this year was Kippi Leatham who is taking a (hopefully short) break from competitive shooting, it was not the same without her on the Super Squad and she was sorely missed.
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Starting on the final stage of the competition (Stage 14) the squad moved up the hill and by midday they had completed nearly two-thirds of the stages. The atmosphere among the contestants was relaxed, witty remarks, laughter and gentle ribbing were the order of the day, but as each competitor headed to the line the ‘focus’ was switched on and the growing audience was treated to some remarkable shooting ability.

I asked Dave Sevigny whether shooting on the Super Squad was an advantage or not.

"That depends on the individual. I do think with the parity we have now, anyone with the skills to win a National Championship should battle in the same conditions with the other contenders be it weather, increased pressure situations, officiating by the RO's, and internal policing. I'm sure USPSA has covered this topic before. For them a Super Squad helps with media coverage and knowing where the race stands at a given point especially in a multi-day format." - Dave Sevigny

After a lunch in the welcome air-conditioned comfort of the main hall the shooters trudged back into the heat and humidity to finish up the match. Starting with stages 9 and 10 the latter requiring a extra makeup shot on a popper from Leatham as he backed up from a port, the squad was soon on their way back down the hill to the Standards.

By this point it was a three way race between Leatham, Nils and Sevigny. We don’t know for sure who was winning at this point because of what happened on Stage 12.
‘Cigar Bar II’, was a 23-round steel stage that required the shooter to engage the targets through pipes that pivoted left and right. The shooter had to rotate the pipes in order to see all the targets from each of the three positions, an act that required the shooter to put their arms inside the pipe so they could move it while shooting.

Sevigny had to reshoot this stage as a plate from the fixed Texas Star failed to fall when hit, his second run at the end of the squad was flawless. So was Leatham’s run, that is until the second port; After engaging the first set of steel from port one, Leatham turned and performed a reload before engaging the targets through the second port, as he left the second port he started his reload, and the gun caught the edge of the pipe sending it cart-wheeling through the air.

Everything seemed to stop.

The gun hit the ground and there was a collective gasp from the onlookers. It was scary to watch but for Rob Leatham it must have been agony, he backed away from the gun and turned away, his match over. The Range Officer cleared the gun and the man who was on his way to reclaiming his title was instead disqualified. As the squad moved over to the final stage, the casual banter that had existed between the shooters was no longer evident. Rob sat off to one side as the squad prepared for their final stage. A few, like Todd Jarrett came over to offer their condolences but it is hard to know what to say in a situation like this. For the record, Rob took the incident like a true sportsman, there was no argument, no yelling or cursing just quiet resignation.

For the match it was now between Dave Sevigny and Nils Jonasson, I asked Dave about his match preparation this year.

"Everything from static short courses to dynamic drills. 75% of targets had some form of hard cover or no shoot obstruction and usually at least one piece of steel in the drills. Range time was six Single Stack practice sessions, one area match, two club matches, approximately 4000 rounds total in .45 ACP.", Dave replied.
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Todd Jarrett pushed hard on the final stage finishing less than a third of a point behind Nils Jonasson on Stage 13 as he tried to narrow the gap and give himself a shot at the title. Sevigny dropped eight points to Nils on this stage leaving a final fourteen point deficit between the 2011 winner and the new Single Stack Champion, Nils Jonasson.