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Grand Island, Nebraska saw some impressive lightening displays on 1st August. After the match officials and a few other competitors had shot all fourteen stages, the area was subject to some horrendous rainfall that left parts of the range a muddy mess. For the most part the shooting areas were relatively unscathed, and some readily available wood chips (carefully prepared for this eventuality) were liberally scattered around to soak up the excess water. As the clouds slowly cleared away the ground dried out rapidly and the Hornady Area 3 Championship was soon underway.

This was my first Area 3 as a competitor having visited the competition last year to provide some video and photographic coverage of the event. I left in 2012 wishing I had shot the imaginative stages and so this year it was on my calendar of ‘must do’ events. The trick was going to be balancing my shooting with the live video coverage, fortunately a quick e-mail to Matt Pitel and I was shifted to an already full squad so there would be enough shooters to make up for my lack of stage resetting as I videotaped my way around the match.
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Squad 23 was great bunch of people of varying skills levels, Dave Sevigny showed us all how it should be done on every stage while the rest of us mere mortals struggled just to keep up. Dave was joined by wife Brooke along with USPSA FrontSight and GunUp magazine editor, Shelley Rae and Caleb Giddings of GunNuts Media.

After polishing off our first two speed shoots we ended up in ‘Open Country’, otherwise known as Stage 7 it ably demonstrated that old adage that ‘No good deed goes un-punished’. After Brooke had completed her run on this wide open stage, she and Dave noticed that the RO had failed to record an impenetrable hit on a no-shoot, the score was corrected giving Brooke a miss/no-shoot combination. A lack of white pasters meant that the range crew had to temporarily cover the hole with some brown tape instead, they first confirmed with the squad that this would be ok. As Dave shot the stage, he hit the same no-shoot in the exact same place, unable to call the hit because it was neatly in the middle of the brown patch, he did not make up the shot. Both Dave and Brooke left this stage down twenty points.
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J Thomas Howard would spend the entire weekend folding t-shirts which were the bane of more than one competitor on a complex memory stage called ‘Don’t lose your shirt’. There were three shirts on a table, the shirts had to be in the competitor’s possession or in one of three baskets attached to the wall, if a shirt fell to the floor there was a procedural error for EVERY SHOT FIRED. Alex Gutt found this out the hard way. Despite being clearly described in the written stage briefing, Alex threw one shirt to the ground near the final shooting position, then placed the remaining two in the their respective baskets as he shot the stage.

All the while, ‘Chief shirt folder, J Thomas Howard’ was counting out the procedural errors before the third shirt was snatched off the ground. Alex zero’ed the stage with 240 penalty points.

Throwing a shirt over one shoulder was problematic as well, moving across the stage on a windy day could blow the shirt to the ground without the competitor being aware of it. The ‘safest’ bet was to bite down on one of them and deposit the other two before shooting, which honestly is just a little gross.
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Get Down, a simple stage with four poppers and four full paper targets, hit the steel over the barrier, drop down to a prone or some crunched up position to shoot the four paper targets. After nailing the steel Sevigny dropped to a prone position, fired three shots on the first two targets and then the magazine fell out, after grabbing it off the dirt he reloaded, racked the slide and finished the stage at least four seconds off the pace and down over 26 points over Manny Bragg.

Remember those twenty points that Dave lost on Stage 7 when he hit a brown piece of tape on that no-shoot? Well, those twenty points and the forced magazine change on ‘Get Down’ cost him the match!

Blake Miguez won the Limited match after completing all but one of the stages on Saturday, unfortunately the stage that he skipped was the chronograph which required that his scores be nullified leaving Manny Bragg to take the title, ahead of Sevigny.

After shooting stage 14 the squad walked, drove or hitched a ride down to Stage 1, the long range stage which had two starting positions, one at the foot of some stairs to a raised platform and other outside an enclosed room, the two connected by a narrow shooting area. A second shooting area was about 43 yards down-range where six full size targets could be seen... barely, on a clear day. With the ground a little slippery from the previous nights rainfall and some of the squad having indulged in the ‘Pig in a Bag’ food wagon, most opted to shoot the six targets from the two rear positions and save that heart-attack inducing run for another day.

But not Shelley Rae, she fled downrange like a frightened ‘wabbit’ pursued by a bald-headed midget with a shotgun and a speech impediment; After blasting the first two targets she sprinted over to the final four but had to double-back to retrieve her last magazine which had fallen in the mud, after wiping off the worst of it she jammed it into her M&P Pro and finished the stage with a bit of grass sticking out of the ejection port. That kind of gunk would jam up most custom Open and Limited guns.

Dave stayed back and fired three extra shots at the long range targets and won this stage in Limited dropping just 22 points. The following day Tori Nonaka also shot from the same place, though she lost some time with a poor stance from the raised platform, each shot rocking her back on her heels and eating up valuable fractions of a second, despite this she dropped only eleven points and did not require any additional shots... This girl can shoot!
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For the Production Super Squad the plan was a simple one... Run! With a few exceptions everyone charged down the range giving yet more exercise to the range crew as they tore after each competitor. With the lower scoring peripheral hits it made more sense to shoot from closer range rather than risk a slew of dropped points. Matthew Mink and Matt Hopkins elected to stay back and both paid the price with numerous misses.

Cody McKenna scored the fastest time but Ben Stoeger’s accuracy with his new Tanfoglio scored another stage win.
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One of the most devilish devices awaited on Stage 3, Tori was up first and paid for it by failing to engage one of the targets from the top of a sloping wall. Despite some horizontal planks to stand on this was a tricky stage to negotiate, even more so for the capacity restricted divisions as there were seven targets to be shot through the narrow opening at the top. The start involved leaping gracefully (or not so gracefully) over a bar then grabbing all the required magazines from one barrel then loading the gun that had been placed further downrange on a second barrel, a smattering of shoot targets and poppers had to be engaged left to right before scrabbling up the ramp and trying to shoot the remaining targets. It was necessary to move from one side to another to see everything and more than one competitor slid down the ramp as they lost their footing. Brandon Dubois snagged a reshoot not for kicking the RO as he maneuvered into position, but for a prematurely pasted target.

Nonaka was joined on her squad by Matt Pitel, Lisa Munson and Debbie Keehart. Lisa had spent the off-season undertaking a rigorous fitness regime that had cut 15 pounds of her petite frame and she looked incredibly fit, declaring with conviction that she was ‘in the best shape of her life’. This would come in handy after Stage 9. A staple of Area 3 matches this three-shot comstock stage had two swingers and two drop turners, everything could be shot from the back but it was faster to charge downrange and shot the activated targets from a small shooting box. As Lisa approached the box she rolled her ankle and after completing the stage she had to be carried off the berm. She would spend the rest of the match with an ice pack on her leg and hopping around the two remaining stages. Despite this handicap, Lisa still took High Lady in Open Division.

Shane Coley’s nine stage wins opened up a 150 point victory over Nick Neel but it was not without issues, a fumbled reload on the Stage 5 speed shoot dropped him down to 14th and a malfunction on Stage 8 required him to swap out his gun after checking first with the Match Director, everything seemed to run smoothly after that hiccup as he blasted his way to nine stage wins.

Shane’s win was not the biggest margin of the match, that honor went to Ben Stoeger who trumped the Production competitors with a 186 point win over Matthew Mink after shooting a clean match. Allie Barrett took High Lady ahead of Kita Stoeger.
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Four top-ten finishes earned Nonaka the High Lady award in Limited with a comfortable margin over Debbie Keehart who narrowly edged out Brooke Sevigny.

Over the course of the competition over 270 videos were recorded, tagged and immediately uploaded to the LiveShots web-site where they have been watched by viewers in over thirty countries.