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Revolver shooters have always marched to the beat of a different drum, moving around field stages in convoluted paths to minimize reloads and save valuable seconds. As with last year, the Revolver Nationals followed the Single Stack Championship and with no appreciable differences in the stages it soon became apparent that valuable time could be saved with an eight-shooter.

The change in Revolver Division had divided some in the sport who saw this 'Minor' variation as a potential threat to the dominance of the traditional Major-scoring six round gun, and while a single championship may not provide a definitive answer to the question it certainly indicates a trend towards the OCHO. Of the 113 competitors that started the match, only thirty-nine competed as Major, and none of those found their way into the top twenty. If this ratio is repeated at next years Nationals then those who anticipated the demise of the six-shooter may have been remarkably prescient.
Absent this year was Jerry Miculek who was taking part in a 3-Gun match, however three of USA's World-Shoot Revolver Team were on hand to battle it out for the Championship, but standing in their way was last year's runner-up, Rob Leatham. Shooting a 625 in 2013, Leatham came within three points of snatching the lead from Miculek on the tricky standards stage but lost any chance of the title with a disastrous run on the all-steel stage that followed. Switching to an 8-shot this time around gave Robbie a little more speed and allowed him to use a similar approach to each stage as he had used during the preceding Single Stack match.

I asked Robbie about his choice of equipment this year;
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"It's a Smith & Wesson 627 .38 super. I used 9mm brass and TK custom moon clips with Hogue Tamer grips for the Smith X frame. I geared up with my Safariland ELS rig, a 5188 Holster (mounted with the USPSA Kit) and custom moon clip carrier made by John Rodriguez. I also wore my Decot Revel prescription sport glasses - yes, I'm old!" - Rob Leatham.

The first two stages had the competitor in a seated position with an unloaded gun and with 18 rounds required there was no advantage with respect to reloads, just as long as you didn't miss. Rich Wolfe took the first stage, opening up a five percent lead over David Olhasso and like last year Leatham was off to a slow start, nearly two seconds back from Wolfe and down a couple of points but he bounced back on Stage 2 while Wolfe faltered. David Olhasso took his first stage win, and the lead which he held for the next two stages.
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Onto Stage 5, a simple speed shoot requiring 2 hits on the three paper targets followed by a reload and six poppers. The array could be shot in any order though most preferred to shoot the paper before the steel. Olhasso missed a couple of shots on the poppers requiring the dreaded 'extra reload' which eats a chunk of time. Leatham excelled here, getting maximum points on the paper and drilling down the steel in under eight seconds to take the lead from Olhasso, and then from there the race was on and it was going to be a knock-down, drag-out fight between these two.

Stage 7 required a lot of lateral movement and Olhasso capitalized beating out Leatham by over two seconds as each competitor had to move all the way to either side of the stage before heading back to the middle and forward to engage the final targets. Next up were two more back-to-back stages, Matt Griffin shooting Major took the first of these with a slightly slower time but those higher scoring peripheral hits kicked in for a stage win. Leatham took the lead again on the fast steel-based Stage 9, which involved four mini-poppers, a reload and four large poppers tucked behind hardcover poppers.
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With Olhasso once again taking the lead on Stage 10, it was down to the dreaded Standards stage. This year a barricade had been added that the competitor had to shoot around. Three targets that turned for eight seconds; First string two shots per target, reload and re-engage with two more shots; Second string just two on each from the right side of the barricade and the final string to theft side. David and Rob both missed their final shot on the first string, Rob nearly slicing his target in half and worried that other shots may have passed without trace through the gaping hole that it left. But all his other hits were accounted for and David took another win, but only by four points.

Rob must have felt the match slipping from his fingers at this point. Back to back wins by Olhasso had given Rob a nine point deficit.

In 2013, Leatham lost any chance of the title with a terrible run on the all-steel Stage 12. To be in with a reasonable chance this year Robbie had to go to war on the steel to make up for the deficits to Olhasso over the past two stages, but once again Leatham faltered, having to perform an extra reload that cost valuable seconds. Olhasso performed almost perfectly on the steel and it looked like the next Champion would be from Team S&W as his lead opened up to twenty-five points.
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"I  shoot so much steel here in Arizona that when I see those targets, I start shooting at them as though I have the auto. I don't give those targets the same respect I do the paper. I drop back into auto pistol mode and shoot at them the way I would with my SS 1911, a platform I am much more comfortable and proficient with. That leads to lazy misses, which leads to makeup shots and extra reloads. This is probably the most frustrating part of my revolver shooting skill set. Something I need to work on for sure.", Leatham explained.

I asked Leatham if he thought that the match was essentially over at this point.
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"Yes.  However, as I know, it's never over 'til it's over. What I lost at that point was control, meaning Dave Olhasso would have to make a mistake to allow me back in. He had been shooting so well, so consistently that I thought it unlikely. Pressure has a way of making things happen." - Rob Leatham.

Robbie describes the final two stages;

"On the next stage, Dave bobbled and missed. I knew that if I put down a strong run, I might be able to make up for my loss on the steel stage. I was very nervous, but my years of experience allowed me to perform. Dave and I left Stage 13 with less than one point between us. The whole match now rested on the last stage. Dave shot first, had an excellent run and I knew it. All I could do now was shoot the best run possible. I didn't take a lot of chances with speed, but I did shoot closer to the no shoots than I had all day - to get the As. In the end, that paid off. My run was a couple fractions of a second quicker and a few points better. It was so close nobody knew who won." 
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We know now who won, it was Rob Leatham who joins Julie Golob as the only two people in USPSA to score a Championship title in all six of our recognized divisions.

With the first 8-shot Revolver Nationals out of the way I asked Robbie about his thoughts on the whole 6 vs 8 shot debate that will not doubt rage on for months on the internet;

"Well it certainly shows which gun the majority of shooters want to shoot when given the choice. I talked to plenty of competitors about this and most of them own both 6 Major and 8 Minor guns. Few cared that it wasn't completely a 6-shot friendly match.

While I think someone could have won with 6-Major, it was not the better choice. Funny enough, I ended up doing several standing reloads with the 8 shooter due to makeup shots that probably wouldn't have happened had I gone in with a 6 shot gun. There were several stages that had positions with more than 6 required hits, the way I chose to shoot them.  

There were  a lot of targets with no shoots and hard cover that, with minor, I shot slowly and carefully to ensure A-zone hits. With major, I would have shot much faster and aggressively and just taken a few Bs and Cs. I definitely shot for points more than I went for speed.  

One of the great things about this match series (back-to-back Single Stack and Revolver Nationals) is that it's more revolver-friendly than a combined division Nationals would be.  At most multi-division events the 6-shot revolver is typically at a huge disadvantage, but I think many revolver shooters like the challenge!" - Rob Leatham.