2014 Brownell’s Rockcastle ProAm – Thunder Valley
Part of our journey through the Midwest led us to Park City, KY to the Rockcastle Shooting Center and Resort. Two weekends ago was the much publicized ProAm 3 Gun match hosted at the shooting center and sponsored by Brownell’s. This was my first “really big deal” 3Gun match I have shot. Just about any and every pro shooter was present. I think there were almost 500 competitors between the pros and amateurs. Yes, this was a huge match. To accommodate that number the squads had appointed times to show up at the stages. The pros were given 8 stages and the amateurs were given 7. The prize tables for both were rather impressive. What I loved about the Am awards ceremony was that other than the winners, the prize table was given away randomly. Charles shot in this group and was the number 30th draw out of the hat and he picked up a Hornady bullet sorter. We actually can use this! This match was a last minute event we decided to go to and I was fortunate enough to have Hear Pro and Center Mass Marketing sponsor my spot on a pro squad. I had traveled east from Seattle for the last 4 weeks with 2 sets of Palma and 3gun gear. I had 9 firearms at all times with me! This made checking in and out of hotels a bit cumbersome. I certainly was not going to leave all of that in the car at night so I had to hall it back and forth each day. The rest of the time I prayed no one broke in and stole the ammo and the Bourbon Trail purchases inside. At this point I think the bourbon hall was worth three times as much as all of the ammo.
I was honored to meet Nick Noble, one of the owners of the Rockcastle resort and Larry Weeks the PR Manager of Brownell’s. There were of course over a dozen more sponsors and several had set up vendor booths in the parking lot. Unfortunately on the last evening of the event some moron broke in to a couple of the booths and stole some items. I know this was not any person or competitor related to the match. This had to be an outsider. But overall it was a minor issue and the entire weekend and match was a success. I was randomly assigned to a squad and could not have asked for a better one, squad 17. I was the only gal and I appreciate the guys for being so awesome. There was some great talent and I love watching better competitors. I have my one main complaint of the match that no one could have possibly fixed and that was the weather. I complained a lot and this is old news but the humidity almost killed this NW girl. I realize I am a wimp. I drank about 3 gallons of water a day and never went to the bathroom. Those gallons had sweated out of me. Even when I work out I don’t sweat that much! It was dripping of off of my nose just standing there! Ok, griping is done. This match you definitely needed a car to get around. The stages were grouped a few miles apart. I had packed my shooting buggy across the country for no reason. Now I know for next time. The resort has a golf course as well and one of the stages was set up there. It was the perfect use for all of that lovely space. I wish we would have been able to get a room at the resort rather in the town next door. It seemed to be a 3 day party and it would have been nice to just hang out in the common areas with everyone and not have to drive each day.
The match was challenging for me. Besides handgun struggles, I am still trying to figure out the “gaming” of this game. There was a 100 second par time for each stage. So any match I go to I need to understand ahead of time what the best strategy is to get points. Do you engage and not worry about hitting some targets so that you don’t time out? Some matches you must do your best to clean regardless of time. I learned that for this match in some cases just engage targets and move on. Do not time out. But I did. Twice. I did this on the first and the last stages. The last stage was the infamous, yes I mean infamous, Stage 7 (the power lines) on Sunday morning. I had my strategy in my head of how to approach it. I even dreamt about it the night before. What did I do? I changed my mind at the last second and ran the stage differently. Serious rookie mistake and it showed. Just stupid. Even if my original plan would not have been the best one at least I had it down in my head. To change it last minute costs you missed targets and confusion It was a disaster. Stick to your strategy and follow through. My rifle and shot gun skills were fine. I now know that I want the cool new “load-two” caddy system. I witnessed several people that bought them the first day of the match. Within half an hour they were loading twice as fast as before. I will be selling my current caddys on Brian Enos and buy the new system. Now for my pistol skills….
I could not hit the broad side of a barn with my Tanfoglio 40cal. At first I thought my sights were off. Of course, blame it on the gun. But nope, I was off. I had never shot that gun that horribly before. I am on the hunt for a 9mm something now. I can shoot my Sphinx compact like a house on fire. Although not a competition gun, I used it a match recently for fun and could not miss. And I was fast. Perhaps the single/double action makes me aware of my trigger control better? Sphinx has a Standard coming to the States but it was supposed to be here in June and now they say October. Which really means next year. I think my Tanfo will be on Brian Enos as well. Loved that pistol but it is time to make a change.
The stage designs for the ProAm were challenging yet fun. As I had mentioned earlier, the Amateurs had similar stages as the Pro squads but with fewer targets in the same 100 seconds. There were some decent rifle target distances from 100 – 400 yards. There were several cars to shoot within or on. There was quite a bit of down time between stages, we are talking hours, so the match had several side fun shooting activities. From a belt fed machine gun to sporting clays and a dark cave shoot there was enough to pass the time if you wanted. If you are not familiar with the Rockcastle resort, it is part of the Mammoth Cave sites. There are miles and miles of underground caves to explore. It is pretty amazing.
I was one of the lucky millions who got called out to the ALS Ice Water Challenge during the match. I made the mistake of mentioning it to a couple squad mates and they felt it was their duty to help me out. I was standing in the dinner line with them and they noticed that the Italian Gun Grease booth had two very large coolers of ice water. Steve from IGG kindly allowed the ice cold water to be sacrificed for a good cause. How kind. Along with Steve they doused me over the head with the extra icey cold water. Being that it was 95 degrees I did not mind too much. But then I was just soaked and hot again and never dried off because of the humidity. You can’t win back there. But I think Steve actually got more water on himself than I did. Sorry bud. Thanks to the rest of you in the dinner line for being patient and possibly wet down as well.
I was able to spend more time with some of the great women in the shooting industry. I was happy to see Lanny and Tracey Barnes (the Olympic twins) present and spent a while talking with them while we waited for awards. Lisa Marie Judy and Britney Starr kept me well entertained. Lisa is putting on the Brownell’s Ladies ProAm in late October which also happens to be my birthday weekend. That will be great fun. Kind of like a “Chick Weekend With Guns”. I had intense conversations with “Princess Di” Liedorff Muller and Tes Salb in the restaurant about the shooting industry, sponsorship, women in the industry and where the future is for PR etc. I think we may have been close to solving the world’s problems. Congrats to Dianna for taking 2nd Lady and of course to Lena Miculek for first place. Next season I will improve tons and hope to give you ladies some competition! Thank you again to the Noble family, Brownell’s and all of the sponsors that allowed for such a huge prize table. Of course to my sponsors also! Thank you to all of the RO’s. That heat was crazy and to have to stand and follow shooters in that all day must have been really unpleasant. I hope to make it next year to this event but I think it crosses over the World Palma Championship at Camp Perry. I even put my name on the list for a room at the Lodge just in case.