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The Early Days of IPSC


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Then there was the Cooper Assault. For those of you who don't remember, it involves a six-foot high wall that you have to climb over (no kidding) and a tunnel you had to crawl through and shoot from at the end. You'd holster to climb, but keep your gun out to crawl.

The big photo op back then was to be photographed vaulting over the wall, doing your re-draw in mid-air.

But this match was different: we started in a car. Again, a real, honest to god vehicle. As I recall, it was some Ford or Mercury model of the LTD II. (I drove a 1978 LTD II at the time) The start horn was some huge-ass stadium speaker that went off at 200 dB. At least that's what it seemed like, as the speaker was on the passenger seat, next to you.

Now get this: your first targets were outside the car, and you had to engage them before you opened the door or left the vehicle. As we were all wearing "real world" holsters (typically Summer Specials or other FBI cant leather) we had to dig them out of our kidneys to draw. Then try to maneuver the gun past the steering wheel (sweeping? we didn't do no sweeping!) and shoot through the open window.

Then, open the door (more potential sweeping) and exit to reload while sprinting to the wall. Me, I took it gingerly, as even then I'd known more than one cop who had an AD while trying to manage car, gun, suspect and adrenaline rush.

Ray Chapman blasts the first targets, bails out of the car, and goes for his reload at the sprint. He misses his gun, and throws the spare magazine straight up. Not missing a beat, he windmills his hand right back to his belt like a heavy metal rocker, grabs the next mag, and has it in place before he gets to the wall.

Times suffered on that stage, between people being very careful about gun handling, and others who couldn't find the *(&%&*(# door handle. If you've driven a Chevy all your life, finding the damn handle on a Ford can be tough, and vice versa.

All current ROs and stage designers, do not feel wimpy if you cringe when you read this.

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Patrick

Man I have the Greatest photo of Ross Seyfried coming out of a elevated tunnel filled with sawdust as he shot the Scramble at the 80 Nats....he is suspended at the end of the tunnel on his left arm, a cloud of sawdust all around him, feet in the air, pistol downrange with his finger out of the trigger guard, ...wearing that fine ass Milt Sparks leather with the acorns and oak leaves and that eagle buckle... don;t think he won that stage, but he got a 10 for style points...I think Tommygun Campbell won the stage...

I remember trying to find the damn door handle getting out of that LTDII...and wondering if I would AD into the inside of the passengers door getting out of the car..made it ok, but like you, felt super slow..

I also remember how approachable the Big Guys were to a nobody like me..Ross, Mickey F, Mike Dalton, Campbell, all of them...no Super Squad then, just every man working like hell to get it done...good memories..

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I also remember how approachable the Big Guys were to a nobody like me

Isn't *that* the truth.

My first "big match" was the 89 Steel Challenge at Piru. I had been shooting "action pistol" and "combat pistol" matches for a couple of years, and had heard all about the Steel Challenge. The "real" match was too expensive (something like $250 to enter), but... the week before the real match, they had the "trophy match", which was basically a re-enter-as-many-times-as-you-want format for practicing on the stages.

So, I entered this thing, found a squad that looked like they were having fun, and asked if I could join them. They said no problem, and they were *very* nice people.... great shooters, doing a lot of laughing, and even helping a stupid newbie (me) with a bunch of tips and ideas. I had a blast.

It wasn't until about two months later, when I read the article in American Handgunner, that I learned that those nice people I shot with that day were some of the top shooters on the planet, including Mike Plaxco, Chip McCormick, and our own Esteemed Host, Brian.

Bruce

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At the time of the 82 Nationals, Ross Seyfried was sponsored somehow or way by Federal. His job, as he described it: "To produce once-fired brass." I'm standing in the shade with Ross and a few others, soaking up tips and planning my future as a gun writer. Ross had just told us (someone asked) that he'd shot some 50,000 rounds in the year leading up to the match. A know-it-all shooter walks up just as Ross is asking us if we've found any way to keep the pounding of practice from tearing up the web of our hands, (his was scarred and bleeding) and this dimbulb chimes in with "Shoot more, your hand will toughen up in time."

I guess he assumed we all were shooting less than his exhalted 10,000 rounds a year, and were just being wimpy.

Conversation screeches to a halt, and we all stare at him until he walks off. We then compare ammo totals. I was low man on the totem pole, "only" having shot 22,000 rounds. (I worked at a gun shop, bought at wholesale prices, and loaded either on my own RCBS progressive or a friends Star.)

Before everyone could own a Dillon, you really had to work to get much past the 5,000 round mark.

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Man...You guys have got some great memories from past matches. We need to have a "Retro-Match", and use some of these ideas. Call it "Goin' Old Skool" er somethin' like that. What a trip it would be to have a six foot wall, and a '78 LTD as props. Maybe a jungle swing and a Humvee for good measure. Methinks it twould be fun!!!

Jeff

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Ross had just told us (someone asked) that he'd shot some 50,000 rounds in the year leading up to the match. A know-it-all shooter walks up just as Ross is asking us if we've found any way to keep the pounding of practice from tearing up the web of our hands, (his was scarred and bleeding) and this dimbulb chimes in with "Shoot more, your hand will toughen up in time."

In a Guns & Ammo article on the 1911, Ross commented on how he was complaining to Jeff Cooper about the combination of cuts, scratches, and crushed flesh in the palm of his right hand (he switched to beavertail grip safeties as soon as he knew what they were), and Cooper told him the same thing: "After you shoot for awhile, your hands will toughen up." Ross wrote, "I replied, 'Okay, I'm up to 100,000 rounds so far this year. How long does it take?' Sometimes even the Guru does not understand."

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It wasn't a real truck? Why do I remember it as a real truck? Oh well. The other stage in the photo next to the truck stage was also a blast. For those not there, the windowed wall with the brick paint pattern on it had two shooting boxes, to enforce the use of cover. The damn boxes were made with 2x4's, on edge. Getting from one box to the next was a definite trip hazard, and more than one shooter stumbled while trying to get from one side of the window (you had to shoot from both sides) to the other.

And Jeff, we are not going to go "Old School" if it means doing the lunatic, unsafe things we did back then. Cars, six-foot walls, Cooper tunnels, leave that for those who pine for the "good old days" and the ones who used to rappel down the side of the Sahara casino at SOF.

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This stuff is fun to read, but just so you know there are still places where things like this still get shot. At my clubs 3gun matches we use 2 real vechicles (a truck and a sedan) and we do start shooting from inside or around and recovering weapons form trunks and so on. The fun part is when you start shooting your 16" comped AR from the driver sit out the passager side window and you set the headliner on fire. :ph34r:

Vlad

PS: When retrieving shotguns from trunks make sure that you dont rip the sights of the gun and have to shoot 8 targets with slugs and without a front sight. Don't ask me how I learned this. :(

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Patrick

I kind of enjoyed all that lunatic stuff, like weak hand draws and reloads, shooting from inside vehicles, the Cooper tunnel...

did all that and never saw anyone get hurt except a torn knee or two during the Cooper Assault...call me retroIPSC but it was fun....but you can't do any of that stuff with a foofoo blaster and competition holster....like you could when Open guns all wore iron sights.. LOL

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I like hearing about the lunatic stuff, but I don't think I would have enjoyed climbing and non-rhino-recommended activities.

What did people do if they couldn't get over the walls, etc.? Were they just screwed, or was a penalty assessed or what?

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I've been trolling through memory lane, recalling the truly weird stuff that used to show up: My then-gunsmith, Frank Paris, used to show up at IPSC matches and bowling pin shoots with a 1911 rebarreled in .41 Avenger, a .45 ACP case necked down to take .410" bullets. Or, he'd shoot 9-pin with a MAB-15.

We shot re-entry on the club handgun matches in the old days, shooting Comp guns for score and Stock guns for fun, or vice versa. Then we added revolver re-entry. Then we went to pocket guns, and would shoot a match four or five times. The trick in shooting an IPSC stage back then with a Colt model M in .32 ACP was to find enough magazines. (I think I have eight in .380, and ten in .32) We scored the pocket guns "One A hit neutralizes" so you had to shoot each target until you got an A hit.

We quit that when we heard of a nearby club that was doing the same thing had a shooter AD and hit himself with a .25, digging it out of his pocket on the "draw." We didn't want to start an equipment race with pocket guns and holsters, and starting every stage gun in hand wasn't fun. So we quit. We also started getting too many shooters to handle the volume and still have time, energy and daylight to re-enter two ro three time.

I don't think we ever had someone show up with a Broomhandle Mauser. That would have been fun to watch.

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My intro to IPSC was from a 40 hour Class back late 80's or early 90's from Ray Chapman and Ayoob. For $400 you got about 50 hours of instruction and shooting at great range in South Central florida. We camped out on grounds for free. There was 12 in class with total of 4 instructors. Chapman and Ayoob were their with us all day, and most nights went to dinner with all us and told war stories.

Chapman showed us what could be done with a 45. One day he put ballons on heads of 7 IPSC targets drove back to 100 yards and popped them all with one shot each.

The class final was a thriller. They had a big club house. You know the type. Lots of big couches, and fireplace, side rooms, showers, kitchen etc. They closed all the shutters so it was dark inside. strapped a pulse monitor onto our chest and gave us a cap pistol and said the scenario is you come home and find your house broken into and your going to try and clear it yourself. Could be one or more bad guys. Ayoob wore a read vest and acted as a coach as you entered the building. We recorded our pulse at rest, right before we entered and several times during.

What we didn't know proved will kill you. I entered and found the first guy and was in the process of disarming him. You know kneel down hands behind head ....

Next thing I know chapman had been hiding behind a moving screen the whole time. Steps out behind me and fires two blanks into my back! You could feel the heat and the blast and later you could see the powder burns on your shirt. Then they asked what your pulse rate was!

They asked you not to reveal what happen to your classmates. They managed to kill us all!

That sold me on IPSC I went home put my Colt Python away and started building my first IPSC 45. Then even poised for pictures with us.

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One of my fondest memories of the early years is from 1982 and the first year of the Texas Challenge it was an IPSC match helod at the Hill Country Pistol Club in Austin, and put on by Art Eatman...the difference was it was to be a team shoot, four men to the team and a revolving trophy given to the team who won it..

At the time, Chippie McCormick and Jeff Wassom paired with Ronin Coleman and another shooter (who's name escapes me) figured to be the team to beat, followed by the team captained by John Dixon...But the sun don't shine on the same dogs butt everyday...and our little team with 4 relatively unknown shootersbeat them all...Tom Jester, Cliff Fisher, Fred Gibson and yours truly ....took home the gold..just goes to show you, you don't have to win the whole thing to win the trophy; Chip did indeed win HOA followed closely by Dixon, Larry Raymond was third, I finished 4th, Fred was 6th, Cliff 7th and Tom 9th...

While winning it was super, I am still friends with those three guys today, 23 yrs later...that is the best of what shooting is about for me...good memories and great friends.

That match and those three guys figured in some other exciting stories, like the Hold Up at Hamilton Pool, and the Great Trophy Heist, but those are for another time... ;)

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What about if someone, oh, I dunno who, just ran through the wall and left one of those cartoon-physics holes shaped like their body as they went through it? Procedural?

No way! Range Equipment Failure. If you're gonna build a wall, better make it strong --- cause you might have a Rhino signing up.... :lol:

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What about if someone, oh, I dunno who, just ran through the wall and left one of those cartoon-physics holes shaped like their body as they went through it?  Procedural?

No way! Range Equipment Failure. If you're gonna build a wall, better make it strong --- cause you might have a Rhino signing up.... :lol:

Yeah, what Nik said. You really expect us to be gentle with props? Puhlease!

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When we finally had our own range, and could invest in props we could leave on the range (If we'd left anything behind at the previous place, the local cops would have confiscated/abused it) we found we had a problem. Today, we'd call it the "Rhino rule." Back then, it was the "Bruce Rule." Any prop had to be strong enough that if Bruce had to engage it, it would survive. Steps had to be made of 4x4s, doors and barricades were heavy. (Ever see a barricade made with 4x4s as the box, 2x4s as the verticals, and marine plywood as the skin? It takes two men to move one.)

Doors? We tried doors, but they never lasted. We simply made doorways. Nobody made people-shaped holes through our old props.

How big is Bruce? He takes Ithaca Mag 10s and rebuilds them into eight and ten-shot IPSC shotguns. The recoil doesn't bother him. The only guy I ever saw bigger (Big Al Kulovitz is taller) was Bob Rosenburger. Bob is 6'6" or 6'8", something like that, and looks like Andre the Giant's little brother. (but handsomer.)

One day at Second Chance (slight digression) I'm shooting on a 3-man team with Bruce and Bob. (At 6'4" and 195, I looked like a skinny Junior High School kid.) They were shooting shotguns and I was shooting a .45. Between tables Bob looks at me and says "That thing is awfully loud." That convinced me to ease back from my then-current 215PF loads using a really slow-burning powder.

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Today, we'd call it the "Rhino rule." Back then, it was the "Bruce Rule." Any prop had to be strong enough that if Bruce had to engage it, it would survive.

It's my understanding that my Kentucky buddies now build props to accomodate and withstand moi for big matches. At the 2003 Kentucky State Match, they rebuilt the operating room table to hold me. At the 2004 Area 5, they made sure the seatbelt on one stage was long enough for me to use just like everyone else.

I think it's very cool that they show that much concern for me specifically and I am very grateful. The side benefit is that if it will handle me, then it's likely to handle just about anyone.

I'm not sure what "they" might have done in the old days. I suspect LTC Cooper would have slapped me for being in his field of vision!

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