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What Is The Squirrel Incident All About?


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I'm pretty hazy on this but to the best of my recollection there was a stage at one of the Nationals (a LONG while back) that required the shooter to carry a replica squirrel for some part of the stage. I think Jerry actually had an AD here.

After the match Jerry was invited to put all the rounds he wanted to into the squirrel prop.

I think thats the story anyway.


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That's pretty much the story I heard, except everyone got to shoot the squirrel. It was brought up at a local charity shoot here in San Angelo a couple of years back when we had the "couch from hell." We were going to allow shooters to shoot the couch squirrel-style.


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Even if I'm not from USA, I read a report on this DQ on American Handgunner:

at USPSA 1997 Nats (at least if my alzheimer does't iterfere) there was a stage where the shooter was required to "rescue" a wooden squirrel and carry it on for the whole stage.

Looks like the Burner, while drawing the gun, bumped the squirrel on the gun's back and big, loud bang was heard when it was not expected to be.

Nyle Leatham reports that Jerry, showing his best sportsmanlike behaviour, told the RO: "well, alas, I knew sooner or later it had to happen!".

He then appealed (see transcriptions) on the grounds the AD was in a safe direction (i.e. berm), but appeal was rejected.

In the end, at the shoot-offs, the squirrel was nailed and blindfolded to be executed by all the competitors that were bothered by it in that stage (guess who was in first place).

BTW, this DQ costed the Burner a well-deserved place in the U.S. Open team at World Shoot XII in Philippine, where his score would have skyrocketed the U.S. open team on the highest step of the podium, instead of the Philippino Team.

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  • 6 months later...

You won't see many stages like this ever again. What happened can't be excused, but there were a lot of contributing factors. I won't dispute either his appeal or how it was turned down. The whole situation was unique & unfamiliar.

First off, the stage was a race between Jerry and Todd - just like every other stage at the match. Both guys quickly figured out the fastest way to get the first shooting position done & on to the next position. Since course designers chose to have the first array (and last array) "pop up" and down, pause, and pop up again, what you have is a stage where groups of shooters are pigeon-holed into neat separate hit factor groups. Those who nail the array the first time it appears, those who wait for the second, those who wait for the third...

Not exactly DVC. Being a little bit better shooter does NOT give you a little bit better hit factor. [swinging no-shoots - same thing]

Jerry & Todd both decide to NOT tuck the heavy rabbit away at first - not enough time to shoot the first array in the first pop-up. They both decide to grab the rabbit & fire the shots stronghand only. Need to draw and fire SHO in about a second, AND do something with that rabbit.

The course designers didn't consider that competitors can "try out" the prop, where to put it, how to hold it, etc - but were NOT able to practice handling the (heavy, stupid, ridiculous) prop and their gun at the same time.

Todd's run went without incident. Jerry's had a problem. He grabbed the rabbit off of the "Temple of Doom" weight-sensing platform with his left hand, while presenting the gun out with his right hand. Targets were rising up. He was about .10 or .15sec from firing the first shot. For Jerry & many other GM shooters this means he's already prepping the trigger.

At that moment, the bottom of his 170mm mag struck the top of the rabbit. BANG. He immediately set down the rabbit, looked at the RO, and started to unload his gun. His failure, if any, was a failure to visualize how far down his mag would extend, while doing the walk-thru.

This is the same guy who had a shoot-off won when a competitor's gun malfunctioned. He said "I don't want to win this way" and requested a do-over. They shot the last run again & Jerry still won.

This is the same guy who shot an Alpha-Mike (deflected by a wood fence prop) on the stage I RO'd at a Florida Open match. He looked at the fence, looked at the target, looked at the distance he shot the target from (far) and signed his score card. Then he thanked me & the CRO for doing our job well. He didn't ask for an overlay, didn't ask to pull the target, didn't make us call the Range Master. No special treatment given or asked for. Wish I could say the same about every champion shooter I've shot with or watched in person.

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  • 1 year later...

I remember that one. I saw it on an EARLY American Shooter back in the day when it was on TNN (before it was sold to MTV and became SpikeTV). I didn't remember who it was about but I DO remember watching them all shoot the mess out of that prop lol

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I remember that one :) "Hell, I was there...."

I shot the video of the DQ..... Video was produced by Action Shooters TV out of Miami, not Lenny :)

The squirrel was plastic, IIRC, and filled with something heavy - sand, I think, or maybe concrete?? It weighed several pounds. Seems like it was some kind of lawun ornament kind of thing. Not a very fun prop - and, in the end, the stage was a DQ waiting to happen, due to the way you had to approach the squirrel and get ahold of it. I had to shoot that stage first - not a fun way to start your first Nationals....

From the perspective of my video - it appears that the muzzle is almost pointed at his left hand during the discharge, but it apparently wasn't as close as it looks on the video.

I saw more than one shooter have "issues" with the squirrel - for instance, on the video, Frank Cruz ends up dropping the thing after attempting a reload (with it held between his legs!) and has to fumble around to regain the squirrel and continue on. Originally, it was supposed to be a filled pail of some sort (thus the stage name "Temple of the Holy Pail".

So, I'd take that as a lesson in what *not* to use for stage props..... :P

Incidentally, I made an utter and complete ass out of myself on the IPSC email list following that event. If I ever have the pleasure of meeting Jerry, I will be cooking and eating a large black bird in front of him.... :wacko:


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  • 19 years later...

Strangly enough, this topic is more or less coming around again in a review of a proposed stage.  I was there at the time.  I saw Jerry's run.  (Arnie Christenson was the CRO.)  Yep, it was ugly.  Jerry appealed and lost the appeal as previously stated.  (I still think he should have prevailed ...)  Jerry packed up and went home, as I recall.  He did not participate in the firing squad.


The squirrel was a plastic, life-size ornament filled with pea gravel.  The top 16 men plus the top 8 ladies formed a firing squad and, on signal, executed the blind-folded, cigarette smoking squirrel.  After about the first second the squirrel and his pea-gravel guts essentially exploded in a cloud of smoke!


FWIW, my youngest boy had a novel approach to handling the squirrel on hs run ... He grabbed the squirrel's tail in his teeth and proceded to shoot the entire stage that way.  Silly teenager!

Edited by Schutzenmeister
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