I traveled to the 2014 USPSA Handgun Nationals alone and stayed in the match hotel, the Holiday Inn Express. I was assigned a roommate, a really nice guy from Idaho. He was very health conscience. He brought a juicer / blender, food, and ate most of his meals in the room. I admired and respected that. However, that created one challenge for me, we never hooked up to go out for dinner in the evenings. So I had to eat alone unless I could find someone to hook up with. I came up with a creative solution. I sat in the lounge of the hotel wearing a hat or shirt identifying me as a part of the shooting event. Our shooting sport is mostly a very friendly crowd and inevitably someone would come into the lounge, see me and ask, “what’s going on”? I would respond with, “I just sitting here waiting for someone to invite me out to dinner”. I never ate alone, unless I wanted to. I made new friends and experienced some new eateries.
First shoots for the main match started at 7:45 on Thursday and the match ended around 5:30 on Sunday afternoon. As RO’s we arrived at our stage around 7:15 to hang new paper targets and be sure everything was ready for the first squad. I was assigned to Stage #25, which was a fast 16 round stage. We shared the bay with Stage #24, another short fast stage. There was a specific system we used to run shooters through two stages in one bay. Read about it in an upcoming blog post.
Six squads came through our stage each morning, and another six in the afternoon. It was fun watching the many different shooters come through and shoot our stage. Most notably, some of the best shooters in our sport. There are so many, I wouldn’t do justice to them all by just naming a few. I will mention by name three shooters who are already impressive at a young age. Justine and Jalise Williams (ages 10 and 11) and Ayden Parsons (age 12). All very safe, capable, and professional shooters.
The days were long, and it was work. But, it was rewarding. I enjoy the shooting sports, giving back, and I consider it fun. Plus, it does have it’s perks. I shot the match for free, my hotel, travel, and some food was paid for, I attended a staff appreciation dinner where we all received a special gift (a pocket knife and a handgun case with the 2014 Handgun Nationals logo on them). And, in addition to all that I gained experience and met some new friends.
When you have the opportunity to work a National level event, I suggest you do so. You’re sure to enjoy yourself, meet new friends, and give back to the sport.