September 23, 2010
Ruger's rimfire action competition is just the ticket to get new people involved in shooting — and get inactive shooters back in the game, for that matter.
I'm a competitor by nature. Whether it's shooting smallbore or shooting pool, throwing darts or running distance, I like to test my skills in a competitive environment. I enjoy being around like-minded people in that setting, and it doesn't matter one bit that in most sports I'm rarely if ever a threat to win and am primarily competing against myself.
I was a competitive shooter for a long time, and I can look back with pride at days when my hold was good and I was reading the wind as well as anyone on the line, and those little .22 bullets piled into the X ring at 100 yards, one after another. I learned a lot of lessons from the days when I shot poorly, too--when I didn't work hard enough or when I let the pressure get to me.
These kinds of experiences can teach us a lot about ourselves and, I think, make us better in many aspects of our lives. So when Ken Jorgensen at Ruger invited me to come up and shoot Ruger's rimfire championship at the Hogue Action Pistol Range in Morro Bay, California, a few months ago, I jumped at the chance. Never mind that I hadn't fired a round in formal competition in about two decades, had never shot the course of fire and had precious little experience with either of the guns I took. Action shooting with rimfires--in my case, an Axiom-stocked Ruger 10/22 and a Mark III pistol--sounded way too good to pass up.
I've competed in Olympic tryouts, national championships, league matches and "low man buys the beer" at the range, and I've never had more fun than I did at that match. Ruger established this discipline--modeled after matches Nelson Dymond has been running for some time at the Hogue range--as a way to attract new people to shooting. And I think it's a fantastic way to accomplish that goal. (FYI, the company's in the process of setting up a website for its rimfire matches, but in the meantime you can check out TeamRimfire.com.)
For one thing, the barriers to entry are low. All you really need are a dependable .22 rifle and handgun and some ammo. There are categories for manually operated guns and iron-sighted guns, which opens the door even wider for those who want to try their hand at shooting but don't have a fortune to spend on equipment. (And, heck, the guns don't even have to be Rugers.)
Because it's .22 rimfire, ammo is relatively inexpensive, and with the low recoil you're not going to scare away new folks. It's a speed event, but beginners can, as I did, concentrate on simply hitting all the targets. Speed can come later. And it's a supportive environment, as most shooting matches are. The people I shot with were friendly and helpful and went out of their way to make me feel welcome.
How did I fare? I finished smack dab in the middle of the pack. But I've got almost a year to get ready for next year's championship, and I plan to do better. Like I said, I'm a competitor