2011 NW Multi-Gun, Albany, OR
I went to Portland from July 7-11 for the 2012 NW Multigun Championship. The match was only July 9-10, so let me tell you about the rest of my trip before I go into the match. It is no secret that the Portland area is full of folks in and around the firearms industry. Leatherman, Danner, Gerber, Crimson Trace, Leupold, Warne Scope Mounts, Al Mar Knives, Benchmade, and a bunch of other folks, I’m probably leaving a number of folks out, but these are the ones who come readily to mind.
I was able to start my trip by stopping in at Warne Scope Mounts where I was able to spend some time seeing where the magic happens with Warne. The Warne facility features a number of CNC machines all of which are producing some of the highest quality scope rings and one piece mounts around. I’m always interested to see how a company sets up its manufacturing processes. Ultimately, it’s assembling a good group of people to make those machines run as efficiently as possible that makes a company work. While at Warne, I was able to visit with Dave Wilcox, the VP of Operations. Dave showed me some of the projects they’ve been working on, both their own bases as well as some of the work they do for some other folks. This is a common practice with companies who have made a significant investment with their equipment, they’re only making money when they’re building product. I was also able to spend some time talking with Charlie Lake, the President of Warne. Charlie and his crew are passionate about making a quality product which will exceed customer expectations.
From there, Dave and I headed over to Leupold where we had lunch with Tim O’Connor, Law Enforcement Sales Manager and Pat Mundy, Marketing Communications Manager. It’s fun to talk with these guys who live and breathe rifle scopes and optics. After lunch Tim took me on a tour of the Leupold facility. That was awesome! For a gun guy like me, to see how they make the scopes we lust after at the gun counter was very cool. It really made me appreciate what goes in to a rifle scope and how thoroughly they test each one. I was able to see one of the machines that simulates recoil, at one time there was a Leupold scope that survived 650,000 simulated shots through a .375 H&H Magnum recoil impulse. I think they’ll hold up to anything I can throw at them. I’m currently shooting one of the new MK 8 tactical scopes and I’m loving it. Seeing how scopes are made brought to mind the transmission in your car. When you’re transmission is working, you don’t think about it. When something goes wrong and you get a quote for $2500, you think about it. It’s tough to take, until you see all of the parts and pieces which make up your transmission, then it’s a little easier to cough up the dough to fix it. It’s the same way with scopes, they seem expensive, until you’re on that hunt where you drew the “once in a lifetime” tag, or you’ve spent thousands of dollars to Alaska or Africa and your scope craps out. You’ll wish you’d have spent a little more on your glass and mount.
That night I met up with Travis Gibson of MGM Targets who was also shooting the 3 gun match. The next morning we visited with Cameron Grantham at Benchmade who gave us the tour of their growing facility. I have a Benchmade automatic (I can have it in Utah) knife which I received as a gift in 2004. It always works and opens just as strongly as it did when I got it. I was hoping to get a new edge put on it while I was there, it’s opened too many UPS deliveries and wasn’t as sharp as it had once been. Cameron showed us the R&D offices where we were able to see a 3D printer at work. The designers would work on their computers and when they needed a prototype, they would print it out on their 3D printer and within an hour or so, they’d have a 3D prototype. It was pretty amazing how they were able to check on every aspect of the design without having to change up tooling and disrupt production. We were also able to visit the customer service department where one of their technicians put a new edge on my 8 year old knife, it’s as good as new. Fortunately for Benchmade, gun guys and knife guys both like having more than one knife. Otherwise, one Benchmade would last someone a lifetime!
On to the match, which was held at the Albany Rifle and Pistol Club in Albany, Oregon. It has been the site of a number of area and national level pistol and 3-gun matches over the years. Doug Hartley and Scott Hawkins are both veteran 3-gun shooters and know how to set up a match. That said, they had a great crew of range officers and helpers, funny how good folks attract good folks!
There were 10 well designed stages, but the one I want to share was #2. Iain Harrison, Top Shot Season 1 winner, is now working for Crimson Trace in Wilsonville, Oregon. Iain is the Media Relations Manager for Crimson Trace and drew on his extensive construction background to frame up a dark house. In that dark house every shooter was able to wear a helmet mounted night vision device provided by Pete Lesbo, owner of I2 Technologies& Systems Integration. Short barreled rifles were provided by Next Generation Arms and their VP of operations Don Scheer. Crimson Trace provided their vertical foregrips with an infrared laser which could only be seen when wearing the PVS14 NVG’s. Between that dark house and the Texas pig hunt I’ve been with thermal imager mounted on my rifle, there no doubt in my mind why American soldiers own the night. Anyhow, this was probably everyone’s favorite stage of the match. Think about it…SBR’s, night vision, infrared lasers and other people’s ammo, thank you Hornady, what’s not to love about it?! Range Officer Earl Jull, one of the best RO’s out there, ran every shooter through the dark house. Every one of them came out wanting to do it again!
Overall, the match went very well. It was a great opportunity for a bunch of like minded folks to get together and shoot, alot! Thanks to Doug Hartley and Scott Hawkins for organizing this year’s match and gathering a group of volunteer range officers to help us have some fun.
If you haven’t tried 3 gun yet, what’s holding you back? Get out to the range and shoot what you’ve got. Find your local clubs and see when and where, 3 gunners are known for being friendly and willing to share what they know with newcomers.
That’s it for now, I’m getting ready to head to the Rockcastle Shooting Center in Park City, KY for the Shooting Industry Masters. This is probably the 2nd largest gathering of folks from the firearms industry every year, next to the SHOT Show. The difference is, at the Shooting Industry Masters, people are actually out talking the talk and walking the walk! Everyone shoots, from the highest level executives to the sales managers, to the folks who only leave the office once a year! Check out YouTube in a couple of weeks, you’ll see. Take care, safe shooting!