Return Of The Pin Men!

Practical, professional plinking for a plentitude of prizes

Shooting “pre-honeymoon” in 2-Person, Gail Pepin reminds Mas why he lives in fear of her. The event encourages “family” teams!

In 1975, Richard Davis invited three dozen friends for an impromptu shoot. A few gun writers, including our own now-retired J.D. Jones, wrote it up and the rest was gun culture history. For a taste of that history, go here:

The match evolved, turning into a family-oriented event drawing hundreds of competitors. I had the pleasure of shooting it every year until 1998, when it faded into history. It faded, but didn’t disappear. In 2017 it was reinvigorated. Formerly known as The Second Chance Shoot, it was now The Pin Shoot. Evolution had occurred.

The simple wooden tables with five bowling pins of the mid-’70s have transmogrified into much more challenging three-tiered steel tables with “hostage pins” mixed into the array. Knock over a hostage, and a time penalty is added to your score. Fastest time wins, time starting from the blank gunshot signaling “Fire” to when your last pin hits the ground, as timed by a trio of range officers with stopwatches.

There are carbine and shotgun events (both slug and buck, no less) and even a submachine gun side event. But this magazine is American Handgunner and the handguns are really the core of the match, so we’ll focus there.

The targets are tenpins because they’re reactive and, when you think about it, anatomically correct. The bowling pin shape of the “K-zone” on the old FBI target was seen as encompassing the “vital areas.” Hold a bowling pin with its bottom level with your solar plexus, and you’ll see it widens to the width of a human heart at its fattest spot, and its neck is about level with the cervical spine. A hit anywhere on the pin would, on a man, pretty much solve your anti-personnel problems.

On the pin, though, you want more like within an inch of center, because an edge hit can spin it sideways, not only knocking over one of those hostage/penalty pins, but requiring more time-consuming shots to get the target pin the rest of the way off the table, as far as three feet back. That latter matter is why you want powerful ammo. You can enter as many of the following events as you want.

Tim Crosno sends pins flying with X-Frame S&W on The Big Push. The pins have to be pushed back 14 feet and only the big guns work.

Long-time shooter Vance Schmid shows his winning form on five-pin sets. It’s a “Hurry up but take your time” match.

Main Events

Stock Gun is the core concept, an auto a cop might carry on the street, or a hunter in the woods. Iron sights, no recoil compensators or muzzle weights (though porting is allowed). The 1911 .45 has historically ruled here, though the 10mm is popular and the Christiansen brothers have turned in some great scores with Guncrafter 1911’s chambered for .50 GI. In the past, ace six-gunners have won, like Addison Clark with S&W Model 29 .44 Magnums and the legendary Jerry Miculek with Model 27 .357’s. It was at the original Second Chance matches that Jerry first shot his way to fame. This year, veteran champ Vance Schmid won Stock with the Hybrid-ported Colt Government .45 he carried on duty before he retired.

Pin Gun is the above, still with iron sights but with muzzle weights, comps, and extra-heavy revolver barrels allowed. Felipe Campos won in 2018 with a quarter century old 1911 .45 comp gun built by Ned Christiansen.

Space Gun means Pin Gun rules but optics allowed. Richard Hupp won Space Gun with a revolver in 2018, an 8-shot S&W .357 topped with a C-More sight. Of course, you can shoot your Pin Gun in the Space Gun category, and for that matter, your Stock Gun in both Pin and Space. In all three events, you’re limited to eight rounds in the handgun at any given time, and always facing an array of five “shoot” pins.

Concealed Carry debuted in 2017, limited to barrels no longer than 3.5″ and only six rounds allowed in the gun. Kim Heath-Chudwin won in ’17 with her Colt Officers .45 auto, and Jess Christiansen in ’18 with a 2.5″ S&W 686 revolver and heavy .357 handloads.

This is the target array for the 9X12 event. Tipping a blue “hostage” pin adds penalty time to your score.

Side Events

9×12 is a concession to 9mm pistols and it’s the one event where the “shoot” pins only need to be tipped over, not blasted completely off the tables. You’ll face a dozen of them, intermingled with the dreaded “hostage” pins. We see an array of GLOCKs and other striker-fired “nines,” but sweet-triggered double-stack 1911 designs in that caliber do seem to have an edge. Greg Blough took top honors here last time with a 9mm STI Custom and a blazing 5.5-second run. This is also the only event with no capacity limit — some shooters vied with 33-round GLOCK mags, full up.

8-Pin Revolver is just like it sounds. Mandatory reload and no more than six rounds in the gun, which is why the S&W .45 ACP revolver with full moon clips is the unquestioned choice. Barney Niner took it last time with a Model 625 S&W.

Team matches are done two-person with iron-sight handguns, and three-person with two shotguns and one shooter anchoring with an iron-sight handgun. Dan Hauserman used a stock-lookin’ Caspian 1911 .45 as he, Levi and Dakota with shotguns, captured a Hauserman family three-gun victory in 2018.

The Big Push is another recent development. Only three pins and no hostage targets in the way, but they have to be blasted all the way back down a 14-foot alley. Even .44 Magnums need not apply, unless you’re willing to take time for multiple shots. The .454 Casull seems to be the power floor if you hope to do it with three shots, and .460 and .500 Magnum seem to be the winning hardware. Richard Hupp took it last time with a long-barreled S&W X-Frame .500, running 500-gr. handloads at 1,200 fps.

Mas’ 2018 battery: Springfield Range Officer for daily carry and spare; Plaxco-omped Springfield for Pin and Space;
TGO-II for Stock and ParaOrdnance DA Companion for Concealed Carry, all in .45 ACP with HST +P 230-gr. The match isn’t equipment intensive and a single-stockgun works fine.

Mas’ 2018 battery: Springfield Range Officer for daily carry and spare; Plaxco-omped Springfield for Pin and Space; TGO-II for Stock and ParaOrdnance DA Companion for Concealed Carry, all in .45 ACP with HST +P 230-gr. The match isn’t equipment intensive and a single-stockgun works fine.

Here’s just one of the prize tables laden with guns and other goodies.

In the Bleachers

Founder and head honcho Rich Davis, with his famously wild sense of humor, engages the audience with Trivia Quiz. Answer the question correctly and win a ticket for a pre-owned Mercedes-Benz for an end-of-match drawing. Pin-shooting is very visual and endlessly entertaining for spectators who are into guns. For family members who aren’t, the shoot is held in the vacationland of Central Lake, Michigan where relatives and companions can be swimming or boating while you’re competing.

The camaraderie is awesome, and listening to the old heads talking guns is amazingly instructive. In 2017, folks were hanging around a picnic table at the pavilion listening to S&W guru Denny Reichard talking revolvers with Colt Python maven Jerry Moran. It was worth the price of admission by itself.

Speaking of which, entry fee will be reduced to $200 for 2019, even less with early bird sign-ups. Admission includes free lunch every day and other incentives you’ll find on the website. Rich is reinstating the old Master Blaster rank, segregating the perennial winners among their own kind and gives new shooters more of a chance to win the dozens and dozens of guns awarded as prizes at week’s end. The 2019 event is schedule for the second Friday of June through the third Friday.

Some have called it the most fun they can have with their pants on. Having attended annually since 1976, I’ve always said if shooting matches were rock concerts, this one would be Woodstock. Hope to see you there!

For more info: Pin Shoot,, Ph: (231) 350-0135

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