The final day of the MGM 3 Gun was supposed to be a shorter day than the previous two, with John’s squad scheduled to shoot only their remaining three stages. It ended up being surprisingly long, but some interesting things went on.
The gentlemen of John’s squad were excited to shoot Stage 5, as it included a machine gun and a lot of running. Stage 6 had even more running, as well as the job of having to carry a 90-lb dummy through part of it. Much huffing and puffing ensued. The squad broke for lunch before its final stage, and just as well, since there was quite a delay getting into Stage 7 – a “secret stage.”
Let me tell you: the MGM 3-Gun folks were serious about that secret stage. The entrance to the stage was cordoned off and you were not allowed to enter the area until it was your turn to shoot. There was a big sign proclaiming the penalties for unauthorized entry into the stage, not the least of which was receiving a DQ (or disqualification) for the match. It was also a long stage – I’m guessing that, between the actual running of the stage and the setup for the next shooter, it was probably 15-20 minutes between shooters. The previous squad was still on the stage when we assembled after lunch, so we had to wait.
By that time I’d read two and a half books and looked at all the birds on the range, so I was getting fairly bored. I amused myself by annoying a colony of antlions, or as they are more familiarly called, doodlebugs:
Unfortunately the dog had no collar and apparently no owner on premises, so there was no way to control it. Back it went into the stage, and this time the shooting continued. I was standing on high ground with some of the other members of John’s squad, and at one point we were able to see John popping up to shoot at distant targets. The whole time the dog was running in and out of the line of fire. Apparently it was hunting the ground squirrel population, and it even caught one and ran around merrily with the carcass dangling from its mouth for a while. Eventually it ran off into a nearby field, and everyone heaved a sigh of relief.
All during this episode, the skies had been turning dark and forbidding, and the wind picked up considerably, bringing with it an absolutely indescribable stench. One of the other shooters informed me that a cattle feedlot was upwind of the range. It was so bad that the nearby port-a-potty smelled good by comparison. John’s squad was fortunate in that they were waiting under cover, but most of the nearby squads were not so fortunate. When the downpour began, some of the shooters at other stages retreated beneath the stage sun screen, but those were rapidly uprooted by the wind and had to be collapsed down.
Was the shooting postponed while the storm came through, you may ask? The answer is NO. The shooting went on apace. Even the zip line stage, which we could see from our shelter, was still running. Apparently the rule at the MGM 3-Gun is: “If it starts to rain, keep shooting. If it starts to rain hard, shoot faster.”
After about twenty minutes the rain let up, and by 5 PM John’s squad and most of the other squads had completed their final stage. Estimates were that it would take roughly an hour to an hour and a half for the last shooters to finish up and for the scores to be compiled, so John and I went back to the hotel, had a shower, changed clothes and returned to the range. We were anticipating going out for a nice dinner after the awards ceremony.
Well, of course, things ran late. In fact, they ran REALLY late. It was close to 7 PM before the awards in John’s class were announced, and right away it was apparent that there had been some kind of scoring error. John and all the other shooters in his class converged on the scoring table to sort things out, and I retreated to the car as it was starting to rain yet again. I read for a while, shook the Idaho dust out of the car floormats, fidgeted and got hungrier and hungrier. At about 9 PM John arrived back at the car, plenty steamed. He’d ended up finishing tenth in his class, which was good. The bad part was that the organizers of the event hadn’t made the class wait until the scoring was corrected before starting the prize tent – which meant that lower-scoring shooters than John had been allowed into the tent before him and made off with the good prizes. (Here’s how a prize tent works: vendors who sponsor the match donate products – guns, gun parts, gun bags, gun supplies and gift certificates, etc. – which are put on display on tables in the prize tent. Shooters enter the tent in the order in which they finished the match, first to last, and have just a few minutes to choose a prize and then leave the tent, after which many of them depart the match.)
In addition, the top ten finishers in John’s class had received plaques, but because of the scoring snafu, someone else got the plaque John should have received. To add insult to injury, it was so late by the time we left the match that all the local restaurants had stopped serving, so our “nice dinner” ended up being at a nearby Denny’s. Much to my surprise, however, they served liquor, so at least we were able to have a drink to celebrate the end of the MGM 3-Gun. John and his buddies are eager to attend next year’s match – so in spite of the scoring issues, I guess they had fun all the same.