ARFCOM Rockcastle Pro Am 3 Gun Championship
Honeoye Falls, NY –(Ammoland.com)- Rockcastle Shooting Center, the nation’s premier shooting competition site hosted the AR15.com/Rockcastle Pro Am 3 Gun Championship August 26-28, 2011 in Park City, Kentucky.
Brownells, Sinclair and PoliceStore.com along with Hornady teamed up with AR15.com as title sponsors of the biggest match in 3 Gun history.
Accomplishing the goal of taking the popular 3 Gun format to the next level, the AR15.com/Rockcastle Pro Am exceeded all expectations.
The pro course was fun and challenging and the amateur course was nothing less. When combined with first time competitors, it was probably some of the most fun shooting they’d ever done! I know every amateur shooter I spoke to said they’re looking forward to competing on a regular basis now. Mission accomplished.
Let me start off by saying that no matter where you hold an event, it is the people that make it successful. I can tell you that you’d be hard-pressed to put together a better team than the folks that worked on planning and executing this event.
A HUGE thanks goes out to Joe DeBergalis, Jeff Cramblit, Nick and Nate Noble, Linda Chico, and everyone else that put in countless hours leading up to the event. Most people do not see the magnitude of effort involved in making sure everything runs smoothly, but when an event of this size is executed flawlessly, you can bet that it’s not by chance.
In addition, no less gratitude to all that worked the event from the lodging, registration, scoring, range officers, and water and cold towel teams (yes- not only did they make sure everyone had access to COLD water at all times, but they even brought you cold towels to cool off during the stages!). First class all the way.
Next to the incredible team, the Rockcastle Shooting Center itself was one of the key elements to making this event the success that it was.
It is the newest entity of the Park Mammoth property comprised of approximately 2000 acres. The Shooting Center offers sporting clays, rifle ranges from 50 out to 1,000 yards and beyond, multiple pistol ranges and two 20-target 3-D Archery courses set across picturesque and diverse terrain. They even have a permanent cowboy action shooting town complete with five old western facade stages.
It was also home for most of the attendees. This meant that you could wake up and have breakfast (either at the buffet in the restaurant or grab a couple of wraps from the LaRue BBQ trailer), go shoot your stages, come back and shower, visit the vendors, have dinner, attend the awards, and stay up late drinking with everyone all without leaving the event site!
The main building provided check-in, registration, bar and restaurant, scoring, and posted results each day.
We arrived a day early and got a chance to go and scout the various stages. Spread out over the rolling Kentucky hills, the various stages were grouped together for the most part so both the amateur and pro versions of each stage were in the same general area. Many of the stages were very similar between the amateur/pro, with the pro stages typically having a few more targets perhaps at longer distances.
They varied from open long range rifle shots taken through a barricade to walking through the woods where targets were hidden throughout the trees to shooting both from in and around cars. I will say there were quite a few cars on the course!
The organizers did a great job not only setting up each stage to be different, fun, and challenging, but also scheduling everyone so that you never had to rush or wait for a stage. You also had the opportunity between stages to shoot a side match, watch others shoot, grab a bite to eat, or plan your next strategy.
Amateur Stage 5: long range targets are engaged from underneath orange ports, then transition to handgun to finish off the close targets.
In addition to the course of fire for competitors, there were a number of “side matches”; these were opportunities to shoot both for fun, and to compete. Awards were given to top performers in these side matches, but all of them were worth it regardless.
These stages were available to spectators as well as competitors, and firearms as well as ammo and any needed gear were provided at each by the sponsors. Here is a sampling of what was available:
Spikes/CMMG Machinegun Shoot
Both of these sponsors brought a variety of machineguns that folks were allowed to shoot. Everything from .22LR to 300BLK full-auto suppressed was available, and I know those that shot here had a blast.
Benelli offered a chance to shoot prototypes of their new (coming soon) 3-Gun shotgun. Shooting a combination of steel and clay presented a difficult scenario that required not only quick shooting, but quick reloading. Benelli recorded and streamed this stage live, and it is amazing to watch some of the shooters perform this at speed.
LaRue 1000yd Range
LaRue set up on a long range with targets at various distances out to 1000yds. This was an opportunity to shoot both .223 as well as .308 versions of LaRue’s rifles.
Spotting for the long targets was provided by none other than Dakota Meyer, a Kentucky farm boy who just this past Thursday received the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award, from President Obama at the White House. If you do not know who Dakota is, then I recommend reading up. Not only was it an honor to be there with him, but I watched him repeatedly hit the targets at 1000yds offhand with a semi auto rifle.
Crimson Trace Cave Shoot
Perhaps the most unique side match of the day was the Crimson Trace Cave Shoot. Leaving the 95 degree sun, you head into a dark but cool hole in the ground. About a hundred yards in is the start. Participants choose a handgun equipped with a Crimson Trace white light/laser combo, and then proceed through a narrow cave engaging multiple targets.
The first time through you realize this is probably the only time you’ll ever get to do this, so that drives multiple runs through this stage. I know we ran through it a couple of times one day, and then went through again on our way to the airport early the next morning. You just don’t get to shoot in caves often enough.
LaRue at their 1000yd range. They provided all the rifles, ammo, and assistance.
If the amazing stages weren’t enough, and the side matches still left you wanting more, rest assured things don’t end there…
Seven individual Pro Clinics sponsored by NSSF, were conducted for amateurs by top 3-Gun competitors. Jumpstarting and demystifying the entry into 3-Gun competition, the pros offered shooting tips, equipment selection and overall advice. Nothing like spending quality time with some of the best shooters in the world.
A number of vendors set up shop around the dinner/awards area so that after a day of shooting, you could browse their merchandise, upgrade your guns, or fix something that might have broken during the day. I think it’s a great resource to have these vendors on site, and I may have bought an item or two that I didn’t know I needed.
Each night, dinner was provided right on site. These were catered meals with plenty of good food for everyone. CMMG sponsored the first night’s meal, and you got to love a vendor who’s not only making the cool products you want, but willing to feed you as well!
Speaking of which, LaRue brought his BBQ trailer and I got to say it was one of the highlights of the event. Early morning through late evening, you could walk up to this trailer, order a couple of authentic dead-center of Texas brisket wraps, put your choice of condiments on it, grab a bag of chips and a cold drink and have yourself a great meal. And did I mention it’s always free?
Not only did Mark LaRue feed the attendees, but he personally delivered food to ROs and other staff working the show throughout the day. Once again folks- these are the types of businesses that support our community, and we couldn’t be luckier. A big thanks to Mark and his crew who cooked all day and night to make sure no one went hungry on their watch.
One of the highlights of any event is the LaRue BBQ- brisket and sausage wraps, chips and drinks free all weekend long.
This event would not have been possible without the support of many in our industry. Special thanks for all those that put the event together, but also to those that supported it with the funds and products to make it a great success.
These include but are not limited to Brownells, Sinclair, and PoliceStore.com as well as Hornady. These folks not only helped make the event a reality, but they were there in person which in my humble opinion is worth at least as much as if not more than the dollars they contributed. So a big thanks to Pete and Frank Brownell, Steve Hornady, and the many other companies and representatives that donated their time, products and money to the event.
Keep these companies in mind when you make your next purchases, as these are examples of companies that are in this business because they’re like you and me. They love our sport, support our rights, and put their money and time back into it.
An example of the way this event combined advertising with course design.
On the flip side, I hope that all those that sponsored this event feel they got their money’s worth. The event staff did an incredible job making sure sponsors were listed on shirts, signs put up, and in many cases these companies were part of the course itself.
These sponsors not only made the event possible, but they helped put together the largest prize table ever in the history of 3-Gun Competitions. I kid you not when I say there was table upon table of prizes laid out as far as the eye could see. No picture can do justice to the number of prizes, and each prize was not a single item, but a package of many items. And this was just the amateur prizes! The pros had their own version of this the next day!
Each competitor got a prize package worth at the very least, the amount of their entry fee. While our hope was to make sure everyone felt they got their money’s worth, a side effect is that other events are going to pale in comparison. Thanks again to all of our sponsors for making this happen. In addition, this event raised funds for a number of organizations.
One company that I want to make sure I single out is the NRA. For years they have taken the punches as many accuse them of not supporting “our” guns, not standing up for black rifles, and whatever other accusations people have made.
While I do believe that a few years ago they may not have been as “black rifle outspoken” as many of us may have wanted, I think things have changed drastically and their support for this event is just one example.
The NRA was a strong partner in this 3-Gun shoot, and that included their donation of the shooter bags given to all attendees. They contributed prizes to the prize table, set up and ran a mini-3gun course for kids and spectators shooting .22LR, and had a strong presence by staff including several Board of Directors in attendance.
Whatever misconceptions you may have about the NRA, get over them and make sure that we all support those who work to protect our Second Amendment Rights. The NRA has never been more outwardly pro-black rifle than it is today, and that’s a reflection of it’s members driving it. Make sure you support the NRA, and encourage all your family and friends to do the same, and together we will make sure “our” rights are protected.
Overall, I cannot say enough thanks to all for making this event the success that it was. To the organizers, staff, sponsors, attendees and everyone else that made it a reality, I offer my sincerest gratitude. Not simply for making it run smoothly and safely, but for the long term effect that it will have.
I think we have created a format that will more actively involve shooters in the years to come. I think it will encourage those that attended to continue to shoot. Those that did not attend to make sure they don’t miss the next one. Sponsors to be more intimately involved with their customers at events such as this. The media to continue to put these events on television so more and more people can be educated about these “scary” guns, get used to seeing them, and draw a bunch of them out to shoot.
So a heartfelt thanks to everyone for the 2011 AR15.com Rockcastle Pro Am 3 Gun Championship, and looking forward to seeing everyone at the next one!
AR15.Com originated in 1996 as a mailing list for firearm enthusiasts. As the years passed and interest grew, a website came into existence to present those same enthusiasts with a means to collect, share, and explore information. Shortly afterwards, a bulletin board was added to create a more interactive experience for the growing list of users. The site was still in it’s infancy, but was growing in popularity. Visit: www.ar15.com