2012 Southwest Ohio Gun Skills Challenge

by Joe Eaton

This bi-annual event held in Oxford, Ohio is certainly hitting its stride. The Southwest Gun Skills Challenge was started in 2008 to provide local shooters a smaller and more family-focused version of our premier shooting event, the Buckeye Blast, which is held at Tactical Defense Institute every other year in April. This year's shoot was exactly what we hoped it would be.

The unusual heat and humidity that has blanketed most of the Ohio Valley all summer passed through and gave us a picture perfect Sunday with clear blue skies, highs in the 80's and bearable humidity. The venue at Izaak Walton League of America provided space for 40 shooters and over 20 Range Safely Officers and volunteers from the local IDPA league.

The focus of this event has been to provide an opportunity for supporters to introduce others such as spouses, children and grandchildren to the shooting sports in a small and low pressure environment. More new shooters were in attendance at this year's event than any in the past.

We had several husband/wife pairs, a couple of father/son, father/daughter, father/mother/son/daughter and even two newlyweds who had planned this event before their wedding and were out enjoying the day just 6 weeks after they were married. A large majority of the attendees were from the Southwest Ohio area, but many made the drive from Columbus and Cleveland also.

The shooters started the morning learning and demonstrating basic self-defense skills by drawing from holsters, practicing one-handed and off-handed stances, learning basic flashlight and cover techniques.

Following these dry fire drills, they quickly started sending lead down range. The rest of the morning was spent honing these basics with live fire drills. The drills focused on holster draw, reloads, shooting single, doubles and multiple strings. They also started practicing shooting while moving to and from cover.

This time was well spent because most of the shooters had only experienced standard "square range" shooting and many had never worked on holster draws or cover. This was what the Gun Skills Challenge was designed to provide. A low impact, low speed next step beyond your basic gun safety or CCW class. This provides a great opportunity for others in your family who have not yet moved into true self-defense or action style shooting practice.

After another wonderful lunch provided by Cody's Kitchen in the air-conditioned clubhouse. The shooters were ready to return to the range to see what the IDPA RSO team had planned for the afternoon. The afternoon was spent working 4 different scenarios set up in the pistol bays. Each of the scenarios built on the skills shooters had practiced all morning and provided tons of action and lots of opportunity to practice.

One of the bays provided basic movement drills, consisting of forward, side to side and backwards movement. This, coupled with one-hand and off-hand stances, really worked on smoothing out these basic skills. A second stage introduced cover and barricades to the shooters. Multiple targets were engaged from behind cover and again required both one-hand, free-style and off-hand shooting to successfully use cover and effectively engage the targets.

The third and fourth stages provided even more action. Stage three was designed to simulate a deadly force encounter while in a restaurant. The attendees were required to engage the targets while sitting, then transition to a position of cover and engage additional targets mixed in with several no-shoot targets. The requirement to use all of the basic skills along with more precise shot placement made this stage very challenging.

The fourth stage was the longest and most complex. It included the most targets and the most movement. A long hallway was set up with doors along each side and a barricade at the end. The shooters were presented with multiple targets and steep angles inside of each doorway. The next set of targets were on the opposite side so no matter which hand was your strong hand, the stage required opposite-hand shooting. The final part of the stage required more precise shooting to engage the last targets without hitting the no-shoot targets.

The Southwest Gun Skills Challenge in only one of these type of events that we host around the state. Make sure you are subscribed to our weekly Free Email Newsletter to be among the first to hear of future events. Also if you know of a range that would like to help us host an event in your area, please use the contact link at the top of the website.

More photos and videos of the 2012 SW Gun Skills Challenge are available in our Gallery

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