Story by Patrick CaughranCompletely and insanely awesome is the only description for this year’s MGM Ironman competition. There were 10 different squads and 10 separate stages, which meant that there was not a moment during the day when three or four guns weren’t going off in rapid succession. With the stages incredible, the shooters even better, and the sand’s temperature reaching 127 degrees, there wasn’t anyone who didn’t have an extremely good, although very hot, shooting experience.
Challenges this year were the same as previous years, but some were slightly different. For instance, instead of having to haul a 150-pound dummy over to and on top of a 5-foot shooting platform, this year the competitors were given three options: a 100-pound, taped-up sack for a 60-second bonus; two steel targets weighing in around 60 pounds and tied together for a 30-second bonus; and the final option – for those who considered a slim 10-second bonus worthwhile – a baby doll placed in a cart with a pink Hello Kitty parasol. The doll and umbrella had to be taken to the next stage, but there was a catch: the shooter had to skip (yes, you read that right: to add insult to injury, they had to skip) to the platform. A few big and strong shooters calculated this to be the best option and swallowed their pride.
To the relief of some, but disappointment of most extreme enthusiasts, the zip-line shooting stage, featured last year, was not in this year’s event. However, the highly anticipated slide and golf-cart stages were.
Most competitors were young to middle-aged men, although there were a few women, many of whom shot with distinction, and even some junior shooters from 14 years old and upward.
The trooper class, which is undoubtedly the toughest because each shooter has to carry every single item they will need during the entire course, attracted all types and sizes. They were often seen carrying large and overflowing backpacks as well as several long guns slung and/or carried in soft cases. Many found themselves exhausted, but all stood victoriously at the end with a satisfied grin. This group included Wyatt Gibson who was the first junior to ever win the Trooper class and did it using his open-division USPSA pistol for the entire run, instead of a carbine like most competitors, and Jessica Brown, the first female to ever complete this class. Most will be back again next year, eager for whatever challenge the organizers at MGM will have for them.
After the competition, a benefit auction was held to aid a little boy named Urijah, who is the four-year-old son of a long-time MGM Ironman supporter, and who is battling cancer. Many high-quality products were donated, and competitors bid and gave generously. Following the auction, everyone gathered around the prize table and as always, there were a lot of incredible awards, to include complete rifles from Seekins Precision and other high-priced items.
Although some things were different, the competition as a whole was just as rugged as always, and the stages just as fast-paced as ever. The atmosphere was competitive and fun, but surprisingly more relaxed than one might expect. I will definitely be back to shoot each and every year they keep running this tremendously exhilarating event. ASJ
Editor’s note: Patrick Caughran is the owner of Pocket gillie Ponchos. You can visit them at PocketGhilliePonchos.com