USPSA Handgun Nationals


Shooting USA – USPSA Handgun Nationals  

It’s the fastest of the run-and-gun handgun sports when the top shooters in the country compete with “race guns” and every possible enhancement to help win.  Plus, there’s a zombie invasion in Nebraska that can only be handled by the competitors at Pandemic in the Heartland, hosted by Hornady. And wounded veterans honor wounded veterans at HAVA Family Range Day near Fort Campbell in Kentucky.

USPSA Open Handgun Nationals

35-01-1Of the five divisions in United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) competition, the Open Division is home to the top race guns based on the original 1911 design, but the pistols are enhanced with nearly unlimited modifications, compensators, red dot optics, and high capacity double-stack magazines. The guns aren’t “practical”, they’re “race guns” designed for every advantage for the best shooters in the country to compete for the championship title.

35-01-2“We’ve got a little bit of everything for the people who want to shoot it, but it is difficult,” says USPSA President Phil Strader. “It is a technically difficult match and I think a lot of people are going to be challenged by it.”

Competitors must complete 21 courses of fire at the Universal Shooting Academy in Florida that are scored on accuracy and speed. Shooters are challenged with 20-yard moving targets, obscure start positions, and hidden paper targets, which can catch competitors off guard.

35-01-3“There are some penalty targets out there, so you actually have to lead the target that you are shooting at, which means you are aiming right at the edge of the penalty target, which is pretty scary for guys who don’t like to shoot penalty targets,” says Shannon Smith.

The competition is the fastest and most intense of all the run-and-gun shooting sports.


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History’s Guns - French Chassepot

35-01-6In 1867, France adopted an infantry rifle called the Fusil Modele, though it was often referred to as the Chassepot, giving credit to the rifle’s inventor Antoine Alfonse Chassepot.  The bolt-action, breechloading rifle fires a self-contained cartridge touched off by a needle, which was similar to the German Dreyse needle gun, but more effective.



35-01-5“The Chassepot was a much lighter, handier arm,” says Firearms Historian Garry James.  “It fired a much more effective cartridge. It was more accurate, had a greater range, and it was just basically a simpler, better gun.”

The Chassepot was one step closer to a modern, self-contained cartridge rifle. Not the future, but a development on the way that now makes it one of History’s Guns.


Hornady’s Pandemic in the Heartland

35-01-12Since the zombie-theme trend infected the gun industry several years ago, Hornady Manufacturing has continued to host the Pandemic in the Heartland multi-gun competition. Engineers who typically work in Hornady’s Grand Island, Nebraska factory, create an action-packed match that attracts industry executives, including Smith & Wesson CEO James Debney, top competitors, such as Jerry Miculek, and even newcomers who want to give the sport a shot. 

35-01-11“This is a try-it-for-the-first-time, run what you ‘brung’ match,” says Hornady Manufacturing Vice President Jason Hornady. “We don’t care if you’re shooting a pump action and a single stack 45. Just try it and get involved. Come have a good time. Check it out. It’s a lot of fun.”

It is, and we’ll show you how much fun, at Hornady’s annual match.

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Colt Defender Series

35-01-15coltFor those who like the reliability and grip of a 1911 but prefer something smaller, the Colt Defender Compact 1911 may be a practical carry choice. The pistol is available in either 9 millimeter or .45 ACP, but both are designed with a three-inch bull barrel, include Novak contour sights, and have the Hogue one-piece wrap-around grips.

“Now one trade-off should you choose the Defender as your carry gun, even though it says lightweight, in 9 millimeter the Defender weighs in at one pound, 15 ounces fully-loaded, but for those who want the peace of mind that comes with a big bore 1911, well the Defender has that in spades,” says Shooting USA Producer John Scoutten.

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Les Baer Monolith Stinger

35-01-16Les Baer Custom’s new 1911 combines features from two of the best-selling models, the Monolith and the Stinger, into the GT Monolith Stinger. It’s fitted with the officer-size grip frame and extended dust cover and matching Comanche slide that adds muzzle weight to reduce recoil. It’s finished in either blue or hard chrome. The GT Monolith Stinger is a compact, intended for carry, with seven rounds of .45 ACP in the magazine, or eight rounds of .38 Super.

“For a compact, it handles great, and it’s finished with all the custom touches of a hand-fitted, hand-built custom,” says Shooting USA Executive Producer Jim Scoutten.

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HAVA Family Range Day

35-01-7For nearly a decade, an organization created by the firearms industry has been supporting disabled Veterans with hunting and shooting events around the country. It’s called Honored American Veterans Afield (HAVA), and former Blackhawk Pilot Trevor Baucom, who first benefited from the organization, now hosts a Family Range Day to return the favor.




“I get to pay it back a little bit. I’ve gotten so much out of the shooting community since this happened to me. It’s given me something else to do and it’s done a lot for me,” says Baucom.




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