back to db page

The Great Dutch/Doc Shoot-Off

I take some time here to write up an interesting event. It's the type of thing that the airgun magazines used to record. Now, however; the magazines are few and far between and their personnel don't travel to actual events anymore. Well, I was there and here's the story.

It took place at Standing Stone 3 in the mountains of Pennsylvania at the Juniata County Sportsman's Club. 'Twas the weekend of the hurricane Isobel and everyone was too spooked to show up. Weather was fine for the Festival - but the previous two week 24/7 harping of the TV had convinced everyone we were all gonna die if we came out from under the bed - no matter where we were. Thus, the crowds were thin.

On Friday, during the Invitational events, we'd set out a field of 1/4" plate steel ground hogs, bunnies, and crows. 20 of the beasts occupied the field from approx. 20-100 yards, at unknown ranges.

Mike (Doc) Marino had prepared and brought his 32 Prairie Classic. He verified his zero and shot the field course. Great shooting - he knocked over 17 of the possible 20 targets and hit another one or two that wouldn't go over.

Due to the smaller crowd, I decided I'd join in the fun. I'd just completed the Delta 45 and planned to hunt with it this Fall. I'd made a quick run to the range and set up the scope for my 237 grain Shrike slugs. No follow-up trip was possible with the SS preparations, etc. But I felt it was close. Well, zero confirmation up at the Festival told me it was very close. I shot the course and took down 19/20 targets (SOMEONE named Doc was talking to me during the 20th .... returning a pen or some such nonsense .... hmmmmm).

Well, as the day progressed, we had fewer shooters than anticipated. Many folks were happily plinking away and just never got around to shooting the tournaments. "Dutch" was at the end of the range and Jim Leister asked him if he'd like to shoot the tournament with Jim's Bison or maybe with my Delta? Since Jim's Bison is muzzle loaded with peep sights and mine was breech with scope ... it took Dutch all of two or three seconds to decide to shoot mine - he he ;?)

I got him settled in, sorted and sized some Shrike slugs for him. Explained the scope which was charted for distance like a FT scope set up, and filled the rifle for him when it needed it. He began laying waste to the field. When the dust settled, he'd also shot 17/20 targets. A tie with Doc for second. We'd need a shoot-off!

Jim trotted out to 100 yards, grabbed three groundhogs, and kept walking. At an unknown distance (shown later to be around 113 yards by laser ), he set up two hogs side by side ... dropped back another 5 yards or so, and set up the third. The tie breaker was set. However; Doc had shot his 32. It was getting a bit light out past 100 yards on those heavy targets. Since the Delta 45 Dutch was shooting wasn't his anyway ... we opted to offer both shooters to use the same rifle.

Now ... look at the situation we have here. We have a brand new rifle - set up quickly in one couple hour range session. We have two shooters who have never seen the rifle before - much less become familiar with it. We have one shooter who's just shot a tournament and now has maybe 20 couple shots under his belt. We give Doc two sighter shots to become just marginally familiar with the rifle.

We're gonna shoot about 113 yards ... with an air rifle ... at probably 5 pound plate steel knock over hogs. No reason for either shooter to do it - the rifle was only charted to 100 yards too ... did I mention that? We were in new territory completely - for everyone - including the builder of the rifle.

We set Doc down ... he lines up on the hog. BANG-DINGGG!!!! And the hog falls!! Well I'll be! Amazing. Dutch slides in after the rifle is re-set. Lines up ... BANG-DINGGG!!! Jaws drop!

Well, there's the third hog - farther back. Doc comes back in. The rifle is prepared - slug sorted and sized. Doc lines up on the distant hog - probably 122 yards, etc. BANG-DING! Hog falls. We all look at each other. We have to shoot again!

Jim trots out to the targets (nice to be younger), resets the one Doc's just nailed at 122 yards and places two more farther out. (I zapped them at 137 yards with the laser rangefinder but didn't tell anyone). Dutch is now expected to duplicate Doc's last shot or forfeit. He lines up after all is prepared. BANG-DING! It falls!!! We all say - "We should be getting this on tape!"

So we move on the the next level (the shooters don't know it's 137 yards). Doc shoots ... ding. Ooooohhhhh ... a hit but no fall! Dutch gets ready and shoots .... a very close miss. We could call it, but the rest of the match had required the target to fall in order to count. We discuss it and decide we must shoot again as both shots were technically considered to be a miss.

I sort and size and lube slugs and top off the rifle. Doc lines up and shoots ... BANG-DING! A fall! Nice shooting. But Dutch must match it. Dutch shoots ... BANG-DING!! A fall. This is getting ridiculous!! Don't forget ... rifle is a week old - neither have experience shooting it. We're off the scope chart and it's going strong. AND ...did anybody notice ... Dutch is a lefty? Every time we switched shooters, it required setting up for Dutch differently then for right handed Doc. Same rifle - same ambidextrous stock. Must work ... you agree?

At this point, Doc's hit without a fall could factor in ... or we could continue. We toss a coin ... heads we shoot again ... tails we give Doc's strike the nod. It's heads. We shoot again. Jim goes out to reset targets while I sort lead. The targets are set at what I zap as 155 yards.

Doc lines up and shoots. Ohhhhh ... so close! But a miss. Dutch can take it with a fall. But ... Dutch shoots .... Oooooooohhhh ... so close again!!! But ... Doc's was just a hair closer and he had that previous hit to his credit. The match was called ... Doc Silver ... Dutch Bronze. We can't shoot all night! What a match!!

It's actually getting more gloomy toward evening again now. We stand in the rain for pics of the medals.

We look around ... Dutch, Doc, Jim, Gary, Paul the range officer. Maybe one or two others. Everyone else had wandered off. This is what you miss if you aren't there. This is what you miss even if you ARE there and just don't watch the matches.

It was classic. Could never be duplicated. I'm glad I saw it.