1997 Space City Challenge Match Review KR Training - Central Texas' best firearms training
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The Space City Challenge, held June 28 & 29 just south of Houston, TX appeared to me as a rousing success. Was held to little over 100 shooters broken up into 7 squads for a really fun and challenging 6 stage 171 scored rounds match without overcrowding everything. Five of the six stages were 'run and gun' Comstock field courses, the remaining stage a Virginia count barricade type stage with two mandatory reloads. Neal Mahler and company ran a clean very well organized match - particularly impressive since I heard this was Neal's first year as the Match Director. Weather was HOT (around 100), very humid, little breeze moving the air around. The climate was the one thing they couldn't control, unfortunately.

Stage 1 ('Millennium Falcon Hijack') was a 17 target, 34 round Comstock stage where you hit the first four targets from the start box, moved forward a few yards through an opening/passage in a wall to a shooting zone for 4 more targets, which were obscured from various positions by no-shoots - requiring movement through the zone to see/shoot all the available targets, and finally through a door you had to open and pass through before engaging the final 9 targets - 5 of which were behind a fairly high partial wall/barricade. A really FUN stage. Only suggestion here is that the barrier wall was probably a bit too high (I'm guessing around 54-60' high) to present a fair consistent challenge to all shooters. Saw several vertically challenged folks who would have had to go around the end of the wall to see all the targets while those of us 6' tall or more could easily take the much quicker route of shooting over the wall. The scattering of no-shoots in the last two shooting areas kept anyone from just standing there and shooting. You HAD to move in all areas to be able to see the targets. Great stage, and excellent course design with the single exception of the back wall height.

Stage 2 ('Yoda's Training Course') was a 13 target, 4 popper field Comstock course where you started out seated in a chair with your back against the seat back and both hands on a cane positioned between your legs (careful, Laurie!). First 4 targets were engaged from a shooting zone just a couple of steps from the chair, then through the first Cooper Tunnel to a box/zone where the next 4 targets were shootable, then thru a second Cooper to a free fire area for 4 targets partially obscured behind rose bush or hedge type wooden lattice/trellis stuff and a final target and 4 poppers that had to be shot a barrel low to the ground. Fun stage, but would have preferred to see the tops of the tunnels tacked down and not awarded procedurals if someone (like big ole me!) brushed one of the slats and had it fall behind him as he proceeded on thru the stage. Still, a real good stage.

Stage 3 ('Run Skywalker Run') was my second most favorite stage. 12 Comstock targets in three groups of 4 with two swingers helping mess up the final four targets. Start position was standing in a box, a stack of 'letters' (really a roll of paper towels) in your strong hand. On start signal you moved to table A and had to put the letters in a milk crate ('mailbox') before engaging the 4 avail. targets, then you picked up a second stack of letters that had to be deposited in a box on table B before engaging the 4 targets there, then a third stack of letters that had to be deposited in the box on table C before engaging its 4 targets. Interesting rub was the 4' high platform you had to step onto to deposit the letters at table C - it activated the two swingers from your weight on the platform. Was much simpler to shoot than it is to explain. Lots of fun here! I can't recommend any changes to this stage, the only restricted firing zone was the last 4 had to be from the platform so the swingers were activated.

Stage 4 ('Cloud City Shoot-out') was in my opinion the most difficult and most fun stage of the match. My favorite stage. 14 Comstock targets (including one disappearing drop turner) and 4 poppers (2 of which made targets drop and become visible when hit, the other 2 opened shooting ports for later in the stage). Almost everything was hidden from view from start position in a chair with feet off the ground and hands on both kneecaps. At start you moved 6-8 yards to a doorway you had to open (not go thru) to activate the drop turner and engage a popper and 3 other targets. Then proceed around corner of barricade and move forward to an opening where 4 more targets and 2 poppers were visible or activated, then past a port that required at least one target engagement because it was not visible from anywhere else. Then on to the next position where targets were visible and a required single target engagement (same reason), and then around another corner and forward to a long narrow shooting zone that you had to progress thru to be able to see and shoot the remaining 4 targets around all the no-shoots. Lots of FUN!!! Lots of movement (probably 50-60 yards or so start to finish), lots of flexibility in turns of what you shot from where. Very 'busy' stage, I pulled my typical FNG stunt and didn't engage one target - lost it in the flurry/masses - and had to back up to catch it. Only drawback was the stage was so complex to reset and slow to score that things seemed to backup around this stage. I also saw 2 reshoots awarded in our squad because of scoring errors. But one hell of a stage! Fun and Humbling at the same time.

Stage 5 ('Jabba's Revenge') was a 7 target 21 round Virginia Count stage. One round at each of seven targets from one side of barricade, mandatory reload, one at each from small port in center of barricade, another mandatory reload, and one at each from the other side. Most boring stage, but still fairly difficult because of the twisting required from both edges of the barricade required to get to all the targets. Short armed (or short bodied) folks had a real tough time on this one due to target placement.

Stage 6 ('Feel the Force, Luke') was another really fun stage, 12 Comstock targets, 2 poppers, and 4 six inch plates positioned to be tires on two of the three cars in the stage. From standing in start box, you had to shoot out (turn or tip over) the two 6' plates/tires on car #1, then proceed to the car and engage 4 targets 4-12 yards away thru the windows of the car. Proceed to car #2 and engage 4 targets thru its windows, 2-10 or so yards away. Tires on car #3 had to be shot before advancing beyond car #2 but could occur any earlier time during the stage (I saw a couple of shooters hit them with long shots from the start box). Last four targets and 2 poppers were thru car #3's windows. Lots of movement, clean concise shooting setup (not a 'memory' stage), easy to shoot and score.

ALL IN ALL, a great setup, excellently run match IMO. Lots of fun, low entry fee ($65), cash payouts to match and class winners (1st C got $150, 2nd D (me!) got $75, didn't see the 3rd in class or match winner amounts), had a fair 'prize table' with Dillon bags, tumblers and separators, primers, Starline brass certificates, a Caspian slide, an STI frame, STI comps, Brazos Custom slide lightening and deluxe trigger job certificates, S&A magwells, WW powder 3# kegs, and a lot more I can't recite off the top of my head. Match sponsor was STI, stage Sponsors were Vandenberg Custom, Lecks Guns, Briley, Clark Custom Guns, Brazos Custom Gunworks and the USPSA Texas South Section, Contributors were Guns-N-More, RT's Shooting Stuff, Eddie Jimenia, Keron Weathered, Starline Brass, LMR Services, Smith & Alexander, and Campiere Custom.

This match was right up there with the Paper&Iron Classic run in Midland-Odessa, TX area each fall by Ron Weaver, Doug Foote, and company - which is as high a compliment as I can give. I will run over folks to get back there next year. Just one request --- can you move it to a slightly cooler part of the year? Great Job and kudos to all involved in this match. I'll be back and recommend it to all.

DVCF! --- Vern

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