Shooting USA – USPSA Production Gun Nationals
The Factory Sponsored Professionals compete with the handguns anyone can buy. It’s the old NASCAR rule, “Win on Sunday, Sell Guns on Monday.” For the pros, the Production Nationals is the most important competition of the year. Plus, the Savage auto-loading pistol, that nearly beat out the 1911, is now one of History’s Guns. And Colt celebrates 40 years at Gunsite with a look back to the history of Col. Jeff Cooper and his guns.
USPSA Production Nationals
The United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) created the Production Gun Division to make practical shooting more affordable to entry-level shooters. Only factory-built guns can compete in that division, the same ones on sale at your local gun shop. Competitors of all skill levels are now shooting the division, including the gun companies’ sponsored professionals, because it’s become the old NASCAR slogan: Win on Sunday and sell guns on Monday.
“Almost every gun company makes a gun that fits in the Production Division pretty much the way you see it in the stores, and Production division is the largest success story that USPSA has had in the last 15 years,” says USPSA President Mike Foley. “It’s rapidly becoming our number one division and in some areas it already is.”
Major manufacturers send their top team members to compete at PASA Park in Barry, Illinois. Most competitors shoot out-of-the-box guns chambered in nine-millimeter, which is considered Minor Power Factor, so scoring is more critical. This year, the USPSA is debuting a new hardcover steel target, which will make scoring even more difficult because it minimizes the target area, forcing competitors to shoot more accurately. Still, that’s not a problem for some competitors, like Doug Koenig, who have been involved in the industry for years.
“It's nice to come back to the basic guns you know, like the Performance Center Pro Series, or the M&P pistol,” says Smith & Wesson Team Member Doug Koenig. “It's nice to not have to worry about all the gadgets and gizmos… It’s basic equipment that anybody can get at Bass Pro Shop or any gun shop.”
History’s Guns: 1907 Savage
Today’s shooters know Savage as a rifle company that makes quality affordable rifles, but years ago Savage also made semi-auto handguns, including the Model of 1907. It was a ten-shot pocket pistol chambered in .32 ACP, and it was good enough to be competition to the 1911 in the Army trials to choose a new sidearm, only it didn’t win in the United States. However, the Model of 1907 was popular overseas.
“The French government in World War One bought 40,000 of these, including this one,” says Firearms Historian Garry James. “As far as a military arm goes, of course, .32 ACP in the fields of France would not be my idea of a service handgun.”
Celebrating 40 Years at Gunsite Academy
Colonel Jeff Cooper was the guru of handgun training, and one of the founders of the International Practical Shooting Confederation or IPSC. If you’ve ever taken any type of defensive pistol training, or if you know and follow the four rules of firearm safety, then you follow Colonel Cooper’s doctrine, the Modern Technique. Even though the Colonel passed away in 2006, that doctrine is still practiced at the training academy he founded in Arizona. The world-famous campus is Gunsite Academy, and it is now celebrating its 40-year anniversary.
“Safety drives everything that we do here, everything that we do, and our guys are well experienced,” says Gunsite CEO Buzz Mills. “I won’t even entertain an application from somebody unless they have been teaching for 20 years. This is the pinnacle of adult education, and we must maintain the product that we deliver. I mean that’s the secret to our success, delivering a consistent quality product to the public.”
Gunsite Academy offers firearms courses at any level and for any discipline, including “Pocket Pistol,” “Team Tactics,” and even a “Hunter Prep” class. It’s also a long-standing tradition for some students and friends to visit Colonel Cooper’s home, known as the sconce.
“I learned early on that the armory is the most important room in the house period, so I wanted to leave it that way,” says Colonel Cooper’s wife, Janelle.
Colonel Cooper’s gun room has been preserved just as he left it on the day of his passing, one part memorial, one part museum. There are pieces of history on display, like his knife collection, and the original handwritten bracket from one of the first Leather Slap events, with legendary names like Reed, Chapman and Weaver from early practical shooting competition. All of it is proof that Gunsite is not only an academy, but a living tribute to the man who transformed the shooting sports and combat handgun technique for future generations.
Pro Tip: Ken Hackathorn – Triple Prez Shooting Drill
The El Prez shooting drill begins with your back to the threat, turn, engage three targets with two hits on each, then reload, and repeat. It’s effective training for faster reloads and for shaving off time. We’ve seen it done many times, but Colt Combat Unit member, Ken Hackathorn has a new variation, he calls the Triple Prez.
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