email received from Steve


I submitted an article to Front Sight about the CGC 4H match a couple of weeks ago.
As it turns out, they will not print it in the magazine because of the concern that a flap may arise regarding the all stages 40 rounds, stage reshoots, bouncing poppers, etc.
Something about it having to be a 'sanctioned' match as well before it goes into FS.  They did say that it sounded like a great match (and it was)!

Anyway, instead of me just trashing the article, I thought if you'll wanted to put this up on your website somewhere for a while before next years match it might spark some interest.


Steve Speer



The 4-H Classic - Come on out and Play!

by Steve Speer, TY26694


Ever had one of those matches that you wish you could just shoot the whole thing over again…just because it was so much danged fun to shoot the first time! Whether or not that was the intent of the match designers, that is definitely the effect that the Coleman 4-H Classic match has had on me the three years that I’ve had the good fortune of participating.

Not sure quite how this effect occurs really. Maybe it’s the high round count (for 2004 the stage designers essentially decreed that "all stages shalt have 40 rounds"). Guess it could it be the varied and unique stage props (windmills, merry-go-rounds, paddle-wheels, steel picket fences, etc.). Might even be that I just naturally gravitate to what has become a Coleman staple…the Coleman ‘Classifier’. Whatever the reason, it scores consistently high marks on my fun factor scale. One can pay more for a match, one can shoot more rounds in practice, but one would be hard-pressed to have as much pure shooting pleasure as running through the stages that the ‘Coleman boys’ design.

In years past, the annual Coleman 4-H Classic match has been conducted between late July and early November – usually to either work around other popular Texas matches, or to just beat the summer Texas heat. This is a charity event with the proceeds benefiting the local area 4-H club with these local 4-H boys/girls, moms and dads on-hand helping shag brass, tape targets, and serve lunches. The match format is single day, 7-stage, 280+ rounds, with the Coleman Gun Club playing host to the match. After glancing through the stages during the RO shoot, this year’s event showed the same promise of fun as the prior two, with a couple of bonus stages for .22 pistol / rifle (you bring bullets, CGC supplies the guns).

As a charity event, the match designers added a special little twist this year geared for those shooters who brought a few extra rounds. Ever tank a stage at a match due to a either a brain-fart, a gun malfunction, or just plain hitting one to-many ‘penalty targets’, or one to-few ‘you’re supposed to hit these’ targets? Well to increase the overall satisfaction factor (or frustration factor, depending upon performance), stage reshoots were made available to all shooters. Just tell Dale that you would like to make a donation to the 4-H club for an opportunity to redeem or embarrass yourself again. Shoot as many as you think you need, but please donate first. For 2004, there were quite a few shooters that took advantage of these – either just to shoot it again (like many did on the Train stage), or to make up for that ‘malfunction’ (brain or otherwise).

With thunderstorm projections pervading the weather outlook for so many of the area’s matches, there were quite a few folks at the Classic that thought we should start a marketing campaign to communities experiencing drought conditions…"Need rain, contact USPSA to have match scheduled in your area…rain assured over the weekend". The 4-H Classic was not immune to these 2004 weather whims. Friday night saw over 3 inches of rain soak the area, and the Saturday RO shooter / setup crew got first crack at this slosh and mud (thank goodness they don’t believe in prone positions at the Coleman club). Somewhere in the afternoon on Saturday the rain / mist stopped allowing the RO’s & company to get busy with the shooting.

Stage 1 is always one of my favorites at this match. At first sight this year, it was another "oh my gosh"! You quickly get the feeling that these folks really like steel. Al-Qaida Eleminata had a hammer (two armed star with 6-inch plate on each arm), a Triple (three armed star), a Quad (four armed star) and a Texas Star (five arms)….lest I forget (how could I) put a couple of those stars behind a steel picket fence, and the hammer through a row of windows. Last year there was a similar stage, and a side comment overhead from one of the range officers went something like this … "Make sure you have a timer that goes to 3-digits for stage 1…" You need to brush up on your steel shooting (accuracy) on this one…or bring your own timer with 3-digits!

The featured prop on the Taliban Tiller was a double paddle wheel that contained 8 IPSC targets. Once activated, these targets revealed themselves two at a time for what seemed like just enough time to get two quick shots on each (at least, so you thought…remember, these were MOVING targets).

The Sewers of Baghdad was a combination speed-shoot and timing stage. Accuracy is always required on the steel poppers (especially when shooting from a squat position through a 8’ long air duct), but timing was critical on this stage because the front 3 pepper poppers ‘covered’ the back 5 US poppers…with the twist that the front 3 pepper poppers landed on large coiled springs which gave them a ‘bounce’ effect that partially covered the back 5 US poppers. "But I heard the steel ring" was the cry of unbelief heard several times as shooters finished the stage and noted poppers still standing ("hitting the bouncing steel will not make the other steel fall" – should have been in the stage notes, yuk, yuk).

Ahhhhh, yes. Stage 5 - the Coleman Classifier. This is an absolute, unadulterated, see-if-you-can-pull-.12 splits, pure speed-shoot. This year it was 20 IPSC targets at 6-8 feet, though somewhat hidden behind an array of no-shoots. One would think that a full size IPSC no-shoot target at 6-8 feet could be easily avoided…contraire…methinks there were several ‘mulligans’ on this one. Experience has taught me that shooting this stage in Production or L10 makes for very tired arms…can’t fathom it with a revolver.

THE stage of note again this year was The Train Stage. Build it, shoot it, love it is the stage designers’ mantra. This year’s version featured 20 full IPSC targets at ranges from 6-36 feet, all shot from a moving ‘railroad car’. In 2003, one’s measure of success was often, "wow, you only had 12 mikes…dude, that was awesome!" This year’s train ride wasn’t quite as difficult, but when that train car hits what you think is 50 mph, you’ve got very little time to see/shoot/see. This gives an entirely new perspective to "shooting on the move."

The winners? Hey, everyone that played that day was a winner (yeah, yeah, that sounds pretty sappy…hey, look, I wear SpongeBob shirts, ok? ). In all seriousness, the shooters that I spoke with seemed to be having so a good time shooting the match that most were really OK with the MD calling the match complete late Sunday afternoon due to the monsoon-like rains. In actuality, I believe there were only a couple of squads missed out getting to shoot a stage or two.

These Coleman boys are looking for next year to be a bit drier (aren’t we all) and are probably already devising new and devious ways to entertain and challenge shooters. This is one match I put on my calendar every year. It’s a fun, pressure free match with great camaraderie. In the words of the 4-H match director – come on out and play!

Personal sidebar.

As shooters we often get caught up thinking that a match is worthwhile because of the cool stages, the great props, or just the general shooting challenges. But we all know that if we look a little deeper we see that a key ingredient to the fun a match offers lies in the people that put on the match. One of the cornerstone resources of the Coleman 4-H Classic is match director Dan Warren. You’ll have a hard time mistaking Dan, he’s the tall guy in his ‘west Texas uniform’ (cowboy boots, wranglers, cowboy hat, and aviator sunglasses) proofing a stage design/setup, RO-ing a stage, fixing a prop or two, or just performing one of his myriad other MD duties. At this match, you will usually find club president Dale Alcorn working tirelessly in the stat shack, only occasionally surfacing to accept match fees or stage mulligans (he did mention that if there’s money ‘burning a hole in your pocket’, he’ll come out for that too – wink, wink, nod, nod). And sooner or later you’re bound to run into one or more of the brothers Hinds (Steve, Philip, and David - I’ve only seen three of them…there could be more) setting up, fixing, or adjusting just about anything moving.

I was just starting out in USPSA shooting (having been to my first outdoor club match the week before) and was really bitten with the shooters bug. Surfing the internet in search of local matches I came across the Coleman 4-H stages. Being a bit of an introvert (Myers-Briggs ISTJ…I think), and new to a sport in which I wasn’t too confident in my abilities, I hesitated to select the "Contact Us" button. Hey, we’ve all been newbies… awed by the more gifted shooters, apprehensive, scared that we’ll do something wrong or yet worse – unsafe, and yet wanting desperately to join in on what looks to be loads of fun. Well, my enthusiasm overcame my apprehension, and I explained in an email to the MD that I was a new shooter and wondered if a ‘newbie’ could shoot in this match. The brief response that I received from the MD Dan Warren … "absolutely you can come shoot this match. Come on out and play…you’ll have a great time!" provided that very necessary encouragement a newbie needs to hear. In the three years I’ve "played" at this match, I can say that the persona of Dan’s response typifies this match. And it’s not just Dan, it’s the entire Coleman club. They really work hard at making the 4-H Classic a fun time to just "come on out and play."