The article is on AOL but tragically, aol urls cannot be posted on this site, which can't distinguish between an email address and a url (hint: a url begins with"http")
Here is the text of the article:
by CJ Songer
Dillon's Blue Press -- January 2005
The big question all week was whether K.C. Eusebio would be able to repeat his spectacular last year’s win of the Steel Challenge match. Going up against the acknowledged masters of the speed-shooting world (Rob Leathem, Todd Jarrett, Doug Koenig, and Jerry Miculek, to name only a few) the fifteen-year-old wunderkind had blazed past everyone last year to claim the title. But you know how it is with boys - they get older. They lose their edge. They find girls. “So you’ve been practicing a lot?” “Nah,” he said. “Well, I shot a couple of rounds.”
Oh, sure. I play golf like that, too. No stress, no pressure. Just one little hole at a time.
The Steel Challenge has been around since Mike Dalton and Mike Fichman combined forces in 1981. Its format is deceptively simple: there are seven stages, each of which have five steel plates arranged on them in various configurations at distances from six yards to forty yards. All you have to do is shoot five timed runs at each stage. Five chances at each stage? Ayup. That’s not really very hard, and the judges will even help you improve your time by throwing out your slowest run. Of course, most of the people you’ll be shooting against chew bullets for breakfast, but don’t let that worry you.
K.C. wasn’t worrying. Part of that, I think, is because he’s been around this event since he was little. He began shooting the match in 1998, winning the Pre-Teen Division when he was only ten years old. Two years later, he was one of the “elite” shooters and has been placing handily ever since, so last year wasn’t really a fluke for him -- it was simply a combination of skill, luck, timing, and, although he wasn’t quite admitting it -- a whole lot of practice.
There were competitors from all over the continental U.S. this year, as well as from Canada, England, Australia, and Japan. The Japanese can’t have handguns, which is a drawback, but it’s turned out not to be an insurmountable problem. Think of it rather as an obstacle than a barrier. Do you see the boy in the picture with the unusual stance? That’s Tatsuya Sakai. Since he can’t have a handgun, Tatsuya spent the year training at home in Japan with an air pistol. He came over to California about a month before the match, and put in some time practicing with a real gun on the Steel Challenge ranges to good effect -- he ended up beating K.C.’s time this year by .59 seconds to become the new World Speed Shooting Champion. Yes, that’s point-five-nine, folks -- fifty-nine hundredths of a second. Before that, K.C. and a young man named J.J. Racaza had been neck-and-neck for first place. They ended up second and third, respectively, with only .05 seconds between them. To give you a notion of how fast everyone in the top group were shooting, Max Michel, Jr. was fourth with 68.63 seconds (that’s his total time for a counted score of four best runs at each of seven stages, or twenty-eight runs.) Todd Jarrett was fifth with 69.10 seconds, Rob Leatham had a measly 69.26, Doug Koenig was batting right in there with 70.39, Jerry Miculek was at 71.72, Michael Voigt had 75.03, James Ong had 75.15, JoJo Vidames was eleventh with 76.53, and Tatsuya came in twelfth with 77.26. Twelfth? Wait a minute, I thought Tatsuya was first. He was, yes. He shot the match twice, as many of the competitors did, testing themselves through the stages with two different guns. Tatsuya won the over-all Championship with what’s called an “Open” gun (fancy sights, ports, however you want to trick the gun up) and also came in twelfth with a “Limited” gun, so I think it’s safe to say that his fast shooting wasn’t pure luck!
There were side matches, too, and plenty of prizes -- over $300,000 worth, donated by the major (and minor) gun companies. The prizes were split in a variety of ways, determined by category and shooter-ranking, and sometimes by the fickle hand of fate. There were raffles (one enterprising gentleman bought five hundred dollars worth of tickets and, not surprisingly, went home with a large assortment of goods) as well as several lucky-chance drawings. One such drawing I was glad to witness had a competitor from Japan, Takeo Ishii, whose name had been picked from the bowl to receive a handgun. It took Takeo only moments to return with the Japanese interpreter by his side to say that since he couldn’t own a gun in Japan, he wished to give something back to the Steel Challenge as a token of appreciation for the great time he’d had here, and so wanted to donate the gun to the last place competitor. That last place finisher was a man named Merle Ness, who’d been plagued by gun problems throughout the match, but had kept on, nonetheless. It was a very poignant moment -- true détente.
I made a point of talking with and taking pictures of the younger competitors, most there with their dads. Some had shot matches like this before and were already wearing sponsors’ shirts; some, as K.C. once had been, were there to see the famous shooters they’d heard about and admired, or to test their skills, to see if they even liked this type of competition. One of them, about eleven years old, fixed me with a very stern look: “Who do you write for?” “This article’s for the Blue Press.” “Oh, that’s good,” he said, nodding to his dad in approval, “we get that one.” I predict he’ll go far. (Just keep him away from the girls, eh, Dad, and have him shoot a couple of rounds now and then, right? ;)
Edited by craniac, 28 September 2007 - 10:31 AM.