This year's Nordic Components Tactical Shotgun Championship was held in Forest Lake, Minnesota on the weekend of June 28-29. This would be the second year I participated in this event, with the first one being less than ideal. At the 2014 match, I had a family emergency and had to shoot the match early with the staff in 1 day instead of the usual 2 days with the rest of the competitors. While I still had fun, it just wasn't the same… But boy did I enjoy it this year! It is one of my favorite shotgun matches to date with a great variety of stage designs that challenge you in every aspect of your shotgunning skills! There was plenty of shooting, loading, and movement, with a variety of targets that required careful consideration for choke selection. We experienced everything from short, "burner" stages with super fast shooting and no reloading; stages with 40+ targets in the woods; shooting through and from inside vehicles; mixed slug, buck, and birdshot; flying clays, and lots of brain benders that required very careful stage planning. It was great to see such a variety in stage design and targets because it requires the shooters to be well rounded and the match challenged me in ways I have not encountered before.
The range itself - The Forest Lake Sportsmans Club - is a fantastic venue with a nice clubhouse (hello, indoor bathrooms! Ladies, you understand this!) space for "natural terrain" stages as well as your regular action shooting bays. The only thing I can complain about is the swarm of mosquitos that seemed to like me very much!
Another absolute positive about this match was the staff. The match directors, range master, and stage designers are all shooters themselves and it shows that they truly enjoy what they're doing. I believe that's part of why the stages are as fun as they are - folks who actually shoot designed them! I cannot say enough good things about the RO's as well. All were very friendly, fair, and ensured we stayed safe while having a good time.
The match was shot Saturday and Sunday and the awards/prize table was the grand finale. I was impressed to see a very heavily loaded prize table with guns, optics, and ammo!!! There were a ton of gift certificates from platinum sponsor Freedom Munitions and X-Treme Bullets and those were hot ticket items that went quickly. Everyone appreciates free ammo! Huge thank you to all the sponsors who supported the match and who step up to help grow our shooting sports.
With some minor setbacks, I ended with a 2nd place ladies finish (congratulations to Freedom Munitions teammate Lena Miculek for earning High Lady) and 17th out of 130 men & women in the Tactical (semi auto) division. I'm looking forward to taking the experience gained from this match on to my next shotgun challenge.
Squad 5 - fantastic people to shoot with including Freedom Munitions teammates Pat Kelley and James Casanova and X-Treme Bullets teammates Madalyn and Thomas Stewart and Mark Passamaneck. Also an honor to shoot with Purple Heart recipient Matt Waters at his first major match.