RHINELANDER - Thousands of gun enthusiasts practice competitive practical shooting around the world. If you're in the Northwoods, you don't have to go very far to try it for yourself. One group in Rhinelander gets together every week, and they love welcoming new shooters.
Story By Mark Spillane
"We just have an absolute blast," said USPSA Range Officer Mike Rouse Sr.
Rouse shoots with the Northwoods Practical Shooters. The group loves to spend time at the range. That's because they love to shoot, and because they enjoy spending time with each other.
"You can't run into the restaurant and share this same type of passion," said Rouse Sr.
The group shoots at the Hodag Sports Club as part of the U.S. Practical Shooting Association. While these guys really like to have fun, there's one thing that's even more important.
"We're very, very fussy about safety," said Northwoods Practical Shooters Coordinator Bruce Gary.
That means there are a couple of rules to follow at the range.
"We operate as a cold range," said Gary. "Nobody has a loaded weapon except the person that's taken up to the line and expected to shoot. The rest of us have no ammo in our guns. We wear it on our belt."
The group hosts several matches throughout the year. Those safety rules all still apply during competitions.
"We have certain rules about which way you can turn, how far you can turn," said Gary. "Always keep your gun pointed downrange, and when we have matches people have to sign waivers. We will disqualify anybody at a match for any kind of safety violation. That's just the way we are."
Once you've got the safety part down, then its back to having fun and shooting well, which is easy when you enjoy the company.
"The people make it. It's probably 80 percent people," Gary said. "The guys you see here are a lot of fun, a lot of jabbing, and a lot of insults. Good-natured insults."
The club practices once a week and hosts several USPSA matches during the year. Each course is designed differently, and it's up to the shooter to decide their approach.
"You shoot the scenario how you think you're going to do best--left to right, right to left. You've got moving targets, disappearing targets," said Rouse Sr. "You have some on a ramp."
Rouse Sr. says analyzing all of those variables can be difficult for someone new to the sport.
"The buzzer goes off, you forget everything and everything goes wrong, but that's all part of the fun," Rouse Sr. said
The group practices every Tuesday from April to October, and new shooters are welcome at any practice or match. Scores are calculated by taking the shooting score and dividing it by the elapsed time.
For more information, you can click on the link below.
Northwoods Practical Shooters