Here’s The Buzz: Masters Sponsors & Teams Are The Bees’s Knees!
When it comes to putting on the Ritz, few do it better than those in our industry “family” who come in droves to champion the shooting sports. This year, over 300 big cheeses, flappers, hard-boiled cats — even a few torpedoes — turned up at the 2015 edition of the Shooting Industry Masters. This 13th annual industry-only event embraced camaraderie, friendly competition and support for the future of the shooting sports.
Owned and operated by FMG Publications, the Shooting Industry Masters took place July 24–25 at the Claythorne Lodge in Columbus, Kan. Masters attendees enjoyed two days full of shooting Centerfire, Rimfire, Sporting Clays and Team Tactics events, while making the rounds on 17 side matches and reliving the best of the Roaring Twenties. The focus of this year’s match was on team building — which meant teams competed as a unit for their cumulative scores on the Centerfire, Rimfire, Sporting Clays and Team Tactics events and individual scores were not recorded.
“The enthusiasm streaming from every participant as they experienced two days’ worth of team building, shooting relays and side match capers reminded us again how the people behind the brands really are the glue of the entire industry,” said Randy Molde, Masters chairman and FMG VP of business development.
Over 300 industry members — from presidents and CEOs to product managers
and engineers — converged on the Claythorne Lodge to take part in two
days of shooting and supporting First Shots and USA Shooting.
Masters “Chopper Squads” competed in four main events: Centerfire,
Rimfire, Sporting Clays and Team Tactics. New for this year,
only the top team in each event was recognized at the Masters’
Saturday night Awards Banquet.
Rubes For The Shooting Sports
The “Claythorne Caper” reeled in an impressive haul of $71,650 in support of the shooting sports. This year’s event generated $57,600 for NSSF’s First Shots program through raffle ticket sales, side match participation and several special custom gun auctions hosted on GunBroker.com. With this year’s total, the Masters has now raised $338,600 for First Shots since 2008.
“After 13 years and as many climate variations, we’ve discovered Shooting Industry Masters participants must be super-human,” Molde said. “It’s the only thing that explains their disregard of elements in favor of an overwhelming desire to shoot an unprecedented number of events and still have strength to invest in thousands of dollars worth of raffle tickets, all in support of First Shots.”
“FMG’s Shooting Industry Masters continues to be the most exciting industry-wide participatory competitive event,” said Steve Sanetti, NSSF president and CEO. “They always find ways to outdo themselves, and the Masters just keeps getting better! Best of all is their completely unselfish devotion to NSSF’s First Shots program, which has introduced many thousands of new participants to the shooting sports during the last decade.”
Sixty-four sponsors signed on to help produce the 2015 Shooting Industry Masters. Fifty-three industry manufacturers and supporters contributed products for 55 raffle prize packages, which also raised money for the shooting sports.
In addition to supporting First Shots, the Masters raises money for the USA Shooting Team. This year, $14,050 was raised through auctions on GunBroker.com and six live auctions that took place during the Masters Awards Banquet — bringing the Masters’ lifetime contributions in support of USA Shooting to $75,000.
“As America’s shooting team, every dollar counts toward achieving our mission and we’re proud to know we have a team of people standing behind us in pursuit of our goals,” said Robert Weekes, USA Shooting chief marketing officer.
A record $24,212 was raised through several one-of-a-kind Masters custom gun auctions hosted on GunBroker.com.
“You shouldn’t be allowed to have so much fun while raising money, but we greatly enjoy working with everyone on this auction,” said Don Hall, GunBroker.com COO. “Congratulations and thanks for the great job FMG does on this shoot in support of First Shots and USA Shooting.”
Masters shenanigans were in full swing as attendees attempted to escape the heat.
Dianna Liedorff (Team Benelli USA) poses after completing XS Sights’ side match.
Team PolyOne receives instructions as they prepare to take part in the Rimfire event.
Putting On The Ritz
Since 2012, the Masters has focused on a theme for the two-day match and festivities. Attendees have embraced the fun, celebrating the ’50s, Old West and pirates in recent years. This year, fedoras, zoot suits and flapper outfits were out in full force at the Masters Big Shot Ball held at the Downstream Casino Resort in Quapaw, Okla. The Big Shot Ball featured a costume contest to recognize the Dapper Chaps, Flapper Dames and best-dressed couple, with the winners being chosen by the crowd’s applause.
Joel Hanson of Team DeadRinger, and Rick Lesser of Team Sharps Rifle were awarded “Dapper Chap” for arriving at the Ball as a “copper” and tommy gun-wielding mobster respectively. The two “Flapper Dames” were XS Sights’ Tanya Gorin and Winchester Ammunition’s Laci Warden. The best-dressed couple turned out to be the best-dressed family, with Rob Pincus from I.C.E. Training winning the award with his wife and their baby daughter.
This year’s Spirit Award went to very deserving winners: XS Sights. The company has embodied the Spirit of the Masters the last few years, and this year, XS arrived at the Claythorne Caper dolled up to support the industry with a fun-filled side match, high style costumes and their infectious enthusiasm.
Larissa McHale (Team Rough Riters) runs through the Centerfire event.
In a Masters twist, each team member was required to make a “getaway”
by carrying a moneybag to complete the stage.
Side Match Mania
Side matches at the Shooting Industry Masters have grown into an event favorite for attendees. For $5 per attempt, shooters can participate in any number of side matches. This year, many of the side match hosts offered awards for their match’s top shooter. Fellas, dames and Peeper Pass guests took part in 17 side matches at Kimber’s “Lead Falls Place,” Streamlight’s “Speakeasy Road” and BLACKHAWK!’s “Bootlegger Bend,” all of which encouraged a carnival-style atmosphere with company banners, numerous ’20s-themed matches and thousands of rounds sent downrange.
GLOCK’s “Roaring GLOCKs” event was the top-earning side match, raising $1,910 in support of First Shots. The next two top-earning side matches were Benchmade’s “Bootlegger Challenge” ($1,670) and XS Sights’ “Snitches Get Stiches” ($1,650). In total, the side matches generated $20,115 for First Shots.
“Supporting the NSSF First Shots Program via side matches is one of the many reasons to attend the Masters,” said Bob Radecki, GLOCK national sales manager. “GLOCK has sponsored a side match for several years and we’re very happy to raise the most money at this year’s event — donating $1,910 to First Shots via our industry friends’ participation.”
Industry/Open Centerfire Champions — Shooters Supply 1 &2
Open Rimfire Champions — BLACKHAWK!
Industry Team Tactics Champions — Davidson’s 2
Industry Sports Clay Champions — STI
Chopper Squad Champions
New for this year, only the top-performing teams in the Industry and Open Class were recognized in each of the four official events: Centerfire, Rimfire, Sporting Clays and Team Tactics. For Centerfire and Rimfire, the scores were based on the cumulative time of the team on the stage and members of each team had to carry a “money bag” before making a getaway to the next part of the stage.
As with previous years, the Masters doesn’t announce the scores of teams — which adds to the fun of the event, as teams grapple to outdo each other in stretching the truth on how well they shot each stage.
Shooters Supply didn’t have to worry about lying too much, as they dominated the Centerfire event. Shooters Supply Team 2 had the fastest cumulative time in the Industry Class (Lewis Christopher, Nicholas Christopher, Travis Fitzpatrick, Logan Fitzpatrick) and Shooters Supply Team 1 were the Open Class champions (Steve Griffin, Jim Johnson, Mark Itzstein, Jack Jawor).
In the Rimfire event, Ruger Team 1 was the Industry’s top team (David McDaniel, Phil Hannum, Robert Kallio, Rick Foley), while the Rimfire Open champion was Team BLACKHAWK! (Rob Gates, Chuck Buis, Todd Jarrett, Bob McNulty).
STI took the spoils as the Sporting Clays champion for the Industry (Jens Krogh, Chad Rhea, David Cupp, Bobbi Hedegard), and Luth-AR hit the most clays in the Open Class (Jim Clark, Bruce Piatt, Tate Moots, Randy Luth).
For Team Tactics, Davidson’s Team 2 had the fastest time for the Industry (Seth Heinbaugh, Porter Walters, Gina Perona, Sabrina Belotti) and Team Brownells was the Open Class champions (Roy Hill, Ryan Hennig, Paul Levy, Sarah Beard [USA Shooting]).
During the Masters Awards Banquet, Randy Molde and Russ Thurman, Masters match director, presented the Founder’s Award to David Shaw, Fiocchi Ammunition marketing director. Shaw played an instrumental role in the early success of the Masters and came up with the concept that led to this annual industry event. He was presented a custom knife made by Phil Evans of Glenview Forge. Based in Columbus, Evans forged knives onsite at the Claythorne Lodge during the match.
Before the Masters Raffle, American Handgunner Publisher Roy Huntington provided an anecdote on the strength of the industry and how the people in it are “the glue that holds our industry together.” Even in today’s tight market, Masters sponsors, teams and attendees came out to support the shooting sports — keeping it vibrant, alive and hitting on all eight for future generations to enjoy. This is why Masters sponsors and teams will always be the Bee’s Knees!