Seventeen years is a long time in the shooting sports, especially for a singular relationship between an organization and sponsor. But that's what makes the union between IDPA and Smith & Wesson so unique.
In an age where executives come and go, where budgets balloon and then shrink, the fact that Smith & Wesson is unwavering in its commitment to IDPA - including underwriting the S&W IDPA Indoor Nationals - is telling.
That commitment has been reaffirmed several times at past Indoor Nationals' awards banquets, but this past Saturday night when CEO James Debney took the podium, IDPA members got that message straight from the top.
Debney's enthusiastic support for Smith & Wesson's continued hosting of the Indoor Nationals, and for its ongoing relationship with IDPA, probably has a lot to do with his time on the range shooting the course of fire.
S&W CEO James Debney gets briefed by Gunner's Mate First Class John Ware of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy on the stage he's about to shoot. Photo by P. Erhardt
With expert instruction from Brian Steskla, a Lieutenant and Firearms Instructor with the Connecticut Dept. of Corrections, as well as the Match Director for the S&W Back Up Gun Nationals, Debney got the VIP introduction to IDPA. Which makes sense because it is his range facility, after all.
Just watching him it was clear that he was having a good time. And that was good for IDPA. When you run a company as large and prominent as Smith & Wesson, and have to manage the pressures that come with being publicly traded, it's not easy to carve time out of a very busy schedule to dive into the deep end of a shooting sport. IDPA was very fortunate that Debney made the time, and even more fortunate that he discovered what nearly every IDPA member already knows...this is a lot of fun
One of the reasons behind S&W's commitment to the shooting sports is the need to share the sport. Paul Pluff of S&W, the guy responsible for the company's strong relationship with IDPA, emphasized the need to constantly share the sport - no matter what shooting sport that is.
It's through sharing the sport, he explained to me, that we turn the one-time gun buyer into an enthusiastic gun owner and repeat customer. After 162 years of making guns, S&W kind of knows a thing or two about this. And, this would of course explain the presence of Katie Pavlich at the match.
Thanks to Team S&W Captain Julie Golob, the Fox News contributor and TownHall.com editor and writer made the IDPA Indoor Nationals her first competitive shooting match. Pavlich shot the entire event with Golob by her side, coaching and cheering her on.
Katie Pavlich and Julie Golob (r) spent a lot of time talking throughout the match. For her part, Julie explained the rules and coached Katie through each stage. For Katie it was a matter of better understanding the sport and picking the brain of one of the best shooters in the world. Photo by P. Erhardt
If you read the stories she posted on TownHall.com (listed below) you'll have a good idea how effective Golob, Smith & Wesson and IDPA were at sharing their sport.
- My First IDPA Match: Training For Self Defense Through Competition
- IDPA Competition: "It's Like a Lay's Potato Chip, You Can't Just Have One"
- Photos and Video From My First IDPA Shooting Match
Clearly Pavlich is on the same page as Debney.
Saturday's match kicks off with the requisite shooters meeting. Assistant Match Director Terry Burba explains a change in the course of fire and gives competitors the option to shoot or not shoot a stage being dropped from official scoring. Photo by P. Erhardt
(Caption for top & bottom image) Jon Wolfe goes over the low light course of fire for Nils Jonasson who, along with Brett Russo, had to shoot through on Wednesday to make it out to another match they were scheduled to attend. Photos by P. Erhardt
Becky Sells of Armadillo Concealment waits her turn to shoot. Becky and her husband Darrell flew up from Houston to not only compete but work the match as well. Photo by P. Erhardt
Stage 7 of the match utilized a wheelchair to force competitors to shoot from a slightly unconventional sitting position. Of course, this is every stage for Team S&W's Trevor Baucom who helped design the stage in order to give shooters an idea what it's like competing from a wheelchair as he does. Photo by P. Erhardt
Being indoors has its advantages, like no snow or freezing cold temperatures, but it has its disadvantages, too. Because of a lack of space on the range, competitors have to wait their turn out in the hallway. But it still beats shooting in the snow. Photo by P. Erhardt
Maddy Cooley won High Lady in CDP at the match...mostly because she was the only woman competing in CDP. But a win's a win no matter how you get it. She later tried to punch me in the gut, no doubt in anticipation of this very comment. Well played, Maddy. Well played indeed. Photo by P. Erhardt
Finally, there really ought to be an award for best stage briefing by an SO or CSO, because Gene Gelberger would win it. Gelberger is well known among New England shooters for both his good humor and his distictive deep accented voice. During the match the former Russian now proud American would add after mention of the sponsor that the stage was also brought to you "by the letter 2. Uh, Uh, Uh." Thus stealling a page from the playbook of Sesame Street's Count. Photo by P. Erhardt
- Paul Erhardt, Editor, the Outdoor Wire Digital Network
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