The Author Takes on the Most Demanding Match in 3-Gun—MGM Ironman
The MGM Ironman is home to arguably the most unique stage in 3-gun, shot exclusively from a zip line.
By Bryce M. Towsley
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in one pretty and well preserved piece, but to skid across the line broadside, thoroughly used up, worn out, shouting GERONIMO!"
The origins of this popular quote are murky, but if you subscribe to the spirit of it then you can get an early glimpse of how it works by shooting in the MGM Ironman. By the time this match is over you will be worn out, used up, leaking oil and screaming for more.
Match creator Mike Gibson says this is not a match for weenies or crybabies. He means it too; if you can’t keep up, don’t expect mercy. With a round count of almost 1,000 rounds (you will need double that) and some of the most physically challenging stages in the world of 3-gun, this is a match for those who like to push the limits.
If you are looking for a pre-packaged match with no surprises, this ain’t it. You are probably a crybaby or a weenie anyway; so stay home. For the rest of you, this is the most unique match in 3-gun. (Well in daylight anyway; I just completed the Crimson Trace Midnight 3-gun. That one was different!)
The addition of the Propeller Plate Rack to Ironman's deluge of steel targets added to the match's challenges.
One thing that we can count on from Travis Gibson and MGM Targets is a few surprises in each match. In the past the spinners were the talk of the match and the reason so many competitors were walking around with a blank stare. Now, with the addition of the Propeller Plate Rack, Death Star and Twin Spinner targets, the spinner seems so 2010.
The Death Star was new this year in the Ironman. This evil target is double Texas Stars that both rotate on the same axis. Easy enough, right? Wrong; the front one is a no shoot. Hit any of the five plates and you add penalties to your already shameful score sheet.
The Propeller Plate Rack was also new for MGM. Some of you know it from the less politically correct name of Polish Plate Rack after videos of it went viral on YouTube. Most of us in the shooting world looked at the videos and thanked our lucky stars that we would never shoot at a target that moves like it has A.D.D. and has swallowed way too much Red Bull. But, leave it to MGM to make sure that fantasy never comes true. The target is a long arm with plates top and bottom and weights on each end that fall off. It pivots in the center, so it starts spinning when the weight changes. Predicting which direction it goes is like guessing how much money Obama is going to spend; all but impossible. You look through your sights expecting to shoot and the target has gone in another direction. Very frustrating. Unless you are Tactical Class match winner, Daniel Horner. I squadded with Daniel and his dad Andy, who are a couple of class acts. Daniel would attack a PPR so fast that nothing happened except the plates falling off, so it can be done with grace and dignity. But apparently not by me.
The spinner is an MGM classic - two plates on each end of a long arm with a center axis. You alternate hitting the plates until it makes a revolution. Looks simple, but I have seen more than one tough guy reduced to tears of frustration by this target. This year they had pairs mounted side by side. Some of us thought we were hot shots who could turn them both at the same time. I can’t say how it all worked out for the other shooters, but if Daniel had not picked my magazines out of the dirt and refilled them with 9mm ammo while I was blasting at rifle targets, I would have had nothing to shoot on the rest of the stage. The right spinner never turned, the only failure for me in the match.
I still hate it.
Match winner Daniel Horner takes on pistol targets during one of the massive courses of fire at Ironman.
On the shotgun spinners, Daniel would stand beside me and when it was time to shoot the spinner he would hand me a Federal turkey load with #6 shot and the FliteControl wad. It would turn the spinner with one shot. Next year I’ll bring my own ammo.
We also had to turn a spinner at about 75 yards with shotgun slugs, while standing on a teeter totter. Let me back up a bit on that one. On another stage, somebody noticed that the front sight fell off my shotgun after it was staged. Daniel, Andy and Joel Turner did a fast Superglue repair while I was actually shooting on the clock. I thank them for that but, as expected, the point of impact changed a little. Not a problem with a shotgun, unless you are trying to hit a spinner at 75 yards with slugs, while balanced on a kid’s playground toy. I had a point of pride about turning every spinner like I did in 2011, and was still laboring under the fantasy that I could. The great thing about Ironman is that your buddies can bring you more ammo. I apparently have a lot of buddies, because I had so many hulls under the teeter totter that it seized up, but that #### thing turned!
Add in a dark, underground maze, a stage shot completely weak-hand, some long-range targets out to 800 yards and a ride down the improved and faster zip line and Ironman will stress all your skills and perhaps soil your pants.
In my own defense, that is not why I wear brown pants on the day I ride the zip line. I just look good in brown.
I shot the long-range bonus targets with my JP Enterprises 18-inch competition rifle and while I have been self-deprecating a bit here, in the interest of balance, I am going to brag. I got all fifteen bonus targets, shooting in the wind, with a short barrel .223 using a Z6 1-6X Swarovski scope and Federal 69-grain Match ammo.
My best stage of the match.
Katie Harris takes on the "Seesaw," one of many unique obstacles thrown at competitors during Ironman.
Ironman is the only match I know where you do whatever it takes. If your gun goes down somebody can bring you another. If you run out of ammo, your buddies can bring you more. At one stage a belt keeper failed and one side of my belt fell off so my handgun was dangling beside me as I ran. The R.O. (who looked a lot like Sterling White) grabbed the belt and held it up, running beside me through the stage so I could finish. I can’t think of another match where that can or will happen! But shooting well with a guy so close to becoming an intimate friend is disconcerting.
Not my best stage.
Other than dealing with the rumor that Daniel requested another squad because I am “too high maintenance” I can’t wait for next year.
(Just kidding, Daniel would never do that. But a lot of other people on the squad might!)
Check out full match results at www.mgmironman.com.
The "Dummy" is a pulse thumping dead weight carry that punishes shooters.