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Shooting the Shooters – USPSA Production Nationals

Angus Hobdell

Angus Hobdell


Stardate – September 13th, 2009.  I drive through a guarded checkpoint on the west side of Las Vegas to see hundreds of men and women milling around armed to the teeth.  The sound of rapid gunfire is in the air and bullets repeatedly pierce humanoid forms in the distance.

Last week I was in Nevada to shoot the SCORE Terrible’s Primm 300 off road race and just before the race I learned that the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) would be holding their Open and Production National Championships at the Desert Sportsmans Rifle and Pistol Club (DSRP) club on the west side of vegas.

The last time I was at the club was when I shot the 2001 3 Gun Nationals.  My match was cut short by a bad call but that is another story.  I used to shoot (guns) full time on the major match circuit but over the last few years I had moved on to other things so it has been awhile since I had been in this environment, and it was good to get back to it and see old friends.

Originally I was looking forward to shooting some photos at the Nationals but early Sunday morning after a very long day on the race course in Primm I was not into it at all.  I forced myself out of bed, grabbed my gear and made my way to the range.  I would have less than half a day to shoot at the match so I had no time to inspect or prerun the stages.  I checked the squad schedule and made my way over to stage 13 where the Production Class Super Squad was shooting.

Stage 13 Diagram

I started out making a few stock head shots of the shooters waiting their turn on the stage.

Dave Sevigny

Dave Sevigny

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISP400, f2.8, 1/250th, ND Filter.

Angus Hobdell (left) and Rob Leatham (right) discuss the stage.

Angus Hobdell (left) and Rob Leatham (right) discuss the stage.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO500, f2.8, 1/2500th, ND Filter.

I got to the stage a bit late and they were already shooting so there was no time to setup remotes and due to the lack of prerunning I was going to wing it.  Winging it would be the theme of the day.

Right off the bat I got lucky and caught a nice bullet trail.

Ben Stoeger

Ben Stoeger

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO400, f2.8, 1/250th, ND filter.

I also noticed an immediate problem with backgrounds.  The various props and walls on the stages tended to clutter the background but this was a case of just deal with it.  I was using an Neutral Density (ND) filter so I could shoot with a shallow depth of field (DOF)to soften the backgrounds.

Tony Hawkins reloads.

Tony Hawkins reloads.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO400, d2.8, 1/1600th, ND filter.

Matt Mink

Matt Mink

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO400, f2.8, 1/1000th, ND Filter.

In some shots the background worked for me however.

Rob Leatham

Rob Leatham

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO400, f2.8, 1/2500th, ND Filter.

These shooting stages are typically shot in just a matter of seconds with 8-30 rounds fired.  For the shooters the adrenaline is flowing and the pressure is on.  This often leads to some entertaining and compelling facial expressions during the stage.

Angus Hobdell

Angus Hobdell

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, f2.8, ISO400, 1/2500th, ND Filter.

Once the squad finished we went next door to Stage 14.  While the shooters did a walkthrough of the stage I set up 2 remote cameras.  The first was a D300 with a fisheye attached to the wall between targets 10 and 11 with a magic arm.  Next I setup a D700 with a fisheye on the ground next to the wall between targets 3 and 4.  I would also be trying out some new remote cables from Flash Zebra.  At about $30 they are way less money than the cables from Pocket Wizard and I’m happy to say they worked perfectly.

Stage 14 Diagram

Me setting up a remote

Me setting up a remote

Nikon D300, 10.5mmFE, ISO200, f2.8, 1/4000th.

As the shooter began the stage I would shoot them handheld as they engaged the first few targets.

Bob Vogel

Bob Vogel

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO500, f2.8, 1/2000th, ND Filter.

Bob Vogel starts a reload.

Bob Vogel starts a reload.

durka-uspsa-pronats09-6591

Then I would manually fire the first remote.

Dave Sevigny

Dave Sevigny

And then the second remote.

Bj Norris

Bj Norris

Nikon D700, 16mmFE, ISO200, f2.8, 1/4000th.

This stage also had some garbage backgrounds but with some creative cropping I could make some of them work.

Rodney May reloads on a cluttered background.

Rodney May reloads against a crappy background.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO500, f2.8, 1/2000th, ND Filter.

With a little cropping, viola!  A clean background.

With a little cropping, viola! A clean background.

Bradley Holt

Bradley Holt

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO500, f2.8, 1/2000th, ND Filter.

Ben Stoeger

Ben Stoeger

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO500, f2.8, 1/2000th, ND Filter.

As I went through the photos later I found some gems on the #2 remote.  The shooter would engage a target right over the top of the remote and their arms would frame their faces.

Bradley Holt

Bradley Holt

Nikon D700, 16mmFE, ISO200, f2.8, 1/4000th.

I also got lucky with the way some of the brass fell.

Rodney May shoots as a peice of spent brass lands in front of the lens.

Rodney May shoots as a peice of spent brass lands in front of the lens.

Nikon D700, 16mmFE, ISO200, f2.8, 1/4000th.

Rob Leatham

Rob Leatham

Nikon D700, 16mmFE, ISO200, f2.8, 1/4000th.

This angle also shows the footwork of the shooters nicely.

Matt Mink skids to a stop

Matt Mink skids to a stop

Nikon D700, 16mmFE, ISO200, f2.8, 1/4000th.

Rodney May shoots while on the move.

Rodney May shoots while on the move.

Nikon D700, 16mmFE, ISO200, f2.8, 1/4000th.

Dave Sevigny reloads while coming to a stop.

Dave Sevigny reloads while coming to a stop.

Nikon D700, 16mmFE, ISO200, f2.8, 1/4000th.

durka-uspsa-pronats09-2467

Nikon D700, 16mmFE, ISO200, f2.8, 1/4000th.

The wide fisheye of remote two gave me a variety of shots as the shooters engaged several targets.

Roney May

Roney May

Nikon D700, 16mmFE, ISO200, f2.8, 1/4000th.

Bob Vogel

Bob Vogel

Nikon D700, 16mmFE, ISO200, f2.8, 1/4000th.

Rob Leatham

Rob Leatham

Nikon D700, 16mmFE, ISO200, f2.8, 1/4000th.

After all the shooters were done I collected my remotes once more and went to Stage 15, my last of the day.  This was a shorter stage with very little movement.  Initially I attached a remote to the wall with a magic arm to get a head on shot of the shooters firing through the port.

Stage 15 Diagram

Stage 15

Stage 15

Nikon D700, 16mmFE, ISO200, 1/4000th.

Stage 15 remote

Stage 15 remote

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO640, f2.8, 1/3200, ND Filter.

Ben Stoeger on stage 15.

Ben Stoeger on stage 15.

Nikon D300, 10-20mm, ISO200, f5.6, 1/1600th.

I soon realized some of the shorter shooters may hit it so I moved it to the side of the wall.

After I moved the remote.

After I moved the remote.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO640, f2.8, 1/2000th, ND Filter.

Is this case I was unlucky, I misjudged how far over the shooters would come on the camera side and had a lot of cut off shots as a result.

my remote is too close to an unnamed shooter

my remote is too close to an unnamed shooter

Nikon D300, 10-20mm, ISO200, f4.5, 1/1250th.

But a few did turn out and with the stark blue sky they looked cool.  I just wish there were some puffy clouds that day.

Rob Leatham

Rob Leatham

Nikon D300, 10-20mm, ISO200, f4.5, 1/1250th.

Matt Mink

Matt Mink

Nikon D300, 10-20mm, ISO200, f4.5, 1/1250th.

It also made a nice shot of the start of the stage as the shooters grabbed their pistols from the table.

Bob Vogel

Bob Vogel

Nikon D300, 10-20mm, ISO200, f4.5, 1/1250th.

I also shot handheld and got some clean face shots as the shooters engaged the right side of the stage.

Dave Sevigny

Dave Sevigny

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO640, f2.8, 1/2000th, ND Filter.

Ara Maljian

Ara Maljian

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO640, f2.8, 1/2000th, ND Filter.

Matt Mink reloads.

Matt Mink reloads.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO640, f2.8, 1/2000th, ND Filter.

Although it was a short day I was pleased with my shots and look forward to experimenting more with  the shooting sports.

Up next, NCAA Football.

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There are 2 Comments to "Shooting the Shooters – USPSA Production Nationals"

  • Joe Maguire says:

    Greetings
    We are working on a catalog for our client SIG SAUER and wondered if you have any photos of their shooting team members. Their team includes Matt Cheeley and Rodney May. We already have some shots of Max Michel. We are also looking for photos of youth either competing or target shooting. They would need to be model released.
    If you do, and we would be able to use them that would be great. If not, no problem.
    Thank you for your consideration!
    Best regards,
    JOE

  • admin says:

    Hi Joe, Pretty much all I have was in the blog. I you want specific shots or people I can attend almost any match to get the shots you need.

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