I've shot the Double Tap Championship 4 times now, and the match has never failed to be a fun and challenging experience. It didn't hurt that I had one of the best performances of my career, too. The theme this year was "Indiana Jones", and was a 13 stage, 348 round contest that was mostly more straight up than most matches. Sure, there were the usual Robert Porter embellishments, based on the match theme - but the majority of the stages had very little in the way of "carnival factor" to them this year.
The biggest individual challenge this year? The weather! More on that in a bit... First, here's the match video...
The weather... wow. Not the worst conditions I've shot in (check out the footage of the 2008 Open Nationals in my 2008 Year in Review post). But they were pretty gnarly. The folks that shot the whole match in one day on Friday had it the worst, in my estimation - not only did they have cold temperatures and gusty winds, but added on top of it was a heavy rain before lunch time, and then a spitting mist later in the day. I was on the range for a couple of hours on Friday, looking things over, and I can say for certain that it was quite miserable. Kudos to the folks who shot - and especially those who shot well - under those conditions!
Those of us who shot the weekend schedule were greeted with 28 degree temperatures coupled with a 30 mph constant wind, with gusts up to 50. Yeah... that wasn't exactly warm. However, proper preparation goes a long way - I had on thermals under 5.11 Tactical pants (heavier than my usual Woolrich Tactical Elite pants, and they block the wind better), double socks, an Under Armour Cold Gear long sleeve shirt under my jersey, a dunsel cap, a fleece scarf, and gloves, plus 8 or so chemical hand warmers in pockets and gloves. I was only cold when I was shooting! Sunday was better - it started off chilly, but warmed into the low 70s by lunch time.
The weather can have a major effect on your stamina. Stay hydrated, keep eating small amounts constantly... stay well fueled and you'll stay warm and awake. Especially in cold. And extra especially in wind.
Like previous DTC matches, this one was mostly up close and furious. You know the match is up close when you see a 15 yard shot and it looks positively long! There were several movers in this match, but all of them were generously slow. You were generally looking for what you could do in between activating them and shooting them. It seemed like there might've been a couple more no-shoots than in the past? And, there were a couple of pretty cool, creative stage adaptations.
This year, the dark house used blacklights to illuminate targets painted in fluorescent colors. The targets were easy to see - the fault lines, maybe not so much. The ROs were more light adjusted than the shooter, and could see what was going on. The lesson here is to be very clean when locating those lines, and be sure you're inside them, not on top of them. Unfortunately, this is the last match for the dark house (it was only supposed to last one year, actually, but survived for two).
The stage "Indy Hates Snakes" used foam pipe insulation zip tied to the walls to simulate "snakes" coming out of the walls. They were pretty much a non-issue from the shooting standpoint, although they could make it tough to pick out each port on the stage. They did make the stage feel surprisingly confined, though. Interesting effect.
Stage 13, "Short Rounds Revenge", used a rope tethered to a pole outside the shooting area to control shooter movement. In addition, you had to keep tension on the rope - if you let it slack, the rope would knock tennis balls off of PVC posts (also outside the shooting area), awarding you with a procedural penalty per ball dropped. This was a FAST stage, resulting in an 18 hit factor stage winning score! At that speed, you accept losing some points - each point is only worth .05 seconds.
Performance wise, I had a small blip at the front side of the match - my 2nd and 3rd stages were relatively poor performances (first two on the video), but the remaining stages were fairly consistent and clean. I shot 94.7% of available match points, and only had one penalty in the match. This is a big improvement on last year. I also had some pokey stages towards the end of the first day that I'm examining for further improvement. And, as usual, the video shows lots of areas I can work on in practice.
Next year's match dates and theme are already announced. Robert's going with a Flintstone's theme. Sounds like fun. Hope I see you there!