The 20th annual rendition of the MGM Ironman is in the books. As I often say, of all the matches I am fortunate enough to attend, the MGM Ironman is by far my favorite. With at least double if not triple the round count of other matches on the outlaw circuit, stages littered with MGM circus targets, a zip line, a golf cart, a massive slide and 500-1000 yard bonus rifle targets…the Ironman is always epic. Ironman is held in high plains of western Idaho at the vast Parma Rod and Gun club. With stage par times of 480 seconds and a range surface very similar to the moon, Ironman is intense for both the shooter and their equipment.
There are a few things that are guaranteed at the Ironman. You will simultaneously drive and shoot from a golf cart. You will shoot rifle from on top of a 30 foot tower, and then slide down a slide (Only two broken legs in 20 years). You will run around hosing targets in mazes of trenches. You will carry 100-200lbs of dummies for bonus (its ironman, not sissy man). You will shoot a spinner with all 3-guns. Finally, everything –and I mean everything- will be covered in a very fine dust that is about the consistency of pancake mix that can choke just about any gun. Oh, and I almost forgot…you will shoot a pistol from a zip line. Yes, pistol…bullets…zip line…Yes, we have video.
This year we were fortunate enough to travel with our friends from Vortex Optics, and this year the Vortex Nation was on a very special mission. You see Ironman is held in a part of the country that is very much home tuff to…another…optics company, and the chieftains in Wisconsin challenged the Vortex Nation to sweep first place in every division. Low and behold, when all was said and done Team Vortex swept first, second, and third in Scope Tactical as well as firsts in Limited, Open, Heavy Metal, and Trooper divisions. Congratulations to Cody Leeper, Joel Turner, Matt Sweeny, Travis Gibson and Wyatt Gibson for bringing home the hardware. Vortex’s very own Reuben Aleckson shot an outstanding match as well and finished the highest out of our group at 18th.
Since Ironman in my favorite match, I always have high hopes for myself. My very first year I finished 17th and I’ve always had the goal of besting that run. Despite improving every year, knowing what to expect, and being more prepared…unfortunately, so has the rest of the talent pool, and I have yet to pull it off. This year the match was more technical than usual with options, and I was a beat off the pace, but still managed a 27th. A large portion of that I attribute to a brutal 30mph full value gusting wind that popped up just before my run at the long range slide stage (a stage that pretty much makes or breaks your match score). I got through without timing out (a feat of its own even in good conditions), but it set me way back. Unfortunately, that’s how it goes some times in 3-gun…when it’s your turn- wind or no wind- it’s your turn.
Despite the scores, if you are a red blooded 3-gunner, it’s impossible not to have fun at the Ironman. It is worth every cent and every hour of travel it takes to get there. Finishing this year was bitter sweet with rumors abound that it is the last year of the Gibson’s are going to put on the Ironman. I certainly hope that is not the case because it would certainly be the end of an era. For this year though, I’m super stoked to have completed my forth Ironman and here’s hoping that someday there will be a fifth.