One has to wonder at their choice of banana-yellow caps and shirts for the ROs but we sure did stand out. Just not a color one tends to wear, generally. Of course, they were rather filthy by the end of the 10 hour day…
We arrived at a very windy range with a bit of a chill in the air. I was pleased to have my wool cover shirt in the truck as it was the perfect layer over my silk longjohn shirt (hey, it’s thin, light, and very warm) and this lovely RO shirt. I wondered how the 1000 yd range shots would work with that gusting wind but, as it turns out, I would never know.
We arrived, waited at the briefing, and were assigned by our good pal to be ROs at the Top Shot range. Two teams (red and blue, of course) of two people each would shoot and try to be the fastest to hit two stationary and one stubby falling target at 100 yds. I wish I could speak about the rest of the ranges, vendors, BBQ, etc. but from the moment we arrived at our spot we were hauling ass. Trooper and the other ROs took the OBRs, mounted scopes, and got them squared away.
Before you could say “.308 ” there was a line of at least 25 people on each team. And it never slowed until the cease fires. Trooper and his mate would greet the two shooters on their team, introduce them to the weapon, and then get them squared away to ensure they got the best shots for their 5 rounds. Meanwhile, I loaded mags with 5 rounds over and over and over again for 10 hours. Yes, my nails are ruined and, yes, I have a terrible case of mag thumb. I was so proud of my husband – he gave each person the same briefing over and over again but never made it sound rote. And each shooter was given very individual attention to ensure an optimal experience.
I have to say most of the people were VERY good about the lines, and there was very little grumbling. I think we managed to keep our line to about 30 minutes wait at the worst because we worked like a machine. One of the very first shooters (with a respectable 6.38 seconds, I think) was Dustin Ellermann. Trooper is a great fan of his, having such respect for how he represented himself on the program. They had a few moments to speak and shake hands. Many people recognized him in the few minutes he had in the area.
However, the most impressive shooter at our side of the range was Daniel Harubin. We’d been told that the fastest shooter would win a “big gift” so when the injured vet stagger-stepped his way to the platform we wondered how fast he could shoot – after all, shooters could only put a foot on the platform and then take their preferred position and shoot. This guy had a foot and leg in a brace, still recovering from having it very nearly shot off in Afghanistan.
Well, hell – we didn’t need to concern ourselves as he shot the hell out of it. Sure, he took time getting up again but he just went back into the line. All day long he’d appear, take his shots and see if he could improve on his time. Eventually, the line understood – he would sit on the crate at the front and if there were any single shooters, he’d offer to take the other gun.
Meanwhile, 5 rounds were loaded in each mag, over and over and over again until I just knew only that – a glance up now and then, a judging of the line, ensuring there was a party of two or finding a match for those rare single shooters…and let me add here that the weapon shot perfectly regardless of the filth blowing into it, and the constant firing. We personally saw over 2000 rounds go off our table into the two guns so just assume 1000 rounds over 1o hours with only the briefest of swabbing with a dirty shemagh and a swipe of oil twice that day. (BTW, the LaRue mags were far easier to load than the PMAGs…not to denegrate the latter as they are AMAZING but for girly hands, they were nail breakers.)
During the first cease fire, DPS Air came in, SWAT in the doorway of the helicopter, performing a bit of aerial shooting. In the winds that day, it was impressive flying. I suspect Trooper’s academy mate was one of the guys in the doorway but we were too busy to do any meet and greet. Instead, there was just enough time to break down the OBR, swipe out the worst of the dust, and get it back up again.
The hours sped by, rare glittering cylinders of brisket made their way to our AO, and I only managed to get a single one. I was glad we’d packed a cooler with snacks to keep our energy up. As the sun started to set, the line dwindled and Danny had lost his top shot standing ever so briefly to Wes (4.4 seconds). He came back and kicked it – knelt so fast that you would never have known he was injured a few weeks ago. Three hellaciously fast shots, three hits, and the timer sang out – “4.35!” and he stood with rather some effort. Wes just shook his head with a smile then shook Danny’s hand.
Just this morning, he noted on his Facebook page, “…as much as I would love to be selfish and keep it, I’m going to donate the “Top Shot” LaRue Tactical OBR that I won yesterday to the Wounded Warrior Project. These people do alot of great things for wounded Soldiers and their families, and I couldnt think of anyone more deserving. Hopefully, when they auction it off, they can get alot of money to help out more wounded guys!!!” I am telling you – the guy is an impressive individual. Now, if only he’d quite smoking. *snicker*
With that, the day ended – as we packed up the gear we could hear the announcer call his name, and give him the OBR. Filthy, but smiling, we packed it in and headed to the Monument Grill for dinner. We felt a little bad going in there as rough as we were but it was on the way home and good eats.
I can hardly think of any criticism, really. It is an incredible kindness to the shooting community and fellow Texans. I might ensure there were better comms to each range and a Director to disseminate information. It might be better to host a two-day event as it seems to have become quite popular. And I might try to have more ROs to relieve others to permit down time and a few hours to scope out the vendors. If it wasn’t within 100 yards, we didn’t see it. That, and a separate supply of brisket for us. HA! Yeah, that’s a must for next year.
Just add it to your calendars, friends. It’s one hell of an experience courtesy of one hell of a man.