A while back, we got a message from a friend asking if we knew anything about WWI tank armor. We didn’t, but with the power of the internet, we figured it out fast. Short version, 1/2″ AR450 is roughly equivalent in spec to what was used by the Brits. The whole project was put on by and documented by our friends at https://www.forgottenweapons.com Full article linked below.
Tldr The guy who has a history of getting butthurt about other companies building similar (or identical) steel target designs got called out for ripping off my new design.
Last summer I started prototyping a new version of a steel target system
Basically, I took the standard competition texas star concept and turned it on it’s head. Instead of shooting the first paddle off and then picking off the rest as it spun, you had to shoot clay targets out of the paddles. If you hit a paddle, you’d get penalized, and it would then start swinging, making it harder.
I kept the system a secret until a big 3gun match in Arizona this spring, Superstition Mystery Mountain in Mesa AZ. It went great, everyone loved (hated) it and a fine time was had by all.
One of my major competitors, Travis Gibson of MGM Targets, was at the match.
The system has been used in another major 3gun match since then, and a couple minor ones. I’ve sold a few system and the paddles. Time passed.
Here’s where things get interesting. The Lucas Oil PCC Championship was this weekend. I started getting messages yesterday from people asking if I had a Claystar at the Lucas Match. Nope.
Turns out MGM provided all the steel, including a claystar system compatible with their star, which they called a claystar (which is what I’ve been calling it).
All good, I don’t patent these things, I just want the credit. There’s a long history in the steel targets industry of not patenting things, and competing on your ability to make a solid design at a fair price backed with good customer service, and giving credit to the creator when they come up with something new. Texas Stars are generally attributed Terry Ashton of Texas, utilizing oil field scrap and pipe. Polish plate racks I’m fairly sure are the creation of North Salt Lake Welding. The first dueling tree documentation I have found involved Jeff Cooper and Seligman Shooting Products. The pepper popper is named for instructor John Popper. The claystar is my current contribution to the industry, IDGAF if other companies make it, I’d just like a crack at selling it to people along with the targets that hold it.
So, I posted up on my biz facebook, tagged him and his biz. Shit blew up reaaaaaal good.
A few hours later I got a from someone who indicated he’s with MGM, and that they had no idea that Travis had done this and that he wanted me to know what good people the are, and that they won’t be selling the claystar, and if they do they will credit me. I told him that’s fine, I just want credit. A post on their site or FB thanking me for letting them use my concept in the Lucas match would be nice, I said. I mean, calling ahead of time to ask for permission rather than forgiveness would have been better, but we can’t change the past.
I kinda doubt that is coming.
I’ve gotten some real nasty reviews from his sponsored shooters at this point, but I also picked up a bunch of new nice reviews from people who saw what was going on and finally chimed in on their own targets they bought from me, or shot at events. It’s been interesting to see it unfold.
Ah well, at least we have the memes.
So, at the end of the day, I dunno how this will play out long term, but at least I’ve got a cool story bro to go with the target design now.
September 2015 brought fair weather, green grass, and vomit to the wild woods outside Appomattox, Virginia for the third year running. Cola Warrior East once again interrupted the quiet rural lifestyle of the remote bit of humid subtropical Piedmont, with so much history, as a band of sugar charged locals and visitors converged to test their mettle.
East had been accused of being “diet” in past events, with the feeling by some that their obstacles weren’t up to snuff. Several East Vets came out to the inaugural West event, and are often found at the Classic event in Liberty MS. The obstacles at East 3 far more resembled Classic than West, and were decidedly *not* diet.
First, a wall that had about one board you could get a toe on, if you took a running launch. Climb up and over, without grabbing the sides. There was a trick to threading a belt through the wall, about six feet up, to give a hand hold. Didn’t help me or a bunch of other people summit the wall, but a fair number made it over.
Second, a Salmon Ladder. There’s no trick to help here. It’s just torture. Lots of penalties assessed here.
Next, throw the big, ungainly chunk of wood over the cord. The cord was attached with a magnet, you could bump it, but not dislodge it. This was as close to a “gimmi” as East had, and it still racked up a lot of penalties. Incidentally, it’s the only obstacle I didn’t fail.
Name one thing we’re going to need this stupid fucking rope for?
Last, drag the disintegrating pallet/sled with about 900 lbs of cinder blocks on it back and forth some arbitrary distance that was farther than the 1/4″ I was able to wiggle it.
These obstacles were obscene. The diet of yesteryear was purged under a nigh unstoppable tsunami of penalties.
The AK was battle worn. The peeps were stale and warm. The run undulated along the forest dirt road.
The range portion of these events, with about eight pistol targets, and about the same rifle targets, is usually an afterthought for most experienced Cola Warriors. Calm down just enough to squeeze off the pistol rounds, you’ve got two full mags after all. After you clear the pistol and your heart rate is down, go prone, and clear the rifle, it shouldn’t even take a full mag.
Not at East 3. Rifle targets were scattered the length of the narrow ascending forest track. Heavy vegetation and constantly shifting light would bring targets in and out of visibility. Difficult, with the 300m target being a 2/3 scale IPSC Metric (equivalent to a full scale IPSC at 450m). Doable, but not easy. I cleared the rifle targets with less than a mag of 5.56 from a Colt 6940 with an ACOG TA31 optic.
The pistol targets, on the other hand, were a nightmare. Set at 25m from the line, the eight pistol targets were staggered above and below a horizontal cross bar.
At 25m, this is a tough target to hit, 8″ diameter paddles just about entirely disappear under a standard pistol front post. Unnoticeable at 25m, and in the poor light, are the two counter weights at either end. Invisible are the bearings at the center, over the single center support. As soon as a paddle is hit, it falls off, unbalancing the whole affair. At 90*, a counterweight falls off, causing the now heavier “up” end to rapidly be the down end, dumping it’s weight. Now the whole thing is spinning on the center like a propeller. Three of the Cola Warriors cleared this target system. Many failed to get more than three paddles off of it, including myself. As much as MOA has been blamed for this monstrosity, we didn’t do it. Sure, we will soon, but we didn’t do it. We do a similar target, the Red Neck Texas Star. Soon, and rifle rated to boot, we’ll be torturing people.
All in all, a fantastic event. Great location, great people, great food, amazing sponsors (listed below, check ’em out, and thank them for their support), and a good time had by all.
Cola Warrior 5 was run the last two weekends of May 2015, at the FEMA Camp outside Liberty, MS. For those who don’t know what Cola Warrior is, the tl;dr is obstacle, AK/peep, run, shoot, chug. Also for those who don’t know what Cola Warrior is, good on you for making it this far in the blog post after watching that emesis introduction. This was the fifth annual event in Liberty. I ran at CWWest a couple months earlier in Kingman AZ, and placed well enough to get invited to CW5.
I sponsored a custom target and a prize, and had some steel to deliver to customers also attending the event. Turns out steel is heavy, and doesn’t pack well in airline luggage. So, four days of solo driving and 2,100 miles later, I arrived in the swamp late Thursday as the event kicked off.
I was welcomed with open arms, it helps to bring steel targets and beer to salve wounded spirits and bodies after the runs.
Without further ado, let’s run through the course.
This was possibly the most amusing of the various ways people failed to accomplish the tire toss. While it made for great photo ops, I worry that putting the MOA logo there may lead to lost sales. Few want to see that logo ever again after having their body and soul crushed by that tire.
Three runners, including the cyborg who started it all, were able to do all the obstacles. Three. That’s insane.
29 of the 77 runners failed every obstacle, and a new hashtag was born.
Now the real fun begins. Field strip the AK, while eating a package of peeps. Peeps lead to hate. Hate leads to anger. Anger leads to AK in the trashcan.
A leisurely peep fueled 1/2 mile run down the muddy roads winds up the last of major physical torture. Thankfully, the run is mostly flat or down hill. I suspect with extra rain, it would be hell, but we lucked out on weather to some extent. It didn’t rain any more in the four days I was there than we get in a typical year in Nevada.
And with that, there was nothing left to do but chug, and puke.
This is how a winner pukes, folks. With a time of 11:07, arfcom’s Kaik managed a come from behind to win. He gets an asterisk for having run twice, a week apart, but he earned it, and showed he had what it took to take home the title.
After that, it was time for more food (which there was tons of, in huge variety, and it was awesome) and to announce placements and prizes. Make sure you scroll down to check out the sponsor list, it’s pretty amazing.
Overall, this event was much, much tougher overall than Cola Warrior West (my only other experience). The obstacles is what killed it, and ironically, that made it easier overall for me. As I was only able to complete one obstacle, and had to skip one entirely due to a broken hand, I was in way better shape going to the AK and peeps than I was at West. My West time, sans penalties, was 31:48. Here, sans penalties, 22:54 for a 19th place finish. Top time here was an insane 11:07 (RustedAce, the guy who started it, was 8:07, which is nuts). Top time at West was pushing 15 minutes, and the runner who did that has been competitive in every CW event he’s been in. We apparently broke him at West, he was unable to make CW5. West was harder, but CW5 was a different level of challenge entirely.
Thanks again to everyone for making me welcome. It was a hell of a long drive, but it was worth every mile. I’m going to try to hit CWE3 in September/October in VA. I’ll be sure to make CWSE and CWTX next year. And, don’t forget I’m hosting CWWII in Reno, NV the first weekend of April 2016. Send me your ringers, your runners, your pyramid pals. Kaik can come if he helps West’s Dirty Inky cook, I suppose.
And finally, thank you to the sponsors who help take the pain away.
Several years ago, the Cola Warrior series of fitness, shooting, and willpower competitions were founded by RustedAce, a cyborg who lives in a swamp and fights in a desert. Cola Warrior a competition in five parts: several difficult obstacles, field strip of an AK pattern rifle while eating five marshmallow Peeps, run half a mile, shoot rifle and pistol targets from field positions, and chug 72 oz of carbonated soda.
No one in their right mind would do this. May 2015 will be the fifth consecutive year of events at RustedAce’s FEMA Compound in the Swamp (now known as CWOG). This fall will be the third CW East (CWE). Late March 2015, P2tharizo hosted the first Cola Warrior west of the Mississippi, outside Kingman, AZ (CWW). As owner/operator/Chief Guy in Charge of Stuff for MOA Targets, I sponsored the steel targets for the CWW event and also ran in the event. I would like to take this moment to reiterate- no one in their right mind would do this.
The obstacles at CWW were designed to break each contestant, forcing you to use your body in new and horrible ways each time, after you were already chewed up by the previous one. Every obstacle you fail adds five minutes to your total run time in penalties. First, flip end over end a 200+ pound tire uphill about 25m, then return it to where you started. This obstacle was especially tough for those under 5′ 4″ or so, due to lack of leverage.
Next, drag two 50 lb kettle bells on a cord about 25m through the sand and return them to where they started. This obstacle didn’t penalize many, it was just hard work.
Next, push the godawful huge ATV up the road- about 15m. At about 800 pounds, this obstacle killed anyone who was under about 150 lbs, due to lack of traction and inertia.
All tuckered out from moving heavy objects uphill, both ways, and through the sand, we come to the fourth challenge. The hand-over-hand angle iron bar eliminated many the heavy guys who rocked through the first three challenges like they weren’t even there.
The final obstacle (of the first section of the course, this keeps going) was a low crawl through sand and rock, with rattle cans above you, and a keg to push. Despite being the physically least demanding, this obstacle accounted for more penalties than any that came before it. Most who were penalized shop in Men’s Big and Tall sections, but exhausted flailing limbs nabbed a few more normals.
Excellent. We’ve had a nice bit of exercise, time for a snack. The next challenge is to gobble down five marshmallow peeps while field stripping an AK-47.
With the AK field stripped (and the dust cover beat back into shape), grab a stuffed animal and start the 1/8″ of a mile downhill run. At the end of that, swap the stuffed animal for another to prove you made it there, and start the 3/8″ of a mile uphill run, ending at the firing line. Oh yes, don’t forget this is ultimately a shooting competition.
Onto the range. Spread across the landscape were a total of seven pistol targets from 12-40 meters and eight rifle targets from 100-300 meters. Targets were designed to show bad habits. Long skinny horizontal axis targets show anticipating recoil (flinch) as well as breathing control and vertical tall skinny targets show wind drift and poor trigger control. Rifle targets also had odd shapes and color, were scattered all over the place, and were simultaneously loved and hated by all. Shooters were limited to standard capacity mags, two each pistol and rifle.
I was surprised to learn during the award ceremony that I had the fastest pistol time during the event, about 38 seconds, with 11 shots fired to clear 7 targets. I was not, however, surprised that I missed a rifle target. 40 rounds of 7.62x51mm were fired to clear 7 of 8 targets. The long and skinny 100m coyote target proved to everyone that I didn’t have my dope dialed in, and it cost me a five minute penalty for one missed target.
With the easy parts of the event wrapped up, it was time for the willpower challenge. Chug 72oz of carbinated soda, your choice, with a five minute penalty for each can not finished. There was a 2L option with a 5oz chaser, and a hefty 30 minute fail penalty if you couldn’t finish. Go Big or Go Home. Although Diet Mt. Dew was popular, I chose 6 cans of Squirt, getting all of them down with no penalty.
Final Result: 9th of 46, with a time (including five minute rifle penalty) of 36:48. For reference, first place was 15:25, 23rd was 52:22, and last was 103:20 for a night vision run with lots of penalties.
All said and done, I regret everything. I can’t wait for the next one. MOA will be hosting CWWII the first weekend of April, 2016, outside Reno, NV.
Recently, MOA was approached by a young shooter just getting into the competitive field, specifically long range shooting. MOA has considered sponsoring shooters before, but has declined to do so historically. After shooting along side Bella, age nine, this weekend, we think we’ve found our match.
More correctly, she out shot the MOA founder, so it was decided that she could only help our reputation. Please welcome Bella to the MOA Minions.
Bella lives local to MOA central, north of Reno, Nevada, and has been shooting for several years. She’s currently rocking a pink Cricket rifle, a youth single shot 22LR chambered firearm. She competed at a local rimfire match this past weekend, and did quite well. We were shooting at NRA Hunter Pistol (50%) scale targets at ranges of 40-107m.
The stations included chicken at 40m (standing), pig at 60m (sitting), turkey at 77m (prone), and ram at 107m (shooters choice of position). Bella scored 19 of 40 possible points.
Local rimfire matches are scheduled once a month, typically April – November. Centerfire long range matches happen all year round, as so various pistol and 3-gun matches. Bella has expressed interest into entering new fields of competition as her skills grow, and MOA intends to be there beside her to grow with her.
For those of you who have considered going to a match and have never done so, consider this. I went, and got beat by a 9 year old girl, and we all had fun. There’s worse things in the world than realizing you’ve been outshot by someone who hasn’t grown into short pants yet.
In the past four weeks, I’ve attended two gun shows and two agricultural trade shows (whaaa?) as a vendor for my home based steel target business, MOA Targets. I spent a total of eleven days staffing the shows, and about 2500 miles traveled, and three states. As I’m still in my first year of business, this was the most concentrated bit of promotion I’ve done to date, and was largely done to show off my new long range reactive target, the Mozambique. Here’s my analysis.
Crossroads of the West Phoenix January 18-19 – in a metropolitan area of 4.3 million people, this show was the weekend after SHOT, and was considered a small one. It was about the size of what is billed as the Big Reno Show (which I’m used to doing), which brings in folks from all over the west coast. Sales were better than normal for me, despite not being local and not having a very diverse onsite inventory, due to travel. Two local competitors, neither of which have a web presence, were present. Decent amount of cards handed out, but less than average. Many of the same vendors that attend the Reno Crossroads shows were here. This was my first ever show outside my normal stomping grounds of Reno, NV.
Colusa Farm Show (NorCal) February 4-6 – The annual farm show is the big happenings in fertile Colusa, CA. A largely outdoor show, it covers the several acres of the local fairgrounds, and is focused on commercial agriculture, mostly nut orchards and rice. At a population of less than 6,000 (county population ~22k), this show is a whole different scale than the Phoenix one a couple weeks earlier. That being said, considering my booth cost me nothing, it was worth doing just to get my product in front of folks that might never make it to a gun show. Plenty of farmers and ranchers shoot, and a decent amount of cards were handed out, no sales at this show. Interestingly, while there were less people at this show than an average gun show, I estimate I talked to a larger percentage of the farmers than I do gun show folks. Apparently, I was a big enough deal to make the local paper, so I’ve got that going for me. No other firearms industry vendors were present, that I noticed.
World Ag Expo (SoCal) February 11-13. The annual World Ag Expo in Tulare, CA is similar to the Colusa show, but much larger and more trafficked, with the promoters estimating 1500 vendors and 100k paid attendees at this largely outdoor show. While once again I had no sales, I spent the majority of the show talking to interested folks, and handing out cards with wild abandon. I learned something important about California shooters at this show. With no more 50 BMG sales allowed in the state, long range shooters have taken to 338 lapua strongly, and there is a lot of interest in products that are suitable to use with the round. The NRA and the Elk Foundation also had booths at this show.
Silver Sage Gun Show, Bourbon Square Casino Feb 14-16. The final show of my tour, this was held in the hallway and meeting room of a small casino in Sparks, NV, my home turf. This was the first show at the venue, and with a total attendance of about 500, and less than 50 tables, it was the smallest by far. Poorly advertised, and mostly viewed as a potential failure, this show was actually pretty decent. I had better sales than I have at some larger shows, and while I didn’t hand out many cards, it was to a higher percentage of the attendees than normal. Most importantly, every attendee was given two tickets for free beer, and many of those tickets ended up with me, so I drank for free all weekend. Only local vendors were present.
My conclusions based on these four very different shows, three of which were outside my normal area of operations, is that it’s worth getting out of your normal area for an occasional show, but it’s tough to measure the return on investment. Looking at the analytics for my website, I didn’t see much of a bump in traffic from any of these shows. Total sales from the two shows that included sales were average for what I would get in Reno, but included significant travel in one case. The Phoenix show nominally paid for itself, assuming I work for free. The farm shows may yet bear fruit, but for the short term only pencil out if I work for free. The local show, which was the smallest, most poorly attended, and vaguely depressing show I’ve ever done, at least left me with free beer and lunch money.
tl;dr – starting a small business is hard, but generally involves more beer than a real job
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