Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rapid Fire by Haidurov

A few weeks ago I showcased an old video film produced by the Soviet Union’s Ministry of Sports. It featured Professor Haidurov instructing shooters on the basics of pistol shooting. Well, back in the early 1980’s during the beginning of Glasnost, we were still referring to the Soviet Union as the Evil Empire.

None the less, during the Cold War, the competitive precision pistol scene was dominated by the Soviets for decades.

Granted the film’s format is about International rapid fire but many aspects of their sport translate to our’s.

As before, the monologue is spoken in Russian. Luckily English subtexts were recently inserted.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Season 3?

I’m certain many of you are aware the History Channel has announced a third casting call for their Top Shot reality series. If not, the current casting is open to marksmen of all ages and disciplines (assuming you’re in good shape).

But there’s a twist. The producers would love to have couples audition such as: spouses, siblings, fathers and sons—heck—even co-workers will do. It’ll either be a bonding experience or the precursor for new long distance relationships.

Assuming you’ve got six weeks to spare (for filming), know how to shoot, and have a larger than life personality—History wants you! … Assuming you’ve taken the time to read their disclaimer.

Give them a ring at (818) 478-4570 and discuss the matter with them. Or at the very least, take a look at their casting announcement.

Monday, March 21, 2011

An Interview with Tara Poremba

The History Channel’s Top Shot cable reality show has garnered an awful lot of interest. Not only among practitioners of precision shooting but the public at large. Actually, I think it’s a lot of fun.

I believe Pilgrim Films (the show’s producer) got the message: The public wanted less interpersonal intrigue and a greater display of shooting skills. Okay, it’s a reality show—and for the purpose of entertainment—it needs a little humanism, or the lack there of.

I don’t have any great insights about the show, but many of us have been encouraged by our family and friends to audition for the next season. For me, I highly doubt anyone wants to watch an old, overweight, bald guy running an obstacle course, dangerously flailing a loaded 1911 around, and then grabbing his chest while wheezing for his next life-giving breath of air.

Although, I do think the process—the process of getting on the show would be enlightening.

Well, this is when I picked up the phone and called someone with actual experience. I was lucky enough to chat with the lovely and charming Tara Poremba. Tara’s a prominent Bullseye shooter who was enrolled on the original cast during Season One, and knows what it takes to get on.

Tony: Tara, what made you apply for a spot on Top Shot?

Tara: I got emails from a few friends and they suggested I apply. They had seen some things here and there about the casting call.

Tony: So what did you do, just pick up the phone?

Tara: No. I sent them an email about my shooting background and a photo. Then after a few days a casting producer called me and did a phone interview. He requested that I do a video and he had some specific things that he wanted me to address in it.

That video was one of the hardest things that I’ve ever done. I had to speak about myself for five minutes. It had to be about me personally and my shooting accomplishments.

Tony: Five minutes! That must have felt like forever?

Tara: It does. It probably took me about four hours to get it done.

Tony: Can you give me an idea what was the total number of applicants?

Tara: We were told there were 5000 to 6000 applicants for the first season.

Tony: I’m assuming there must have been some additional steps to become a cast member?

Tara: After I sent in my video they called and told me they received it and had an interest.

Then they sent an email with documents; basically they were disclosures and waivers. There was a medical questionnaire that my doctor needed to fill out. And there was a notice about potential dates future cast members needed to be aware of.

There was nothing final at this point. This is when they informed me, at some point in the future, 50 potential cast members would be invited to CA to do a “final casting.”

Several days later I received an email that said, “Congratulations, you’re one of our 50 finalists.”

Tony: When you initially went out to CA, was that for a screen test? Or is that kind of an outdated retro term?

Tara: The final casting process started off with a shooting competition where we shot four different weapons.

The second day was a psychological test. You know, one of those four hour written things. And the following day was an interview with a psychologist to go over the test’s results.

The fourth day was a physical examination with lots of blood work.

And the final day was an on-camera interview with the executives of both History and Pilgrim. … It was a pretty intense week.

Actually before I went into the interview, one of the casting crew tried to calm me down. I was extremely nervous. He told me things like, “Tara, trust me, they love you. There’s nothing to worry about.”

The process is nerve racking. You walk into the interview alone. It’s like an interrogation room with a big spot light. And in the middle of the room is this big conference table with all these executives and one chair is set aside in the middle of the room for the contestant. Then they just start hammering questions at you. It was pretty overwhelming.

Tony: Is this when you found out you were chosen?

Tara: No. I didn’t find out until after I left LA.

Tony: At what point did the History people call and say, “It’s time to go?”

Tara: They called about ten days later. I had a conference call with one of Pilgrim’s producers and an executive from the History Channel, and they told me they wanted me to be on the show. I was floored, I couldn’t believe it.

Tony: I’ve heard some pretty strange stories about cast members being met at the airport, where they enter a blacked-out van—and then they’re gone? Almost like a Men in Black kind of thing?

Tara: Well, no one ever put blinders on me.

Tony: Do they do the blacked-out van thing?

Tara: Sort of. But not the way you describe it.

Before our arrival to LA, the producers gave us information about which shuttle buses we should take at the airport to get to the hotel. And when we arrived in the hotel lobby we were greeted by members of the producer’s staff.

Then there was a lot more paperwork. After that, the producers went through our personal belongings.

Anything that had a logo on it, your cell phone and any reading materials were taken away. Then they placed those items into storage. Anything they deem inappropriate is taken.

I’m a huge White Sox’s fan. I had a White Sox’s hat, tee-shirts and sweatshirt—all those things made it into storage.

The following day when we left LA, that’s when we got into the blacked-out vans. We drove for about 45 minutes to an hour to the set in Santa Clarita. During my time on the set I didn’t really know my exact location.

Tony: The set—was that a private residence?

Tara: Yes, it’s a private ranch. Actually they film a lot of things there. The television show Wipeout is shot there. And while we were there, Cameron Diaz was shooting some movie scenes. It’s a huge ranch.

Tony: The main house looked pretty up-class but at the same time a little sterile. I never got the impression there was much privacy there?

Tara: Privacy? Oh, absolutely not!

When we first walked in, there’s this overwhelming house that’s just breathtaking. It was beautiful but we had to share a lot of space with the other cast members and crew.

Tony: We all know there was a dark time on the set when your father became extremely ill. I’m certain that complicated things for the producers. What was that like dealing with the producers and leaving the show early?

Tara: The people from History and Pilgrim were well aware my dad was extremely ill. I was upfront about it in the early part of the casting process.

There were no phones on the set. Heck, there were no cell phones, TVs, computers, newspapers, magazines or any other forms of communication going in or out.

The producers worked out a way for my family to leave messages. But even that was very limited, and I wasn’t allowed to even reply. It was all one-way and at times it was even delayed by a few days. My family was only allowed to contact the producers, and at that, the information had to be only about my dad’s condition.

This whole process was unknown to the other contestants at the ranch—and I kept it that way. I didn’t want them to know I had a weakness and my mind was often in other places. The producers made a special exception for me and no one else, due to the circumstances.

When it came time to leave the producers were very understanding.

Actually, my dad passed away during my return flight home to Chicago.

Tony: I remember before the season’s end, there was this ground swell to draft Tara for a second season. It was one of those things that kind of went viral.

Tara: Yeah, there was a buzz about that. The producers called me and asked about my time on the show, and even inquired if I approved or liked the editing.

Independently they noticed a lot of public desire for me to return for the second season. They were upfront with me and said they thought it would die down in a few months. They even asked if I would be interested in doing a second season. Although, I suggested we talk about it when it got closer to filming, but they never called back.

Tony: Tara, your time there—do you think it was worthwhile?

Tara: I had a great time. It was a once in a lifetime experience. And the friendships I made during that experience are definitely friendships that will last a lifetime. It was an honor to compete amongst those guys.

Friday, March 18, 2011

CMP Rule Amendments

The CMP has updated their rule book by amending their position on 1911 beavertail safety cuts.

The 2011 15th edition of the CMP Competition Rules is now available. The CMP is the national governing body for Service Rifle, Service Pistol and CMP Games shooting events, and the CMP Competition Rules is the official rulebook for these events.

The new rulebook is posted on the CMP’s website at:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Retro Soviet Training

Recently I ran into this Soviet era instructional movie, produced with the assistance of Professor Efim Haidurov, titled Pistol Shooting Basics. Since it was crafted in 1983, for the life of me, I don’t understand why they made this thing in black and white. It looks older than it really is.

None the less, even though this movie-short is about International pistol it can be a useful training aid for beginning BE shooters. Luckily it has English subtitles.

I’ve been told several times (without any real supporting evidence) American Bullseye was the principal foundation for International pistol events during the first few modern Olympic Games. And as such, I like to believe our sport has a more pure history with faithful traditions.

Professor Haidurov pretty much dominated the entire Soviet pistol landscape for close to 25 years. He designed and created most of the Soviet Union’s post-war precision pistols—be it free, standard and even revolvers—used exclusively by them during their height of competitive success. He almost single-handedly trained their nation’s pistol teams with a zeal that hasn’t been seen since the collapse of the empire.

He taught, trained, competed, engineered, and at times even managed a lathe, to do whatever was required to bring success to the Motherland. The ol’ boy did it all.

Haidurov pretty much micromanaged everything during his tenure; and in return, walked away with most of the major awards from that era. Plainly, the guy really had his act together.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Guest Post by Dan Pauley: The Desert Classic – Part 3: Conclusion

I have to admit when I originally asked Dan to report on the Desert Classic there was an ulterior motive. I wanted someone who’s a real shooter (but not a High Master), someone that might be labeled as ‘progressing in the sport.’ And that person also needed to have an unbiased perspective about the concept of what’s ‘fun.’ So, I approached Dan. It seemed like a very natural fit.

During Dan’s well spent time in Phoenix he’s captured an experience; an experience I hope many of you will avail yourselves to in the near future. If not the Desert Classic, maybe Canton’s Regional, if not that, The Lobster Match in Maine.

There’s a lot more to Bullseye that just rackin’ up the points. And if you have been paying close attention to Dan’s notes, there is much more.

Below is the final post of Dan’s trilogy.

Friday is .22 day. I managed to get in my air pistol match early on, and then later shot the .22 match. The weather is beautiful here. I'm guessing there will be a price to pay for all of this come July and August, but for visiting in February, I'm okay with that.

There was a bit of a For Sale table set up at the match. A Kart .22 conversion got my attention. Shot it in the slow fire match and did an acceptable job with it. Then I used a Marvel for the rest of the match. Ended up with an 844, not my best but near my average. John Zurich shot an 895: That was one 8 and three 9's for the whole match! I was impressed. And I got to sign his 100-10X sustained fire target.

Saturday during the CF match I used my RRA wadgun. It’s a good stable and reliable platform. 2nd relay started off well enough. About 3 minutes into the first slow fire target, a storm front came through with major blowing winds. It took out several targets among other things not bolted down.

A cease fire and range alibi was called during this wind induced calamity. All the targets were replaced and then slow fire restarted. Once the initial weather front moved through, temps dropped with winds diminishing over time. I managed to eek out an 817.

After Saturday’s match, it was off to the fairgrounds for a gun show. Man do they know how to have a gun show in AZ, lots and lots of everything. Huge! Probably a good thing I'm not an AZ resident or I’d need standing appointments with the local loan officer.

On Sunday, final match day, the championship fired their 45 match. Shot well enough but really below my average, although I wasn't there to win the prize. Unfortunately the weather turned cold. I finally broke down and got out my new rain suit, and then managed to shoot the EIC and DR matches. Again, I was way off my average but enjoyed it even better.

Sunday night I packed and got ready for the return flight back to Columbus. Packed all the pistols in the double rifle case, and stowed everything else in my trusty travel bag. Got up at a mind numbing 3:00 AM and then headed out for the airport. Unlike the Ohio check-in process, it went off without a hitch. Pat and I ate breakfast in the airport lounge and caught up on some of our long overdue e-mails.

During our final approach to Columbus, Ohio—the first thing I noticed as we broke through the clouds was the ground. NO SNOW, Yippee! It looked like there was a light rain. We manage to get all our belongings at the airport and caught a ride home. Then dropped my neighbor Pat at his house as the weather quickly turned to a freezing rain. 30 minutes later it started snowing hard. By morning we had 4” of fresh snow over a crunchy base of ice.

Why do I live this far north? There’s got to be another match somewhere, somewhere, in the Deep South.