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October 22, 2010 > Bay Area shooters compete at USPSA Nationals

Bay Area shooters compete at USPSA Nationals

By Kevin Yin

The 2010 United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) National Handgun Championships were held last week (Oct. 9 to 14) in Las Vegas. The Bay Area was represented by over 20 shooters, including three from Fremont and one from Hayward.

Competing in the USPSA has been described as "run-and-gun shooting." Shooters test their skills against a series of courses designed to comprehensively challenge a shooter's speed and accuracy by providing a variety of conditions and target types.

The championships include competition in five distinct divisions: limited, production, revolver, limited 10 and open; the distinction between divisions is related to the type of pistol permitted, and the degree to which the shooter is allowed to customize the pistol.

There are seven classifications of USPSA shooters: grandmaster, master, A, B, C, D and unclassified, and while nationals tends to include a large number elite shooters, many B and C shooters compete there, resulting in a field where skill level can be widely stratified.

Bay Area shooters were no exception to this distribution pattern, with some participants ranking among the best of the best, and others who rate closer to the average shooter.

Among the Bay Area's best shooters are two grandmasters, John Bagakis of Livermore and Keith Garcia of San Ramon. Bagakis shot in the revolver division, which has an unusually high concentration of skilled shooters. Seven of the 22 shooters who competed in the division in Las Vegas are grandmasters (and grandmasters represent only five per cent of all USPSA shooters). Bagakis finished fifth out of 22.

Garcia competed in the production division, which is arguably the most glamorous of the five divisions, and often receives the most media attention. Garcia competed on the production division's unique "super squad," which is not a team of shooters, but is a designation given to a group of elite shooters who go up against each other, often under intense pressure. With ESPN film crews in attendance, Garcia finished 15th out of 120.

Jenny Chu of Fremont was another Bay Area shooter who distinguished herself. In open, where Chu is an A class shooter, she placed 66th out of 271; her mark was the sixth highest among women competing in the division.

"I did pretty good," said Chu. "My goal coming into the open at the nationals was to come in top 100 overall and top eight lady, and I was able to hit both goals ... and came in behind the current reigning world champion for women's shooters."

Brian Crews of San Jose, making his fifth straight nationals appearance, turned in his best performance to date, placing 108th out of 226 in the limited division. Crews is a B shooter, and his score placed him in the top 20 per cent of B shooters in the limited division.

"Considering this is the nationals, and the best shooters in the country are here, even if I finished last, that means I'm still a pretty good shooter," said Crews.

Tom Frankel of Daly City demonstrated even though practical shooting is a sport where youth and physical fitness is an asset, shooters with skill and experience can still compete at a high level regardless of age. Frankel is 70 years old, and has an artificial knee, but is classified as a B shooter in several divisions, and competed at nationals in the top heavy revolver division. Frankel placed 18th out of 22.

This was Frankel's first appearance in the nationals since 1999. When asked if he would be interested in competing again next year, he said, "Yeah, if my body holds up ... we had a great group of people and it was a lot of fun."

Some other Bay Area shooters' results included: Frank Chan, Fremont, open division, 205 out of 271; Danilo Mabalo, Fremont, limited division, 168 out of 225; Mark Van Zevern, Hayward, open division, 218 out of 271; Rogers Anderson, Pittsburg, limited 10 division, 84 out of 110; and Tom Chesterman, Moraga, limited division, 194 out of 225.

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