The 2021 USPSA SNS Illinois Sectional Championship returned to the CIPS Range in Havana, Ill., where it was held in 2019 and was scheduled for in 2020. It was great to see the match return this year—Ryan Clouse and crew did not hold back. With stages designed by Max Klatt and the match crew, competitors were going to put 340 rounds downrange on the 12 stages they would be facing.
The USPSA Illinois Sectional Championship is known for its tough stages with high round counts, and that is what the 267 competitors got this year. The lowest round count stage was Stage 1 with only 12 rounds. Mixing full-size and mini poppers, six on each side of a barricade with a required reload between the arrays, the steel was staggered just enough so that you couldn’t just hose in the general direction of white poppers and hope for the best.
The first long course that shooters would face was in the widest bay at the range, Stage 2, “Tell that to George Zipp.” The shooting area was a large side-to-side with 12 USPSA targets and eight poppers down range that were going to take competitors at least five shooting positions to get through. There was a good chance of either skipping a target or two, or engaging the same one twice. Competitors had the option to start anywhere, but most would work left to right on this one. Stephen Lutman had a 7.1880 hit factor in Carry Optics for a stage win over Jared Fox.
With a 15.04-second stage run, Craig Tappe’s Open division time was the fastest on Stage 3, “What A Pisser.” A “toes touching marks” outside the shooting area for a start gave the option of going right or left. However, nearly everyone would choose to go left to take the first two targets, working their way back to the right and forward for two more cardboard and popper in the second position. The final two positions would be engaging targets through two different ports, a total of 11 targets and two poppers for 120 points. As for the Carry Optics stage win, it went to Luke Pecor, who boasted a 17.79-second run with only three Cs.
One stage that saw several different ways to attack was Stage 4, “Have You Ever Been in a Turkish Prison.” There were three forward positions that you had to work your way out of and retreat back uprange, as well as two separate low targets in the center of the shooting area, plus one popper that activated a swinger on the forward right side of the stage. It came down to what competitors were most comfortable with on how they engaged the targets. The fastest time here was 16.13 by Craig Okenfuss, who secured the Limited division stage win.
Stage 5, “Jim Never Vomits at Home,” was a choppy stage with hard positions in a narrow bay, with 12 USPSA targets and two poppers worth 130 points. The start was in the center of the shooting area, requiring shooters to back up to take the first six targets, two arrays of three on each side, prior to moving forward. Although targets were close, tight shots on them made this more difficult than it appeared. Hard transitions across the back of the stage with hardcover on the targets added to the difficulty of this stage. Austin Hull took a stage win here in Production with a 19.53-second run over Eric Kamps.
The longest shooting was on Stage 6, “It’s a Damn Good Thing He Doesn’t Know How Much I Hate His Guts.” This stage was laid out in the wide and deep bay at the range nicknamed "the Devil’s Hole." While 34 rounds may have been the minimum, I am sure there were several more shots on this stage. There were four poppers at 45 yards from the far left side of the shooting area, and a start position that was in the center of the vision barriers. You could start and go left, taking the long shots, then get back over to the right side for a challenging three-target array with hardcover and no-shoots, then work your way down taking hard lean shots on the right side before making your way to three low targets and some 20-yard shots on the final array. Some competitors also went right first, working their way down, and then retreated to the final position on the far left back uprange, taking the far shots on the steel. This option was fewer steps, since you were not crossing over the same spots at the start. The Limited division stage win went to Andrew Heath, who did the retreat-style run.
Tim Herron took a stage win on Stage 7, “Surely You Can’t Be Serious,” on his way to another High Overall Single Stack division win. This was not an easy stage for eight-round guns, so it was a good thing Herron decided to shoot minor. Two low targets split up the first two arrays before you hit the far back right corner for the three poppers. There was a total of 31 rounds; Dylan Harper ran this in 16.99 seconds with only two Cs for a PCC stage victory.
The next stage, “I am Serious and Don’t Call Me Shirley” was also a choppy stage that required some hard stop-and-go positions with a fast-activated max trap target. This one required 30 rounds with 13 USPSA targets and four poppers for 150 points. The center position opened up to an array of cardboard and steel, with a hard transition to the far right for two more cardboard and steel. The end position had a low wall with two targets and the max trap that had to be activated by a popper. A solid run by David Miller in Carry Optics took a stage win for him, and Rob Kosack’s 16.05-second performance gave him the Open stage win.
A loaded start with the firearm on top of a barrel in the center of the long shooting area was waiting for competitors on Stage 9, “We have Clearance, Clarence.” This was a 32-round stage with 14 USPSA targets and four poppers, one that activated a max trap. Side to side transitions were required on this one after you grabbed your firearm and moved back uprange. Moving forward, there were some hard leans for the left-side array of targets before ending with a bank of poppers and the max trap on the left side of the bay. A 19.07-second run by John Chinchen gave him a stage win in Carry Optics, with Alexis Pena taking a stage win in Limited.
“What’s Our Vector, Victor?” was another Max Klatt stage design that was going to keep you on your game with tight shots on the left side of the stage. This stage gave competitors the opportunity to go right or left on the start, but could trip you up with how the targets presented. You could easily engage the same target more than once or skip over one if you weren’t paying attention. This 29-round stage was a mix of hardcover and one popper. The Limited division stage win went to junior competitor Jack Brown with a 20.59-second run.
Stage 12, “Do You Like To Watch Movies About Gladiators?” was a 33-round, 165-point stage. Fifteen USPSA targets and three poppers were out there for you to find. This was a difficult stage to break down, with some hard leans, and target arrays through ports and hidden by barrel stacks. This had competitors walking several times to figure out the best plan of attack. Craig Tappe took another stage win on his way to High Overall in Open for the match.
The match was well attended again this year. The 267 competitors broke down in divisions with 75 in Carry Optics and 61 in Limited division. Open had 51 and there were 34 in Production. PCC had 26 and Single Stack had 20 competitors. High round counts with some tough stages that were fun to shoot is a good recipe for success. The 2022 SNS Sectional Championship is already in the works with plans to return to the CIPS Range. Dates will be announced soon.
Article from the November/December 2021 issue of USPSA’s magazine. Photos by Jake Martens.