Results: 2024 USPSA Western States Single Stack Championship

The USPSA Western States Single Stack Championship is one of the most popular Level 2 USPSA competitions in the United States.

by
posted on April 2, 2024
2024Westernsinglestack 1
Bryan Larson competing at the 2024 USPSA Western States Single Stack Championship, held at Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club in Mesa, Ariz., in February.
Photo by Adam Maxwell/USPSA

So there I was about 14 months ago, looking at the USPSA Major Match schedule. I can’t remember the specifics of why, but I had decided to add more pistol matches to my schedule and was perusing the list to see what would fit. There was Nationals this and Area that, and as I scrolled I came to the heading of “Major Matches” toward the bottom. The first one jumped off the page to eyes that had already glazed over from 20 or 30 other matches—Western States Single Stack Championship. I didn’t know there was such a thing, but in that moment it became a must-attend for me.

Like most old souls, I was born after my time. Most of my contemporaries are completely immersed in the optic divisions. Though three-gun has been my primary sport, I started action shooting in, and always loved, Single Stack, even as other competitors’ interests faded with the coming of the Carry Optics era. I’ve been in the sport long enough to hear tell of the legendary Single Stack Classic, which was just not too far from my upper midwestern home. However, as much of a Single Stack fan as I am, by the time I was in a place in life to go to such things, the match had disbanded. Upon learning of a Single Stack-specific match at the Mecca of Rio Salado, I had to check it out.

Grant Schorbach & Debbie Keehart
Competitors at the 2024 USPSA Western States Single Stack Championship, held at Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club in Mesa, Ariz., this past February. To the left is Grant Schorbach and on the right side is Debbie Keehart.

 

It was a heck of a match in 2023. An industry friend of mine got me on his squad with Rob Leatham. I had a great time, but as a competitor I didn’t do as well as I wanted, and even had some equipment issues to boot. I learned the reasons why .40 S&W never went mainstream in 1911s (there’s more than one). As the award ceremony spit me back out to the airport, I vowed to straighten out my gear, set some training goals, and return like Gen. Douglas MacArthur (there’s your obligatory two World Wars joke).

What does a USPSA Single Stack-specific match look like? I had heard the standard line for years of, “The stages all work out into eights,” but that failed to enchant me then as it continues not to now. If anything, that brought imagery of short or uncreative box-to-box stages, because an aversion to many reloads is what turns many people off this division after all. However, that is not what this match is about at all. I have a hard time putting my finger on exactly what it is, but I can tell you what a Single Stack match is not. I have shot USPSA Area and National matches in Single Stack which are largely designed by or for the higher capacity crowd. While, by the rules, there are only eight rounds or less per view, how those unfold into stages often just doesn’t work out into a fun flow for a lower capacity division. Yes, everyone in that division has the same challenge, it seems to be choppy and not as fun. At its core, I think the main attraction for a lot of us to USPSA shooting is the continuous flow of targets and shooting on a stage. That is no different in Single Stack—you just don’t get to keep both your hands on the wheel the whole time. So, six- and eight-round arrays, yes, but they also have to have the elbow room to get the reloads done so the shooting rolls out as smoothly as it does in other USPSA divisions.

Phil Gallegos
Phil Gallegos competing at the 2024 USPSA Western States Single Stack Championship, held at the Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club in Mesa, Ariz., this past February.

 

Trickier presentations also just hit differently in Single Stack. For example, if you roll into a port with an activator, the obligatory something else to shoot at and some kind of moving target, that position is a lot more do-or-die with nine or 11 rounds on board total than they are when you have an extra three, five or 10 rounds in the bottom of the mag. To me, higher capacity divisions are a lot more about footwork, because for the most part you can make up a bad shot in 0.2 of a second, and in one reload one can stuff half a stage’s worth of ammo back into the gun to forgive a sin. In Single Stack, the positions are just as important, and shooting on the move is just as important, but the disaster factor of pressing a bad shot is much more difficult to recover from. On top of that, one needs to be able to service these reloads from more than just mag pouch number one—or even number two on your belt, which is probably foreign to many shooters.

The stages at this match are not small. The vast majority of them are 20 to 32 rounds and would be recognizable as fun to other divisions. The successions are six- to eight-round views, but they have the aforementioned breathing room. The trick, strategy-wise, that a competitor is faced with is many one-for-one versus extra reload decisions. Are you going to stuff another load in two steps or are you going to come into such-and-such a position with only three or five rounds left in the gun? These are the questions. With all those reloads in a three-dimensional stage, one also has to think about that 180 a lot more often as well.

This year was also unique in that they chose to recognize shooting God’s gun properly in .45 ACP. They called it Classic in the categories and it was defined as any competitor shooting .45 ACP Major. (I legitimately thought about loading .45 Minor before they clarified that.) I had already decided to revert back to my roots and shoot .45 anyway because .40s being .40s, I missed the big semi-wadcutter perf breaker holes, and—let’s be real, people—the guns feel better in .45. Therefore, I was all in on that. Of course, at a lost brass match, I did what any red-blooded .45 handloader would do and worked up the finest batch of small primer brass that I have collected, similar to Marley from a “A Christmas Carol,” over the years. No givesies backsies, boys.

In contemporary USPSA, I think matches like this hold a new and unique place. There is a common adage and talk of maybe consolidating divisions like Single Stack, and I hear what these people are saying. Overall participation numbers in the Lo-Cap divisions are way down. At Section and Area matches, one is swimming in a much smaller pond and, like I said, the stages aren’t always as fun as they are for other divisions. However, USPSA National and Area match wins aren’t everything to everyone in the sport. Matches like this have a much different feel. In a sense, they give everyone permission to play with some of these other guns. It’s like at local matches when a group of friends decide to shoot carry guns against each other at league night; it lets everybody change it up this particular way or that from the norm and see how this challenge comes out on Practiscore. One can call it a throwback, revisiting, cross training or just fun. Whatever it is to the people who participate, I am amazed at how many people have and maintain Single Stack (and for that matter, Revolver for the sister match) gear just for this match. Most would say you are crazy if a promoter was going to try and get 200-plus single stack shooters together in 2024, but they do, year after year—and this match sells out every year.

What’s more, as events like this become more niche, they become destinations. Yes, it’s just a USPSA Level 2 match. Many will not travel great distances for Level 2 matches, but people will travel from all over the country to shoot a unique one like this. Level 2 matches can be a great profit center for clubs. It could be argued that a sub-series of division-specific matches could have vigor of both being a unique event for a region, as this one is for the Southwest USPSA community, and have national draw for niche groups as it is for me, a Single Stack fan. Would Single Stack matches be popular in other pockets of the country? Would a sub-series of Production matches have draw? I think these are interesting topics for the larger USPSA community to debate.

2024 USPSA Western States Single Stack Championship Results

  • High Overall – Nils Jonasson
  • 2nd – Robert Krogh
  • 3rd – Paul Clark, Jr.
  • High Overall Lady – Jalise Williams
  • 2nd – Justine Williams
  • 3rd – Diana Driscoll
  • 1st – Paul Clark, Jr.
  • 2nd – Jalise Williams
  • 3rd – Muneki Samejima
  • A Class 1st – Joseph Livi
  • A Class 2nd – David Baker
  • A Class 3rd – Jonah Pres
  • B Class 1st – Brian Rowe
  • B Class 2nd – David Duffy
  • B Class 3rd – Thang Huynh
  • C Class 1st – Nick Evnas
  • C Class2nd – Andy Guljas
  • C Class3rd – Bill Rhiley
  • Senior High Overall – Craig Underdown
  • 2nd – Pete Undlin
  • 3rd – Steve Horsman
  • Super SR High Overall – Ivan Runions
  • 2nd – Bruce Gray
  • 3rd – Mike Larson
  • High Overall Distinguished Senior – Brant Hurlburt
  • 2nd – Dan Sierpina
  • 3rd – Jim Conner
  • High Overall Law Enforcement – David Baker
  • 2nd – Matthew Thompson
  • 3rd – Brian Rowe
  • High Overall Military – Joseph Livi

The 2024 USPSA Western States Single Stack Championship was once again well worth the trip. Personally, I shot much better than I did last year, and once again came away with new goals just ever so slightly out of reach, a rabbit to chase for yet another year. Until then, keep those reloads crisp, practice those Schmidt standards, check your extractor tension and maybe—just maybe—I’ll see you there next year.

Article from the March/April 2024 issue of USPSA’s magazine. All photos by Adam Maxwell.

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