The Rocky Mountain 3-Gun World Match lasted six days this year; five days of competition and a final day for shoot-offs and awards. While my performance was a bit dismal, it was one of the best matches I have ever attended.
One reason was the company. Among others, I was squadded with the Miculek family and that made the experience so much better.
Jerry Miculek is perhaps the best all-around shooter alive, his wife Kay is one of the top woman shooters in the world and their daughter Lena is on her way to surpassing both of them.
Many readers know Jerry from his YouTube channel and his appearances on television. He rose to fame shooting double action revolvers with incredible speed, but I can tell you that he is fast and accurate with any gun you put in his hands. He is a hard core competitor and has been for years. Most exhibition shooters will never put their skills to the test in public by shooting competition; it’s bad for business if things go south. But, Jerry is not afraid to put it on the line. He, of course, won the Open Class at this match and his USA-1 team won the team event, beating another American team and two Russian teams. Lena took High Lady Overall and won the lady’s shoot off. Kay was high Lady in Open Class.
But then again, the entire world knows they are great shooters. So, let me tell you a little about the Miculeks you might not know. I have squadded with them several times in past matches, but this time I was also sharing a cabin with them and several other shooters. That gave me a little behind the scenes insight to these shooters.
Jerry and I are just a few months apart in age and we are both hard core gun guys, so we spent a lot of time talking guns, handloading, shooting and politics. We also swapped stories about growing up. We were at opposite ends of the country, he in Louisiana and me in Vermont. Of course, the stories always had a gun or two involved. The stuff we shot at might have been different, but the stories were the same. When we were snot-nosed kids Jerry was shooting fish, snakes, nutria and gators while I was blasting porcupines, skunks, woodchucks and some other critters I won’t mention as I don’t know the statute of limitations. But the similarities were remarkable and as I said one night, “every kid should grow up that way.”
Kay comes from a shooting family. Her dad was Jim Clark, Sr. and her brother is Jim Clark, Jr. With this legendary gunsmith and shooter family guiding her she was shooting competition at six years old. She described her childhood to me one night over a cold beer and it was clear that this lady was a Tomboy with a gun.
Lena? Well Lena is their daughter, they live on a place called “Shootout Lane” what do you expect? Lena is a driven and talented shooter. At 19 years old, she is just getting started.
All this didn’t come easy and there is a side to their success that the public never sees. They are the hardest working people in shooting and, given the company, that’s a bold statement. By the time she makes it back home Kay will have been gone almost two months. She is traveling the country, teaching classes and shooting matches. Jerry’s schedule is not much different. They left that match and headed to the next one in an overloaded SUV hauling a trailer. After the next match, Jerry was flying home, shooting some video and then heading to another match. (At least I think I got it right, it’s hard to keep up.) The concept of downtime or “veg-ing” is outside of their world. These are people who know that to be the best you need to work the hardest.
They arrived at the NRA Whittington Center several days early to adjust to the altitude (we were shooting at nearly 7,000 feet above sea level, while they live at 14 feet) and to walk the 15 stages we would be shooting. Most shooters get to an important match early enough to walk the stages . . . once. The Miculeks walked them multiple times. I don’t mean once or twice, but well into double digits on the tough stages. When we finished shooting for the day, exhausted and spent, most of us wanted to head to the cabin, sit down and have a cool drink. The Miculeks found an empty stage or two and walked it again and again and again. They fine-tuned their strategy, comparing notes with each other until they were clear in their heads every step of the stage. They choreograph a stage like a ballet, knowing where to place their feet, where to load and where to shoot. Then they drill it over and over and over until it’s perfect.
When they are not doing this, they are shooting. Several days they went to the range to practice. We all shot some skeet, but they got up early to catch the calm to practice long range rifle several mornings in a row. They also spent a lot of time practicing shooting weak hand side with all guns. Both of these proved important in this match. They check and re-check their equipment, including checking zeroes over and over again. They are the first ones up every morning and even when drinking their coffee they have their notes on the table and are going over strategy for the day’s stages, looking for any flaws in the plan.
Simply put, the Miculeks are the hardest working family in shooting. But, somehow they always found time to answer my questions and help me with my stage strategy too. Jerry helped to identify some flaws in my technique and told me how to correct them. Lena walked me through most of the stages, showing me strategy and teaching me how to break down a stage.
Shooting with them is like traveling with rock stars, everybody wants to meet them. Still, they are always friendly, humble and gracious. I know they are trying to focus on winning the match, but in all the years I have known them I have never seen any of the Miculeks refuse a request for a photo, an autograph, some advice or just a chance for a fan to say they met and talked with them.
The Miculeks are true champions in every sense of the word and I am proud to call them my friends.