Man with the Most Wins

Bobby Carver, 58, has won more Matchmeister titles than any other competitor in the history of GSSF. “Matchmeister” is the nickname given to the shooter who has the overall best score of the tournament with a stock GLOCK. Danny Ryan, the unofficial GSSF historian, has logged Bobby at a total of 80 wins. “When I’m getting ready for a match, I try to focus on basics. I shoot the far targets mostly—not the complete course. I work on always keeping the first shot (from a low-ready position) under one second, and on keeping my double-taps at 0.15 to 0.20 seconds, focusing mostly on the second shot of the double-tap.”

When it comes to practice, “I used to shoot 12 to 15 GSSF matches a year, flying to the West Coast and up North for some of them. I was shooting about 1,000 rounds a week for practice then. Today, shooting only a couple of matches a year because of the time demands of my business, I only shoot about 20,000 rounds a year in practice.”

What about hardware? “The GLOCK 17 is my favorite. I use all stock GLOCK parts, polished a little. You can’t beat what GLOCKs have inside. I use the 4.5-pound connector. I shoot in the Unlimited, Master Stock, Subcompact, Major Sub, and Competition divisions.”

As for shooting tips, “I shoot right to left and had to train myself to do that. I shot the plates so fast I’d trap brass shooting left to right. In man-on-man events like the American Handgunner shoot in Montrose, Colorado, I had to shoot both ways, and found I was more efficient by knowing both. Whatever the target array, I shoot right to left, not near to far.”
We asked each Matchmeister what sequence of stages they preferred. For Bobby Carver, the answer was, “I’ve experimented with that, and I always explain that my preferences might not be the same as those of others. I like ‘Five to GLOCK’ first; my nerves are calmer with the long targets being shot first. As you build your adrenaline, you’ll pick up speed. Then I shoot the ‘GLOCK’M,’ and finally, ‘GLOCK the Plates.’ If you feel keyed-up and psyched-up going in, you might want to start off on something more forgiving, and that would mean starting on the plates and not going too fast. You can lose two, three, even four seconds on the plates, and it won’t hurt you as much as a bunch of D-zone hits or missing a target on paper.”

Bobby Carver began shooting in GSSF competitions in 1998, but he came to the game with a broad background in other practical handgun games, including having won the National Pin-Shooting Championship in Iowa.

Gunny Challenge Dominator

Some seven years ago, it was determined that the GSSF would sponsor a tournament of champions, with only Matchmeisters eligible. Retired USMC Gunnery Sergeant R. Lee Ermey, known to the world as “The Gunny,” had become a GLOCK spokesman, and the event was named The Gunny Challenge. To keep the playing field level, each competitor would use issued box-stock GLOCKs and issued factory ammunition. The Gunny Challenge does not use the standard GSSF course of fire, nor is each competitor running alone against the clock, as in a standard match. In the Gunny Challenge, it’s man-against-man, with the winner as readily apparent as in the Roman Coliseum.

The one man who has won the Gunny Challenge the most times—three out of the six he’s shot, finishing among the top three in all the rest—is Butch Barton. He has also won no fewer than 34 GSSF matches overall. Butch retired almost seven years ago after a career with the Rochester, Minnesota, Police Department. He started with a .22 at age 11. He shot competition trap in high school and small-bore rifle and .22 target pistol before joining the Army, where he became a bullseye shooter, spending many years on the Minnesota National Guard Team. As a Rochester cop he shot bowling pins, USPSA and similar events, and has been a GSSF competitor since the game’s earliest days.

Being a lawman, he made a point of shooting duty guns as much as possible. “I always worked with the rule of train with what you carry, and carry what you train with,” said Butch. “I started with the old S&W .38 revolver in 1979, and we went to GLOCKs in 9×19 in 1989, and then to GLOCK .40s. I was carrying a GLOCK 23 when I retired, and today, my personal carry gun is a GLOCK 38 in .45 G.A.P.”

Preferred match hardware? “My favorite GLOCK pistols are the first-generation GLOCK 17s. I mostly use the standard GLOCK sights. I compete primarily in Master Stock, Unlimited, and Competition [divisions], all with the same GLOCK 17,” he related.

What about trigger systems? “When my department went to GLOCKs, as St. Paul did, we went to 8-pound connectors or the optional New York spring mated with the 5.5-pound connector. I went to the 8-pound connector because I found it more controllable on reset. I had that in my duty gun, and used my duty gun for a lot of matches. I used the 8-pound connector until two years ago, when my connector finally wore out. I replaced it with a 5.5-pound unit, and that’s what I use now. However, I shot many matches with the 8-pound, and of course, I shot whatever they issued us at the Gunny Challenges.”

Butch added, “I tried light triggers, and I’m not a fan of the ‘minus’ connector simply because I’m a bullseye shooter. I know how to squeeze a trigger. The heavier triggers are cleaner. I found a much more creepy let-off with the lighter pull, especially being used to the 8-pound connector, which I think is just the most crisp option GLOCK has. The 5.5-pound connector I’m using these days works very well.”

Regarding technique, “I shoot left to right. I’m right-handed, and that just feels more natural to me. For me, recoil goes up and to my right. At the Gunny Challenge, of course, you have to do both during the man-on-man events when you and your opponent switch sides,” explained the “winningest” Gunny Challenge shooter.

As far as preferred stage sequence, Butch said, “I normally start with Five to GLOCK, then GLOCK’M, then GLOCK the Plates. I always felt accuracy was most important in Five to GLOCK because the target distances are shorter in the GLOCK’M stage. Shooting the three stages in that sequence allows me to pick up speed as I go along.

“Until recently, I shot six or seven matches a year,” Butch said. “This year, the schedule may be lighter. I usually practiced 4,000 to 5,000 rounds a year, but with current ammo costs, that might go down a little.”

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