August 10, 2022


When a hundred forty or so shooters arrived in Central Lake, Michigan for the annual Pin Shoot, many with family and friends in tow to watch, they saw something new had been added. The pavilion where shooters gather for socializing, the excellent free lunch each day, and the awards ceremony had a new name. A conspicuous banner proudly proclaimed it the Springfield Armory pavilion.

Massad Ayoob at the 2022 Pin Shoot
The author competed in the 2022 Pin Shoot located at Central Lake, Michigan, which was sponsored by Springfield Armory.

The company’s donation put dozens of Springfield Armory handguns on the table, and match director Matt Davis bought another dozen out of his own pocket. The result was more than 40 quality firearms to be distributed among the winners, along with piles of ammo and other worthwhile prizes.

Springfields at the Pin Shoot

Springfield Armory firearms have long been popular among the Pin Shoot contestants. That company’s rifles are seen in the centerfire rifle events, and even more so in the pistol classes. The Pin Shoot began (under the name Second Chance Shoot) in the mid-1970s, and as soon as they were introduced 1911 Springfield .45s started showing up there. Back in the 1980s, my favorite “pin gun” became a Springfield 1911-A1 with a trigger job and expansion chamber recoil compensator by Mike Plaxco, a former winner of the overall match. I was far from the first or the only Springfield Armory user there.

Springfield Armory sponsorship of 2022 Pin Shoot
The Springfield Armory Pavilion hosted everyone for an excellent free lunch provided by Central Lake Lions Club each day, and served as a socialization nexus the rest of the time.

For example…

Greg Blough and his father Dave appear regularly in the winners’ circle at this tournament. This year, Greg won two or three of the morning shoot-offs, each finishing with a substantial fistful of cash. The pistol he used was a Springfield Armory 1911 .45, fitted with a compensator. Greg also won the Space Gun event, which allows both comps and optical sights. In one event that doesn’t require powerful handguns (the “9X12,” designed for increased-capacity 9mm pistols in which the pins just have to be tipped over and not blasted completely off the table, as in the main matches) Greg took another first place, dumping the dozen pins in 4.7 seconds. Those last two victories won him two new Springfield Armory XD-M pistols.

competitors at the 2022 pin shoot
With pump and auto shotguns on rail and .45 pistol in provided scabbard, this three-man team faces an intimidating array of pins.

Robert Donahue shot the match with a Springfield Operator .45 that has an interesting history. It has been carried as a duty weapon and off-duty gun as well as being used in competition. Donahue estimates he has 270,000 rounds through that Springfield and reports that it’s still going strong.

Another Springfield Armory 1911 .45 brought Arnold Garwood to the prize table this year. His was fitted out as a pin gun with compensator, fiber optic front sight and Springfield’s adjustable sight. He reports that it has given him good service in pin matches for the last several years.

custom Springfield Armory 1911 at pin shoot
Arnold Garwood shot the match with this customized Springfield Armory 1911 pistol chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge.

While the .45 ACP is the overwhelming majority choice among competitors, it’s not by any means the only caliber in play. Bonnie Young and her husband Sam are longtime successful competitors at this match. Sam often competes with a 10mm Springfield 1911.

custom 1911 in Space Gun Division for bowling pin shooting
This is Bonnie Young’s highly customized Springfield Armory 1911 for Space Gun division, shooting a 9mm Major handload we don’t dare print.

Bonnie’s Space Gun this year was a particularly interesting specimen: recoil compensator, red dot sight, sub-three-pound trigger pull … and chambered for 9mm Major, with a hot handload that sends a 125-gr. V-Crown hollow point out of the muzzle at some 1,350 feet per second. The Youngs report that it takes the heavy pins off the table quite nicely, but they do not publicize the handload formula. (Yes, the custom Springfield has a fully supported chamber.)

2022 pin shoot winners
Everyone in this photo won at least one handgun donated by Springfield Armory at Pin Shoot 2022.

Another longtime pin shooter who has experimented with calibers other than .45 is Dhon Hauserman. This year he had a Springfield 1911 “top end” riding a wide-body Caspian frame and chambered in .38 Super. Even with hot 147-gr. loads, the Super didn’t quite take the pins off the table, he reported, but the combination worked great for the 9X12 event. 

Check It Out

This enormously enjoyable event is a mix of fun shooting and pleasant socialization with like-minded folks. It’s scheduled again for mid-June in 2023. Keep your eye on the website, www.pinshoot.com. I hope to see you there, and thanks again to Springfield Armory for supporting the 2022 shoot.

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