In a press release that came out this weekend, the International Confederation of Revolver Enthusiasts announced that the 2016 International Revolver Championship will be held at Universal Shooting Academy in Frostproof, FL. This is a huge change, moving the match from the Hogue Action Pistol range in San Luis Obispo, CA.
I think that Universal Shooting Academy is a fantastic facility and that they’ll do a great job hosting the match. I’ve shot probably a dozen matches at USA over the years, and with the exception of one IDPA Nationals where I needed SCUBA gear to shoot, I always had a great time.
But I don’t like this call, and that’s where this post changes from reporting the news to an editorial. To understand, you have to look at a little bit of shooting sports history. In 2011, I shot the last Steel Challenge that was held in its historic location in Piru, CA. It was awesome. 2012-2013 the match moved to Frostproof at USA, and in 2013 the match had its lowest attendance in over a decade. This isn’t a knock on Frank Garcia or Shannon Smith, the operators of Universal Shooting Academy, because they run a solid business and have a great facility.
However, there’s a data point here from Steel Challenge that says when you move a West Coast match to the East Coast, you run the risk of losing participation. I really can’t stress hard enough that I’m not knocking Universal here, because I do think it’s a great facility, but it’s also in Frostproof. Which, if you’ve never been there, is in the middle of nowhere, FL. It’s about an hour and a half from Tampa or Orlando, there aren’t a lot of great restaurants around, and it’s just…not a great place to hang out for an extended period of time. Maybe I’m just a homer and miss California, but I think people would much rather go to the central coast region of CA for a match than go to Frostproof.
I hope I’m wrong, and I hope the IRC continues to flourish now that it’s been moved to Universal Shooting Academy. I will say that November is the best time to hold a match down there, as the weather is actually pretty nice! Hopefully I’ll be able to pull the resources together and go shoot my first ever IRC at Frostproof this year.