Guns and Gear

Pin Shoot 2024: A Radical New Approach?

The seven June days of The Pin Shoot in Central Lake, Michigan once again saw Springfield Armory as the main sponsor. As usual, there were events for pistol and revolver, for carbines in both rifle and pistol calibers, and for shotguns with both buckshot and slugs.

The author uses Springfield Armory 1911 .45 pistols for both Stock Gun and Pin Gun each year. Image: Gail Pepin

Hand cannons your choice? One event is the Dennis Reichard Memorial Big Push, in which three bowling pins have to be blasted 14 feet down a steel trough. Ultra-powerful revolvers are the guns of choice there.

[Want to learn more about this fun competition? Read Ayoob’s article on the Pin Shoot.]

On the opposite end of the handgun power scale, among the many optional events was more than one tailored for double-stack 9mm pistols. This year, there were way more options for 9mm fans, and for some perspective that warrants a bit of history.

Looking Back

Founder Richard Davis began the match in the days when most cops carried revolvers and preferred magnums or .45 autos when allowed. Richard’s theme was borrowed from his friend Jeff Cooper: DVC. The motto stood for Diligence, Celeritas, Vis, which translated to “accuracy, speed, and power.”

Springfield Armory sponsors 2024 Pin Shoot
Springfield Armory, which returned as a sponsor of the 2024 Pin Shoot, has sponsored the event for many years. Image: Gail Pepin

Richard’s original target array was five heavy wooden bowling pins that had to be blasted three feet back off a table and onto the ground to stop the timekeepers’ stopwatches. The game demanded accuracy to hit the pin in the center (or it would spin or just tip over, requiring more shots); speed, because whoever cleared their tables the fastest won; and power to blast them completely back with just one shot.

Pin Shoot 2024 competitors
Felipe Campos and his daughter Sara with the optic-equipped Hellcats they won for second place in the two-person team event. Image: Gail Pepin

However, some of his police customers complained that they couldn’t compete with their department-issued 9mm pistols, which were becoming increasingly popular in law enforcement. For them, Richard created the Nine Pin Tip-Over side event: the shooter with the “hi-cap” nine would face nine pins, and only had to knock them over to stop the clock.

Shortly after the late, great Second Chance Shoot, that ran from the mid-1970s to the near end of the 1990’s, was re-introduced as The Pin Shoot in 2017, host Matt Davis — the founder’s son — assembled a small think tank of veteran pin-shooters as a sounding board for ideas for improvement. 

competitor shoots Springfield Armory SAINT Victor Carbine PCC at 2024 Pin Shoot
9mm brass flies as the shooter races the pin array 25 feet away. Note the bright-colored “hostage pins” that must be avoided. Image: Gail Pepin

One of those is Patrick Sweeney, gun writer and competitive shooter extraordinaire. In 2022, he suggested a new event. Patrick wrote to the group, “The 9mm is much more popular than .45. Most new shooters are likely to have a 9mm, but not a .45. New shooters could shoot the 9 Mil Main as their one and only Main, and then go to the optionals.”

As a test, at the 2023 Pin Shoot a Main Event category for 9mm pistols was created: eight rounds only in the gun, and five white pins on the table as targets. If one of the colorful “hostage pins” among them was tipped over, there would be a severe penalty. The target pins were set farther back on the table to make it easier for 9mm bullets to take them completely off, because that would be required in the new event to be called Stock Minor.

The experiment proved popular, and the stage was set for 2024 to become “The Year of the 9mm” at the Pin Shoot.

The Year of the Nine

The year 2024 saw five events in which a 9mm fan could successfully compete. There was Stock Minor, described above, with five target pins. The old Nine Pin Tip-Over had morphed into the “9X12” event: a dozen pins, but in 2024 they had to be knocked completely off the table, again being set a bit farther toward the back of the table to compensate for 9mm momentum — or lack thereof.

Richard Hupp wins a Springfield Hellcat at 2024 Pin Shoot
Richard Hupp selected this Springfield Hellcat as his prize for winning the Stock Minor event. Image: Gail Pepin

PCC, or Pistol Caliber Carbine, Main had proven popular with 9mm being the all-but-unanimous choice of caliber. Here again, the 2024 rules required them to be set farther back on the table. The PCC shooter could shoot five-pin arrays in PCC Main, and could also face a similar array if he or she entered a person-on-person PCC Shootoff. 

Finally, there was a PCC Optional event, “Carbine Mayhem,” in which 13 pins had to be blown completely off the table.


Most who tried 115- and 124-gr. ball found it insufficient or spotty at best for taking the pins off; momentum is the name of the pin-moving game. The 147-gr. bullet weight was recommended by the sponsors, and some had better luck with it than others. Personally, I found 127-gr. +P+ Winchester loads to be more decisive than 147-gr. subsonic.

Patrick Sweeney wins Springfield 1911 at Pin Shoot 2024
Gun writer Patrick Sweeney was largely responsible for the creation of the Stock Minor event. He was 2024’s overall winner in both Stock Gun and Pin Gun. Here he selects one of his prizes: a Springfield Armory 1911 DS Prodigy.

A valuable perspective comes from a master instructor and shooter trying pins for the first time in 2024. His name is Randy Harris, and he wrote of his experience on the excellent

“I shot Minor Stock for my first event… Mike shot CCW… Unfortunately, while last year you just had to knock the pins down, this year — even in the minor caliber events — you had to knock the pins completely off the table. Uh oh …. We did not get that memo…So neither of our times, while not terrible, were not exactly spectacular since we were completely under-armed for moving bowling pins off the tables. Knock them down? No problem. Knock them off? That involved more shooting than one round per pin which in this game is what you are trying to accomplish. Oh well at least it was fun…”

custom Springfield Armory 1911 at the 2024 Pin Shoot
Veteran pin shooter and master gunsmith Ned Christiansen with the Springfield Armory pistol he built for his wife to shoot. Image: Gail Pepin

You can say one thing for 9mm: it can be run fast. Brandon Schwenke won Carbine Mayhem with 13 pins off the table in four seconds flat. He captured the PCC Main title as well, with 15.8 seconds to clear five five-pin tables. In pistol competition, 9X12’s winning time was Jess Christensen’s 6.20 second run.

But what of the Stock Minor event? Richard Hupp captured that with five tables cleared in 21.5 seconds. And therein lies a tale: He did it with his eight-shot revolver, loaded with full power .357 Magnum rounds. You see, while Stock Minor was created for 9x19mm Parabellum pistols, the rules didn’t say you had to shoot one. Randy Harris learned this and said that next year he’d shoot Stock Minor with the same Springfield Trophy Match 1911 .45 ACP he used in the regular events.


Whatever your favorite gun flavor, I hope to be there the second week in June of 2025, and hope to meet you there. And thank you again to Springfield Armory for helping make this happen.

2024 Pin Shoot family event
The Pin Shoot has always been a family-friendly event. Many contestants turn it into a family vacation. Image: Gail Pepin

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