By Mike Keleher

When I first heard of the statistics that spawned the Mission 22 volunteer organization, I was shocked. The stunning and sad news, is 22 American Veterans commit suicide each and every day of the year. Mission 22 has become a premier group who fund outreach and treatment programs for Veterans in crisis as well as expanding public knowledge of this crisis. They sponsor programs as well as fund raising events across the nation to help Veterans who are at risk.

Last year, James Welker and Matt “Tank” Metzger worked with Mission 22 and put on an excellent two day 3-Gun match at the Aurora Sportsman’s Club in Waterman, IL with the match fees and raffle funds going directly to Mission 22. This match donated over $21,000 to help Veterans in need.
I talked with James Welker this past weekend at a match with the Polo 3-Gun Club, and talked about this year’s Mission 22 Multigun Championship Match being held Sat-Sun 21-22 September, 2019 at the Aurora Sportsman’s Club (ASC). It has become one of the “Must Shoot” matches in the Midwest.

I signed up for this match way back in February to insure I could get in, and the first words out of my mouth to Jim were “Have you sold out the match?” I was surprised to hear it was not sold out, being held for such a great charity cause and word of mouth reputation after last year’s match. Welker explained the reason some openings still exist, is they have expanded the number of slots available over last year’s sold out event and there is still room for 40-50 shooters. I thought I would jump on this and pass the information to GSL readers who might like to shoot an excellent match for an oh so deserving cause.

I was impressed last year that the ASC had opened up new shooting areas for the Mission 22 Match effectively doubling the shooting areas of the club, and Welker told me it has gone beyond again this year, and they have ten stages in the two day event with one of the stages reaching out to 600 yards. This may or may not be the only 600-yard range in Illinois, but it is certainly the only 600-yard stage in the state incorporated into a running and gunning 3-Gun Match.

I talk incessantly about 3-Gun matches and how the rifle portions keep getting longer and longer as the years go by. When I started, 50 yards was about the maximum distance for rifle targets. Well, the challenges and range distances kept getting harder and harder and 600 is now about the maximum built into such a match. Some of my prior military friends don’t see the big deal and talk about hitting long range targets on qualification days with iron sights. I have to explain, “In the military they did not make you shoot your pistol, a shotgun and run around the range before plopping down to shoot 200, 400, 600 yard targets…all on a 120 or 150 second timer!” (Yes it is big fun.)

Everyone is encouraged to come out for the underlying cause to prevent Veteran suicide, but they will also enjoy a major match format administered by volunteer Range Officers with clever and challenging stages which I am sure will have been designed in conjunction with the ever-clever Polo 3 Gun and ASC match designers. The organizers are offering numerous divisions including Open Class (think nitro burning dragster class for shooters with optics on all guns and mag fed shotguns), Tactical Optics (Some type of magnified optic on rifle, none on shotgun or pistol), Tactical Limited (iron sights or non-magnified red dot only on rifle, none on shotgun or pistol), Heavy Optic (bruiser class- one scope on a .308 rifle, 12 gauge pump shotgun and .45 pistol), and 2×4 Class (you bring pistol, rifle, shotgun and a Pistol Caliber Carbine and must pick and shoot two of them on each stage.) You can also be shooting in Sub-Categories like Lady, Junior, Senior, Military and LEO/First Responders.

You can find more information via Facebook on the 2019 Mission 22 Multigun Championship page, and register for the match via Match fee is $200 and is of course a charity deduction. If you would like to donate to the core Mission 22 you can find them on their website, Mission and on Facebook.

If you are hesitant to come shoot, let me pass along I know it can be daunting, but the shooters are there for a good time, and the Range Officers are there volunteering their time to insure everyone is safe. If you are new to the sport, tell everyone you are new, and you will be heaped with good advice and guidance and the RO’s will work with you for a rewarding experience. You will learn a lot, and everybody started somewhere. Here is a link to an article I wrote in GSL back in February about getting started in 3-Gun which may be helpful

If you would like to just come and support the Veterans, or see how a large match is run, come on out and bring some cash to buy some hats or logo gear and drop in the donation bucket. It is a direct line from that bucket to actual help being supplied to prevent Veteran suicide. That is an awful lot of bang for your buck.