Ambush at Cavern Cove 2021 Preview

October 10, 2021

When I was asked to write the 2019 Ambush at Cavern Cove six months before the first rounds went down range, I didn't have the first clue about actually writing and setting up a good match.

I knew that I had shot some great matches set up by greats like Judge'm All Duncan, Whiskey Hayes, and so many others. Unfortunately, we lost Judge'm All Duncan before that 2019 match. I would have loved to picked his mind not only before that match but after it as well.

Even though I wasn't sure that I could set up a match others would like to shoot, I knew I had a three year stretch to try and do something that folks might like. I also knew that I had three years to tell a story, if I wanted to do that.

So, going into that first match, I picked up a 40+ year old western serial, and decided to base the next three matches on the middle section of that western epic.

Going into that match, I knew the story for the first and last stages of what would be our three year Range Wars Epic. The first stage in 2019 started our hero on his journey, while the last stage sees it to the conclusion. The hard part was selecting the other 28 stories to fill in between those bookends as there is so much good source material. It was also interesting that some folks didn't recognize the source material for the match until the second year.

The formula that the match has used since 2019 has not changed this year. Going in, think of Ambush as two separate matches. On one day, you will be able to run some pretty fast sweeps. I have heard from several cowboys and cowgirls that they ran their best stage ever on those stages. On the other day, you will experience a more technical match. There won't be anything overtly difficult about it, but you may need to use your front sight on one stage, and it always helps to count to 10.

I prefer splitting the match like that instead of mixing stages up because, as a shooter, I always liked getting into a good flow. And I spend a lot of time storyboarding these stages for flow.

And, as you walk around the range and shoot the stages, look around and listen for the ghosts of Ambush past. There are several Easter eggs that we have included in the stages that pull out details from several previous Ambush matches, going all the way back to the first one in 1997.

When you look at the 2021 Ambush at Cavern Cove Shooter's Book, I know you cannot get a sense for the amount of work that goes into creating it. However, reading through it again tonight, I think that I have also finally found my voice.

Yes, I take a great deal of time writing it and laying it out, but the cowboys and cowgirls at NAR are the ones who do a lions share of the work. They have to put up with me throughout the year as I come up with ideas and test them out during our monthly matches. Sometimes, things work out great. Other times, they start calling for my head. Don't even ask about the first 3 iterations of Stage 5 that ended up in the trash!

However, without them, none of this would be possible. And without you, there would be no reason to do it.

I am humbled, and honored to write the 25th Ambush. Over the course of the last year, I have studied and written about each of the matches in the 25 year history of this premier event. I currently stand last in the long line of great storytellers and stage writers who have called Ambush their own knowing that I keep lit a torch that will be taken by the next cadre of cowboys and cowgirls keeping this tradition alive for, hopefully, the next 25 years.

As you read this, I'm probably in the process of setting steel, or putting the final polish on a stage or three. You're probably getting your ammo box packed and checking your gear over one last time before you'll be ready to head to the range. If you haven't signed up yet, there is still time! I would hate to know that you missed this! And, be sure you let me know if I ever did get any of this right when you see me on The Firing Line.

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