Just in case you hadn't heard, the 2008 Total Outdoorsman Challenge is officially underway, and it's already shaping up to be the best yet. Before the competition began, the threats of t-storms and Hurricane Ike were looming, and it seemed like the show would go on (rain and no shine). Fortunately, that hasn't been the case.
The first two events, shotgun and .22 rifle, were bumped up one day ahead of schedule to beat the rain. And with the exception of a few light showers, the 16 competitors shot in dry (albeit humid) conditions. There were a couple surprises on the shotgun course: James "Shotgun Specialist" Harrod, who was a favorite to take first, had a disappointing performance and finished in the middle of the pack. And Matt Stedina, more know for his talent in flycasting, finished in the top three. Not bad for a trout bum!
As soon as the shotgun event ended, the guys walked over to the .22 rifle range, which is a big change from the air-rifle courses in the past TOCs. Each finalist shot at 15 targets (3 sets of 5, and each set consisted of 4 clays and 1 paper target) from distances of 25, 40, and 55 yards. Now, that might not seem like much, but believe me, those targets look pretty darn small when you step up the shooting line.
Scot Marcin, the TOC winner of 2005, won the .22 course (not to mentioned finished second in shotgun) and was the overall leader after the first day. Meanwhile, Paul Thompson, the two-time defending champ, finished 11th in .22 rifle and was far from his familiar place at the top in the overall rankings.
Here are some shots from the first day's events. Keep checking back for more updates. Up next: flyfishing and bass fishing. Let's hope it doesn't rain as much as they're calling for. -Colin Kearns