Four seconds is too long for a pair of north East Valley men headed to a competition next week that pits the country’s best speed shooters against each other.
"Get your ears on," shouted "Gunnie" Reagan, referring to earmuffs used to dampen the rapid-fire bursts coming from his partner’s $3,000 pistol.
Angus Hobdell shot five targets spaced out between 8 yards and 35 yards. It took four seconds.
That won’t win you any money. Just over two seconds is a winning time.
"I must be nervous," said Hobdell, who moved from England to Scottsdale this year.
By Wednesday, Hobdell and Reagan will have unloaded several thousand rounds of ammunition in preparation for the Steel Challenge.
The competition takes place Thursday and Friday outside Los Angeles where hundreds of shooters of all skill levels compete for a piece of nearly $300,000 in prize money and speedshooting titles.
Unlike target-shooting competitions, the Steel Challenge is unusual because it requires contestants to combine accuracy with speed. The basketball-size targets are made of steel, instead of paper.
"It’s called speed on steel for a reason," said Reagan, a Paradise Valley resident. "When you are shooting on steel you get immediate feedback. You can hear it."
Reagan, 63, said he got his "Gunnie" nickname because he was a gunnery sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps. He’ll compete in the "super-senior" class and the "B" class, an above-average class of shooters.
As a National Rifle Association-certified instructor, guns are part of Reagan’s life.
Bumper stickers on his truck, include "Vegetarian: An old Indian word for lousy hunter," and "The Second Amendment is Homeland Security."
He teaches martial arts, firearms training and runs the Scottsdale-based Rainbow Powers Education and Healing Center, which Reagan describes as a place for "self-growth and development." The center incorporates American Indian teachings.
While he admits he’s not among the best in the country, he said his goal is to be in a top shooting class — called "master" — by the time he’s 65.
The 38-year-old Hobdell, however, competes with the best shooters in the country. In 2000 and 2001, he finished eighth and 10th, respectively, according to the Steel Challenge Web site.
Even the country’s top shooters can’t make a living at shooting competitions, he said. Hobdell creates and maintains Web sites when he’s not on the range. He spends six to seven hours a day shooting, reloading ammunition and cleaning his pistols, he said.
"This is a big-money match," Hobdell said.