The games people play

August 2013

My name is Bill. I own Centerfire Central gun shop in Platte City, MO. One of my customers shoots at the Pioneer Gun Club in Bates City, MO on a somewhat regular basis and invited another shop customer and me to travel with him to an event on May 25th. With some reservations, I agreed to go.


So the story actually begins way back in 1972. At the age of 11, our family moved to a new home in Independence , MO. Kids being kids, you have to rush out and meet all the neighbor kids and start burning up the street with your bicycle.

One of the kids was my age and loved baseball. I could take it or leave it at that point in my life. Hunting and camping were more my thing.

This kid's dad pushed him so hard at baseball that it was ridiculous. The kid was eaten up with it. So when we gathered up the neighbor kids for a baseball game in the old apple orchard, guess who made the game miserable? Yes, the kid who was pushed by his Dad and who was consumed by the rules and guidelines.

The spare glove or old t-shirt that was used for 1st base was never good enough for him. Couldn't make the kid happy no matter how hard we tried.

As a result, I lost the ever so slight interest I had in baseball. When our family moved away a couple years later, I found this kid's twin playing football at my new school. So I refused to play football.


Fast forward to 1985. I joined the Corporate Challenge team and shot trap for Farmland Industries. I was supposed to be a “fill-in” but ended up shooting every week. I met the kid's triplet at the trap range when I arrived with my then new Winchester Ranger 120 Pump. The gun came from the factory with nice lumber but just a so-so finish. Five hand-rubbed coats of True-oil and it looked like a million bucks.

The “triplet” complimented me on how pretty the gun was and inquired as to what it was.

When I told him the brand and model I might as well have said “hey, let's use this old t-shirt for 1st base.”


In 2005, in need of experience with semi-auto pistols I started shooting bowling pins with a group in St. Joseph, MO. At the end of the 6 weeks, I signed up for the next 6 weeks. I truly enjoyed it. At the end of the evening, we all looked over the scores and nobody started crying, nobody was an ass-hat about it. Everyone was having a great time. Of course there were guys there who were great at it, but they were kind enough to share some techniques and advice. Overall, it was a great experience.


Jump forward to 2013. I agree to attend a competition-type event for the first time since 2005.

My friend drives us to Pioneer Gun Club and backs into an open parking spot. The other guy and I are drooling because it is a great looking facility and we were anxious to enjoy shooting.

We step out of the truck and the driver says, “we gotta go sign up.” So we head with him to the office. Inside, we are met with a well-organized process and were politely informed of how things work. We signed the disclaimer-type form, found 3 tables in a row open on the sign-up sheet and wrote our names in. My name landed on table 10.

Another shooter walks in, picks up the sign in sheet and says “who's Bill Wade?” I spoke up and said “I am.” Obviously irritated, he replies “I got my stuff all set up on table 10 so you sign up on it?”

Yes, yes I did because when I got out of the truck my senses were filled with fresh air, long distance targets and all the other amenities and sights that my brain could absorb. Table numbers were not on that sensory intake.

I guess that makes me the scum of the earth. Or so I felt, that is until the guy behind the counter reminded the veteran shooter that “you know the rules, sign up on the table sheet and then get your stuff out.”

So I got a little reprieve but I certainly did not intend to arrive on the scene for the first time to piss someone off within the first couple of minutes.

It gets better!

We go out to the truck and start unloading our gear and getting set up for the morning and some grouchy old guy starts barking that I'm on his table. Dear old table 10. He exclaimed that he “signed up on table 10.”

So by now I'm ready to just wait this out in the truck. The grouch conceded to setting up on a different table even though he specifically signed up on table 10. This went on until we all made the trip back to the office and checked the sheet.

Then I was told by him that “somebody must have changed it and moved my name to table 7.”

Yea, OK Einstein, its ink. Who do you suppose would go to the trouble of trying to erase the ink leaving no trace of your name and writing his in?

I won! Nobody had erased his name and moved his signature to table 7. He must have just messed up.

Nah, really, you don't need to apologize. We'll just pretend like it didn't happen.

So we go back out and commence the shooting program.

I had never shot prone, so that was pretty cool. I did OK, at least I was happy with it. Of course, I had shot freehand standing before but never claimed to be good at it. That was fun, too.

The young veteran shooter next to me was a hell of a shot and it was fun to see his targets and watch his technique.

Maybe if I had shown up with a big decal on the side of the truck with my gun shop name on it and wearing a t-shirt with my shop name on it, I would have been treated differently. Maybe folks would have realized the potential of a new shooter with a large customer base as a following.

Then again, maybe it's best this way. Maybe Pioneer has all the shooters and money it needs. So if customers ask me about any organized shooting events I won't need to include Pioneer as one of their options.

The truth of it is I understand it only takes one or two apples at the bottom of the sack to make things suck for the others in the sack.

I do not believe that the 2 individuals I was so lucky to piss off in the first 5 minutes are representative of the group or the organization. But I do believe they were related to the baseball kid from my early years and that bitter taste is still pretty damn hard to swallow.


I wrote this in June of 2013, one month after the event at Pioneer but refrained from posting it to my web site thinking I might be overreacting a little.

Today, August 6th , I get an email (because I gave Pioneer my email when I signed in) and the “club” is in the middle of a feud. I don't even understand what's going on and I don't care but it certainly re-enforces what I already knew. The “baseball kid” from when I was young is still alive and kicking and I hate that behavior more today than ever.