The MGM Ironman has the reputation of chewing up shooters and spitting them out. In the last few years, each day of shooting has been punctuated by at least one ambulance ride, and the combination of heat, dust and a high round count means that refined & tuned competition guns crash and burn with monotonous regularity.
It's a match like no other. This year, competitors will be expected to shoot from a zipline, after launching themselves off of a three-story tower.
The next stage involves diving into a tunnel and mowing down a bunch of subterranean targets with a pistol equipped with a weapon light and laser, and then emerging to shoot some more with a full-auto MP5, shotgun and rifle.
There are targets that charge, targets that are way the heck out there, and for 2012, a steel target called the Death Star, as well as the usual assortment of poppers, clays, plate racks and paper, some of which are shot while driving a golf cart.
If this doesn't sound hard enough, well there's a way to get more out of the experience. The Ironman offers a unique equipment category, kind of a "super open" division where you can run pretty much any gun you want and as many of them as you can beg, borrow or steal. The only snag is that you have to hump everything on your back for three days, and a 140-pound loadout is not uncommon.
The Ironman was the very first major match I attended, so it holds a special place in my heart. If you have a hankering to shoot it, don't be disheartened by anyone who says it's for experienced shooters only - go sign up for Ironman 2013 and I guarantee you'll learn more about your gear and skills in three days, than in any other environment.
I'll be attending the match this week and will bring you as much of the action as will fit onto an SD card. Wish me luck; I'll need it.
UPDATE: Check out this awesome video from Stage 5 of the 2012 MGM Ironman.