Since I mentioned Pin Shooting the other day in the Kaswer Pin Grabber article, I thought that I would share this video from the 1986 Second Chance match.

The origin story of Second Chance Body Armor and the pin shoot is a bizarre one. On the evening of June 17, 1969, Davis was delivering pizzas for his Detroit, MI pizza chain – RC Pizza. Three men attempted to rob him, and Davis fought back with a .22 LR revolver. He scored hits on two of the men, but was shot twice in the process, with minor wounds in the leg and the face.

While recovering, Davis turned his thoughts to developing soft body armor for police. In May 1972, Davis filed his patent application, and received US Patent #3,783,449 in January 1974. The favored material of the era, Ballistic Nylon, was really meant to stop shell fragments, not handgun bullets. However, in those days, most of the handguns that police commonly faced were of lower power.

However, Davis’ potential customers were still skeptical. The logic was that even if the armor stopped the bullet, surely they would be incapacitated. So Davis decided to make the first of many dramatic demonstrations. In the spring of 1972 at the Walled Lake, MI Police Department shooting range, Davis crouched to his knees, donned one of his Second Chance vests, pointed a loaded Colt Trooper revolver at his chest, and fired.  He then jumped to his feet and successfully shot three bowling pins. The bowling pins just happened to be available on the range. But an idea was kindled.

In 1974, Davis was in a hotel room in Reno, NV with gunwriter Mason Williams and San Francisco PD investigator Alexander Jason. Davis wanted to create a new shooting sport. In a 1976 interview, Davis stated “I wanted to combine speed, accuracy, and power with elements of practicality. You had the quick-draw matches that were all speed and no accuracy. You had the standard police combat matches, which were all accuracy and no power. Later, you had the metallic silhouette handgun matches which were largely a matter of raw power. I wanted something that would combine these three important factors, while simulating a close-range, multiple target situation.”

Multiple ideas for targets were discussed, such as knocking-down steel plates and wooden blocks. Then Davis remembered the bowling pins from his first demonstration. Pins were readily available from bowling alleys. Unlike steel plates, they reacted erratically, and they even resembled a scaled down version of the old Colt Silhouette Target.

In 1975, Davis passing out a few flyers around the Detroit Police Department’s range. Only around 25 to 30 shooters showed up for the first ever bowling pin shoot. However, during the two days event, Davis gave away a .45 caliber handgun for first prize as well as several other guns and prizes. If I’m not mistaken, J.D. Jones covered the event for GUNS Magazine, attracting national attention.

The next year, Davis advertised a prize table worth $6,000. This time 125-130 shooters arrived, including gunwriters Mason Williams, Massad Ayoob, Evan Marshall, and even Jeff Cooper. Until it was discontinued in 1998, the Second Chance Shoot grew up to eight days, roughly 500 competitors, and over 200 guns in prizes.

Sadly, there had been legal push back from the neighbors who didn’t appreciate a weeks-worth of non-stop noise and other activity. There were even bogus claims that projectiles were escaping the range.

Davis retired in 2004 as Second Chance Body Armor faced Chapter 11 Bankruptcy due to the industry-wide Zylon body armor recall. The Second Chance brand was ultimately bought by Safariland. However, Richard’s son, Matt, was not done with the industry. Matt started a successor company, Armor Express, in 2005.

In 2017, Matt revived the Pin Shoot, now renamed for his father.

1 Comment

  1. Wild, wild west says:

    Fascinating.

    Like

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