Spotlight on a New Pin Shoot Champion – Patrick Sweeney – Firearms News


Patrick Sweeney competing in the “Mains” at the Davis Range in Central Lake, Michigan.

The 31st Pin Shoot was held at the Davis Range in Central Lake, Michigan June 8-13, 2024. The event was invented by Richard C. Davis, the original inventor of Soft Concealable Body Armor (Patent #3783449) known as the modern bullet proof vest. His story is fascinating and will take another article to cover, but in the early 1970’s he demonstrated his body armor to law enforcement agencies by shooting himself in the chest! While doing a demonstration, he also shot three bowling pins which inspired the competition. 

Competitive Pin Shooting

I was new to the idea of pin shooting and thought you might be also. I figure a brief explanation is in order before I introduce our 2024 “Mains” Event Champion Patrick Sweeney. Shooting bowling pins might seem like an easy thing to do, however, you are shooting at a round object with a hard plastic skin that weighs about three and a half pounds. The objective is to knock the pins to the ground not just tip them over, which takes precision and power. There are a variety of events, that make up the competition, and they are broken into two categories. Main Events and Optional Events.

Main Events

There are six Main Events. The format is straightforward: five pins on a table with penalty pins mixed in.  The event is timed from the starting beep to when the last pin hits the ground. Participants shoot six tables, with the best five runs counted. The sixth fun serves as the tiebreaker. There are two “Mains”, called Stock Gun and Pin Gun, which are the events Patrick Sweeney handily won this year. These Mains are the oldest in the competition with Stock Gun being the original event and from the beginning, the pre-eminent Main event and whoever wins this is the overall winner of the competition. In Stock Gun, semi-automatic handguns with iron sights and a maximum barrel length of five inches, or a revolver with iron sights and a maximum barrel length of 8 ¾, are used. Using a stock gun, competitors are limited to eight rounds per gun to start, but reload capacity is unlimited. In Pin Gun, the rules are the same, except there are no barrel length requirements and muzzle breaks and compensators are permitted.

Optional Events

Fierce competition on the line during an “Optional” event during the June Pin Shoot.

There are 13 optional events including team events, shotguns, pistol caliber carbines, and the Big Push. In the Big Push, shooters face three bowling pins at 21 feet. However, the pins must be knocked at least 14.5 feet! This is the perfect event for the mega-sized handgun fanciers. Shooters are divided into Master Blaster and Ordinary Standard Shooter groups competing in the same events, but not directly against each other.


A competitor takes his turn at The Big Push event where they bring out the big guns!

2024 Pin Shoot “Mains” Champion

Patrick Sweeney after winning the 2024 Mains, takes the podium for his award.

Our champion, for the 2024 Pin Shoot, Patrick Sweeney, began his pin shoot obsession in 1984 with two pistols, a stock gun and a pin gun, the same pistols he used to win this year. “Once I learned the pin-shooting ropes, I was a regular in the winning circle, referred to in pin shooting as ‘the walk.’ That is, the walk up to the prize table, to select a prize. I made the cut to the ‘pro’ level in 1990, being promoted to Master Blaster.” Patrick said. Patrick told me there is a feeling of family at these events and a big lunch is provided so people can really get to know each other. In the early days of the Pin Shoot, there were over 500 contestants from all over the country and after a several-year hiatus, the sport has grown again to well over 200 contestants and keeps growing as new shooters get involved. “What brings me back is the adrenaline rush of having to perform on demand, and the camaraderie. Pin shooters are such a family that if your firearm breaks on the line, you will have two, three, or four people offering you theirs, a like firearm, to complete your shooting.” He said. Take a look at Pin Shooting and see if it is something you might enjoy. I know I will be attending one in the future! If you want more information, visit

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