How to Practice Like Jerry Miculek

“Never keep count of your wins. If you get overconfident, it takes the fire out of you.”

If the name Jerry Miculek doesn’t ring a bell, you need to Google him and watch him on YouTube. This super-shooter was the overall winner many times from 1982 to the late 1990s, and his victories at this very match were what first brought him to national and world prominence as a competitive shooter.

Here’s Jerry’s recommendation: “Never keep count of your wins. If you get overconfident, it takes the fire out of you. You want to stay hungry. I go to every match like it was my first one.”

Miculek’s suggested practice regimen? He told me, “We shot pins when we could. I also practiced on cardboard targets shooting at a strip of tape to practice my index and the ability to make a vertical line shot.”

By the way, that “shoot at a strip of tape” regimen is also recommended by another multi-time winner of this event, Jerry Barnhart.

I asked Miculek how he got started in bowling pin shooting. He replied, “I think my first Second Chance shoot was ’82. I had been shooting pins in Texarkana, TX, shot against Mike Plaxco and Bill Wilson in their early days. Richard Davis had all these guns to give away and we wanted to get some of ‘em! I started with Eliot Aysen and his wife Annette. Eliot is now retired.”

Incredibly skilled with all small arms, Jerry is most famous for his revolver shooting: N-frame S&Ws in .357 Magnum and .45 ACP became sort of his signature guns, but most people don’t realize he started out with the svelte S&W K-38. “I shot those for a few years,” he said. “I took that 8 3/8” barrel K-38 out the other day. We shot some ferocious ammo at pins, 200 grain bullets at 1000-1100 foot seconds. We loaded them longer than .38 Special OAL. Texarkana banned Magnums so Eliot came up with the idea of the hot .38s. We had used Model 29s for a while. I went to the Model 27 with 8 3/8” barrel later. It was heavier, and I was used to the N-frame Model 29s, I also wanted a light barrel so the gun would start and stop quicker.”  

How did Jerry rate the old Second Chance event, now The Pin Shoot, compared to other such matches for fun and being worth going to? He answered, “It was a unique adventure. You could shoot for eight or nine days at one time. We just brought ammo cans full of ammo, and practiced on the back range.”

Will Jerry be back at the Pin Shoot for its 30th Anniversary? “I have thought about shooting it,” he replied, “but I’m not sure if my hands can still handle the heavy loads we used to shoot. I might do it this year.”

We all hope he can make that happen!

By Massad Ayoob