Conventional shooting came to Long Lake via a visit from one of New York State's most familiar names in competitive pistol shooting - Frank Wukovits. As a champion shooter and prestigious official, Frank Wukovits has inspired shooting across the country and officiates regularly for International Matches. In the 1980's, he visited a small village in the Adirondacks and planted a Conventional Pistol seed that has grown into the Long Lake Black Bear Annual Championship.
For several years following the initial introduction to Conventional Pistol (Bullseye) Competition, members of the Long Lake Fish & Game Club pursued league shooting at their local club, when the black flies were thin enough to see through, and at a nearby club, when the flies were too thick or the snow too deep. A core following developed and several shooters even moved into the world of competitive shooting at matches in other parts of the state. You might even see their team listed occasionally - Long Lake BS'ers. Around 2003, these members met to discuss the idea of starting a match, hosted by the Long Lake Fish & Game Club, to be held in August of each year, as an attempt to bring Conventional Pistol back into the Adirondack Mountains.
Requirements discussed were turning targets, a sound system, a fifty yard line, an overhead structure and NRA sanctioning. The overhead structure and fifty yard line were tabled since a 25 yard match could be run without shelter. The benches were already in place, although they needed resurfacing. In 2005 most of the work was completed on the turning targets. For more details of the work done, you can look at the Long Lake 25 Yard Turning Targets Project page. By the summer of 2006 the targets were finished, the benches resurfaced and the sound system was in place.
The first ever Championship was fired on 19 August 2006. Although it was planned to be an annual event, the current title had not yet been given. For the inauguaral match only five competitors braved the weather to fire uncovered on a rainy day. But, a pleasant surprise was in store - the club vice-president had been able to borrow two collapsible canopies which were able to be used for the competitors' comfort. The foundation laid and one match completed, advertisement of a match in the Adirondacks in August was showing an increased interest in the Bullseye community.
Due to that growing interest, the match was expanded to include both Saturday and Sunday. It was also decided to expand its name to the current Long Lake Black Bear Annual Championship title. The 2007 match showed quite an attendance increase, indeed! Eighteen competitors made the trip, with even more showing interest, and some competitors speaking of bringing extra friends the next year. The match was eventually expanded to include Friday in 2008 and with three days in operation, the number of competitors peaked at 28 in 2009.
With the rapid growth and fact that a few interested shooters were turned away due to space, the idea of expanding the range by another ten points was entertained. However, 2010 and 2011 proved to be lean years. Again, some were turned away due to space limitations on Friday and Sunday, but eventually no-shows trimmed the field considerably. 2011 itself, had a 12% no-show rate. The expansion of the range was tabled, but plans to provide cover were put in place.
Also added in 2011 was a large trophy plaque, donated by Steve Kraynak, with graphics provided by Harvie Loomis (who also creates our annual stickers), and name plates and engraving provided by USAF Colonel(ret) David C. McCormick. Col McCormick was a member of the USAF National Pistol Team for several years prior to his retirement in 2013. A special thank you to those individuals.
In 2015, the club members made some major changes, to include installing the lower ten points and condensing the matches to two days. With the daily competitor doubling and removing Sunday from the events, an increase in capability, while releasing one day back to the membership was accomplished. The club also made an initial application to run New York State Championships in Long Lake.