Rio Salado Desert Classic
Battle Of The Best
The Rio Salado Desert Classic was started in 1988 by the Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club in Mesa, Arizona. The first several years the match was knows as the Ernie Hill Desert Classic. After Ernie Hill stopped being the match sponsor, several others stepped up over the years to fill that position; Dillon Precision, Briley Manufacturing, Infinity Firearms, Caspian Arms, Ltd, to name a few. Caspian Arms, Ltd has been the match sponsor for the past 15 years and has been a contributing sponsor of the match since the first year. In the early years the Desert Classic became known for its creative stage design and challenging props. From swinging bridges to roller coasters to a ship with a moving walkway, the stages were not only challenging but were entertaining as well.
In 2001, the Rio Salado Desert Classic was struggling and it looked like the match was going to be scrapped. Under the direction of Paul Caudill and Bob LaMarca, a committee was formed to determine if the Desert Classic should continue. The original committee members were Paul Caudill, who has remains the Match Director today, Bob LaMarca, Co-Match Director, Rich Makay, Construction Superintendent, Vic Picket, Range Master, Barbara LaMarca, Registration and Stats Director, Palmer Hall, Match Consultant, Dave Sabia, Match Consultant, Jake Kempton, USPSA Area 2 Director, and John LaMarca, Sponsor/Prize Director. Within three years the committee took the match from its struggling position to the largest practical shooting event in the nation. We developed such great relationships with sponsors that the prize table became known as the largest and best in the shooting sports. We set the standard for all Area matches to aspire to become.
Today the Rio Salado Desert Classic is the premier match in the nation. It boasts the largest participation and richest prize table in the sport. Shooters come from all over the world to participate in the Desert Classic. Registration usually fills within less than 5 minutes and there is always an extensive waiting list. The match continues to be the biggest and best because of the dedicated staff that works so hard to make it better every year.