It is hard to believe this was my 4th year competing in the SW Nationals. My first year four years ago, I had never fired a 1000 yard match before. I had my High Master card for mid range but not long range yet. I was entered as a Sharp Shooter. I remember vividly that the conditions were quite calm on the first day and I cleaned one of the 1000 strings with a high X count. Not being known yet in that crowd another guy in the Sharp Shooter class accused me of sand bagging. What a way to start eh? Needless to say I shot very well that week and came home with quite a prize package of 1500 Berger Bullets. In its fourth year now the match has started to acknowledge match records. I received a medallion this year for my scores back then. Apparently I still hold the Sharp Shooter record. Of course right after that match I received my High Master Long Range card so sand bagging is no longer an issue right?
Michelle Gallagher and Mid Tompkins are the founders and organizers of
the SW Nationals. Michelle works for Berger which of course was fitting for Berger to be the top sponsor. All of us that have attended from the first year have seen such dramatic improvements year after year. This match is so popular it sells out. Not even US Nationals sells out. Almost 300 competitors from around the world make this such a success. There is a combination of Sling TR, F-Class and F-Open categories. Five full days of shooting includes a 600 yard match, Palma individual, Palma team, long range individual and long range team. One of the big draws is the enormous prize table. This year in particular over $60,000 worth of cash and prizes were given out. And I love the fact that Michelle makes everyone who receives a prize write a hand written thank you note to that sponsor on the spot. If you do not then you do not get your prize. Trust me when I say that the sponsors appreciate this token.
The week started out Wednesday with the 600 yard match. All of us that traveled from around the cold country and looking forward to sun and
warmth in Phoenix were quickly let down. The same thing happened last year. It was cold, cloudy and windy. But thankfully day by day the weather improved and the last two days were actually t-shirt temperatures. Allen Thomas won the Any TR and Rick Curtis took the Palma TR for the 600 yard match. Thursday we had Palma Team which was shot at 800, 900 and 1000 yards. I am happy to say that my team, US Team Tompkins took first place. Coach Nancy Tompkins with myself, Wayne Forshee, Justin Skaret, and Peter Church. ASRPA Red team took second with Doug Frerichs, Phil Hayes, Rick Curtis and Ryan Hayes. Day 3 was the individual Palma match with Bryan Litz as winner, Jon Rhynard 2nd and John Field in 3rd. Saturday was long range individuals with Any and Palma categories. Canadian Ken Nelson was match winner for Any and Trudie Faye won the Palma category. We ended the day with a team long range match and again my team US National – Tompkins was match winner. Our friends that traveled all of the way from Scotland took 2nd place. The final day on Sunday was two more strings of individual at 1000 yards and then the awards ceremony. All scores throughout the week get combined for a Grand Agg in each category. I was honored to be part of the Gold Medal winning team US Nationals -Tompkins. And only because this is my blog and I can brag if I want to, I was thrilled that I had a 4th overall place in the High Master Palma category. This has always been a tough match for me and although I have performed well I have never placed.
Final results will eventually be posted on the Berger web site under Competitions. I have not yet seen it posted but I am sure Michelle is taking a rest after all of her efforts. F-Tr and F-Open will be posted as well. You can see some photos of score sheets on my Facebook Page. Thank you to all of the sponsors that donated so many great prizes. Nightforce Optics must have donated at least 5 beautiful scopes. I had fun seeing a woman wearing one of my jewelery pieces that I donated. I also brought some Accu-Grip grips from one of my sponsors. I will say the highlight of the week is actually one that for once did not stink. I am referring to the first class porta potties. Not sure where they came from but 2 trailers with spacious and carpeted potties add that little extra touch to the match. Not only was there a proper sink in each but AC and heater options as well! Kudos to you Michelle! To end this post I do have one rant. On Saturday as I grabbed my rifle case to walk up to my firing position I noticed two foot prints on the soft case right where my front sights were on my rifle. What I could not figure out is that there were two prints side by side. When a person walks they put one foot in front of the other right? What did this guy do, hang out on it while he drank a cup of coffee? In a panic I opened the bag to see if any damage was done. Although one of the caps was a little loose I could not see any visible damage. The proof was in my string of fire and all shots did what they were supposed to do. Whew. Now, to whoever blatantly walked and stood on my rifle! May your arm pits be infested with the fleas of a thousand camels! That is all.