Trudie Fay is a name your hear a lot in the winner’s circles of long range high power. Again, Trudie is overall match winner of this year’s SW Nationals held in Phoenix last week. She was flawless. As usual there were challenging conditions all week and the list of world class shooters was long. We even had a Scottish team of seven that attended, four of which have been coming for 3 years now. There were about 350 competitors between Sling and F-Class and F-Open. This is my 5th year attending this event held at The Ben Avery Shooting Facility. It is now one of the best run and most successful matches I have been to. I have seen huge changes every year as it has become more popular.
In my first year attending SW Nationals the 1000 yard line was just a dirt berm and there was one sponsor tent by Berger. Now the 1000 yard line is a club house with elevated firing line and there were a dozen sponsor tents last week. Ben Avery has become a world class high power shooting facility. I really wonder why they were not chosen as the home to The World Palma Championships this year. They now have over 90 target points and of course Phoenix is large enough to accommodate teams from around the world. Just a couple of weeks before the match the brand new 1000 yard line clubhouse was finished. The new entrance and clubhouse were built by Berger and Knight Force Optics. These two companies have been huge sponsors of this event throughout the years. The match honored Mid Tompkins in a dedication ceremony with a huge rock with his plaque, fireworks and three T34s that flew over the range. Mid has been with Ben Avery range since the 1950’s and has been involved in the shooting community and the range updates since and the lead in getting the new range and clubhouse built. The entire family came up to the podium in support of Mid. There were not many dry eyes. Nancy his wife and step-daughters Michelle and Sheri Gallagher. Sheri flew in for 12 hours from her Golden Nights home just to be there for Mid. I was happy she sat at my table during the match dinner to see her for even 10 minutes. Of course there are the yearly traditions such as the Gumbo feed by Steve Rossi that keep us coming back also.
The SW match is approximately 6 days long if you count the practice/clinic day the first Tuesday. My gear had not yet made it to Phoenix in time for practice so Nancy and Michelle put me to work as a coach on the line to help people with their positions. Bryan Litz finally made it out of the East Coast snow storm to give his ballistics lecture that morning. Wednesday was the 600 yard mid range match. We had a fluke crazy windy day for this match and most scores of the shooters were 20-30 points down for the three strings. To do that at 600 really speaks volumes of the conditions. That is supposed to be the “easy” distance. It was a lot of fun though. Thursday started with the Team Palma match. I was invited to shot with Nancy Tompkins, Trudie Fay and our token male Justin Skaret. I have to thank them for caring me through to the win. At 1000 yards on the first day I dropped several points. I had no idea what was happening since I had shot well at 8 and 900 yards. We did still end up winning as the overall team but I found out the next day what was wrong. The next morning as I started to shoot I checked all of my gear and noticed the front shade cap of my front sight was loose. I tightened it and shot well at 800 yards in the individual Palma. Back at 900 the first 5 shots were great then the elevation fiasco happened again. I found the cap loose again. I tightened it and everything went back to normal. Right after that string I found some blue Locktite and fixed the cap. The back at the 1000 yard line half way through the string it happened again and found the base screw for the sight loose. I checked it before I started shooting. Not much luck that day. On Saturday and Sunday all shooting was at the 1000 yard line and we had the final team match there. My team mates held it together for us again and we ended up winning the Grand Agg by 3 points. Trudie was the high scorer and super star again. The Leading Ladies, and Gent, did it again. Thanks team mates! I look forward to shooting with Nancy, Trudie and Michelle Gallagher this August at Camp Perry for Team Palma. We won last year as an all ladies team and hope to do so again!
Looking down the firing line all week one noticed that the F-Class/Open side of the range far outnumbered the Sling shooters side. This seems to be the trend where high power is going. I believe it is the popularity of the tactical shooting sports that is a reason. I hope the Palma and iron sight game will hold on for awhile longer.
For Palma Aggs, Trudie Fay took first, Justin Skaret 2nd and Phil Hayes 3rd, Ian Shaw of Scotland 4th and Phoenix native Rick Curtis took 5th. Team Palma day, US Team Tompkins (my team) was first, Team Phoenix was 2nd and Team Challenger 3rd. Of the Any/Any category congrats to Brian Litz, John Whidden and Allan Thomas as the top 3. In the F-Open division Bob Sebold just edged out Christine Harris by a single point to claim the winners prize and local Mr Dan Bramley took third place. F-TR winner is Derek Rodgers, Scott Harris and Rocky Felix. Congrats to all of the winners and all of the shooters that participated. It was a very fun match.
Thank you to Mid Tompkins, Michelle Gallagher and all of the staff and sponsors (See image below of sponsors) I will be back next year!