Before I start writing anything I want to say thank you to Michelle Gallagher and her amazing Berger cast and crew that ran a flawless match again. I also want to thank all of the match sponsors. (I am listing sponsors at bottom of article) This is my 6th year attending SW Nationals and it truly gets better every year. From fancy air conditioned porta potties (I can’t explain how nice this detail is!) to the newly built 1000 yard line and clubhouse sponsored by NightForce, this is, in my opinion the best long range match in the country. Even two years ago the “club house” was the tiny white trailer pulled behind a truck that Mid and Michelle squished in to and handed out daily target and relay cards. The Saturday night barbecue was held at a tiny building on the Ben Avery range. But then again there were under a hundred shooters a few years ago. Now we fill up the indoor shooting range building with about 400 people! And a big milestone that happened this year is that all 100 firing points were used for the first time at this range. Quite a sight to see! We had competitors come from all over the US and quite a few from England, Scotland, Ireland and Australia. This international group has made a tradition of coming to this match for the last several years and will continue to do so. Divided not quite so evenly, this match is made up of F-TR, F-Open and sling shooters.
As is the unfortunate trend, the number of sling shooters, (self-supported and iron sights as opposed to bi-pods and optics) decreases every year and the number of F-Class competitors rise. Oops, let me rephrase that. It is unfortunate that the sling shooter numbers are decreasing. The world of shooting competitions has gravitated toward tactical whether it is F-Class, 3Gun or Precision Rifle. I love to see the state and club teams of F-Class come out in full force with colorful team jerseys. Over on the low end of the range, myself and the other 100 plus sling shooters fought it out from Wednesday through Sunday. We started with the mid range event at 600 yards. Last year on this day we had hurricane force winds. This year we had hot temps of 85 degrees and very light if any wind. This was the opportunity to confirm your no wind zero and go for the high X count. There still was only one clean for the day and that was Ian Shaw from Scotland with a 600 – 37X. I dropped two points for the day and took 5th overall. Tough crowd! Thursday was the first team event which was the Palma which was shot at 800, 900 and 100 yards.
A few of us from Wa State threw together a last minute team to participate. Emil Praslick, retired head coach of the AMU moved to WA end of last year and I was honored to be coached by him again. I have shot under him when the US Team went to S. Africa in 2013. Including myself the shooters were David Littlefield, Todd Branin and Jim Obermeyer. We shot very well the first day and were second behind the Scottish team by one point. The second team event was a string at 1000 yards on Saturday. Everyone shot very well again but one round managed to find its way on the neighboring target. It happens. All I can say is I am looking forward to more shooting with a Washington squad and to make a name for ourselves as we approach tryouts for the 2019 World Championships. Congrats to the Scottish team of Angus McLeod, Ian Shaw, Sandy Walker and Michael Barlow for winning the team Grand Agg this year. The rest of the week was Palma and 1000 yard individual events.
Friday we shot individual Palma on the hottest day so far of the week reaching nearly 90 degrees. Although worshiping the sunshine I rarely see, my sensitive NW skin recoiled in horror. I know, I’m a wimp. There were no cleans for the Palma match but John Whidden took first place only dropping one point with 33X. I only dropped two and was way down at 10th overall. Again, tough crowd to shoot with. I was very happy with my performance all week. Especially since I had not shot any sling since September of last year. Saturday and Sunday were all 1000 yard matches. I was holding my position well in to Sunday. I had to shoot relay one in the morning on Sunday and struggled terribly with the light. All I could see was a gray fuzzy blob down range and could not manage to center the blob and lost most points to elevation. It was heartbreaking since I had held so well all week. Between the two strings that day I dropped 9 points and that hurt. I still did manage to take 12th overall in the Palma category. This is actually the best Grand Agg score I have had as a High Master at this match. For me the week was a great success. Congratulations to the 2016 SW Nationals match winner Patrick McCann. 2nd overall and High Woman went to Nancy Tompkins. Winner of F-TR is Derek Rodgers and F-Open is John Myers. Great shooting everyone and can’t wait to see you all again next year.
-I usually have dinner with a group of friends who are local in Phoenix but everyone except one called in sick. So Danielle, the only other 6 foot female competitive shooter, and I had dinner at a great new restaurant in Scottsdale called Spiga Cucina. Awesome place, I highly recommend it. In fact I brought my team back there a few nights later and they loved it as well.
-Shooting with my Wa team mates
-It’s all in the details. In the raffle drawing one day I won a YETI mug from KM shooting Products. That is coming with me to my annual Chick Weekend camping trip to keep my beers cold!
-The people – The main draw of any of these matches. Even with 5 days of shooting it is still not enough time to catch up with everyone.
-Paul from Accurate Shooter included my interview in one of their match videos. Great drone aerial shots of the 1000 yard clubhouse and range.