Camp Perry, Ohio – August 2015
72 hours driving the Challenger, 4700 miles on the Challenger, 4000 plus rounds of 308 in the Challenger, one burnout in the Challenger, one epic pool party, (thank God not in the Challenger) and new and stronger friendships – Priceless. I have been home over a week now but the memories of my 4 week World Championship road trip will last a life time. As you know, I packed up my car along with 4 other team mates gear and ammo and drove nearly across the country to Camp Perry in Ohio for Nationals and World Long Range Championships. My last blog entry left off at the amazing win of the World individuals by Ben Emms of Australia. We then moved in to the last two days of World Palma Team matches. I wish I could say that the US brought home the Gold Medal but Great Britain shot like a house on fire and kicked everyone’s butts. They deserved to take home the Gold. I believe they broke every record in the book as well. Congrats to GB member Toby Raincock for high shooter winning the Fulton trophy. Really Toby? Only one point down? Nice job. And top coach went to Matthew Ensor with The Arthur Clarke memorial trophy. On the US team John Whidden with coach Steve Hardin were the high shooter and coach. South Africa held on strong and took home the Bronze Medal this year. Being my first World Palma Championships I was impressed with the mechanics of the team event.
I have shot team events with the US where the head sets come out for all of the line and head coaches. South Africa was my first big experience with that. But Worlds was more intense. Add the crowded firing lines with all of the flags, pop up tents, team uniforms and media and it was quite a sight. Now this is more an explanation for those of you that have no clue how this works. The rest of you Palma shooters reading this can skip through this. At each yard line of 800, 900 and 1000 yards a large square area was roped off for each country. All 4 man teams, coaches, head coaches, plotters, score keepers and verifiers had to fit in this area. For Palma Team Worlds it is required that each country have 4 – 4 man teams and one coach for each. There is Team Captain, Adjutant and two alternates that make up The Palma Team as well. There were also 4 reserve shooters, I was one of those. The match is two days at 8, 9 and 1000. In our case, each coach has two of his shooters on the line at a time on either side of him. One is shooting and the other is at the ready. The second shooter needs to be there in case the coaches need them to jump in before their time and take a sighter shot (basically sacrificing one of their sighters to help coaches find their way back in to a wind condition) The Head Coach, for the US it was Emil Praslick, stands or sits with his spotting scope behind the line and works together with all of the coaches. As I mentioned, all coaches have head sets on and communicate to each other the conditions and their calls. Camp Perry this year decided to be a pig with wind. Unusually so, Perry tossed us strong winds for a couple of weeks straight. As predicted, the day after Worlds was over and the range was quiet of competitors, the flags were lying still on the polls and the lake was calm. Figures. But no one wants an easy match right? Wind makes things interesting. It levels the playing field a bit. Well except for Ben Emms and the GB team.
Part of the excitement of the match is walking down the line and watching the score boards of all of the teams. A lot can happen at each line. You just do not know until it is over. After all is finished each team takes photos with their flag and score board. Then is the hand shake line. A long line of team’s members congratulating each other one by one. Probably the only chance you get to actually be face to face with every person out there. It is quite a sight to see. All of the colors of international jerseys in two lines. Then each team sends up a cheer for everyone else. The awards ceremony unfortunately is a not a big fan fare. Although, it was nice not to have to get dressed up and sit in the auditorium for a couple of boring hours. This one was held an hour after the matches finished outside the stats office on base. Still in our uniforms this was a great time to trade jerseys, pins and patches and anything else we could get rid of as it was our last chance before the long journeys home. The medals were handed out and we said our goodbyes. Then of course the big celebration to a long couple of weeks followed.
The US Team and the S. African Team had hotels next door to each other. The GB gang were a couple of doors down at the condos. As my roomie Trudie and I were getting ready to get dinner we noticed our other roomie Amanda was putting on her swimsuit and heading out to the pool. The neighbor’s pool. I walked out for a bit and nearly got thrown in at that time. They were kind enough to let me stay dry to go out to dinner. I think, no I know I was lucky. We returned from dinner and our group walked to the back deck to check out was happening. There were tons of people fully clothed and soaking wet. I heard a S. African voice say “there is Riflegal” and people running toward me. My feet turned in to wings as I flew back to my hotel with Trudie following. Of course as was the curse of the week at our hotel, our key cards never worked. Trudie and I were stuck at our door and not able to sneak inside. Again, not sure why, but the “gents” that were going to throw us in let us change first. Again very lucky. Of course my shoes were held as collateral. In the pool Trudie and I and the rest of my dinner crew went. I knew I was really lucky when I saw that not even the GB Captain got away with staying dry. There were people thrown in the pool that I would have never imagined. Apparently if you own a guitar you get to stay dry though. But you had to keep entertaining. That is as much as I will reveal of that evening. Details are never to be shared. The evening went on late in to the morning for many. As they say, “What happens in Vegas, I mean Perry, stays at Perry.” Everyone deserved that celebration. I will say it was the most memorable end to Camp Perry I have ever had. Thank you to all for that!
I again want to say thank you to Dennis Flaharty our US Team Captain of the last 8 years I think? He is retiring of this position and ready to hand over the reigns to someone else willing to work his or her tail off and devote every minute of their lives. I remember meeting Dennis for the first time in Sacramento in 2010 I think it was. He did not know me from Adam and I had just started shooting Palma. I had heard there was a US Team and I was determined to be on it. I walked right up to him at a party at Bob Gustin’s home and introduced myself and I told him that I was going to get on his team. Not sure what he thought of that. But after my 2011 BC win I was at Camp Perry and he invited me to be on the Development team. Thank you Dennis. To Bob and Patty Mead, Bob is our Adjutant, thank you for the crazy amounts of work organizing this trip and team products and parties. You had no room in your hotel suite for yourselves amongst all of the boxes. Congrats to Emil Praslick on his retirement from the AMU. He is actually moving his family to my neck of the woods in the NW. I love all of my team mates. I had such a great time getting to know them even better. I still laugh at all of the laughter we had. I think my car had the most attention this year. RIFLGAL would like to thank Norm for the, ahem, smokey tire incident. This was like summer camp and it was difficult to leave. My awesome Team mates are, Dennis Flaharty – Team Capt., Robert Mead – Adjutant, Emil Praslick – Head Coach, Coaches – Norm Anderson, Raymond Gross, Steve Hardin, Gary Rasmussen, Jim O’Connell. Shooters – Trudie Fay, Amanda Elsenboss , Michelle Gallagher, Nancy Tompkins, Kevin Nevius, Norm Houle, Ty Cooper, Brandon Green, Brian Litz, Kelly Bachand, Shane Barnhart, Mark Delcotto, Kent Reeve, Justin Skaret, Eric Smith, Mark Altendorf, John Whidden. Alternates – Russell Theurer and Wayne Budbill. Reserves – Myself, Nate Guernsey, Lane Buxton, Morgan Dietrich and Rob Mango. And of course thank you to Bob Gamboa as team armorer!
A heavy heart goes to the Golden Knights as they lost one of their own in an accident the week after our World Opening Ceremony. You are in our thoughts and prayers.
Thank you teams from around the world that made the journey to the lovely Port Clinton – Great Britain, Channel Islands, West Indies, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan and Germany. I would have loved to have seen the Japanese team members thrown in the pool! I wonder if that is customary? New Zealand I will hopefully see you on your turf in 4 years! I am planning on one big trip a year for the next few. Next year I will go to Bisley for the first time, 2017 is S. Africa again, this time with hunting as well, and/or West Indies.
A huge thank you to the companies that helped me get to Camp Perry. These companies are with all year round but stepped up for this event especially. Devil Dog Arms out of IL. Lawson & Palmer my new management company. ESS Eye Pro, Accu-Grip and Eagle Eye Precision.
Until we all meet again!