2018 Deep Creek Long Range Prone Regional
Since moving back to North Dakota in 2017, I have tried to add some new match locations to my resume. I had not shot in the state of Montana until this past weekend, but it was well worth the drive to shoot the 2018 Deep Creek Long Range Regional Prone.
The Deep Creek 1000-yard range is well-known in the benchrest world for its benign winds and small aggregates. Over the last several years, the sling portion of our shooting community has gotten in on the action as well with some massive scores and aggregates being fired there. This subtlety intrigued me, and earlier this summer my current travel partner, Tom Thompson, and I decided to make another trek. This time, west…..way west.
Jamie Williams has run this match the last several years and I have heard of the smoothness and excellent prize table, 2018 did not disappoint. If you have not shot this match in either the F-class variant or the sling weekend you are missing out. The range is situated on the side of a mountain with pine trees on either side. When the winds are light, it truly is a tunnel. However, when the winds do blow, even slightly they are very hard to read and quite unpredictable. This year, four shotmarker electronic targets were used in parallel during the team match on Friday. I brought one of the systems myself having used it most of the summer and really enjoyed the feedback and ease of operation for training. Using in a match with other targets was something I wanted to try. Allen Spiker put on his IT hat and had everything working well. A couple of training items for the users and we were underway. In full transparency, there were a couple of shots missed, however it seemed they were always when shots on targets directly next to each other fired at the same time. I bet with some more software tweaks, Adam McDonald will have them working perfectly. Not pulling pits really is a welcome addition to our aging shooting cadre.
On to the match - The schedule called for a 4-person Palma team match on Friday, a Palma match on Saturday followed by a 20 shot Any/Any, then a final Palma match on Sunday morning. Start time on Friday was just before noon to allow locals to drive in for the match. Myself, Kerry Spurgin, Stuart Mackey and Allen Spiker teamed up for a national team against several National Guard teams and other civilians. Stu and I worked the knobs for our squad and managed some decent scores. I was low man of the squad, but as the saying goes I would be low man on any winning squad versus high man on a second-place team. I coached Stu to a 150 @ 9 to show maybe I sometimes actually do know what I am doing with sight corrections. We then went back to 1K and I learned that I am less than awesome at reading the wind. At the end of the day, we dropped the least amount of points and walked away with the win. Kerry the Spurgin General led us with a stout 448 with Stu working the knobs.
On to the individuals - Saturday started out beautiful, a crisp Autumn morning with decent light. The wind was really down so if you could hold, big scores could be put up. Several of the National Guard members were using AR-10’s, Nightforce scopes and 185 juggernaut Berger loads. Those guns shoot crazy good, wow! Allen Spiker guided his RPA to the X ring 12 times to start the first 800 yard line, there were many other 150’s all with a few less X’s... Moving back to 900 several people went clean again 4 of use to be precise - Myself, John Coggshall, Disco Stu, and the British traveler Andrew Wilde. Everyone else got a little unlucky and leaked at least one point. Back to 1K, where I have yet to get a 450 and a couple of shots in I continued my streak of suckage at 1K by myself (I did shoot a 150 the day before with Disco on the knobs at 1K in the team). 9 out the top….grrrrr, then another……grrrr. However, John C showed us ALL how to get it done with his third 150 of the day and another 450 for him in the Palma course with an excellent 30X’s. Well done John! Down to the 446 level for next highest three people shooting 46’s with 22. What are the odds? Mr Wilde, Ken Nelson and myself… On the Service Rifle side, match director Jamie Williams shot a 435 but was out x’d for the agg win by John-Paul Cholok with the same score but 3 more X’s. See, those guns shoot pretty darn well.
The winds decided to wake from their slumber for the extra 20 shot match. My travel partner broke out the scope and showed everyone how a ND shooter shoots in the wind. Mr Thompson steered his 240NMC with Sierra 107’s to a 199-12x. I was listening to the score keeper call out all those X’s and thought things must have been readable. Next relay comes up and I break out the 243. Had I done some better reloading of my new Lapua virgin cases I maybe could have done a little better but Tommy’s wisdom and advanced age trumped me. A lowly 196-10x. Everyone else near the top of the agg was shooting a Palma gun and the wind was not being kind. Spiker did well with a 195-10x, but he had an aiming problem earlier in the day to crush a 449 down to a 439. Everyone else was a 193 or lower. Deep Creek got even with us.
After shooting the match the crew called in Famous Dave's to feed us all. It was a very nice way to end the day. Some BBQ and fellowship. Matches that have these small touches move right to the top of my return list. Well done gents! After the dishes were cleared we moved on to a raffle of a Defiance Action and several other door prizes. John Smith gets credit for doing most of the solicitation - well done! Bartlein, Kreiger, Hornandy, Shilen, Sierra, Defiance, Vortex, Sightron, Burris all had free or deeply discounted items to give. Jamie did a GREAT job of getting these prizes to all people on the score sheet, not just the winners. Winning a barrel or scope for a new shooter is a great way to build them up for the future.
After day 1, John C is leading down 7. The man-Boy is second down 8 and Double T with his 199 magnificence is down 9. On the Service rifle side, Jamie Williams is in the lead. Having shot a 190-7x in the additional match. He is sneaky good. Sunday has rain in the forecast, and rain it did. But just a little, only 1 relay got wet and most everyone else stayed dry with a couple sprinkles. The winds were calm and a couple of people stepped up with 12x to start at the easy line - John C- no surprise, Allen Spiker again…..but the elder statesman Ken Nelson showed all us young bucks how to do it with a nice 13x. My measly 10x was page 2 stuff. Back to 900 where 4 riflemen were able to get all the points again. John C, myself, Spurgin General, and WI Jr standout Josh Hanrahan. Josh and I both got 10. Here were go, a couple of people with a chance to get 450’s, back to 1K.
The winds were up a little, so I started with 2 minutes on the gun adding from the 1.75 at 900. Wrong plan, 2 tens on the left then an X to start at 3, followed by a 9 at 9 o’clock. With the pressure off, I just ripped the rest down there and ended the day down 1 with 29x. John C showed he is human and lost one in the string as well. No 150’s. I got the daily agg, John C second and the General in with a 448 for third. On the SR side, Jamie Williams again gets it done with a 150-8x, 147-8x, and a 143-2x for the win with a stout 440-18x. I have shot many Palma scores below 440, so doing it with a SR is no small feat. Since John C had the agg the day before I needed to go clean to have a chance. No go there….John had me on X’s anyway and wins the agg, I get silver and Kerry moves up to third after Double T forgot how to shoot 1k (he did end with 6x’s in a row that would all have been in the same shot spotter though). Awards were given out to the class winners, the range was taken down and Tom and I headed east back to the native land.
Congrats to all the winners and thank you to the volunteers who helped run the line, pull targets or any of the other tasks we all forget about. I had a great time and really happy I attended. I will definitely pencil this one in the schedule for 2019 and you all should too.
Morgen "Man-Boy" Dietrich
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