Last updated on January 5th, 2019 at 08:46 am
PART 1: 2018 North Dakota Mid-Range State Championship - By Morgen Dietrich - Memorial David Disrud High Power Range
The forecast all week was not very welcoming, looking at my phone had me down in the dumps. Did I really want to drive 3+ hours to freeze my rear end off and be miserable? I even emailed the match director earlier in the week to tell him I was not coming... but it is a prone match? And a state championship at that…
Later in the week the forecast actually improved, from highs in the low 40’s to high 40’s… Well, now I had to put a plan in place. I didn’t have enough Palma ammo loaded and I am hoarding what I do have left of Sierra 2156 for New Zealand. My 243 brass was all too long in the tooth, and fire-forming brass the previous weekend had cost me a few points from inconsistency… That led me to resurrect the old 6BR barrel. I had ammo loaded from 2 years ago, I needed to put it on an action and get some zeros… That is what I did.
My palma rifle and I have had a very good season, it feels like a great pair of shoes or well-worn gloves. Blue and I just “get” each other… Greeny, well… she is a bit fickle… She is a thoroughbred great at times but cantankerous otherwise. With only 300 yard zeros I was taking a bit of a risk, but what the heck.
Rolla is a great little 8 point range nestled into a pasture about a baseball throw away from Canada. Just East of the North Dakota Turtle Mountains, it is a joy to shoot at. Everyone’s favorite North Dakota lumberjack Coby had the range in tip-top condition. Duane Holien and Coby also had done a bang-up job of fixing up all the targets with new foam and faces. They were perfect! The Saturday match called for one iron sight 20 shot match followed by two any sight 20 shot matches. Sling, F-Open and FTR all were on the line together. The weather man was a bit wrong, as single digit wind speeds and temps up to 54 were encountered for the day. When the sun shone, it was downright wonderful in the fall briskness.
On to the match - since moving back to North Dakota I have fired this match 3 times. I was able to win the ’16 addition and my mentor Double T Thompson claimed 2017 with a very nice 598, out x'ing me. Through all the years of firing 600 yards in North Dakota 200’s are quite rare - however, most of those scores have been shot on open ranges like Grand Forks and Bismarck. I am going to bet almost all the individual string records have been set at Rolla, with the protected nature. I had a goal for 2018, I wanted to go clean… let’s see what happens.
Match Director Andy Johnson calls relay one to the line, all 8 targets are in use. Jenson, Thompson, Dietrich, Dalgliesh on the sling side. Gilles, Nelson, Rutherford and Plum on the F side. Commence fire - the targets were bright and just a light breeze. I put on my best guess for a zero from 3 years ago and snagged a 10 to start. I wanted to make sure I was centered up before I started for record from unlimited sighters. One nine popped up, and back to the 10’s and x’s. To my left TT goes for record and I hear the first record shot come up a 9er… Not the way anyone wants to start. I had shot 6 sighters and was ready… here were go… I was breaking good shots but it just seemed as I was always a click off the pace, being on the wrong side of the x ring. However, I completed task #1 getting all the points. 12 x’s came along too. Thompson kept everything else in the 10 ring and matched my 12 x’s. Coby decided to use all of the target he paid for with one shot WAY outside but kept things contained from there… On the F side, no cleans to report. Wayne Backes was lead dog after match 1 with a 198-13x and the Ramblin' Man Dr. Drew got the first match win for FTR with a 198-10x. To the pits we go and relay 2 has at it. Garth Weber used Randy Gregory’s old palma gun to put up a solid agg. New comer and brand new dad, Ryan Karrar used a state palma rifle to learn the ropes and put up some score to build from. Great to see new people on the sling side.
On to match 2 - most everyone on the sling side changed out of iron sights. I put on my FXIII straight 25x Leupold too. The wind was still very light, records could be broke. Away we go… I wanted to make sure to get centered up before going for record. Several sighters later, I made the call and went for record. I was breaking good shots just not quite where they needed to be. Tommy was getting x’s per the norm with his new found favorite 240NMC. He piled up 12x, but let a single shot just get away into the 9 ring. I completed the most important task once again and got through clean with 12x’s. Garold Gillies steered his F-Open gun to a clean as well, with 12z’s… and Drew steered his joypod to another FTR win with a 199-10x. One more match to go.
I wanted a 600, really bad… I just needed to break good shots and not get on the wrong side of a wind change. Denny Coulter of ND XTC fame showed all of “kids” how to get it done. Don’t let his 70 year old body fool you, he worked his baby blue Eliseo 260 Rem to a dandy 200-12x for the match win. Pretty awesome to be there for that. Next up on the clean train was TT, finally shaking off those pesky 9’s and getting 11x’s. Ryan Holien also got 11, but had one gremlin show up for a 9. Neil Jenson was rockin his AR-10 and had a great 13x, just one 30 caliber shot went astray into the 9 ring. Myself, well… I accomplished task #1, get the points. However, my x’s were laughable. 6, yes 6 x’s… Into the clubhouse with a 600 still made me happy even though I know I should have increased the x count on the new state record. On the F side, Wayne Backes was back in the winner circle with a dandy 200-14x, and Roger Nelson took top FTR with a 198-7x.
All the shooting was over, and to the awards we go. Dr. Drew claimed the FTR trophy, Garald Gillies got his first F-Open State Championship, and I took back the sling trophy. Aaron Guliuzza, the South Dakota Taliban leader, shot an excellent 589-20x with his SR. That is almost a High Master score, and to use a 223 with only a 4x scope, it really is impressive.
This is the final match of 2018 for me, it's been a good year. Knocked out Distinguished Rifleman, got the MN State LR and ND Mid-Range Championships, along with the biggest goal of earning a spot on the 2019 US Palma Team. It always is great to be on the line amongst friends and challenge each other to do better, congratulate the winners and help out the newer shooters as they work their way up the classifications. Time to get reloading and spend some more time with my family… See you in 2019!
PART 2: Bruce Alexander Match - By Tom Thompson
So after the North Dakota State Mid-Range Championship fired on Saturday, September 29 (match report filed by Morgen Dietrich) - it was time for the 2018 Bruce Alexander Memorial High Power match - fired on Sunday, September 30. The "Bruce" is an annual high power match named in honor of Bruce Alexander from the Rolla, North Dakota, area. The match started in the early 1960's - so we are now well into the 50th (plus) annual event. The match is a standard 80 shot over-the-course event. This is always the final over-the-course event of the season on the NoDak schedule (but there is one more sling and F-Class Mid-Range prone event in Grand Forks on Saturday, October 6 - this coming weekend).
A beautiful sunny Sunday morning greeted the competitors as they arrived for the event - hardly a breath of wind - however, the temp was about 29 degrees as we started so just a bit on the cool side. However, again, one must always think of the positive - there wasn't a mosquito or fly alive in the county - or the northern half of the state for that matter - and you didn't have to worry about proper hydration very much either.
Tom Thompson (yours truly) got things rolling with a 193-5x in the Offhand stage (kinda like loosing my glasses - I don't know where that came from - but I hope I can find it again someday). Airman Ryan Karrar from the Grand Forks area pounded out a 199-4x to take the sitting stage. At 300 yards Tom Thompson fired a 200-8x - but Travis Jorgenson from Vergas, MN, bested that with a 200-9x. Falling back to the 600 yard line (and by now temps were well into the 40's - practically a heat wave) Ryan Holien (Ipswich, South Dakota) fired a 199-12x - but his very last shot was just about an 1/8 inch into the 9 ring - so Tom Thompson Creedmoored Ryan with his own 199-12x (last shot in the x-ring) to win the 600 yard stage.
At the end of the day Rick Jorgenson (from Devils Lake, ND) using the service rifle fired a 735-12x to take the combined Marksman/Expert class. Travis Jorgenson took the Master class with a 775-25x. Travis uses the 6.5 Grendal with optics. And yours truly again - Tom Thompson - fired a 790-31x for the win. I was shooting my .223 space gun with a Leupold scope - I have been taken by the dark side.....
Thanks goes out to Andy Johnson, Coby Dalgliesh and Duane Holien for doing the match paper work, making repairs and improvements to the range facilities and fixing up all the targets for several decades to keep this event going. God will'in and if the creek don't rise - it will continue to be on the NoDak High Power schedule for next year and for many years to come.
*Language Warning - VIDEO: