Last updated on May 11th, 2018 at 06:10 am
Fullbore LR Individual Fundraiser & U.S. Palma® Individual Fundraiser - Winnequah Gun Club
In this cursed land where it is always winter, but never Christmas; 20+ hearty souls put on all the warm clothes they could find last weekend for the annual season opening matches at Winnequah Gun Club. 2018 has been an even worse winter than usual, so the chances of having nice weather for a shooting match the first weekend in April were bleak. For this very reason, I made sure to make my non-refundable hotel reservation early, so as not to leave myself with any excuse not to go.
On Saturday morning, the weatherman delivered on his promise with 20º temps and 10+ mph winds. The course of fire for the day was Fullbore, with 2 convertible sighters and 15 shots for record at 300, 500, 600, and 1000 yards. I think we were all glad to be shooting on electronic targets, as the prospect of pit duty in this weather was not appealing. With 2 shooters per target, things moved quickly. After getting beat up by the elements for 60 shots, Jeff Dick was the top F-Class gun while I took home top Palma honors. A few of us went out for a late lunch/early dinner after the match, and I still wasn’t warm , even after that. I got back to my room at 5:30, and after taking a hot shower, I got into bed and stayed there until the next morning!
Things were much more pleasant for Sunday’s Palma Match, and the sunny 30º that greeted us when we got to the range felt like a tropical vacation after the previous day. Winds were calmer too, only 3-5 mph when we started at 800. The nicer weather brought out a few more shooters, with 23 registered vs. Saturday’s 19. The sun was out most of the day, and it really was a nice day to be out shooting.
The story of the day was 11-year old Ben “Son of Seabiscuit” Sebold shooting in his very first F-Class match. Ben comes from good stock – his father Bob is one of the best F-Open shooters in the country. Bob was on hand to help the young man as needed, but the shooting and wind reading was all Ben. As it turns out, he might have a knack for this. At the 800-yard line, not only did he not embarrass himself, but his 149-9x was actually the top score, just edging out living legend Earl Liebetrau by X’s. Now that’s a good start to a shooting career! Down on the sling targets, my 150-8x just squeaked past Earl’s son Marky Mark’s 150-7x. Ricky Hunt was hot on our heels down 1 point with 6 X’s.
Ben didn’t repeat his win at 900, but still put up a respectable 140-2x as the winds started getting more finicky. It still wasn’t blowing hard, but it was switching the way it often does in Lodi. On my relay, there was a full reversal with the wind going from 2.5 MOA Left to 2.0 MOA right in the space of about 30 seconds. Brian Nettesheim, Sadie Kolodziej, and Ken Klemm all posted 147’s to keep things interesting among the F-class shooters. Ricky Hunt and I laughed at that reversal while shooting matching 149-11x scores to keep things knotted up with the Palma crew.
When we got back to 1000, the afternoon sun was behind the targets was causing fits for the sight pictures of the Palma shooters. The wind wasn’t getting any less complicated either, so scores suffered. Young Mr. Sebold must not have heard that this was a difficult condition to shoot in, because he sailed right through winning his second yard line of the day with an excellent score of 146-5x. Kent Weigel was right behind him at 145-4x, and his consistent shooting at all 3 yard lines (147-3x, 146-6x, 145-4x) were enough for a match-winning score of 438-13x. Ben finished a strong second at 435-16x, followed by Brian Nettesheim in 3rd with 435-11x. I got a little lucky at 1000, and my 145-3x was the top sling score followed by Steve Rortvedt’s 142-2x. My 444-22x was good for the Sunday match win. Once again the e-targets kept things moving right along, and we were done by 1pm after starting at 10 am. This worked out great for me, as even with a 4-hour drive in a minor blizzard event, I was still home in time for dinner with the Shooter’s Wife.
This was really my kind of match. No one ever talks about the matches in perfect 70º weather, but I guarantee that people will be talking years from now about the time we shot at Winnequah when it was windy 20º. Even Earl said that It was the coldest match that he could remember, and he has been to a few matches. I think that shooting matches like this builds mental toughness; after you do it, you know that you can do it again. I was born and raised in Minnesota, so I’ve been cold half my life. I can handle it. I don’t care if it’s 20º or 120º - if there’s a Palma match that I can get to, I’ll be there.
As always, thanks to Earl, Karin, Marky Mark, Scotty 2 Hotty, Steve Suhr, and everyone else who makes these matches happen at Winnequah. I’m sure they could have thought of some warmer ways to spend a weekend, but they do it for the shooters, and we appreciate it. Also, this match is run as a fundraiser for the US Palma Team, with every penny raised going directly to help fund the team. This is much appreciated, as team travel expenses get higher every cycle, while funding from the NRA dips lower and lower. Every bit helps.
Speaking of the US Palma Team, I was lucky enough to get this picture after the match on Sunday. Both of these gentlemen were firing members of past Palma Teams. Mark Liebetrau (left) was on the silver medal-winning 1995 team that competed in New Zealand, and his father Earl (right) was on the 1992 team that shot in Raton, New Mexico. What a legacy of shooting excellence. I am proud to know and compete with both of these guys.
The next match at Winnequah is the annual Palma Regional on May 5-6. I’ll be there.