Last updated on November 13th, 2017 at 03:49 pm
Last weekend, Winnequah Gun Club in Lodi, Wisconsin hosted their annual Fullbore and Palma fundraiser match. This match is always a great way to kick off a new season, giving shooters the opportunity to get solid zeroes at 6 different yard lines over 2 days. That is great for guys like me who are starting 2017 off with a brand new barrel. The first weekend in April can be a little sketchy in the weather department, but this year, we could not have asked for better. Temperatures in the 70’s both days were a welcome surprise. Those of us who made the trip in 2016 won’t soon forget the thermometer reading 21º when the first shots went down range on Saturday morning! For many, this would be their first experience on the new Silver Mountain electronic targets installed at Winnequah.
On Saturday, Fullbore was the course of fire. 14 sling shooters and 12 F-Classers were on hand to shoot 15 shots each from the 300, 500, 600 and 1000-yard lines. In Fullbore, shooters are allowed to convert one or both of their sighters if they choose, shortening their time on the line. At the 2016 match, I managed to convert all 8 of my sighters for the day, but with a brand new barrel, I wouldn’t be repeating that performance! The weather forecast was calling for 9-13 mph winds out of the south for the day, so it was definitely going to be a challenge to shoot a good score.
On the 300-yard line, Drew “Ramblin’ Man” Rutherford put up the top score of 150-12x with his FTR gun, topping all of the F-Class shooters – including the Open guys! Drew travels more than anyone I’ve ever met in this sport. He told me about an upcoming 3-day weekend in May where he will be shooting matches in 3 different states – now that’s dedication! It’s definitely paying off though, as he is quickly becoming one of the shooters to beat in the upper Midwest. There were no cleans shot by the sling gang, but I came the closest with a 149-10x to take the early lead.
Back at 500, the wind was starting to pick up, but wasn’t getting squirrely yet. Ricky Hunt and I managed matching 150-7x scores to top the sling crew, with Matt Griffin, Marky Mark Liebetrtau, and Dan Stone right behind us with 149’s. Drew let 2 9’s get away from him, while Jeff Dick and Earl Liebetrau both shot 149’s to gain a point towards his lead. The wind continued to build at 600, and Steve Clark was the only shooter to keep them all inside the 10-ring, and his 150-6x was put him at the head of the class. Ken Klemm topped all F-class shooters with a 149-9x, while Mr. Consistency Bob Mead shot his 3rd consecutive 148 to keep him in the running for the daily agg.
The wind was getting downright zesty when we got back to 1000, and US National Team coach/shooter Ricky Hunt showed us hall how it’s done, dropping only a single point to take that stage. The wind was making the tiny F-class target seem even tinier, as Drew Rutherford came back to take the stage by a wide margin with a very impressive 145-3x. Keep in mind that he was shooting a .308 against a lot of high-performance cartridges! Drew had fallen behind after a disappointing 600, but his 1k performance was enough for him to edge out Bob Mead by 1 point for the day. 585-25x was match-winning f-class score. I didn’t blow anyone’s doors off, but managed consistently decent scores to win the sling agg with a 595-29x. Ricky was close behind at 593-28x, and Matt Griffin was 3rd with 591-28. Steve Clark walked away with the Master class, his 586 was a full 17 points ahead of 2nd place.
On Sunday morning, the temp was a little warmer even than the previous day, and the wind was starting earlier. Today’s match would be a standard Palma course, with competitors shooting 15 shots each on the NRA LR target from 800, 900, and 1000 yards.
Big scores were on the menu at 800, with 5 shooters shooting 150’s on the big target. Matt Griffin’s 13 x’s led the sling class, while John Lambrecht’s 10x clean topped F-class. Big Bob Churchill got off to a fine start in the Master class with a rock-solid 149-8x to lead the class. At 900, Bob kept his foot on the gas by winning the yard line outright with his 150-8x! High Master Steve Clark was close behind with his own 150-7x, and Jim Bauer put up the only F-clean of 150-5x.
When we got back to the 1000-yard line, it was clear that this stage was not going to be like the day before. The wind was blowing hard out of the west, with some pretty major pick-ups and let-offs happening with little to no notice. I was on first relay, and saw the 6 minutes of left wind I had on my sight at the beginning dissolve away to 3 minutes by the end. And not all at once either, as my rusty wind-reading skills rewarded me with a couple of surprise 8’s when it suddenly dropped off! Bob Mead proved that he is never rusty in the wind as he picked his way through this challenging condition for an excellent 146-5x to lead all F-class shooters. Mark Liebetrau put his decades of experience at the Winnequah 1k line to use as he made it look easy on his way to a 146-4x to top the sling shooters. Master Mark Shchuenke was runner up at 146-3x. Mr. Schuenke shoots black powder rifles at 1000 yards in his other life; so shooting modern Palma bullets must feel like cheating!
When the dust settled, Jim Bauer won the F-class match with a 444-12x over Bob Mead’s 2nd place 442-20x. Birthday Boy Steve Clark was the top Palma shooter; his 444-21x put him at the top of the heap. Matt griffin took 2nd just 1 point back. I what turned out to be the story of the day, Bob Churchill crushed the Master class with his HM agg of 440-17x! This is a great Palma score any day, and doubly so on a day with wind like this. Keep that up Bob, and you just might get bumped up into the “Donor” class!
As always, the Winnequah gang put on a great match. Karin, Earl, Scotty 2 Hotty, Marky Mark, line-caller extraordinaire Steve Suhr, and the rest of the crew kept everything moving right along. With the new targets on line, the Palma match was done by 1pm on Sunday, and that was with running 3 relays, so everyone got a rest relay at each yard line. This makes for a very relaxing atmosphere, with everyone getting plenty of time to get gear set up, eat lunch, take a nap, or whatever they feel like doing with their spare time.
I am slightly heartbroken that I will not be able to make it back for the Palma Regional in May, but the Midwest Palma Championship in June is the highlight of my 2017 schedule. I look forward to seeing everyone there for the best Long Range tournament of the year!