Last updated on April 15th, 2018 at 03:18 pm
Just like every year, the end of summer 2017 brought with it the Wisconsin Mid Range State Championship. This match is always well attended, and hotly contested. LRC’s firing line is always at or near capacity for this match, and this year was no exception. 33 sling (17 Any Rifles, 11 Palma, and 5 Service) and 20 F-Class shooters (12 F-Open and 8 FTR) gathered at LRC to vie for the titles. It has been several years since a WI resident has won the sling match, and the cheese heads were itching to get retribution on the invading MN horde.
The weather was cool and damp on Sunday morning, and rain looked like a certainty. The wind was notably stronger than is typical at La Crosse, and it looked like the chances of anyone beating Man-Boy Dietrich’s ridiculous 1600-120x range record were going to be slim. That didn’t prevent people from trying though, and local boy Jeremy “Gravedigger” Graves came out swinging with a 200-16x in the first match of the weekend. Birthday boy Steve Knutson was hot on his heels with his own 14x clean, and followed it up with 15 x’s in the second match. Meanwhile, the Ice Pumpkin himself, Matt Griffin rode borrowed rifle, ammo, and gear to an impressive 200-14x. Also in the 2nd, “Party” Marty Gunderson turned in his first 200 of the weekend after dropping 2 points in the first. I stumbled through the first 3 matches shooting 198’s in all 3 while adjusting to some new rifle and position tweaks. I have struggled with position issues all season, and I think I just realized what the problem was one week prior to this match. By the time the 4th match rolled around, I finally felt comfortable, and finally shot a clean match. My 11 x’s were only good enough for 3rd place, but I took comfort in the fact that my position finally felt like it did in 2016. Party Marty kept the pedal to the metal after that first clean, and finished the day with a nice pair of 13 x-ers. His 798-47x was his new personal best, and was enough to squeak past Newt by a single point. Jay Johnson and Wisconsin Junior Josh Hanrahan were close behind with 796’s for the day. Bob Churchill’s 781-29x was good enough for the top Master class score, while Doug Reindl reached up from the Expert Class with an excellent 782-24x to take that class. Recent F-Class convert Jon “Lumpy” Lumberg topped the combined SS/MK class by shooting mostly Expert scores to finish with a 764-18x.
Bob “Seabiscuit” Sebold handled the F-Open crowd, while Ken Klemm topped the FTR shooters. Winning Saturday agg scores were 797-43x and 786-31x, respectively.
On Saturday afternoon, Big John served up an excellent dinner of brats, corn on the cob, and his famous home-made baked beans, and Mike Roach and crew didn’t disappoint with their annual evening “festivities” – a great time as always!
There was more rain overnight Saturday, but the weather system had worked it’s way through by Sunday morning. By match time, the sky was a dull overcast, and the wind was dead calm. Now this was what LRC is known for! It definitely looked like it would be a day for big scores, and we all took our places on the firing line and in the pits to get things started.
Gravedigger and Newt came out again with guns a-blazing, Shooting cleans with 18 and 17 x’s. Party Marty didn’t give up any ground though, shooting his own 16x for 3rd place. There were 4 other 200’s in the first match, including my own spastic 10x. I was just happy to get off the line unscathed; there would be plenty of time for more x’s if the condition held out. The cleans thinned out in the 2nd match, and my 16 x was the top there, with Newt and Gravedigger close behind at 14x. In the 3rd, Randy Gregory and Jay Johnson duked it out posting fine 17 and 16x cleans, while Steve Clark, Josh Hanrahan, and Gabe Stauffer each posted cleans with fewer x’s. The sun came out for the last match of the day, and the mirage confused those of us who had grown accustomed to watching the flags all weekend. Every time I turned my knob to follow the mirage, I was punished with a wide 10, several of which looked to be just hanging on. After a few too many of those, I decided to ignore the mirage and not adjust the sights for the rest of the string, and was rewarded with a match-winning 200-14x. Jay Johnson was 2nd with 10 x’s, while Josh Hanrahan shot the only other clean with 8x’s. I finished the day on top with 799-56x, and Jay was right behind at 798-56. Newt hung on for 3rd with 798-53x.
Dave Simonsen Shot great all day including a pair of 199’s to dominate the Master Class, his 787-32x just one point shy of a High Master Agg! Doug Reindl again handled the Experts, and Jon Lumberg improved upon his Saturday performance by 11 points to walk away with the combined class.
There were some different names on top in F-Class, with the Maestro Bob Mead cleaning the day and finishing with an excellent, match-winning 800-53x. Cheese Head Jeff Dick had the x’s on Bob, but let a 9 sneak away n the last match to finish with a 799-59x. Steve Ernst turned in a mighty FTR score of 795-52x, including tying the 6oo yard FTR national record and setting a new senior national record in the 3rd match with a blistering 200-16x. Steve has really come a long way in a short time, and people are definitely going to start to notice if Steve decides to start shooting in national level matches.
The weekend agg shook out with Newt at the top of the scoreboard with an excellent agg score of 1595-100x. Jay Johnson was 2nd at 1594-103x, and my good showing on Sunday moved me into 3rd place, and high Palma gun. The State Championship trophy went to Mr. Gunderson at 1590-92x, with Josh Hanrahan (1590-76x) and Steve Clark (1585-80x) claiming the Junior and Senior titles. Senior Dave Simononsen was top Master, Doug Reindl top expert, Jon Lumberg top Marksman, and Mikko Waino top Sharpshooter. Brady Westling won the WI Service Rifle Title, and Bob Churchill topped the Grand Seniors.
Jim Bauer was top dog for the weekend, and is your 2017 WI state Mid Range F-Open champion with a great score of 1594-109x. Jeff Dick was within sniffing distance, but 8 x’s short of victory. Kenn Klemm was top in FTR with his 1580-62x. High Junior and Hig Woman honors went to Andrew Brogan, and Mary Ciecko.
This was another great match at LRC to file in my memory banks, and I’d sure love to win it one of these years. Sandy, Kris, Bill, John, other John, and everyone else at LRC did a great job as always of taking care of the guests and making sure everything ran smoothly. This is a top-notch operation, and the recent addition of the covered area behind the 600-yard line makes shooting here even more enjoyable. Having shade and rain cover just feet away is a huge asset for this kind of match.
Congrats to all the winners, and thanks to all who made the match a success!
See you next year on Father’s Day!
Final scores can be found HERE.
*On a final note, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some sad news. On Saturday morning, Palma Alliance Founding Father and Chief Justice Steve Knutson, along with original member #4 Jay Johnson, both renounced their memberships to the Alliance in order to pursue happiness with 6mm rifles and scopes. While this was a dark day in Alliance history, we will carry on with our remaining 50 members and continue to walk the straight path.
Farewell brothers, you are dead to us.
Erik Rhode - President, 2017 Palma Alliance