2019 North Dakota Long Range State Championship - Fried Family Marksmanship Complex
June in North Dakota - You know what that means? Wind, wind, and some more wind. The second weekend in June has been the date for the ND LR champ the last several years. While there are some great aggregate scores on the sling, F-Open, and FTR trophies, none of those scores have been shot recently. I think that ND doesn’t like me... People from ND claim the cold winters keep the “riff raff” out of our state, I am beginning to think the spring winds from a shooter perspective may be worse…
On to the event - First of all, we need to thank the people that make these events happen. Dale State making sure the outdoor facility was in top shape. Mike and Tommy installed three new flagpoles on the north side of the range, which helped confirm that is was INDEED windy all weekend long. They really are an excellent addition though, and we all appreciate them being installed. Dale, Tom H and others made sure the carriers were working well, targets were ready, and got some weed whacking done in the pits to make sure that it was easier to see impacts. Tom T was at the range many hours this week mowing in preparation. We all take this work for granted when we show up at an event - volunteers are key, and I appreciate all the time these people give of themselves so others can have a fun weekend of competition. Tina Thompson, Bob Cunningham, and Russ Theurer all helped out this weekend; whether squadding, running the line, or doing stats.
On to the shooting - Saturday would be a Palma, followed by 1 string of 20 shots at 1000 yards to begin the ND LR aggregate. The winds were relatively steady on Saturday am, if you broke good shots and got a little lucky, a decent score could be had. We had 7 sling competitors for day 1. Tommy T chose not to fire to make sure the match ran smoothly, that is a pretty big give to all of us. Thanks Tom! I was the only soul able to keep them all in the 10/X ring, finishing with a 150-9. There were MANY 149’s from the F-Class side of the range, 4 to be exact. This would not be a day to worry about X’s, get your tens and move on. Back to 900 the wind had built from 6 minutes of wind with my 30 cal 155 hybrids to 11 minutes. I do not know if I have ever needed that much wind at 900 yards, but again the wind was relatively consistent. If you held hard, and got a little lucky a decent score could be had. When I finished my second string, I was amazed I got through clean - this time with a 150-7X. Everyone else was not so fortunate, it is easy to let the wind moving your position cause a few errant shots. On the F-class side there were 4 146’s, so even with that tiny target the open shooters were doing a good job of making the wind calls.
Did I mention it was windy, and had some rain in there too? Oh, and we had a temperature change of 90 degrees the previous day to high in the 50’s? Welcome to North Dakota, wait 5 minutes and the weather will change.
The wind seemed to have built back at 1K - I added 3 more minutes to my 900 yard windage and shot a miss for my first sighter… Hmmm. Well, I had to either have too much or too little wind on the sight, and it had to be at least 3.5minutes wrong… I guessed that it was too much, took off 4 minutes and caught an 8 for my final sighter. I then pimpled a couple more points - a few to elevation due to poor light and me not making changes to my front iris or a different filter. I finished with a 145-5X. I was pretty happy but know I left a couple points on the table. Coby shot a very good 142 and Neil Jensen had a 141. Nicely done gents!
On the F side Troy Goltz had a really good 147-6X with a 7mm wildcat - essentially a 7-08 improved. He shot it well all weekend. Eric Johnson and Mike Dahl both using 284’s both had 145’s. I claimed the sling aggregate with a new state record beating the record I set last year for a 445-21X. Drew Rutherford also claimed a new FTR state Palma record with a 433-7X. Troy Goltz got the aggregate win, but just a few points shy of a new state record himself. It appears we are all learning how to better deal with the winds we shoot in at Moffit… With the dismal temps, rain, etc, it was decided to move the additional 1 string of fire for 1K to day two and shoot the whole state championship on Sunday.
Day 2 arrives - Driving out to the range the wind seemed manageable, but as soon as the flags were raised, we all knew that was WRONG. Wind NW again, fast, full value… Here we go. Sling shooters would have the option of 2 any sight matches, followed by two iron sight matches. As the range faces due east, it is hard to see with iron sights until the sun gets behind the targets. First relay is called to the line - I am in the pits and would be pulling Duane Holien’s target all day. Duane is sporting a new 6mm Creedmoor this season, and with the scope he had some really nice targets. One shot got away, as his target number had to move “mid string”. We all have done it, and we all will do it again. Duane finished relay 1 with what could have been a 195-4X.
Back to the line I go, the Palma rifle had been put away and the 243 got the call. I installed my Mark 4 8.5-25 scope and put on 4 minutes of windage. It took me a while to get comfortable, and I probably should have shot a few more sighters as I lost 3 points in the first 5 shots but after that I was able to keep them in the 10 ring for all but 1 shot. 196-7X. Tom T was on the line too and had a 193-8X with his “manly magnum” 6.5/284. Coby D, last years ND LR champ got on the board with a 192-4X.
From the F-Class side Eric Johnson had a 194-4X to lead all F-Class shooters and a 187-3X from Aaron Carico got the match 1 win for FTR. The wind was building more, and would give you directional changes. That was all you could really read as the flags were pretty much full value all day. Match two everyone saw their scores go down - imagine that as the wind kept building. Aaron Buchanen won FTR with a 179-0X and Larry Brice got the second match win for F-Open with a 191-5X. I was able to navigate the 10-ring pretty well with a 195-7X, Coby with a 191-4X, and Duane a 190-7X were the only other sling scores in the 190’s.
Time for sling shooters to move to irons - The winds really were up now, and a huge direction change mid string cost me a WIDE 8. I waited for my condition to come back with a scratch 9 and finished with a 192-4X. Tom T had the other 190-5X for sling. Eric Johnson out X’d Goltz for the match 3 win with 189-5X to 189-2X. In FTR, Roger Nelson got on the board with a 182-2X, well outpacing the other 308 shooters. The final match Roger layed down to find that his firing pin had broken. Drew Rutherford forced Roger to use his backup FTR rifle and because of that graciousness, Roger was able to end Drew’s streak of being the ND state FTR championships. Talk about sportsmanship! Roger shot the high FTR score in the last match with a borrowed gun. Congrats on your win Roger!
F-Open Eric Johnson broke 190-5X, but Kent Jensen gets the final match win with a 191-5X. The aggregate win goes to Eric Johnson with a 757-18X, but as he is not a state resident the State Championship goes to Troy Goltz with a 753-12X, nice win Troy! On the sling side, I was able to claim the LR trophy for the second time in three years with a 774-23X. Tom T next high with a 760-24X.
In a nutshell, it blew, it rained, it was cold, and it was hot. So, just a normal rifle match in Moffit, ND. If you want to see how your sights work, venture on out we would be happy to have you. There is a Palma Match over the 4th of July weekend, or plan on the LR Regional that happens every September on the second weekend of the month. Last year I got to use 12 minutes of wind on my 243 in that match, doesn’t that sound like fun?
Thanks again to all that helped set up the range and take it down after the event! That small amount of time given sure makes for less work for all.