Having just moved back to the mother land of North Dakota, I had yet to pull a trigger in prone since last fall. The weather this week in Bismarck has been wonderfully mild, allowing farmers to once again begin planting another crop to assist in feeding the world. Hopefully they are using implements and machines manufactured by John Deere, but I digress….
The Bismarck range near Moffit ND has been in existence for a little over a decade. I have not shot there in at least 3 years, but I remember the winds being severe. The range also faces East, making shooting in the mornings on decimal targets somewhat problematic. The target carriers had some damage this year from the record December snowfall, and volunteer crews have been working to get all the carriers (16) back to operational. There are still a few that need repair, but recent crews working on them have all the others working the best they ever have.
This weekend there was a Garand match, a 3×1000 prone match, and an XTC match. I arrived as the Garand match was coming to a close. As registration began for the 1K matches, we had 31 shooters comprised of Sling, F-TR, and F-Open. It was great to see such an excellent turnout. The weather promised to be warm for an early May day, and it did not disappoint. Bright sun and warm temps made me break out the shorts for the day, and I was glad that I did.
Jimi Hendrix sang “The wind cries Mary”, but today, the wind made many of us as shooters cry, myself being one of them. It was a magnum day, but having little ammunition ready and needing to get a feel for a slightly used Palma barrel, I started match one with 155 sierra’s from my Palma rifle. It has to be the worst score I have shot in MANY years, and included a blown off paper miss. “Welcome home to ND”, the wind was whispering to me as I whimpered to myself. In the protected ranges of MN, WI and IA, we all feature mirage bands to assist with hot barrels. They become wonderful wind sails, and as mine are attached with zip ties I felt my guns vibrating all day. Not a great way to shoot good scores.
As the day wore on the wind kept increasing in velocity and ferocity. I felt like a new shooter not being able to make any sense of the changes. I was squadded with shooting legend Denny Coulter for the day, and he amazed me by shooting 3 straight 177 scores. How is that possible? It has to be a statistical anomaly. With winds like that and many back to back to back 7’s shot while I was pulling targets, we were all bewildered as to how to handle the switches.
I broke out the 243 for the second match, but this really did not ease my pain. A 183 score does not make me feel good… So, as I am a glutton for punishment, I “manned up” and returned to “blue” for the final match; this time adding more grains of lead to the backstop with each pull of the trigger. The “juggs” assisted me to another crappy score, yet less pathetic than my 155’s.
Russ Theurer was on my relay and gave me a giant smack down, running his Stiller-actioned 6.5/284 to the winner’s circle for the day from the sling side. He shot consistently, and seemed successful in staying away from the dreaded 7’s that plagued many of us.
Mike Cobert took the aggregate match win for F-Open all the way down from the expert class, I heard one F class shooter finishing for record today at the same time I was shooting sighter #2. I guess I need to speed things up?
Tyler Halvorson won the F-TR section, it appears that Tyler competes in PRS matches. Good to see some cross pollination of shooting sports and having these guys practice their craft at known distances, obviously he has a feel for shooting a 308!
Bismarck is hosting a LR regional in September, if you want to challenge yourself against the wind gods, that match would be a an excellent opportunity!
Finally Tommy Thompson ran the match today with assistance from many, especially Coby on the stat board. Even though I shot poorly, good to see old friends and meet new ones.
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