The weatherman was no friend to the North Star Rife Club this past weekend for the MN Mid-Range Prone (Sling) Regional. Promises of record-breaking high temps, 20+ MPH winds, and heavy rains were enough to keep most of the regular prone sling crowd at home, instead of at the range. The match program called for 2 days of the Mid Range “Mini Palma” course of 300, 500, and 600 yards, with an extra 20-shot match from the 600-yard line on Saturday afternoon. Saturday’s forecast called for 95º, and earlier in the week the idea of possibly cancelling the extra 20-shot 600-yrd match was discussed to hopefully prevent having any of our guests from having to be taken off the range in an ambulance. By the time we got to Saturday morning, a full or partial rain-out looked like a real possibility for Sunday, so it was decided that we had better make hay while the sun was shining, and get as many shots on the books as possible.
The weatherman was dead-on for Saturday, as Mother Nature delivered a blistering high temp of 96º, along with the promised high winds. At various points throughout the day, we saw chairs blown around, leaves and limbs coming down from trees, and even a mysterious dust cloud blowing down the range from an unknown source – all very unusual in the protected valley of NSRC. Despite the heat and wind, 10 hearty shooters were lined up at the squadding table well before match time itching to get started. After Cap’n Bob Peasley devised a workable plan to make the numbers work, we all headed off to our assigned spots to get the day rolling.
In Saturday’s 300, 500, 600 match, it was visiting Iowan Gabe Stauffer who made the best negotiations with the wind, piloting his Anschutz-stocked 6BR to a cool 597-28x, including top placing at both the 300 and 600 yard lines. My 2156-fueled Palma rifle was next up with a 591-26x, and Cap’n Bob himself was 3rd with a 587-26x. My fellow Palma Alliance member and newly crowned MN State Long Range Champion Steve “New Guy” Naumann made a rare appearance at NSRC to finish 4th for the first agg. The wind got just a bit friendlier for the extra 600-yard match, and I stole one away from Gabe – my 199-13x just edged his 199-10x. The extra 600 did nothing to shake up the standings, and the day ended with Gabe first, me 2nd, and Bob 3rd. We had 2 club volunteers working the radios, posting stats, and filling in on scoring duties, so everything was wrapped up for the day at a very reasonable hour.
After the match was over and the range cleaned up, it was time to consult with the iPhone weather oracle for Sunday’s prognosis. Depending on which app was checked, there was some degree of conflicting info as to where and when, but they all seemed to agree – it was going to rain. It was decided that we would just have to play things by ear and see what tomorrow would bring…
I was up early on Sunday, and when I checked the forecast, it looked like we may have a couple/few hours to shoot before monsoon season arrived. I got to the range at around 7:30, and was pleased to see that 7 of the other 9 guys also returned, along with our brave volunteers. Saturday’s leader decided to drive back to Iowa instead of risk the rain out, so the gold medal was up for grabs. The winds were dead calm and the skies were dark and ominous, in stark contrast to the howling winds and blazing sun of the day before. Knowing that we were on borrowed time, our 2 clubmen volunteered to man the pits by themselves while the 8 of us pair-fired on 2 targets to move things along. I got paired up with Billy “Goat” Lair on target #6, while Steve and Bruce “Raw Deal” Rawlings traded shots on #4. After that, we got out of the way quickly so Bob, Randy Snook, Todd Underdahl, and Craig “The Menace” Bennis tried their luck. The targets were extremely dark, and gave some issues to those who were sticking with irons for day 2. The trade off was the lack of wind, and my windage knob maxed out at ¼ MOA right during my 22 shot string. I managed to drive the Palma rifle and 2156’s to the top score of 200-15x, and the Menace punished himself for past shooting sins by shooting his 300 Win Mag 22 times on his way to a 199-7x. Billy Goat Lair was next with 198-12x.
By the time we were done at 300, it was clear that we were pushing our luck with Ma Nature. Bob made the wise decision to stop the match, as radar was showing an imminent cloudburst arriving within minutes. As the skies darkened, we raced to get flags taken down, targets and number boards put away, and everyone across the bridge before the creek could rise and strand us all on the range – a very real possibility at North Star. The rain started to fall just as I was locking the target shed, and I hopped into the truck to rendezvous with everyone else on the other side of the creek. It was raining cats and dogs when I got there, and we all got pretty well soaked working to get Bob’s camper squared away and ready to travel. Needless to say, the awards ceremony was skipped in lieu of getting everyone into their vehicles and out of the storm. With Gabe missing out on the day 2 fun, I ended up on top for the weekend agg with my 990-54x. Cap’n Bob was 2nd at 977-34x, and New Guy Naumann claimed 3rd at 973-32x. Another solid showing for the Palma Alliance, with members finishing in 2 of the top 3 slots.
As is always the case at North Star, Bob Peasley made the whole thing happen. I owe special thanks to Jim Schonke and Dave Kane for giving up their whole weekend to make sure our match went smoothly, and to Gabe Stauffer for not coming back to shoot day 2! Oh, and thanks of course to the Man-Boy Morgen Dietrich for shaming me into actually winning something for a change, even if it wasn’t exactly entirely my own doing. You are the wind beneath my wings, buddy!
Until next time,
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