In all of my shooting travels, I have come to believe that “wind” was anything requiring over 2 minutes of correction. That was before I moved back to ND. I now realize that I had been mostly shooting in tunnels, and loving it. I have been very successful with my spotter-chaser tactic – make the initial wind call, and work the knobs back and forth to stay in the middle. If you break a good waterline shot, you only need to have a correction within 2 minutes to still get a scratch 10 (1 minute for F-class target).
ND is a whole other ballgame. The forecast was for WIND this weekend – I seriously planned to skip the Palma match on Saturday morning but go to the range to assist. The wind reeled me in, showing low flag angles. It had dropped at least 10mph from the wind at 6am, it looked “reasonable”. Know how to make the wind blow? Call shooters to the line! And blow she did…..just refer to the scores.
I honestly do not remember having shot a miss at 900 yards before because of wind. 1000 yards, yes- there I have shot misses, along with 6’s and all the other values, but a miss at 900 might have been a new low. I wasn’t the only one taking the beating, 20 other brave souls brought their gear to the line to be bushwhacked and bamboozled by the fast changes. NEVER have I used 6.5 minutes of wind at the 800-yard line with 185gr bullets, but I did on Saturday. Enough about the wind – it blew, and we all sucked. Yes, it was a nice day to be outside and get wind burned.
Congrats to Neil Jensen on the win, his 141-04 at 900 was remarkable, and assisted him to the win. Roger Nelson steered his 308 to the win in FTR and Brian Suhr won F-Open. With winning agg scores of 419-09, 402-03, and 428-13, anyone can see conditions were terrible.
On to day two – The Palma match is not yet a ND state championship, and is also not part of the Long Range aggregate. Sunday (and the State LR Championship) would be decided by four 1000-yard matches, the first two with Any sight for sling competitors, and the final two matches with irons.
The day broke with a GENTLE breeze, it was manageable yet not easy. My rifle decided that it just wanted to shoot 10’s at 9 o’clock so that is where the majority of my shots went. 199-5 was an OK score, but the wily ‘ol Tommy Thompson fresh of his last birthday in his 5th decade came to play. His 6.5-.284 decided it wanted more X’s, and he got the match 1 win with a 199-7. To my left, Russ Theurer had a bunch of unexplained shots from his magnum, and because of it that gun was banished back to the Ford Flex. Russ pulled out his trusty Palma stick with irons for the final 3 matches – how a real man should shoot in the wind!
On to match two, now the wind started to not only blow but also let off in successive fashion – and quickly. Damn you ND wind!!!! Momma has a squeezebox she wears on her chest, that was the wind, but instead of in and out it would go up and down. I had never held a scope in the white before, but why not? 4 nines – 2 on each side showed I had it bracketed, just didn’t know the correct places to hold. Russ drove that Palma gun for all it was worth and let only 4 points escape, but my 8 x’s were high to his 4. I was realizing this would be no cake walk, Russ was ready to shoot 10’s and X’s all day long. Best line of the day came when Tommy asked how my 243 could be shooting inside his 6.5 while we were shooting, I simply replied, “Because it is awesomer!” Logical, right?
Brian Suhr wanted his name on the F-open trophy yet again, he should get a bulk discount by now for the number of times it has been engraved there. 195-10, and a 194-7 claimed both of the first two matches. Drew Rutherford didn’t like taking second to Roger Nelson during Palma day, and he picked his way through 4 match wins. The 223 didn’t get the call in the “Big winds” this weekend. 90 VLD no Bueno…
On to match 3, iron sights came out for the sling competitors. A couple more chances for glory, for all! The winds were getting worse, up to 10 minutes of wind on my 243 means the Palma guns are at a distinct disadvantage. Russ again was the best man driving his Palma gun. He stayed away from the 6’s and 7’s, and kept the wounds low with 8’, 9’ & 10’s and X’s – he was a better man than I. Again, getting shown up with the any rifle by a Palma rifle. Congrats to Russ. When I shoot in the 180’s with a .243, you know the wind is bad.
Todd Zahn takes the open honors in match 3, guiding the 180 Bergers to the middle from his 7RSAUM. Something to be said for big bullets and big BC. Good for Todd, he shot well this weekend for a relative newcomer to the sport.
On to the last match, the winds just got plain old mean. Now we had up, down and directional changes for good effect. I am very much a spotter chaser and had high master target puller Coby Dalgliesh in the hole pulling my target, if I could just get a condition I knew I could shoot quickly and hope to keep the point loss to a manageable level. We are off. After 5 sighters finding and verifying the middle, it’s time to go for record. 10, 8!!! AHHH, not again! Then 3 X’s, 10, X’s again and a nine just out with a HUGE change. I stopped, but Tommy and Russ tried to pick their way through it. They were not successful, nor would I have been. I waited over 8 minutes to fire again, and shot a scratch 9 when I commenced, but the follow-up was a 6!!!!! NOOOO! I corrected and was back in the X ring, finishing with a 189-10. How do you shoot a 189-10 without a crossfire? Easy, shoot 10 X’s, a 6, couple 8’s and a 9…..grrr. But, that match was the difference. Katie Zahn, ND’s Junior smallbore shooter extraordinaire shot LR for the first time with a 6BR. She did well, but during her last string of fire there were several 5-minute changes with FULL reversals included. I would have had trouble in those conditions, not a nice way to start for anyone to the sport, but that is ND.
After the scores were tallied the crying began. Looks like all of the state records were safe for another year. A huge group of people went down to the pits to put everything away and made quick work of it – so helpful when everyone gives just a few minutes of time! Thanks to everyone for pitching in. The picture of the target face from 800 on day one tells the story of the weekend; look at that water line for several shooters, but 8-ring to 8-ring. You know it had to be windy.
The ND State LR trophies are all really nicely made and relatively knew, Thompson and Theurer are both engraved MULTIPLE times on the sling side, but for 2017 Dietrich stakes his claim. Suhr and Rutherford both reclaim their F-open and F-TR trophies again, will see what 2018 brings.
If you want to shoot in some real wind, the ND LR Regional is the second weekend in September. Make plans to test yourself. There is a rumor that Taco himself might appear to see what claim the Palma Alliance can put on the Moffitt ND range…
CLICK HERE to read the official results bulletin from Tom Thompson.
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