Last updated on April 1st, 2018 at 01:18 pm
Robert Sandager 300 Meter Prone Championship | by Erik Rhode
Saturday, April 1st was the official kickoff to the 2017 Rifle Match Season. 16 "April Fools" gathered at the Minneapolis Rifle Club’s indoor range to blow the cobwebs off their rifles after the long winter break. This year’s match saw shooters traveling to MRC from far and wide, with Denise Loring driving all the way from Virginia, and Scott Young making the trip from Ohio. We also had a 4-pack of Duluthians stumble down from out of the north woods, with offhand prodigy Bradley “Yipsey” Yliniemi leading the charge.
The 300m match is different than any other on the schedule in the upper Midwest. It consists of 60 shots for record on the unforgiving ISSF target. This target is smaller than the standard NRA target that most of us are used to, with 10 and x-rings of 5 and 10 cm’s respectively. That works out to about 2” and 4”, which makes losing points pretty darned easy, even for the best shooters. There are a few other minor differences as well, such as front sight lenses not being allowed for young kids like me less than 50 years of age. The match is shot in a single 75-minute block, with 10 minutes of prep time and unlimited sighters before official time starts. Once the 75-minute clock starts, there are no more sighters allowed. Each shooter is allowed to break up the 60 shots however they choose, and strategy definitely comes into play. 60 shots is a lot, considering that a typical 3x600 match would take most of the day. Most shooters, including me, chose to shoot the match as 3 20-shot strings, with a 5 or 10-minute break in between. For scorekeeping purposes, the 3 20-shot strings were kept recorded separately. The targets used are MRC’s excellent Megalink electronic targets; so no need for pit duty, or the extra time needed for pit changes, target repair, etc.
Match director George Minerich had the range in perfect shape, with everything set up and ready before I arrived at 0745. The winds were light and variable and light was good, would have been a pretty easy day on NRA targets. There are no easy days on the ISSF target though…
The day started off with Philip Klanderud posting a 198 in the first 20-shot string for what would prove to be the best score of the day. The Bearded One, Kevin Walker was right on his heels firing a 197. In the 2nd string, Chuck Diehl rose to the occasion and topped the field, shooting a 195. Klanderud gave up little ground though, and his 194 was 2nd and kept him in the lead. 3 other shooters posted 193’s, including Walker to keep him firmly in 2nd place overall, just a point back from the Klandyman. In the 3rd string, Chuck D again got it done with his 197 leading the pack. Phil’s solid 194 in the 3rd was enough for him to hold on to his lead, and his score of 586 for the day secured his name in history, along with the State championship plaque.
After the 60-shot state championship match was completed, a 2nd 60-shot match was held with no restrictions on sights. Most shooters either put the glass back in their front sights, or mounted a scope in an attempt to tighten groups even further. In this scope match, Chuck Diehl left everyone in the dust, with his 585 winning the match. Lil’ Dickie VanValkenburg took the 2nd place slot with a score of 573.
Lance Peters 300 Meter 3-Position Minnesota State Championship | by George Minerich
On Sunday, it was the 3-position shooters’ turn. The 3-P course of fire is no less challenging, with 20 shots kneeling, 20 shots prone and 20 standing (all slow fire). MRC also invites non-international shooters to try their luck. This year we had 4 shooters shooting AR platform rifles so we gave them a separate class – Service Rifle. In this class, shooters were allowed to shoot sitting in place of kneeling.
The match is also different than NRA in a couple of other ways. In the beginning shooters get a 10-minute preparation and sighter period. Shooters get unlimited sighters between targets, and have 135 minutes of block time to complete the match. You can shoot as fast or slow as you want, and you can even leave the line for a coffee break!
This year, the out of state shooters made the MN folks sweat! Denise Loring of Virginia shot a great score of 553 and ended up tied with Brad Yliniemi (553) of Duluth. Aaron Guliuzza of South Dakota led the Service Rifle Class with a score of 528.
Under international rules, a tie is broken by the last ten shots of each shooter. In the “old days”, ties were broken by shoot-offs. Denise and Brad discussed the tie and agreed to have a shoot-off. The shoot-off generated a lot excitement for all in attendance. You could feel the excitement build as the competitors were dry firing. Finally, “Start” was announced and each shooter concentrated on their first shot. After what seemed like hours Brad & Denise shot. They both shot 8’s! The result was announced, and they prepared for the second shot. The crowd was still and you could have heard a pin drop. Brad broke the tension by shooting the shot first, Denise kept us waiting for about another minute. When the shots were reported Denise scored an 8, Brad a 10. You could feel the excitement on the range - Brad Yliniemi won the Lance Peters 300 Meter 3-Position MN State Championship the hard way!
After the range was cleaned up and the targets put away, most of the shooters adjourned to a local eatery to celebrate and share stories. A toast to the memories of MN shooters Robert Sandager and Lances Peters, MRC members and National/International Champions (Sandy was also an Olympian) was offered to all they have done for shooting. Finally, a long discussion on the future of International High Power Shooting was had. That is a story for another time!
I hope to see more shooters at the 2018 MN International High Power Championships.
George Minerich, MRC
SPECIAL THANKS to George Minerich and MRC for hosting the event, see you all in 3 weeks for the 200-yard Smallbore Matches!