Last updated on November 20th, 2017 at 06:28 pm
600 Prone Match Report by Erik Rhode:
As most of you Upper Midwest shooters would probably agree, it doesn’t usually get much better than mid-September to hold a shooting match in our part of the world. Lee Wells and the gang at Des Moines Rifle & Revolver Club in Van Meter, Iowa picked a beauty for the 2016 Iowa Mid Range Championship. 27 sling shooters were lined up on Saturday morning to try to take the state title from defending champ Morgen “Man-Boy” Dietrich. The Man-Boy has been at the top of his game lately, coming off a perfect 1600 score in Lacrosse a few weeks ago, and a top-10 finish at the Smallbore Prone Nationals in July. Anybody wanting to take the hardware home was going to have to work for it.
This was my first time shooting at Van Meter, and the layout immediately reminded me of my home range, North Star Rifle Club in Red Wing, MN. The range is sort of down at the bottom of a wooded valley like NSRC, with a river running through, and eagles flying overhead. Very nice, and I hoped it would offer mild wind conditions like we often see in Red Wing. My first impression as I looked down rage before the match started was; “Holy crap, those targets are hard to see!”. The range faces east, and with the sun coming up behind the targets, to say they were dark would be a major understatement. Having just spent 2 days shooting on the east-facing range of Duluth’s Northwestern Gun Club, I felt was mentally prepared for the task at hand. As a recent convert to the “Any sight” part of the Any/Any rifle rules, I was happy to have my 25x scope on for the first match of the day, and also to be assigned to relay #2.
Aside from the challenging light, conditions were excellent for match #1, with a light tailwind that would push your bullets mostly left-to-right. Nothing crazy going on, just pay attention, and be ready to sign for the 200 on your scorecard when the smoke cleared. 5 shooters did exactly that, posting clean targets. The pride of Kansas, Steve McGee, and Roger Westberg both shot very-respectable 15x cleans, only to be topped by the Man-Boy’s 18x to kick the day off. Welcome to my world, guys. My own 12x clean was only good enough for 4th, and Kenny Foster’s 200-11x rounded out the top 5. It was looking like a day for big scores, but this string of 200’s would not last long.
In Match #2, the Man-Boy kept his foot on the gas by posting the only clean for that match with a scorching 200-17x with irons. Kenny Foster was close, shooting an excellent 199-14x with his AROS (Any Rifle, Optical Sight), and I was 3rd with good X’s (15), but leaking 2 9’s for no good reason. This left Morgen in the lead, still clean after 2 matches, with Kenny down 1, and me down 2. With another match still to go, Morgen had already amassed as many X’s (35) as the match-winning score of 2015.
After a trip to the pits to pull 3 strings, we were back on the line to finish up the last match of the day. By this time, the wind had picked up considerably. It was still a mostly left-to-right wind condition, but there were fast, subtle mirage changes that needed to be accounted for if you wanted to stay out of the 9-ring or worse. I slowed my pace quite a bit for the last 20 shots and kept my left eye in the spotter as much as possible. For this I was rewarded with the only 200 of match 3, with 13 X’s to boot. The usual suspects rounded out the leader board, with Man-Boy and Kenny each losing a point to the wind. Morgen would’ve liked to get that shot back, but his single error wouldn’t be enough to keep his name off the trophy. His excellent 599-48x would be enough to get the job done this year.
There was a good mix of shooters at this match, and it wasn’t as top-heavy as some prone matches can be. It was good to see 3 unclassified shooters getting their feet wet, as well as a good number of EX/SS/MM honing their skills. In the Master Class, Vince Mahoney and Mike Dodson traded wins all day with Mike finally coming out on top by a single point in the grand aggregate. Gabe Stauffer fired the unlikely score of 576-32x to top the Expert Class; maybe if you ask him nicely he will tell you how that happened. Lee’s son Ben Wells walked away with the combined SS/MK class, and his 569-16x for the day was just 1 point shy of a Master score.
Lee and crew served up a delicious-looking steak dinner with everything you’d get at a fine restaurant after the match. I had to resist the temptation, as it was the Shooter’s Wife’s birthday, and we had dinner reservations with the Man-Boy and Amy at Johnny’s Steakhouse. As much time as Mia spends on rifle ranges with me, if she tells me that she doesn’t want to celebrate her birthday dinner on one, I’m not going to tell her ,"No"!
Thanks to Lee and the rest of the crew at Des Moines Rifle Club for hosting this excellent match. I will definitely have it on my calendar next year!
600-Yard F-Class Match Report by Mia:
This past weekend was my birthday, and to celebrate, I chose to take a little trip down to Iowa to shoot a match at the Des Moines Rifle & Revolver Range in Van Meter. Not knowing what to expect or what the range was like, I was pretty nervous! Fortunately, I was put on relay #3 and started out in the pits. This gave me some time to calm down my nerves, meet some people, and get a glimpse of what the shooting conditions might be. It was also nice to see a few familiar faces, and thanks to Jennifer Snook, Randy Snook's daughter, I wasn't the only female competitor.
The morning started off with great weather, not too hot and very little wind. I think I'm a pretty good target puller, so this was a breeze. After pulling for one relay, it was back to the firing line and my turn to score. It was great being paired with Bob Mead and Vince Mahoney, two shooters I already knew, who gave me great advice and constructive criticism. My only conundrum was trying to decide whose advice to take, theirs or Erik's. The jury is still out on that one.
My first match went pretty well, I think. It was somewhat difficult to see my target because we were facing East, and the sun was shining right in our eyes and was making for a crazy mirage. I didn't have any real problems and ended with a 183-3X, which is right about where I should be, considering this was only my second competition. And looking at the overall scores, I felt I was staying competitive with some of the other shooters. Jennifer Snook did an AMAZING job shooting her first match, especially considering she had only shot 6 rounds, ever, before this match, and from Randy's rifle no less! I was very impressed. It's obvious the apple didn't fall far from the tree!
My second string was better, shooting a 186-3X. It was even good enough to win $2.00, my first cash prize! WOOHOO!!!
Unfortunately though, things went downhill for me after that. The wind was really picking up and it was really hot! Not good. I don't fare well in hot weather, and I could tell I was on the verge of a migraine. I had to sit out scoring and cool off in the truck. I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to shoot my last match, but I didn't want to quit. I managed to pull it off, although not very well. The wind was pretty steady now, and as you guys say, it was pretty switchy. Just when I thought I was getting off a good shot, the wind would suddenly turn. This caused me to drop 5 points on one shot. I ended the third match with a 169-2X and 538-8X for the aggregate.
Randy Snook won the title of Iowa State Mid Range F-Class champion with a score of 595-36X.
2nd Place went to Mike Bergmann with 593-35X, and 3rd to Bob Mead with 593-27X.
Congratulations to all the winners!
Thank you to everyone who helped to run this match, and to Lee Wells and his club for providing pizza after the match!
In spite of a few challenges, this was a great experience and I'm looking forward to shooting again next year!