2018 National Championships • President's Hundred
I was somewhat surprised to see all the congratulatory well wishes on my making the President's Hundred before I even got home. Perhaps though, we should start at the beginning of the story.
This years National's got off to a rocky start. With a last-minute cancellation, precious little time off and a back injury this years Service Rifle team was grounded. Team members Kurt Borlaug, Chuck Diehl, Tom Torborg, Mark Schoess, Ross Ospahl, Larry Weidell, and yours truly along with friend of the team, Arron Guliuzza from South Dakota made the pilgrimage.
The individual matches started Saturday with the Oliver Hazard Perry Match. The OHP is a casual match which replaced squadded practice a few years ago. It's a quick 30 shot match most of us use to confirm zeros for the coming days more serious matches. While the weather was as near perfect as can be expected for Perry, none of us set the world on fire.
The match started late due to some mysterious technical glitch which center line blamed on a boat in the impact area. Most of us had our doubts as we could still hear live fire over on Viale from SAFES (Small Arms Firing School), which never went into a cease-fire.
Camp Perry nerves kicked in early for me, turning my windage knob the wrong way in the first stage, Sitting Rapid Fire. While there wasn't much wind, the 1/2 minute I added plus the 1/2 minute I was trying to compensate for took my group out to the 9 ring giving me a 91-0. The rest of our delegation fared little better, with each train wreaking somewhere along the way. When it was over 3 of us, Aaron, Larry and myself fared the least worse, firing a 288-4, 287-5 and 286-3 respectively.
The weather for Sunday's President's match was almost a carbon copy of the day before, with partly cloudy skies and temperature in the mid 70's. The only difference between the two days was the wind had shifted and was coming in off the lake. I was a little disappointed with the winds direction as I was squadded on the little end of Viale and I was hopping for any kind of advantage I could get.
The only thing I remember about shooting my standing position was thinking, slowdown, relax, squeeze the trigger and don't eff-up. I knew I was shooting well, but I didn't realize how well until I asked my scorer what my final score was. When he said 97-3x I had to sit down from shaking so hard and let the adrenaline wear off before moving my gear back to 300.
With the wind in my face at 300 and 600 yards it reminded me of shooting at North Star. With the bright light showing heavy mirage it was easy to pick up on the fishtailing wind. I dropped 2 points at 300 and 3 more at 600 giving me a total of 292-7x and my first President's Hundred medal. The USAF's Matt Griffin was the only other Minnesota shooter making the cut.
I should mention 3 Wisconsin shooters also made the cut. Brian Melville, Brady Westling and Spencer McGowan. Brain Melville, who has been shooting like a house on fire this year, was bumped out of the shoot off by 1X.
Monday morning brought a change in the weather for the Trophy Match. The weather man was predicting late morning rain, clearing and rain again later in the afternoon. I started the match with great confidence bolstered by my performance the day before. Unfortunately, a repeat performance wasn't to be as Camp Perry nerves reared their head and I bled 15 points in standing, giving me a miserable 85-1x. My rapids went better scoring 98-2, and 97-3 in sitting and prone.
As I moved my gear back to 600 yards for my final stage, I knew I would have to do well if I wanted to make the cut. I was figuring the cut would be in the mid to upper 470's. While my 189-2x wasn't an awful score, it put my final score at 469-9x. Not even near good enough to make the 479-12x cut (sigh). Aaron and Larry were the only team members to make the cut. Matt Griffin (USAF) and Brian Townsend (USNR) were the only other Minnesotans to make the cut.
Tuesday morning came early for the Hearst Doubles match. Squadding always starts at O'dark 30 on the 200 yard line. Unfortunately, due to the lack of vacation time, Tom, Ross and Aaron had to leave after the Trophy Match the day before. Likewise Chuck Diehl had a business meeting in Chicago and had to leave early.
The Hearst has always been my favorite match of Board week. The pressure is off and it's time to have some fun. This year, Larry and I teamed up on relay 1 and we squadded with Kurt and Mark S who were on relay 2. None of us set the world on fire, I bested Larry in standing and Rapid Prone and he bested me back at 600. We ended up shooting our 600 yard stage fast, as the wind was holding fairly steady and rain was moving in. Kurt and Mark S weren't so lucky. After a short rain delay, relay 2 was called to the line and got to shoot through it.
All and all Larry and I finished a somewhat respectable 39th out of 293 teams.
As I said at the beginning of all this, with half the team having to leave early, the team matches were a bust for us. I had toyed with the idea of hiring myself out as a pit-puller for another team, but by the end of Tuesday, my back and right leg were telling me "no way". I ended up driving home Wednesday morning.
Overall, my Camp Perry experience this year was a blast. Shooting with good friends and reuniting with old acquaintances. Although I missed the hard sought heavy leg that I've tried to earn for years, I did earn the coveted President's Hundred Tab. The only casualty for the week was my camera, which took a hard tumble from atop my tripod when I tried to get my gear around it.
I feel blessed and humbled to be part of the finest group of folks in the state and country.