Last updated on May 11th, 2018 at 06:03 am
2018 Palma Regional - Winnequah Gun Club, Lodi, WI
May 5-6, 2018
Some might recall that in early April, I attended the coldest match of my shooting career on this same range. At that match, 20º temps and bitter winds made many of us in attendance question our own sanity as we fought our way through that weekend. Well, this match was not like that one. This Palma regional weekend had some of the best weather I can remember. Temps ranged from upper 50’s in the mornings, to mid-70’s by late afternoon with no humidity. During this time of year, the upper Midwest is one of the best places on earth.
I’ve always had a certain fondness for this match. Back in May of 2011, I made my first pilgrimage to Winnequah with my newly assembled Palma rifle, to shoot in my very first long-range match. I was obviously a very green shooter at that first match, but my education on the mystical Winnequah winds began that day. During the many trips I’ve made back to Lodi since then, I’ve only occasionally felt like I had a firm understanding of those winds. While I have had some success shooting there, I have been frequently reminded that I still have much to learn.
This weekend proved to be another of those great “educational opportunities”. Relatively calm conditions both mornings lulled some shooters into complacency, only to be rudely re-awakened on the 1000-yard line. 46 shooters were on hand as we kicked off at 8:30 sharp under the capable direction of Match Director Steve Suhr. The f-class gang has been doing a great job of recruitment, and several junior f-class shooters were in attendance, some shooting their very first match.
Anyone looking over the F-class match roster would have been able to easily identify a couple/few names that could be considered the odds-on favorites to win a tournament like this. National team members, State Champions, NRA record holders, etc were here in Wisconsin to stake their claim on the gold medal that would be awarded to the mach winner. Master-classified Jeff Dick didn’t let that scare him, as he coasted through the day’s 800 and 900 stages before carefully picking his way through the multiple switches at 1000 to finish with the first Palma match’s top score of 445-16x. Jeff is looking through some new glass on his .284, and is still riding high after giving Pat Scully a good scare in Eau Claire, coming up just 1 x shy of the win there. John Dunbar (443-14x) and Brian Nettesheim (441-17x) placed and showed for the first match of the weekend.
Things played out similarly on the sling targets, with high scores being posted at the shorter lines, before coming back down to earth at 1000. I shot a shaky 8x clean at 800 and followed it up with a really pretty 149-11x at 900, but things got funky later in the day. The wind switched fast and left me wondering where 10 points ran off to so quickly. At any rate, my beating proved to be a little less severe than everyone else’s. My 439-23x in the first Palma held up for the match win, with hard-holders Jay Johnson and Steve Clark not far behind.
Day 1 finished up with a 20-shot match at 1000, and things looked pretty similar there. Mr. Dick’s 194-1x was the top F-Class score, while my 192-3x led the sling class. The usual suspects were again hot on our heels; Scully, Jim Bauer, and Neil Leppla all shot 193’s on the little targets, while Steve Clark’s 191 on our “easy” target picked up 2 points on Jay Johnson’s 189. The final Saturday scoreboard showed Jeff up 7 points in the F-agg, and me leading the slingers by 9.
Sunday morning was shaping up to be just as pleasant as we arrived on the range. The sun was out, and it was just cool enough for a sweatshirt – perfect. In my excitement to get the show on the road, I neglected to check in at the stat office. This earned me severe chastisement from various members of the Liebetrau family. Sorry Karin, it won’t happen again!
The wind was stronger than the previous day, but at least it all seemed to be coming from the same general direction. The steady wind let me and 4 other sling shooters walk off the 800-yard line with 150’s, and Marky Mark Liebetrau and I backed those up with more 150’s at 900. Would this be one of those magical “450” days for one or both of us?
As fate would have it, the answer to that question turned out to be a rather definitive “NO.” Marky got slapped around for 11 points in those last 15 shots, and I dropped 9 of my own to finish in the middle of the pack at 1000. New US Vets Development Team member and defending 2017 Palma Regional Champion Steve Clark had things figured out right next to me, and he put up a cool 146-6x to lead all sling shooters. I like to think I helped Steve shoot this outstanding score by showing him exactly when NOT to shoot. Dan Stone, Ginormous Jay Johnson, and Palma Alliance member #90 Steve Rortvedt all kept themselves respectable with scores of 144 and 143. Jay’s 442-24x agg score had more X’s than Steve’s 15, so they went 1 & 2 in the Sunday Palma match. I was 1 point back for 3rd place at 441-21x.
The Sunday F-class match went almost exactly the same way, with 6 shooting clean at 800, and 2 doing it again at 900. Jeff Dick had 7 points to give after his dominant performance on Saturday, and as it turned out, that cushion was plenty. Jeff’s 444-22x put him in 3rd for the day, behind Kent Weigle (445-20x) and Sunday-only shooter Randy Snook (445-13x).
That left the final results for the Regional aggregate looking like this:
Gold Medal - Jeff Dick 183-39x
Silver Medal – Kent Weigel 1075-37x
Bronze Medal - Pat “Squarehead” Scully 1072-45x
Gold Medal – David Zaffke 1042-31x
Gold Medal – Erik Rhode 1072-47x
Silver Medal - Jay Johnson 1064-45x
Bronze Medal – Steve Clark 1062-37x
A friendly 4-person team match was fired at the 1000-yard line after the Sunday Palma concluded. Team Brux was top F-Class with a combined score of 779-25x. Firing members were John Dunbar, Jim Bauer, Pat Scully, and Bob “Seabiscuit” Sebold. My own Lite Holders team score of 763-16x won the sling match, with firing members Jay Johnson, Steve Clark, Gabe Stauffer, and Erik Rhode.
I had a great time at this match, but I always have a great time at Winnequah. They consistently run some of the most efficient and professional matches anywhere in the US. The Liebetrau family and everyone else involved go out of their way to make sure of that. The electronic target system seems to have found it’s groove, in 4 days of matches I’ve shot here in 2018, I have not experienced or witnessed a single problem. There is definitely a lot of upside to having a rest relay in a 3-relay match, and the positive aspects of no pit duty go without saying. 3-relay Palm matches tend to get done around 12:30, leaving plenty of time for additional matches or other extra-curricular activities.
I can’t wait to come back in June for another chance at the Midwest Palma Championship – see you there!