2 Day MRP & F-Class Match - North Star Rifle Club
Way back 6 weeks ago on April 13th, the Twin Cities area of Minnesota got 14.9 inches of snow in the largest April blizzard in MN history. Fast-forward 6 weeks to late May, and we are in the middle of record high temperatures for the month. In my experience, people who haven’t spent time in the Upper Midwest just think of MN as an arctic wasteland, and don’t know about our sweltering summers. We shot in temps of 95º on Saturday, 97º on Sunday, and while the match was over before Memorial Day Monday, the thermometers went all the way up to 102º. Not exactly what you’d call a “dry” heat either, more like a “South American jungle” heat.
I was a little worried that between the holiday weekend and the crazy heat forecast, we might have a light turnout for this NRA-approved Mid Range shooting contest. I guess I forgot the type of people I was dealing with. 28 shooters showed up with rifles and gear to give it a try, including 5 unclassified shooters, some shooting in their very first match. I don’t think any would say that these were their preferred conditions to shoot in, but everyone kept hydrated and we all made it through.
Cap’n Bob Peasley’s match program called for 4 20-shot strings at 600 yards on Saturday, and a “Mini Palma” course of 20 shots at 300, 500, and 600 on Sunday. North Star rifle club sits down in a green valley that usually does a good job of protecting it from big winds that may be blowing nearby. Just because the winds don’t get big doesn’t mean that it’s easy; winds often come down the hill behind the targets out of the left and then swirl in the valley before heading right back out the left around the 500-yard line. When it’s doing this, it can be very hard to read. Some claim that it’s an easy range to shoot 198’s and 199’s on, but 200’s are a different story.
There were 6 F-Class shooters on hand, with 3 of them being unclassified new shooters. 600-yard FTR Senior National Record Holder Steve Ernst gave lessons on how to get it done, winning all but one of the 7 matches, along with the aggs. Steve managed 2 of his own clean 200’s on Sunday from the 500 and 600-yard lines to seal the deal. The one he didn’t win went to unclassified shooter Dan Deliva in Saturday’s 3rd from 600. Dan posted a killer 199-9x in that one, topping Steve by a single X, and also finishing in 2nd place for the day with a 781-25x. I don’t know what Dan’s shooting background is, but his future looks bright if he chooses to stick around in F-Class. Mr. Ernst finished that day with a 789-29x, then went on to shoot a 598-37x on Sunday to finish on top by a wide margin at 1387-66x in the weekend agg.
Over on the sling side, Jay Salinas took the combined Expert/Sharpshooter/Marksman Class, winning all but 2 matches with his scoped Service Rifle. Fellow Service Rifle shooter Jeff Walsh took the other 2, but missing 2 of the 4 matches on Saturday kept him out of the agg as Jay takes the combined class with his 1325-32x. The Master class was a shootout as Bruce “Raw Deal” Rawlings, Duluth’s Jim Fernandez, and bearded South Dakotan Aaron Guliuzza traded match wins all weekend. Saturday’s Master class agg came down to X’s, as Jim’s 780-30x just edged out Bruce’s 780-26. Guliuzza got serious on Sunday after fellow beardsman Randy Blaha took the 300-yard stage, coming back to win the 500 and 600 on his way to a score of 591-22x for the day – that’s a HM agg, for those of you keeping track. The Sunday win combined with a solid performance on Saturday put his 1363-54x on top of the Masters.
The 11 High Master shooters included Tommy “Nodak Newt” Thompson and Morgen “Man-Boy” Dietrich from neighboring North Dakota. These boys drove 8 hours to shoot this match, hopefully they aren’t going to hold the heat against us! The original Minnesota Newt; Steve Knutson got things started on Saturday morning by shooting the first 200 of the weekend, with 12 x’s for good measure. Omer Hamer was right behind him, shooting solid 199’s in both of the “Any sight” matches before running into some rifle trouble after that. I started out slow losing 2 in the first match, before buckling down to win the rest from there on out to finish down 3 for the weekend agg at 1397-88x. Newt, Tommy, and Craig “The Menace” Bennis traded “First in class” honors for the rest of the weekend, and Tommy’s 1380-52x took the 2nd place spot.
Despite the ridiculous heat, it was another great weekend to get out and shoot. It was hard at times to resist the urge to shoot fast just to get the coat off and get back to the shade, but I was happy to spend 2 more days behind a Palma rifle. Summer always goes by too fast here, so we have to take the imperfect weekends along with the perfect ones if we want to keep shooting.
Thanks to Cap’n Bob and NSRC’s brave volunteers for keeping things moving and smoothing out the minor kinks as they came along. For anyone regretting missing the match, the MN MRP State Championship is just 2 weeks away right back at the same range! 2 days of Mini Palma 300, 500, and 600 along with a 4-person team match on Saturday afternoon at 600 should scratch your Mid Range itch.
See you all there!