Being able to take a week off from work and shoot all day in these matches reminds me just how blessed I am. I would not be able to travel and compete like this if not for extremely generous support from Eagle Eye Ammo. I’m also very grateful for the support provided by Sinclair International / Brownells. Thank you very, very much.
If you are not familiar with target rifle competitions, I gave a bit of an explanation of things in my previous posts, please reference those: http://kellysgunsales.com/
Today was exciting. If it seems like I’m gushing when you read this it’s because I am. Today God helped me shoot some of the best I’ve ever shot and it was a lot of fun doing it.
This was the last day of the individual competition in the NRA Fullbore Nationals. We shot 1000 yards twice, 15 shots each time. I was originally on the third relay (the third group to shoot), but a few people didn’t show up so I got moved to first. The flags were perfectly still, there was no wind. I was extremely excited to shoot 1000 yards with essentially no wind. It wasn’t meant to be because once the load command was given the wind turned on and built steadily over the next 3-5 minutes from nothing to a steady 10-12 mph wind. Below I have a before and after picture of what I thought I was going to shoot in and then what I actually shot in. I waited to shoot and watched many folks around me shoot misses for their sighters. I waited for a bit, 5-6 minutes maybe before I took my first shot. I shot carefully and tried to figure out what the wind was doing. I did OK ending up with a 72-8V. That moved me from 7th place to 10th place.
Going into the final string at 1000 yards I felt myself starting to get a little worked up. I stopped and prayed and really worked at calming myself down. I got in position and got ready to shoot, loaded my first round, made my wind call and took the shot. “Click”. It didn’t go off and worse still I jerked the heck out of the trigger. It’s odd that it didn’t go off, but it happens once in a while, I usually just cock the rifle again and the round goes off on the second try. I line up the sights again, “Click”. Yikes! I jerked the trigger again and there must be something wrong with my rifle! I pull the bolt back and check the end cap, it’s not loose, so I go to eject the round to inspect it and I discover that I never loaded the rifle to begin with. That really calmed me down, quite a lot. I was almost laughing at myself on the line. After that I picked an indicator, there was a flag almost pointing at me, and I used it to judge the angle changes. I watched other flags and the mirage for velocity changes and I tried my best to break good shots, and it worked. It was as if God helped me break the right shots at the right time. On a number of occasions I took a shot I called on one side or the other and the wind had either picked up or let off in such a way that if I hadn’t shot it exactly where I did then I would have lost points (calling a shot is just guessing where the shot will be based on how it felt and what it looked like when the gun went off). It was awesome. I ended up with a 75-8V, one of only five 75s that were shot on that string. This means that in in 10-15 mph crosswinds, from 1000 yards away, with iron sights, and supported by a sling, I kept 15 consecutive shots inside an area less than two feet across with more than half of them in an area less than one foot across.
That moved me into 3rd place overall.
Since this match is a dress rehearsal for the world long range championships next year there is then a shoot off amongst the top 10 scoring competitors. Fifteen more shots at 1000 yards and the score from that additional string is added to each shooter’s running total. The overall winner is the one with the most points.
As it turns out, I also got to shoot in a shoot off for a silver or bronze from one of the morning’s matches. So after the lunch break I would shoot 5 shots to settle a tie, and then shot 15 shots to settle the overall winner. I asked if the two shoots would be one right after another and it sounds like they would have been, so I asked for a 10 minute break so I could cool down in between.
For the tie break shoot off, the winds were stronger than when I had previously shot, but they weren’t as strong as I thought. I over compensated for the wind and started the tie break off with a 3! Down two points on my first shot of a 5 shot string I didn’t think there was much hope for me. I didn’t give up, however, and I finished strong with a 5 and three Vs to have a 23-3V. I didn’t realize it, but my opponent had also dropped two points, he had a 23-2V making me the winner, and the soon-to-be recipient of a silver medal.
Just a few minutes later was the shoot off for the grand aggregate. The wind had picked up a little more, but not much. The biggest challenge I had was that the wind had such a speed that even from prone and with a sling the rifle was no longer steady. Instead the rifle sights were bouncing around as if I was shooting standing. So it was no longer good enough to simply have a good handle on the wind, we now also needed to squeeze the shot off at precisely the right moment. Needless to say some shooters excelled and some did not. Nancy Tompkins impressed everyone present by shooting a 75-7V in these conditions. I think the next highest score was a 74 and then it dropped off after that. I had a 70-4V which I didn’t feel bad about at all. That moved me from 3rd place to 5th place.
So I just got 5th place in the NRA Fullbore Nationals and I’m honestly quite blown away by that result. There are some of the best shooters in the world present. Some of the other countries brought their same shooters who will compete next year in the world long range championships; they were here. This also served as a try out session for the US Palma Team so many of the best shooters from the USA were present and competing. And then there is me. I’ve shot two matches this year: a local 1000 yard match back home, and these nationals. I practiced about half a dozen times and usually at less than 200 yards before coming to nationals. Yet, despite the many reasons I shouldn’t have done well here, God saw fit to bless me and helped me to shoot very well. God is very good and this was lots of fun.
The scores can be tracked here: