Let me start this with a few thanks for folks that helped me get to the 2015 World Long Range Championships. Thank you to my lovely wife, Valerie, for encouraging me and supporting me as I began training hard for the matches earlier this year! Thank you Eagle Eye Precision Ammunition for your extreme generosity and for making the best .308 ammunition available! Thank you Sinclair International for being so generous to me and for allowing me to be generous to your fans from other countries; they really enjoyed the hats! Thank you Forster Products for making the best reloading gear which helped me to make the best batch of ammunition I’ve ever made! Thank you Sierra Bullets for making those laser beam bullets for the US Palma Team, they are the best bullets I’ve ever shot and I hope I get to shoot them again in four more years! Thank you Chesebro Rifles for getting my world championships barrel chambered and installed in short order and for encouraging me to try the McGee offset stock! That stock turned out to increase my ability to see through the rear sight by an amount that created a noticeable improvement in how I could see the target. Thank you Decot Sport Glasses for making precisely ground shooting glasses readily available and for making me never think twice about switching from contacts to using their glasses for my subtle -0.50 diopter correction in my right eye! Thank you all very, very much for everything you did to help make sure I was prepared to represent the USA in the 2015 World Long Range Championships!
8/14 was the last day of the 2015 Palma Trophy match and it was also my 28th birthday :-). At the beginning of the day we were in 2nd place in the match, about 30 points behind Great Britain. Every shooter and coach was excited to pick up where we left off and see just how well we could perform together as a team.
As a shooter on the United States’ Palma team there are ample opportunities to get nervous and psyche yourself out. I remember being nervous the first time I shot on the Palma team in Australia in 2011. This time around I never got nervous and that was a blessing. I was very glad to be able to share my calmness with one teammate in particular who has been just a little anxious going into the first string at 800 yards. After chatting a bit and encouraging them I felt like I had contributed to our team not just by shooting, but also by helping to lift up my fellow teammate. I really enjoyed that, and I was glad God gave me encouraging words to share with my teammate.
This last day of the team match was my birthday which was really pretty special. The night before I went out to a wonderful dinner at a local Japanese hibachi steakhouse and on the range everyone was wishing me a happy birthday, it was all very jovial and fun. At 800 yards the firing points were awful, it was as if there was a shallow ditch on the firing line and we had to setup perpendicular to the ditch with our bodies extending across it. For whatever reason, this had the effect of really tightening up my position and I was rock solid. 800 yards was a little rough for us as a team, but 900 was a bit better. For me, it was the same at 900 yards, my position just felt a little tighter than normal and the gun settled right on the center of the target. That doesn’t always happen, and I bet if I could figure out the magic recipe I could bottle it, sell it, and quit my day job. Until then, I’ll just be grateful that it happened to be just so during the world long range championships; that’s the perfect time for things to go right!
1000 yards was exciting. It wasn’t necessarily exciting for me in a good way. The conditions were very challenging and resulted in moments of rapid fire followed by many minutes of waiting. During one transition from one such period of rapid fire I extracted the round from the chamber (something I always do when given a “hold” command) and it felt funny. I didn’t think much of it until I was told to make ready and I was unable to get the round to chamber again. Upon inspection I found that the projectile has lodged itself into the rifle of the barrel and was extracted from the case spilling gunpowder into my chamber and action. Wonderful, I thought. I’ve seen this happen to others before and I’ve never had it happen nor have I ever worried about it happening, because the way I load my ammo this occurrence was physically impossible…or so I thought! After some minor fussing around and some quick help from nearby teammates we cleared the blockage, cleaned out the action, confirmed the bore and chamber were clear, and reassembled the rifle. I got back on target and finished the string without any further excitement, thankfully!
As the dust settled we found ourselves having finished in 2nd place. 2nd place in the world may sound disappointing, heck it’s not gold! The truth is, however, that this is another baby step in the long road of completely revamping the US Rifle Team from the ground up. In placing 2nd place, we also posted a score higher than we or any other team had ever shot before; we broke the Palma Trophy match record by 8 points! The team from Great Britain shot amazingly well and pushed the new record even higher. Let’s think about that for a moment. Both the US and Great Britain have increased their performance so much that in order to get 2nd place a nation had to shoot better than any team ever had before, and in order to get 1st place a nation had to set a new Palma Trophy match record.
I feel very blessed to have been counted a member of this elite group of shooters and coaches. I am extremely proud to have contributed to the USA’s silver medal in the 2015 Palma Trophy match!
The final scores are here:
Some thorough write-ups on the match from the perspective of the Great Britain team are here:
Some photos are here:
Here is a link to a blog by Gary Rasmussen, shooting phenom and my coach on the Palma team: