column By: Ed Decker | October, 18
This has been a rewarding year for the Long Range muzzleloading team. For the first time in the history of the U.S. team, we won gold, both in the Mid Range and Long Range team events in the 11th MLAIC World
The scores were exceptional, especially in the team events, considering the shooting done in pouring rain with 20- to 25-mph winds gusting to over 30 mph. I was coaching the 1,000-yard team match; Ray Hanson and Dave Gullo had up to 20 minutes of right windage on their sights. Four of our shooters were competing with originals, with Ray Hopkins winning top honors with his vintage Gibbs rifle in the Original Class.
The U.S. had nine shooters competing in the individual matches. I selected the four top shooters for the team matches; no personal preferences, no “who has the most experience,” just those who had the top scores. I knew before we left the U.S. who would probably make the team. I watched for the last two years those who competed in a lot of quality matches, practiced on their own (some almost every day), and were committed. The individuals who I picked were the same ones who made the team and excelled as individual shooters, as well. Everyone worked together as a team. This was the main key to success.
We are required by our USIMLT bylaws to hold a national event once a year and follow the same rules as competing in a World Championship. The basic rules are: shoot 300, 500 and 600 yards using a sling only. At 900 and 1,000 yards a wrist rest may be used. Once paper is hit, no information can be received from the pits as to shot location and there is no coaching involved. In international competition, all shooters compete in individual matches at all yardages, then four-person teams are selected from each country, shooting the same course of fire under the same rules, except with a coach.
U.S. Nationals Move to Phoenix, AZ
In 2018, we moved our Nationals from Camp Butner, North Carolina, to Ben Avery Shooting Complex in Phoenix, Arizona, for several reasons. Attendance at our Nationals at Camp Butner was down for the past several
Our goal was to have a well-organized match with target pullers, good targets, nice awards and ample time between relays so there was not so much hurry to move back and set up again. A match friendly to both muzzleloaders and cartridge competitors, and friendly for shooters who can’t get up and down like they used to, and are a little slower than they used to be – all these people need to be at our match. We also wanted to take time to introduce young shooters to our game, so hopefully some day they will continue our sport. We wanted to welcome foreign friends to shoot as well. Even if you’re not a U.S. citizen, if you win a medal, it’s yours. We had several International shooters in 2018 from New Zealand and the Netherlands, and there will be more next year.
No one likes to spend the money and time to travel great distances to shoot 70 shots for record, especially when they can come to the NMLRA Western Spring Nationals for six days of shooting. Shooters can compete in our three-day Nationals, and then take in the 1,000 Yard Championship for three days. One can have
In time, we would also like to include a class for shooters to compete from a bench or a chair with sticks, for those who can’t shoot prone any more but still wish for a place to shoot with everyone else.
This year’s Nationals were an investment. We made all new targets, target frames and purchased new pasters and supplies. Our USIMLT trailer is now out West, stored and stocked for next year’s event. We are fortunate to have Skip Burks manage our targets and pits as a volunteer. Skip took care of the target pits for years at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico, and is definitely a “first class” guy.
We also want to recognize many other volunteers who made this match possible. Thanks to Zack Taylor, Laurie Kerr and John Stanton for many hours spent assembling targets prior to the match, and Margo Hanson and Arleen Decker who kept statistics and assisted with the awards ceremony. Thanks to Ray Hanson for all his time and efforts in recruiting target pullers and volunteers and helping coordinate the match.
Rex Powers and the Wickenburg High School Rifle Team provided excellent pit service. A special thank you to Kathryn Watson with the Ben Avery Range for helping us to get the range and facilities and being extremely helpful in every way.
Now the Match Is On
Day Two: The wind was much less intense. Nine hundred and 1,000 yards were shot and finished just after noon. Soon afterwards our awards program was held at a very nice facility provided by Ben Avery. Target pullers and volunteers were also invited. Ray and Margo Hanson provided pizza and drinks for everyone. Buffalo Arms, Steve Baldwin, and Tree Bone Carving provided us with some very nice door prizes.
Several really good things came out of the match. One thing was that even though the wind on the first day was a challenge, it was a wonderful experience and helped everyone to become better shooters. Another positive aspect was muzzleloader and cartridge shooters competing together. They all shot on the same relay at the same type of target and with the same amount of time. Muzzleloaders shot under their rules and cartridge shooters competed under their rules and everyone worked together well.
You know, in the end we are all shooters who love this sport and it doesn’t matter what shooting organization you belong to or what type of rifle is shot. We can all
Day Three: This was a fun team match. All shooters were divided up into three teams, each having a coach and a team name. The course of fire was 20 shots at 1,000 yards. We mixed up cartridge and muzzleloaders and gave first, second and third place team awards to each individual so everyone received something.
We were very encouraged with our first Nationals out West. The weather was good, the campground was close and convenient, and everyone seemed to have a good time; we all made new shooting friends. Ben Avery staff bent over backwards, as well as Bill Loughrige with the NMLRA, to see that we had everything we needed and were happy with our facilities. Bill invited all of us to attend the NMLRA cookout and auction, which had lots of good food and was a good time.
This match would not have happened if it were not for the great folks at the Black Powder Cartridge News helping us get the word out and exposing us to their readers. I am confident this match will grow and we expect our numbers to double in 2019. We already have several International shooters committed to come. This is a wonderful experience for those abroad, as it is hard for them to assemble and compete in the manner in which all of us in the United States are accustomed.
The 2019 USIMLT Nationals will be held March 2 through 4 (Saturday, Sunday, Monday). Contact Ray Hanson (firstname.lastname@example.org) for additional information. For complete match results, go to www.usimlt.org.