column By: Cody Smith | December, 18
The 2018 BPCR National Silhouette Championships were held July 28 through August 3 at the NRA Whittington Center near Raton, New Mexico. As always, it was a true test of marksmanship and an excellent opportunity to enjoy old friendships as well as make new ones. We saw some changes to the Nationals this year, and I couldn’t help but feel there was a new, fresh attitude toward the matches throughout the week.
The 22 BPCR National Championship started the week on a great note. The 22 BPCR Association was quite proud to introduce a whole new target system. It involves targets that are built on a rack and are resettable with just the pull of a lever. Not only did they speed the match up to the point that they were able to accommodate 160 shooters, they also allowed for a 60-shot match. Just like the big-bore match, the targets are shot in groups of five, then a break is taken while they are reset, then those five targets are shot again. As anyone knows who has shot this way, it is much more challenging than shooting them straight through. The conditions often change during the break, and shooters also have to return to full concentration after a pause.
In the 22 Scope National Match, we saw Brian Chilson fire a very impressive score of 111 to become the National 22 Scope Champion (23 chickens for the match…Wow!), while Rick Moritz was 2nd overall with a 102, and AAA shooter Willie Nichols finished 3rd overall with a 100. The AAA Champion spot was taken by Hugh Mills, Richard Wood won the AA Champion, and the A Class Champion was Russell Goodwin. Cole Sauer was the National Champion Junior Shooter with a 90 and was also the 3rd overall AAA Champion, which he earned by winning a shoot-off! Keep an eye on this young man, as I am sure we will continue to see him in the winner’s circle.
In the 22 Iron Sight National Match, Brian Chilson again pulled ahead to be the National 22 Iron Sight Champion with a 102. This was the first time that the same shooter won both the Iron and Scope match. Pretty impressive, Mr. Chilson! Past National Champion, Jack Odor, was hot on his heels with a 101. Although Jack would have liked to have been the champion, he was quite pleased with his Day Two score of 54 resulting from cleaning all the lay-down targets and smacking 9 chickens! Chip Mate picked up 3rd overall with a 95. The AAA Champion spot was taken by Brent Danielson, AA Class by Scott Stephenson, and A Class by Vicky Herrera.
The 22 BPCR Association is quite pleased to attract so many families, ladies and young shooters. There was large number of youth shooters this year, and a bunch of great prizes were designated specifically for them. Between the family atmosphere, great prizes, support from the industry and a well-run match, it is easy to see why the sport has enjoyed so much growth and success over the past few years.
The NRA BPCR Scope National Championship went off without a hitch, and enjoyed some of the best weather ever seen for the national matches at Raton. Being on a roll from .22 silhouette, Brian Chilson came out in the lead with 96, while Jerry Vanwey and Brad Rice tied for 2nd overall with a 92. Jerry prevailed in the shoot-off, leaving Brad with 3rd overall. Butch Ulsher was 1st Master with a 91, Bryan Youngberg took AAA Class with a 90, James Rodebaugh was high AA competitor with an 86, first A Class Champion went to Thomas Besser with a 69, and B Class was won by Jeff Renegar with a 58.
The Iron Sight National Championship also went quite smoothly. A few relays were unlucky enough to experience some gusty winds in the afternoons, but the weather was so much better than last year that I don’t think anyone complained. I felt fortunate to be able to witness probably one of the very best, most intense shoot-offs to ever happen in BPCR. Veteran riflemen and past National Champions Brad Rice and Dave Gullo tied for the top spot with 93s and went round after round in the shoot-off before Brad finally prevailed. It was sure fun to watch! After National Champion Brad Rice and 2nd overall Dave Gullo, Rick Mortiz took 3rd with a 92. I, Cody Smith, was 1st Master with an 88, AAA Class went to my spotter and shooting partner, Lee Wolff, with an 89, AA Class was won by Samantha Rice with a 78, Ben Taylor took A Class with a 61, and Thomas Besser won the B Class with a 55.
With a bit of reorganization going on in the NRA Competitions Department, things were a little different this year. Most of the changes were fairly minor, with the exception of having a new Match Director, Jeanne Ring. Jeanne and her crew did what I thought was an exceptional job. The range was in great shape, and the match ran nearly flawlessly. “Thank you” to Jeanne and her crew for all the hard work that went into a great match.
The evening of the second day of the Scope Match, the NRA hosted a banquet at the Whittington Center “Gunslingers” restaurant. All silhouette shooters were treated to a wonderful meal of fajitas with all the fixings while the Scope National Championship awards were presented. I particularly appreciated the banquet, as I enjoy the time to relax and spend time with my friends and fellow competitors. It was also encouraging to see some support and hear positive words from several of the National NRA staff that came out to help with the matches. I suspect things are just going to get better in the NRA Competitions Department over the next few years. I hope to see everyone again next year back at Raton!
Wyoming State BPCR Championship
Carpenter, Wyoming - August 17-19, 2018
Friday’s .22 BPCRA State Championship went off quite well and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. We used the portable targets with white backers. The shooters seem to really like those because the targets really stand out and you can easily see your misses on the backer. The weather was nice, but there were still plenty of challenging breeze and mirage changes. We were blessed with quite a few new shooters and they were a great addition to the match. I think they all had fun and we sure enjoyed getting to know them.
We ran a “normal” .22 silhouette match with five relays and really hustled along. The match was over about 2:00 p.m., which was good as we had quite a few folks that needed to leave. For those of us that stayed, Wyoming Sight Drifter sponsored two fun shooting games that we enjoyed the rest of the afternoon. One of the games was a prairie dog shoot. We had life-size prairie dog cut-outs scattered over the range at various distances. Each shooter had a maximum of 10 available. Shooters had 10 minutes and unlimited shots to get as many as they could. It proved very challenging, especially with iron sights. I thought it was great fun and we’ll have to do it again sometime. Tom Wengh shot very well on this and killed nine prairie dogs in five minutes! His tenth dog had fallen over, so he couldn’t shoot at it. Tom was our overall winner and received the “Top Dog” prize of a 3x9 variable power Sightron scope donated by Graf and Sons. He was quite pleased! Thank you to Graf and Sons for their generous donation.
We also awarded a prize to the high A/AA class and AAA/Master class. Don McDowell won the A/AA class and Gary Smith won the AAA/Master class. Both of these fine shots received a Wyoming Sight Drifter for their wins. A big “Thank you” goes out to Wyoming Sight Drifter for their generous donation and all of their continued support!
The second game was one I had wanted to try for some time. As most folks know, I love shooting chicken targets. The match worked like this: All the entries received a poker chip and their name was put on it. All the chips were put into a bucket and then two names were drawn out. The two shooters then faced off on the chicken line and shot off for best of three. The winner stayed on the line, while the loser sat down. His poker chip received a strike and was put back into the bucket. Another chip was drawn and that shooter then shot off with the guy still on the line. As long as you won, you stayed up and each time you lost your chip got a mark. When your chip got two marks on it, you were out and your chip was taken out of the bucket. Tom Reed was quite pleased to win and received a Wyoming Sight Drifter plus possession of the famous traveling offhand trophy that has been going around the Front Range for quite a few years. Second place went to Kevin Griggs and he took home a tin of SPG Lube donated by SPG Sales. Thank you all for playing and great big thank you to our sponsors!
Readers will want to peruse all the pictures posted on Facebook and our website, as well as review the picture of the scoreboard for all the juicy details, but I did want to highlight the class winners here. It was fun to see
Master Class and Overall Match Winner ended up in a tie between myself and Kevin Griggs, both of us with 35s. We had to settle it in a shoot-off, and it ended up being one of the more exciting and dramatic shoot-offs I have seen. We went for best of five and tied, then went best of three, then best of two, then sudden death. We then went back and forth on sudden death for several rounds before I luckily managed to prevail. Kevin is a tough competitor and it was an honor to shoot against him. What also makes Kevin’s shooting impressive is that his rifle actually broke part way through the match. He had to use a borrowed rifle to both finish both the match and the shoot-off! For anyone that has had to do this, they know how hard it is to compete with a strange rifle. The match and class winners received some very cool “tattered flag” metal Wyoming State Championship signs donated by Allwayz Manufacturing (www.allwayzmfg.com), while 2nd place received a Smithmoor glass plus a silver dollar and 3rd place received a Smithmoor glass.
The State BPCR championship also went off without a hitch. We ended up with 24 riflemen competing on five different targets. In addition to the traditional chicken, pig, turkey and ram, we added a fifth station. We have two 36-inch gongs on the ram line at 500 meters. The left one serves as a sighter target, and when the shooter goes for score, he tries to put five rounds into the smallest group possible. Let me tell you, it is quite a bit tougher than you might think. The exciting part is we break the shooters into two classes, Master/AAA and AA/A, and the winner of each class won a whole case (25 pounds) of powder! Travis Purdum shot extremely well to win Master/AAA and the case of Swiss 1½ Fg while Dick Hennebry received the case of Old Eynseford 1½ Fg to win the AA/A class. Travis shot an impressive 8½-inch group on Day One and an equally impressive 135⁄8-inch group on Day Two in some really nasty 30-mph winds.
We gave out daily awards, but as usual the nicer prizes went to the winners of the aggregate. A/B Class State Champion went to Dick Hennebry with a score of 38. AA went to new shooter, Dan Womer, with a 41 – good shooting Dan! AAA class went to Mark Pachares with a 52 and our Wyoming State BPCR Silhouette Champion is Bryan Youngberg. Bryan shot an aggregate score of 55 to win. On Day One, he cleaned all the lay-down targets to end up with a 32. That means 10 pigs, 10 turkeys, and 10 rams. It does not happen very often and is truly some awesome shooting. Day Two he shot a 23 in some very miserable winds. Kenny Wasserburger was Bryan’s spotter and did some pretty impressive work. They truly made an awesome team.
A few events of note I wanted to mention include Jim Rodebaugh. He knocked one out of the park by shooting a 33 on Day One and earned a five-chicken pin! It was a personal best score for Jim and tied the Smithmoor Range record. Unfortunately, Jim had to leave on a business trip and was not able to shoot on the second day. Paul Lawrence also shot five chickens in a row. Unfortunately, they were Nos. two through six. Paul was quite pleased with his shooting and we gave him a golden chicken pin for his efforts. Mark Pachares shot a 27 on Day Two, which is a good score but was truly impressive when one considers the extreme wind we were shooting in. I also wanted to mention Don McDowell shot an 81⁄8-inch five-shot group on Day Two on the fifth station gong target. An 81⁄8-inch group is super at 500 meters on a calm day, but Don did it in 30 mph winds! I suspect Don has just lived in Wyoming so long, he can’t function without some wind blowing.
Then there was the food; wow, was it good! The food is usually the talk around Smithmoor and my folks, Gary and Lorraine, hit some serious home runs. On Friday for the .22 BPCRA State Championship they did a taco bar with chocolate zucchini cake for desert. Saturday was smoked tri-tip beef with macaroni salad, potato salad, cowboy beans, and peach cobbler. Sunday, we had smoked pulled pork, coleslaw, and strawberry rhubard crisp, as well as a few leftovers from the previous meals. “Thank you” to Mom and Dad for the fantastic meals!!
Through the selfless generosity of many donors to Smithmoor Range, we have built an outstanding shooting facility. One of the most generous has been Jim Rodebaugh. Jim is a professional knife maker known internationally for his high-quality damascus hunting knives. If you want one, be prepared for a wait and a price tag that may make you cough! Jim has donated several knives over the last couple of years to Smithmoor Range and blessed us again with one that we used for a raffle. The funds raised through the knife raffles are used for range improvements. The money generated is so appreciated as it allows us to build targets, maintain the range, pour concrete and other major expenses without having to put any overly large burden on any one individual. Please remember this in the future. Your purchase of the knife raffle tickets not only give you a chance to win a very valuable, one of a kind knife, they also let us improve the range. Thank you to all that donated!
We tried something new this time, and I think people enjoyed it. We did a reverse raffle, where all the tickets are drawn out of the box and the last ticket drawn wins, instead of the first. 100 tickets were available for sale at $20 apiece. We sold 98 tickets and raised about $1700 that will be used for new armor-plated targets. Periodically throughout the match on Saturday, we would draw out 10 more tickets. The tension built all day until after the match. We served root beer floats while we tallied the scoreboard and prepared the awards. Then we drew the last 10 tickets. We had a board with all the tickets and names on it so everyone could see who was left. I had one ticket left in the final 10 and my heart was pumping! We drew out seven more and each time I just knew it would be mine, but it wasn’t! We had $100 cash for 3rd place, $250 for 2nd place, and the very last ticket drawn would be for the knife. Coralee took a video of the last three tickets being drawn and it is on both Facebook and our web page. The short story is, the $100 went to Paul Shuttleworth, $250 went to Jack Odor, and I couldn’t believe that the last ticket left was mine. I had always said that I was so unlucky in drawings that if they drew every ticket out, mine would be the last one. I guess I was right! Thank you to everyone for playing and generating some much-needed money for range improvements.
Overall, I think the Wyoming State Championship went quite well. Thank you to everyone for all of the support over the last couple of years, and thanks especially for entering and making our event so special. We hope to hold a Regional match over Memorial Weekend next year, and also another State Championship again in August. Check out our web page (smithmoorrange.com) or our Facebook page for lots of great pictures. I hope to see you all on the range!