Monday, March 21, 2011

The Western WildCat Matches of 2011 - The WildCats have tangled !

  50 some WildCats from states around gathered over the last 5 days in Phoenix, Az to fight it out for Honors in the  Western WildCat Sm bore Championships. These famous matches drew Eleven High Masters, and 10 masters who fought hard for every point -- match after match of the 32 twenty shot targets that made up the championships.  It was no different in the Ex, SS, and Mk classes.  Everyone knew that a 198 score would be a sure loser.
  The big Build up  
Trying to draw more shooters to the winter shooting Mecca of Phoenix AZ, plans were made this year to schedule other big matches just before the WildCats as a lead into the historic WildCat matches themselves. The Senior Olympics, the first Javelina 6400 metric, the venerable Road Runner, and the new DiamondBack 3200--  all in the 4 weeks preceding the WildCats.   We would offer the chance to shoot nine 1600s at the beginning of March before the WildCats, for those who wanted to practice, practice and practice more. It was to be "March Madness"  for the Sm Bore community.  It was the best shooting opportunity of the Spring. It continues next weekend with the AZ Sb Prone champs, and then the Berger OTC nationals, for HighPower shooters.  Come to Phoenix, rent something for a month and Shoot, shoot, and shoot.  I think this is going to be big next year!
  So, what happened?
Like a lot of shooters, in the middle of my classification, I mostly go to matches for the fun of it, as I don't win anything too often.  As an Ex classified Sb prone shooter I am expected to shoot at least a 1576/1600 in an outdoor prone match (98.5%)--thats the bottom Ex score/.  In the 4 years, I have been an Ex, i have probably shot 4 scores that high--averaging 1569 till last summer and then 1575 this winter.  I had no hope of winning anything at the WildCats with those scores.  I entered all the lead up matches, but still had no real improvement till last Satuday's DaimondBack  Iron sight 50m match. Right away in that match, I felt comfortable in the Position, and could see clearly a sharp bullseye, and front sight--and had the apertures adjusted right to be able recognize a center shot long enough to make a good trigger break.  I got good scores the last 3 targets. Wow !  I could see.
  On to the Wildcats -- The Battle in the Ex class.
Day One -iron sights -- I could see both the target and sight well -- and shot a high score for me at 1582, but that was low in the Ex pack.   Jim Cobb and Stewart Lind were 2nd and 1st --up in the 1590s-- ten pts ahead already.
DayTwo - Any sights --  I had good shooting for a personal best score of 1599 (where did that come from?) and got the Wild Cat sweatshirt for wining the Ex class I barely dreamed of winning.   Other EX class shooters, Jr.  Zach Kofron, Barney Higgins, and Frank Fisher just a couple pts back. Stewart Lind still led in the aggregate.
Day Three was Iron sights again, and I was hoping to pick it up a little from 1582 of Thursday's 1st day.  Jim Cobb was on fire  -- and on his way to a Master Card with continued high Iron Sight scores, this time posting a very competitive 1595-101x, beating Stewart by 3pts, and now with one match left to go-- only 3 pts back of Stewart in the overall aggregate.  3 days and 3 different winners in the Ex class.
    I could see the target again today sharp and clear.   All that practice, and the chance to shoot the matches of"March Madness" was paying off.  My position was relaxed, sight picture sharp, trigger breaks confident, and I was seeing the wind shifts clearly.  I got off the line with 1589,-- again a personal best Iron sight score.  I think that shooting in such good company and such great head to head competition is inspiring and really leads to good performance. 
Day Four -- Any sights
  Stewart Lind started out 3 pts up in the Ex class over Jim Cobb.  He held for a 400 in the Dewar match as did Doug Frerich who was not going to be easy competition in this day of shooting. Doug had  won the SS class a couple years ago and has the skills to take an Ex class win any day now. I had lost only one pt so was still technically able to match my good score of Friday.  There were 6 more targets to go though.  In the 100 yd match, Jim Cobb clawed back by shooting clean while Stewart dropped two and went one down to Jim.  I dropped one more and was now tied with Stewart, and Doug. The wind started fishtailing during the 50m match, and though the meter targets have usually been a downfall for me, all shots stayed in the ten ring and I got the only 400 putting me in a tie at two down with Jim Cob, who along with Stewart had shot one nine in this 40 shot match. (just one!)
The last match -- 50 yds.  I had to shoot clean just for a tie with Jim.
The dilemma: --I also had one other consideration -- an important one! I was hovering on earning a Master card.  Last week, I was barely able to shoot my class as an Expert.  Now in this last match, if I cleaned the target, I would score 1598,-- possibly get a least a tie in the EX class for the day, and get an overall 6400 aggregate of 6368--- exactly the score needed to bump me up into the Master Class and oblivion as competition in that class. What to do?   One little nine out of the next 40 shots would keep me in the Experts --where all of a sudden, I'm actually competitive.
   First target -  Cleaned it- 200-17x.  Of course, you have to go for it -- unwanted Master card or not. No one loves a sandbagger. Cobb, Stewart, and Doug Frerich also clean their targets-- refusing to give up till the last shot.
   Last Target -- One pt separates the top three- one mistake and it's 2nd place or 1st loser. Stewart, Yours truly , and Doug all shoot 400 , while Jim Cobb shoots one nine and drops out of the lead for the day.   I slip in for the Day's class win with a  1598-126x, and the 3200 Any sight agg  EX win (3197). Jim Cobb and Stewart with 1597s, and Doug Frerich just 1 pt short at 1596.
Overall, Stewart Lind wins the EX class at the Western Wildcats matches with a 6379-- dropping only 21pts in 640 shots for record.  Stewart will be cking the mail for his Master card, as will Jim Cobb who ended up 2nd Ex just 3pts behind Stewart.

The Master class end of the firing line was just as hotly contested.  Many 1600s were shot. One 3200 was shot by Nancy Tompkins, but in the end Rea Kemply out Xed her brother Tarl  for the 4 day win and the championship -- both dropping only 7 pts over the whole four days and 640 shots for record. Nancy lost only 9 pts for the week. Steve Goff losing only 8 and  Joe Farmer down only 11.  Joe shot 629 tens and Xs while shooting only 11 nines in the four matches.  Others just a couple pts behind.  Awesome performance!

For a report from the Master Class end of the firing line --Read: "Photo finish at the wildCats" by Rick Curtis

  All in all it was a great championship series.  I had some good scores,  Met a lot of great people and can't wait till next year. This "March Madness", the opportunity to shoot 12 top caliber 1600s in 5 weeks has really sharpened my skills and It'll be fun to see if I can back it up next week at the State champs -- PRGC
The Western  WildCat matches lived up to its reputation, once again,  as one of the Best Matches to attend. Hope to see you all there next year.
Aggregates and Pictures posted below--

1 comment:

RCURTIS said...

Jim, I had a feeling that you wouldn't be taking the day off so I have been looking in periodically and you have not disappointed. Great report! Balancing good scope scores with good iron scores is critical to agg victories. Your performance in this years Cat proves that you are well on your way to the next plateau.