From: Rick Curtis and the Desert Sharpshooters
LOCKWOOD ELECTRIFIES IN F-TR! SHAW BLOODIED IN F-OPEN! TOMPKINS FAULTLESS IN SLING!
Another stellar day greeted the competitors who arrived at one of the nations finest shooting complexes, the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in north Phoenix Arizona. From as far away as Minnesota, Kentucky and even Canada they came to test their skills against some of long range shootings legendary greats. No less than forty-one High Masters took the line today to see who, in a battle of skills and wills, would walk off with the day 1 victory. With out any further delay or convivial utterance lets get to the stories of the day!
Starting with F-TR, dedicated family man and small business owner Steve Lockwood took his newly re-barreled Barnard across the Palma course in fine form today. Opting to run the sweet Berger 185's through his new 12 twist Krieger, Lockwood let his presence be known at 800 by firing one of only three cleans put up by the bi pod bunch. Californian Lane Buxton and recently retired Border Patrol agent Jeffry Calhoon accounted for the other two. At 900, Steve's 148-5X fell short by only one point to Raton regular Lige Harris' brilliant stage winning 149-7X. Calhoon kept pace by also posting a 148 and by a mere two X's over, led the daily aggregate with only the 1000 yard line to go. Buxton suffered a setback at 900 with a less than sterling 143-1X locking him into a tie for third with top level F-TR shooter Michael Smith. In Palma shooting, both the sling and the mechanically supported shooters alike know that the match is usually won or lost at 1000 yards. The long line can be especially cruel to those who fall out of step with the vagaries of the wind as Calhoon clearly had. His anemic 128-2X dashed his hopes for the daily win. Buxton regained his National Team form by posting a stage high 147-7X's, grabbing the clubhouse lead. As Lockwood took the line, down just two, it was his to win or lose. Buxton was down ten for the agg, Smith and Harris eleven and Calhoon was flopping around in the parking lot on the sword he had fallen on at 1000. So with the same workman like manner he had displayed all day, Steve Lockwood pounded out a solid 146-6X's, carding a 444-15X's and winning the first of the three daily aggregates. Good Job Steve!
Steven Blair and Steven Shaw are now clearly down the road to a historical rivalry in F-Open. With Shaw's win two weeks ago at our State Long Range Championships, the stage was clearly set for a nail biting rematch between the two in the Palma Championship. At the 800 Shaw appeared to be clearly in command as he and his mighty 300 WSM, spitting 215 grain pills at well over 3000 fps, posted an unbelievable
150-14X's! It was clear though that despite Shaws accomplishment his fellow F'ers were not about to lie down. Dennis Welker made his presence known with a great 150-10X's, Blair was right their with a 9X 150 and Colorado Springs resident Charles Clark also posted a 150 with 7X's to be exact. Moving back to the 900 yard line Blair and Shaw continued their mistake free performance by posting identicle 150-10X's. Welker and Clark fell off the torrid pace with scores of 148 and 146 respectively. So again, the 1000 yard line was to be the scene for a spectacular finish. Clark and Welker limped across the day one finish line with lackluster scores at the long line to finish up with duplicate 439's on the day. Blair and Shaw, laying side by side, began their assault on the 10 and X rings and when the dust had settled on the pivotal 1000 yard line Blair had carded a gutsy 147-6 besting Shaw's effort of 144-5 giving him a slim three point lead going into day two. Great shooting by both men and I'm sure we will see more tomorrow.
Last, but certainly not least, the 56 competitors in the sling division compiled a number of stories of success themselves today. Ratons own Trudie Fay, one of seven National Team members to top the days aggregate, shown brightly at 800 as both her and Peter Church posted 14X cleans to start the day. Fellow National Team member and your intrepid reporter, Rick Curtis, found an acorn at 900 with a nice 11X clean. At the 1000 yard line another National Team member and perennial Palma Team shooter Bob Gustin cranked out a very good 13X clean to end the day on a nice note. All these great performances would, in the end, become but a footnote to the days crowning achievement. Nancy Tompkins, numerous time National Champion, Palma Team shooter and a young woman I am proud to call my friend put together a doozy of a score today. In her shooting career, Nancy has amassed well over thirty perfect scores over the palma course and today she added one more as her cleans at 8, 9, and 1000 yards resulted in a day one 450-27X which just edged out runner up Trudie Fay's 449-29X. Kentuckian Mark Del Cotto sits solidly in third with his 448-26X. Gustin, Curtis, Church and Phil Hayes rounded out the top seven finishers today.
BLAIR BLINKS, SHAW PREVAILS, STILL TRAILS BY TWO! SMITH AND HARRIS DEFUSE LOCKWOOD! GUSTIN LEADS A TRIO OF CLEANS, TOMPKINS STUMBLES!
A chilly 6-8 mph breeze from the north greeted the shooters in Day 2 of the Arizona State Palma Championships today. It would not however be a deterrent to those who were determined to succeed as no less than twenty-five possibles were fired at 800 yards. One competitor rose above all others as Californian Bob Gustin produced a brilliant 15X clean at the first distance of the day! The best however was yet to come, with each passing minute the flags drooped more and more until every flag in the facility lay glued to their poles. Such tame conditions are a recipe for monster scores and many ate with gusto and enthusiasm!
In F-Open Steven Blair set the pace early on with an outstanding Stage 1 score of 150-12X's. Steve Shaw took his mighty .30 cal to the line and reeled of a noteworthy 10X clean in the first and set the stage for yet another Blair, Shaw battle. Taking the line at 900, Shaw continued to avoid the nine ring as his sterling 150-9X kept the door open for a run at the National Record, currently a 450-24X's. Blair on the other hand balked at the courses middle distance as his 149-7x not only put him down one to Shaw for the day but also dropped his lead in the overall to just two points. As the two men mounted the 1000 yard line for the last string of the day anticipation ran high among the small group of onlookers eager to see history in the making. Lets face it, with Shaw's talent and a rifle that spits 215 grain pills at almost Mach III, a record for the ages was a real possibility. Shaw began his assault, as he had at the previous yard line, by layer those Bergers into the ten and X rings. Suddenly, in a mid string flurry of X's a nine came up, dashing his record run hopes! To the big mans credit he kept his cool and finished as he had started, in the middle and carded an 8X 149 to finish the day with a stellar 449-27X. Blair too felt the sting of an errant shot at the long line, leaving him with a two down 448-24X's for the day, maintaining that slim two point lead, going into the final day. Stay tuned as it looks like these two will battle down to a photo finish in the final!
Lige Harris, in the F-TR division, got his mojo going early by firing the only clean at 800. Steve Lockwood answered with a competent 148 but saw his five point lead in the overall drop to only three. The 800 yard line also saw Michael Smith surge to the fore with a powerful 147-10X to take his place at the table with the leaders down a scant six points to Lockwood. The action at 900 saw Harris and Lockwood battle to a draw as each man posted a 145 but Smith, uncorked another three down score to move within four points of Lockwood and trailed Harris by only one. The 1000 yard line turned out to be a carbon copy of the 900. Lockwood and Harris again battled to a stalemate by posting a pair of 146's and "steady eddie" Smith whipped out yet another 147. It's interesting to note that Harris and Smith had battled to numerical ties on both day one and two only to see Smith get the nod on both occasions by "Creedmooring" Harris. A quick peek at the scorecards shows Lockwood finishing in third trailing Smith and Harris for the day but still maintaining a narrow three point lead for the overall victory. Once again we have areal nail biter tomorrow as all eyes will be watching the drama unfold.
In the sling division it was a "California Dreaming" day as not one but three left coasters grabbed the brass ring and nailed down perfect 450 scores! I've lost track of how many 450's Bob Gustin has fired in his storied shooting career, though I'm sure it never feel like "old hat". Being only two targets away I was able to watch the day unfold and Bob's holding ability was simply outstanding at every yard line. Starting off the day with that incredible 15X run at 800 was truly amazing and was underscored by the fact that 12 of those X's fit neatly beneath a dollar bill! Complimenting the effort at 800 were brilliant strings at 900 and 1000 netting him a dominating 450-33X agg for the day and giving him a twelve X lead over Tompkins in the overall. Bob Gill and Allan Thomas were the other two "clean" shooters today and I would be remiss in not saying that this was both men's first clean palma course score ever! Congratulations guys that is one heck of a club to be a member of indeed.
My friends, with close battles in every division raging tomorrow I can't think of a better way to spend a Sunday. So grab a spotting scope or a pair of binoculars and come on out to watch one of America's oldest sporting professions play out and give us our newest Champions!
SMITH, TOMPKINS, SHAW - TAKE STATE TITLES BY ONE!
The 2012 Arizona State Palma Championships are now part of the rich historical record here in our desert arena, the Ben Avery Shooting Facility. Mother Nature provided us with three of her very best days with light winds and morning temperatures in the 60's, rising to 80 degrees by the time the last relays mounted the 1000 yard line. The competition was very close this year and the scores, thanks to the great weather and the awe inspiring talent assembled, were very high across the board. All in all I'm certain that a good time was had by everyone who attended.
In F-TR Michael Smith was not going to be denied in his quest for the State title. His final day 441-18X effort was a full thee points better than third overall finisher Lige Harris and four points better than second overall Steve Lockwood. Lockwood seemed to have lost his mojo after posting what turned out to be the highest daily aggregate score of this years championship on day one. Regardless, the overall victory earned by Smith was certainly no fluke. His steady, consistant shooting throughout this years championship rightfully earned him the top spot. Congratulations to our 2012 State F-TR Palma Champion Michael Smith!
When Steven Shaw informed me of his intention to shoot in this contest early last week, I had a feeling that we would see another great match in F-Open between him and Steven Blair. Turns out that I was not disappointed as the two friends really went at it all weekend. Immediately following the awards ceremony I got a chance to chat with Mr. Blair and what he told me is worth noting here. Blair calls sunny San Diego California home, so when Shaw offered him a place to stay at his east valley house, he gladly accepted. Each evening after a five star meal, courtesy of Mrs. Shaw, the two friends would retire to the gun room, snifter of brandy in hand, to discuss the days events. Turns out that Shaw's big .30 caliber beast, spitting those potent Berger 215 grain Hybrids at 3050fps, was shooting a full ring or more inside of Blairs 7mm in the wind! Makes one wonder just how long the 7mm variants will remain the flavor of the week. The end result of this was a 1 point 15X difference with Shaw prevailing over Blair to win the 2012 Arizona State F-Open Palma Championship. Congratulations to both men for a brilliant battle all weekend.
The Sling Championship was tight all day Sunday as Bob Gustin and Nancy Tompkins, both down only three points for the championship, cleaned both the 800 and 900 yard lines. With Gustin ahead on X's the two took there places, shoulder to shoulder, on the 1000 yard line. To make things interesting the wind, finally awakening from it's slumber, began to stir. As the string began the pair traded X's and 10's for awhile and then suddenly Gustin missed a change. His target came up to reveal, after nearly three full days of competition, his fourth nine for the championship! Tompkins stayed the course and came away with yet another clean at the long line to wrest the championship from Gustins grasp, with what I think may be a State Record score of 1247-83X, Nancy Tompkins is our 2012 Arizona State Palma Champion! Congratulations Nancy on not only your stunning victory, but your 40th perfect 450 score over the Palma course.
The team match was won by US National Team Hayes with a score of 1789-73X's, firing members were Rick Curtis, Peter Church, Justin Skaret and Trudie Fay. Second overall team was won by Coalinga Rifle Team O'Connell members were Jim O'Connell, Jared Perry, Tony Miller and Bob Gill. Third went the US Veterans Team of Bud Solis, Bob Gustin, Bill Otten and Mick Dunia.
In closing I want to recognize some of the notable scores from the three day match. I know that a number of personal best's were fired over the course of this tournament and please forgive me if I miss any. Going down the grand agg results I see that Mike Toliver, current High Power Director at the Rio Salado Sportsmans Club, shot a very capable and steady match that yielded a fine 1330-73X finish. Capped I might add with a very good personal best on day two of 445-26X. Good job Mike! Mike also reminded me that the next ASRPA event will be the CMP State Championships at his range Dec 9th. This is a 50 shot NMC match for both Vintage and modern service rifles. There is still room but if you are going to attend, get your entries in ASAP. Click HERE for the match program. Next on the list are Texans Tom Titcomb and Tony Miller. Tom's 445-16X effort on day two is pretty good for the seasoned veteran shooter/ gunsmith firing a 95 year old US P-17 Enfield! Tony's brilliant 447-25X, also on day two, and his great effort in the team match were I'm sure memorable moments for the Lone Star state resident. In the Master Class, Adrian Harris from the Rocky Mountain High State, executed a steady scoring performance over the three days to grab the class win with a 1315-54X total. Also in the Master Class, Michael Walker posted a very nice personal best score on day two of 444-19X's. Good job guys!
Thanks to everyone for coming out to the match. It was great to see all of you and to catch up with so many of my shooting friends. The next big long range match here at Ben Avery is the Berger Southwest Long Range Nationals February 5-10 2013. Last year we had 205 competitors for this outstanding match so click HERE for the program and get your entries in! Please click HERE for the sling results and for the F Class final scores click HERE
Be well and see you on the line,
Thanks, Rick for writing this great article about these Great matches