High Accuracy on the High Plains

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posted on October 20, 2015
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In August, NRA Action Pistol competitors from six states came to the historic western city of Cheyenne, WY for the first Steamboat Challenge NRA Action Pistol Regional and State Championship, hosted by the Otto Road Shooting Range.

The Steamboat Challenge is named after Steamboat, a Wyoming-bred bucking horse from one-hundred years ago, and the state symbol of Wyoming. As strong and proud as the cowboys who tried to ride him, Steamboat was one of the best known bucking broncos of all time. 

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James Avenell won the Regional with a score of 1916-168X, and the State Championship with a score of 1711-145X.

The Otto Road Shooting Range is located on the high plains of southeast Wyoming at an altitude of 6200 feet. The high altitude, coupled with bright sunshine and high temperatures in the low nineties provided some unique challenges to competitors that were as conditioned to the thin air as other.

The Regional Championship course of fire was identical to the Bianchi Cup National Championship program. The competition got off to a great start with James Avenell of Columbia, MO tying a national record in the Barricade Event, firing a perfect 480-48X. Emmelia Ashton, a fourteen year old sub-junior firing in the Rimfire Open Division set new national records in the Practical, Barricade and Moving Target Events. 

At the end of the day, it was James Avenell shooting in the Open Division finishing at the top, winning the Regional with a score of 1916-168X. SFC Patrick Franks of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) shooting in the Metallic Sights Division took home second place, finishing only six points back with a 1910-144X. Greg Dick from Hutchinson, KS shooting in the Open Division won third place with a score of 1905-155X.

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SFC Patrick Franks of the AMU took home second place in Metallic, with a score of 1910-144X.

For the State Championship, temperatures were noticeably cooler but the notorious Wyoming wind made its presence known. Twenty-five competitors fired the State Championship which had an Olympic flavor with one of the events being International Rapid Fire (IRF). IRF is a very demanding event requiring the shooter to face five Action Pistol targets placed 25 meters downrange. At first glance it appears to be easy, however, as the late great Ray Chapman said—“Shooting is simple—it’s just not easy.” On signal the shooter draws and fires only one shot on each target within eight seconds, then six seconds, and finishes with a very difficult four second run. There are a total of 30 shots fired, with a perfect score being 300-30X.

IRF is one of the original Olympic shooting events since the inception of the modern Olympics in 1896. NRA Action Pistol IRF differs from the Olympic event requiring the shooter to draw from a holster and the use of a two-hand hold. Several national records were set in the IRF event; SFC Patrick Franks set the Metallic Sights national record with a score of 279-6X. George Mowbray of Lake Charles, LA set a senior national record in the Open Division firing a 270-10X. Justin Clark of Cheyenne, WY set the Production national record with a 263-11X, and Renee Krawiec of Cheyenne, WY set the Women’s Production national record with a 180-3X. The other events comprising the State Championship were the Texas Moving Target Event, the Falling Plate Event and the Barricade Event, for a maximum possible score of 1740-174X. 

The Wyoming State Champion was James Avenell with a score of 1711-145X. Greg Dick of Hutchinson, KS was in second place with a score of 1700-136X. Third place went to SFC Patrick Franks with a score of 1696-136X.

The inaugural Steamboat Challenge was a success and plans are to make it a regular event on the NRA Action Pistol Regional Championship calendar. All roads lead to Ol Cheyenne, and we invite all Action Pistoleros and Action Pistoleras to visit Wyoming next year for another great weekend of NRA Action Pistol shooting.

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