Over a four day stretch in June, Steve Angeli lay on the Palmyra Pennsylvania Sportsman's Association firing line, perhaps enjoying a home field advantage because that is his club, and shot 640 tens and X’s. Over the first two days of metallic sights he was involved in a tough three way battle with Eric Uptagrafft and Reya Kempley for the title. All three were perfect, with Uptagrafft in first with a 3200-280X, Angeli second with a 3200-278X and Kempley coming in third with only two X’s behind Angeli.
There had been conversations before the match that if the weather held, the skill level of competitors present just might produce the third 6400. While the rest of the field opted for telescopic sights during the any sights phase, Angeli was comfortable and confident with irons and stayed with them.
Uptagrafft and Kempley had each dropped a point during any sights and only Angeli, on the cusp of shooting history, was clean at the end of the 15th match. Up to this point he had dealt successfully with what he reports as four days of hot weather, perfect conditions, and just a few pickups. This was not Angeli's first high pressure situation. A year after earning his NRA Prone Smallbore Rifle Distinguished Award, he was in the top tier during metallic sight phase at Camp Perry and was selected for the 2013 U.S. Pershing Team.
Kempley, who established a new women's 6400 record of 6399-566X at the match said, “[We] were hoping he'd hold it together that last day, even if it meant I wouldn't win. I think everyone was secretly cheering him on the last day between our own shooting ... just didn't want to say anything until the last shot was downrange!”
So, while his competitors were holding their collective breaths and chewing their nails in anxiety for him, a composed Angeli focused on natural point of aim, trigger control and the wind flags. Even with a wide shot that nicked the inside of the ten-line at 11 o'clock on the first bull, he was still clean and moved to the second bull with every scope on the range pointed at his target. Calmly and deliberately he shot ten X’s to close out his tour de force. As his 640th shot disappeared into the X-ring, the line spontaneously burst into cheers to accompany the wave of emotion and relief which rolled over him.
Two-time National Prone Champion Paul Gideon remarked that, “The whole group was tied in knots with hope that Steve would finish clean, and he did so in spectacular fashion—with all irons to boot … he appeared to be quite composed. His performance is probably one of the best that I've ever personally witnessed. Very inspiring.”
For the gizmologists, Angeli shot Eley Tenex ammunition that had been tested at the Eley Texas facility. His rifle was an Anschutz 54, from the famous 1600X series that he purchased used. Gunsmith George Schuckers re-crowned, re-chambered and pillar bedded the rifle soon after it was purchased. Angeli also fitted the rifle with a Bee Sting tuner/bloop tube, a Right Sight, and a 20-click Anschütz rear sight with a Centra variable aperture.