History was made this past September, when the first F-Class National Championship was fired on electronic targets (ET) at the Winnequah Gun Club in Lodi, WI. The Mid-Range Championships was fired first, followed by the Long-Range Championship.
This event was fired under some trying conditions for the shooters due to the changing weather conditions and the need for many to acquaint themselves to the use of electronic targets. Some problems did occur with the use of ET, but as the days passed the problems were greatly reduced. ET are the wave of the future and will shortly be seen on many ranges around the world. The Winnequah Gun Club and the Liebetrau family should be thanked by all shooters who participated in the championship for taking on this humongous project.
Mid-Range (MR) F-Class National Championships
The first championship fired was the Mid-Range (MR), which consisted of three individual days of 60 shots. Twenty shots each day at 300, 500 and 600 yards for a possible total score of 1800-180X. This was followed by the team championship, which consists of four shooters firing 20 shots each and 600 yards―doing this twice. All the targets are based on a 1/2 minute X-ring and 1 minute 10-ring as are the 1000-yard target. One-hundred seventeen competitors attended the MR and were evenly divided with 59 F-Open competitors, and 58 competing in F-T/R.
Bob Bock had the only clean score for Day One of the F-Open Individual Championship―600-46X. Bob is from NY, and is a High Master Grand Senior. For F-T/R, Bryan Litz topped the leaderboard once again, with a score of 598-34X.
In F-Open on Day Two, Stephen Krauss fired the fourth overall clean score, a 600-36X. The conditions were much better on the second day. In F-T/R, Bryan Litz stayed at the top, scoring 599-40X.
On Day Three, scores were lower due to the wind conditions. The wind was coming over the impact hill from the west. The range faces west and this seems to cause elevation problems on most of the range. John Myers won the day in F-Open with a score of 585-25X. In F-T/R the top places changed around, with Ian Kleem scoring 580-19X to lead the day.
The Tuesday F-Open MR Team Matches were shot all at 600 yards. There were 13 F-Open teams entered. There was rain and gusty winds, which held down the scores a bit. The “Long Shots” were coached by Michelle Gallagher with trigger pullers Dan Bramley, Mark Walker, Ken Dickerman and David Gosnell. The Puerto Rican team traveled all the way from the Caribbean to shoot here, doing extremely well. They were coached by Carlos H. Rodriguez Lamboy, with the other three shooters being Wilfredo Perez Caban, Jose Ramirez Legrand, and Ubaldino Ramirez De Arellano. The 21st Century team, was captained by Duane Fitzgerald and coached by Brian Bowling with Brian, Mike Jakubczak, John Perkins, and Joe Meyer pulling triggers.
During the first of the two team matches Team Berger/ Bartlein/ SEB set a new FO Grand Senior record of 779-34X. They now hold all the 600-yard team records except the women's, juniors, service and police. This and other records shot are noted in the results posted here, just click on 2016 U.S. FCNC near top of page.
There were 12 F-T/R teams entered in the championships. The F-T/R team champions, Michigan F-T/R Blue (1541-49X) were coached by Bryan Litz with the rifle pointers being John Roethlisberger, Doug Boyer, Bryan Litz and Alan Barnhart. Second place, “X-MEN” were captained by Tracy Hogg, coached by James Crofts and the shooters were Daniel Lentz, Philip Kelly Jr., Ian Klemm and Ken Klemm. In second place the Indiana F-T/R team was coached by Daniel Pohlabel and the team members were Todd Sanders, Matt White, Mike Plunklett and Lou Casale.
Following the MR Team Championships, an awards ceremony was held where the awards and prizes were handed out, all preceded by a fine pork chop dinner. A good time was had by all who attended, including my wife and I―who celebrated our 53rd wedding anniversary.
Long-Range (LR) F-Class National Championships
One-hundred sixty-three competitors attended the LR Nationals―89 F-Open and 74 F-T/R. The individual championships consist of two days of three 20-shot strings before the team championships (two strings of 20-shots for each of four team members), and then a final day of two strings of 20 shots. All shooting is at 1000 yards.
As the 1000-yard matches started on Wednesday morning the weather was gloomy with temperatures in the mid-50s. We had rain and wind that day, with only one 200 score all day. John Myers, the MR Champ did it with 11 X’s in F-Open. The high F-T/R string was 199-11X by Rick Borst.
In F-Open on Day One, a few of the well-knowns were at the top of the leader board, with Danny Biggs scoring 592-30X finishing first. In F-T/R Richard Dixon won the day with a 590-16X. Sub-Junior Donald Erpenbach finished second with a 583-24X. *Note: A shooter is a Sub-Junior through December 31 of the calendar year in which his/her 14th birthday occurs.
Day Two was overcast with a bit of sunshine, temperatures ranging from the 50s to the 70s with gusty winds. In F-Open, Robert Sebold finished first with a score of 591-17X. In F-T/R, a couple of notable shooters made the top three, including Mike Plunket finishing the day with a score of 580-15X.
The LR Championships has the Team championships fired before the last day. There were 16 F-Open and 13 F-T/R teams entered. On Friday morning, shooters were greeted with a steady drizzle. The rain eventually stopped, but the day stayed overcast. Team Berger/ Bartlein/ SEB came out on top in F-Open. Team Sinclair won F-T/R.
Saturday was Day Three, bringing the last of the individual championships. It was another dreary day with off and on rain. The winds did let up a bit and the scores reflected it. In F-Open, Jay Christopherson won the day with a score of 399-25X. In F-T/R, Sub-Junior Donald Erpenbach finished in second place again with a score of 396-23X. It looks like he is a force to be reckoned with in the future. Ian Klemm won the day with a score of 397-19X.
When the last round was fired, the suspense started as to who had come out on top. There was a bit of confusion at the bulletin board since the F-Open National Champion was a Expert Class shooter located on the second page of the results … Ubaldino Ramirez De Arellano (AKA Nino) of Puerto Rico.
On the F-T/R side of the house a number of well-knowns were missing from the top of the leaderboard, resulting in a new F-T/R champion crowned―Richard Dixon.
Once the firing was finished, everyone got cleaned up―except for those volunteers who had to finish up the scoring, put the targets and ET gear away, pulldown and put away the range flags, set out the prizes and medals, etc. before the awards ceremony could begin. Again a dinner was served and the prizes and awards presented to the winners and attendees.
At the end of the night, the first F-Class National Championships with electronic targets was over, and as the competitors left―I am sure they were thinking of their return next September.
All photos by Nightforce Optics.