by Hap Rocketto - Monday, March 20, 2017
Above: SFC Eric Uptagrafft (right) of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) finished second to match winner Mark Del Cotto by only six Xs. To Uptagrafft's left is fellow AMU shooter SGT Kevin Nguyen. Photo courtesy of the AMU.
The Western Wildcats Rifle Club's 59th annual Smallbore Prone 6400 NRA Regional match was hosted by the Desert Sharpshooters and held March 15-19 at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix, AZ.
In a hard fought contest between national champions it came down, as it so often does, to the X count. Current National Smallbore Conventional Prone Rifle Champion Mark Del Cotto and reigning National Smallbore Metric Rifle Champion SFC Eric Uptagrafft battled over four days in the blazing heat and blinding sun—and after 640 record shots were separated by a scant six Xs. On the strength of his any sight aggregate X count Del Cotto captured the Henry Benson Memorial Trophy Plaque (the Benson trophy, like the Palma, is lost in limbo) 6396-536X to 6396-530X. Allen Thomas took third place overall with a 6393-493X. Peter Church, 6393-479X, lost third by Xs but was named grand senior champion.
The High Master winner was Kevin Nevius, 6392-524X. A point behind him, but with an X count that tied the high for the tournament, was Nick Mower, 6391-536X. Mower also took the any sight aggregate with an impressive 3200-289X, while Uptagrafft was the iron sight winner shooting a 3198-268X. Ginger McLemore won high senior with a score of 6390-462X.
Adrian Harris was the top Master, 6390-492X, with Daniel Erpenbach shooting a 6380-473X for second. Another Master, Norman Lilyerd, took home the junior crown after posting a four-day total of 6372-431X.
Mike Kelly, 6387-501X, swept both metallic and any sight in the Expert class to nail down the aggregate in impressive fashion. Mike Arnstein and Rob Nobower spilt second place in the sub-aggregates with Arnstein winning metallic and Nobower winning any sights tying in score, 6351. Arnstein’s 404 Xs gave him second place in another tight contest.
Chuck Eyberg led wire to wire in the combined class and won in convincing style with a 6348-342X. After losing second place in the metallic sight aggregate to Hall Abel by one point Paul Seyler bounced back, was second with any sights, shooting a 6327-367X for second place.
The Wildcats are an NRA Regional—so Del Cotto, Uptagrafft, and Thomas also received gold, silver, and bronze toned medallions. Four steps for NRA Prone Distinguished were also awarded—but only Thomas profited as the rest of the top four already have earned the award.
Note: Because of atmospheric conditions, or some such other problem (probably euphoria), our friend in the field Mark Del Cotto was only able to provide aggregate results.
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