by Hap Rocketto - Tuesday, July 11, 2017
It was rather a surreal experience for any shooter with several years of NRA National Smallbore Championship experience. It was the first single relay match since the 1948 Championships at Quantico which were by invitation only. On the positive side, you didn’t have to move your gear, on the negative side you didn’t have to move your gear.
With approximately 90 entries the match staff re-squadded the competitors and allowed a 30 minute break between matches—resulting in the shooters heading home for showers and dinner about 1 p.m.
George Norton, the first person to win the Iron Man competition and be presented the Wigger Trophy, won the Meter Match with a 400-35X. Dan Pempel, an Air Force shooter Creedmoored the Army’s Mike McPhail for second place, when both posted a 400-33X.
Pempel shot a 400-29X and found himself in second again, ironically on a tiebreaker with Nancy Tompkins. Steve Angeli and Kerry Spurgin went to the rule book for third with Angeli coming out on top in a 27X tie.
Hank Gray nailed 32Xs in a 400 point effort for the 100 yard win while Ron Wigger came in second shooting a 400-30X. Norton found his way back into the money with the last of the clean scores, a 400-26X.
Gray’s rush to the finish line at 100 yards gave him an eight X edge over Norton for the Aggregate win, 1199-98 to 1199-90. McPhail, who had piled up Xs at a phenomenal rate-102 out of a possible 120, was third shooting an 1198.
Day two began with the weather radar glowing red and, after consultation with local experts, the Match Director declared a three hour rain delay to start of the match. As if on cue, the heavens opened and lightning and thunder filled the air just at the stroke of nine. By noon the storm had blown itself out and the shooters were on the line to finish the metallic sight aggregate.
Olympian Mike McPhail fought it out with Army teammate Hank Gray for honors in the opening Meter Match. Both shot a 400-37X with McPhail prevailing on the tie breaker. Defending National Champion Mark Del Cotto was third with 400-36X.
The Dewar was another hard fought contest that ended up with the statistical office going to the rules to give George Norton the win as he and Del Cotto tied. Gray, Eric Uptagrafft, and McPhail were knotted at 400-33X. The rule book decided in Gray’s favor for third place.
McPhail shot a 400-36X at 100 yards to wrap up another win. Ed Foley, Norton, and Uptagrafft all shot 400-33Xs with Foley in second, Norton in third, and Uptagrafft out of the money.
Gray emerged as the Metallic Sight Champion with a near perfect 2399-201X. McPhail was second, 2398-209X, and Norton, 2398-190X third.
A Competitors’ Meeting followed the match and it was very productive. Lones Wigger spoke to a possible return to Camp Perry—citing that the ranges have been greatly altered since smallbore was last there, firing lines torn up for example. The only available firing line is the 200 yard line at Viale Range, which is not covered, and would require the competitors to man haul their gear 800 yards from the parking lot.
Many other suggestions were raised concerning smallbore, in general, and the National Championship, in particular. The Members of the Smallbore Committee and match staff present took copious notes, asked questions, and solicited ideas.
Day three will open the Any Sight Championship with the Dewar, and possibly the Randle, to be fired in the afternoon.
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