The first day of the 2017 NRA National Smallbore Conventional Position Rifle Championships opened with 120 shots in three positions with metallic sights.
The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit’s (AMU) Patrick Sunderman, who had a solid prone performance in that championship, opened the tournament with a 400-38X. Mike McPhail, perhaps one of the best prone shooters in world, followed up with a score of 400-37X and, in perfect descending order, civilian Daniel Martz closed out the top three with his 400-36X.
Moving into standing, young Malori Brown, an intermediate junior held hard shooting a 397-18X. Army shooters Erin McNeil and Sunderland and junior Jared Desrosiers, who has his eye set in joining the pair at the AMU, battled it down to Xs when they all posted a score of 396 on their feet. McNeil prevailed in the X count 25 to 20. Sunderman’s 17 Xs left him in fourth.
From the Smallbore Nationals Award Ceremony.
McPhail shot his second perfect score of the day, 400-30X, to win the kneeling match. Sunderman was second just an X behind the winner. Desrosiers was again in the money with a third place score of 399-29X.
Patrick Sunderman won the National Smallbore Conventional Position Metallic Sight Championship with a score of 1596-114X. Mike McPhail placed second at 1595-124X. Jared Desrosiers had five Xs over Antonio Gross, 1594-109X to 1594-104, to finish in third.
The paper team match was an AMU runaway―they carded a 4766-338X to have a 30-point pad on the second place Coast to Coast Team’s 4736-267X effort. The Illinois State Association finished third with a 4679-210X.
The tournament entered it penultimate day with the start of the Metric Position Championship under partly cloudy skies.
George Norton, making a play to recapture the Iron Man Trophy, led off the match with a 396-24X prone. Mike McPhail, who is returning to position shooting, had a very good 24X count as he put together a score of 394 for second. Erin McNeil, yet another Army shooter, slid into third just behind McPhail, and ahead of Dan Martz’s 392-17X with a 393-19X.
In a match heavily laden with young shooters junior Antonio Gross broke the adult streak of wins in the second match, after posting a 378-9X standing score. Norton kept the pressure on shooting a 376-8X for second place. McNeil picked up her second third place finish of the day with a 374-10X effort. Martz and McPhail were very much in the running after both scored 373-11Xs on their feet.
AMU shooters on the firing line at the Wa-Ke'-De outdoor range in Bristol, IN. Photo by AMU.
Norton led the pack with a 772 over the first two matches, enjoying a five point lead over McPhail and McNeil going into kneeling. Martz and Gross were not far behind with a 765 and 764, respectively.
At the elite level, kneeling scores are often as good as prone, but not this year. Bill Beard, a veteran of the 1984 Olympics, was top gun in the match with a 385-14X. Jared Desrosiers had the same X count but a 383 score for second place and Gross was in third, shooting a 383-14X.
Despite a last minute lunge to the finish line by the civilians and juniors the Army shooters had built up enough points early on and they ended up sweeping the Metallic Sight Championship. In descending order, it was Norton, 1149-39X, McPhail, 1148-54X, and McNeil, 1147-43X who outshot Gross 1147-43X for third place.
On the last day the Any Sight Championship was at the forefront, but in the back of everyone’s mind was the Iron Man.
McPhail, one of the best prone shooters in the world, opened the match with a winning prone score of 399-30X. Dan Pempel, 396-23X, was three points back. Dan Martz was right on his tail shooting a 395-26X.
Standing saw civilian Megan Hilbish win with a commanding score of 384-16X. Patrick Sunderman and Norton nearly needed a rule book review to decide second and third when both shot scores of 379. Sunderman notched 15 Xs to Norton’s 11 for silver.
The final 40 shots of the nine day-long competition would be kneeling. Sunderman posted a 388-19X for the win. Behind him was Norton and McPhail each with a 386-16X. The Rule Book went McPhail’s way and he was second and Norton third.
Norton, 1160-48X, won the day, a slim point ahead of McPhail’s 1159-51X. Sunderman slid into third with an 1154-55X. When the two days were totaled McPhail took the Any Sight title three points ahead of Norton, 4707-273X to 4708-256X. Sunderman rounded out the top three with a 4685-259.
AMU shooters swept the Iron Man podium.
The final prone match, 40 shots on the metric target with any sights, was the deciding factor in the Iron Man competition when McPhail beat Norton by four points. Over eight days, McPhail shot a 9504-711X, Norton 9501-655X, and last year's Iron Man Sunderman scored 9478-640X.
The last shot of the any sight metric position championship marked the end of the 2017 NRA National Smallbore Championships. The targets frames have been stacked away until next year―when smallbore rifle shooters will again converge upon the Wa-Ke’-De Range in Bristol, IN.
Note:The full results of the 2017 NRA National Smallbore Rifle Championships will be published in a future issue of the digital magazine. Previous articles featuring this year's match are listed below.