Close to the shores of Lake Erie where Bessie the sea monster frolics, the 2021 Battle for the North Coast took place from August 13–15 at Crooked Creek Conservation Gun Club in Rome, Ohio.
There is no doubt that Match Director Bretton Rebol produced another top-notch Level II match. The match was organized, the stages were fun, and the staff was pleasant and friendly. Rebol refuses to take credit for the success; emphasizing that his contribution was minor and is only taking credit for the stage names, and putting out small fires before they became large blazes. “The success of this match is wholly on my staff, competitors and sponsors,” Rebol said.
The General overseeing this battle was none other than Range Master Paul Hernandez and his assistant range-master-in-training, Pam Harper. The Battle for the North Coast marked the final phase of Pam's training, which Paul refers to as the “ride-along” phase. Paul has been a fixture at all four Battles, and he has a great sense of humor. I met Paul four years ago, when my eight-pound chihuahua Trixie escaped from my SUV, zeroed in on Paul and then proceeded to fiercely attack his pant leg. I was horrified. Paul thought the chihuahua attack was funny. To this day, he does not fail to inquire about the killer chihuahua.
Now, on to the battle. There were 241 shooters who battled through 10 stages designed by Scott Beebe, mixing speed shoots, technical stages and a memory stage. Stages 1 through 7 were on the smaller bays, while Stage 5 and 6, the two short courses, coexisted on the same bay. Finally, Stages 8 through 10 were on the larger bays.
If shot as intended, the speed shoot on Stage 6 was by far the most challenging of all the stages. Chippewa Chip Shot was the unique name of this eight-round stage that was worth 40 points. The stage consisted of four poppers in a straight line, two large poppers on the ends and two mini poppers sandwiched in between. There were also two side-turners that were activated by the large poppers. The side-turners were fast; I was curious if anyone was able to get hits on both side-turners. I asked the range officers on patrol, and was told that several shooters successfully shot one of the side-turners, but not both. The speed-shoot was crushed by Andrew Hyder, who won the stage in 5.32 seconds.
Stage 8, named Eel River Run, was, for some, the dreaded memory stage. The course consisted of 32 rounds with 14 metric targets and four poppers. As with any memory stage, the targets were tucked away behind barrels and walls. More experienced shooters enjoyed the memory stage, while the not-so-experienced shooters walked the stage repeatedly and were unsure of their shooting plan. The start position was located outside the shooting area with at least a three-foot run to the free-fire zone, with anywhere from 12 to 15 yards to get into a good shooting position. Most of the right-handed shooters naturally ran to the left, but they had the furthest distance to cover. The shooters who were not so fond of running ran to the right where the distance was not as far. Ben West conquered this stage with a winning time of 24.46.
This is Iroquois Nation, Stage 9, was another 32-round course of fire. There were targets spread throughout the bay, some were hidden and some were wide open. The start position was on a wall with the natural flow of the course leading shooters to the left. Once the targets on the left were shot, there was a long run to the right, where shooters encountered several hidden targets followed by a popper that set off a max-trap. The stage concluded with a small memory array. Andrew Hyder won this stage with a time of 21.57.
There were several ways to shoot Stage 10, named Ottawa’s Misiginebig. This 32-round course of fire consisted of multiple walls and some really tight areas, especially for a Pistol Caliber Carbine shooter. The grand finale towards the end of the course displayed two bobbing targets, each activated by a popper. Aaron Sellers took the stage win with a time of 20.23.
By the end of the match, the top three shooters were Andrew Hyder, who was the winner with 1286.1192 points, second place went to Corey Scheel with 1143.1702 points and Ben West placed third with 1118.2456 points.
Range Masters Paul Hernandez and Pam Harper
The most significant complaint heard at this year’s match was, “Where is the sea monster?” For those shooters mourning the loss of the sea monster, do not fret—she had a baby. For the past three years, Graphic Artist Aaron Morse has designed staff shirts depicting a sea monster battling an archaic ship. This year, the staff shirts were replaced with a gentler graphic of two Native Americans discovering a baby dragon hatchling. What is unknown by most people is that the sea monster of the Great Lakes is part of Iroquois legend and referred to as Oniare or dragon. The Oniare possessed poisonous breath, a great big horn, and enjoyed devouring people and capsizing ships. Because storytelling was a big part of Native American heritage, this legend was passed on to keep the children from playing in the dangerous waters of the Great Lakes. In modern days, the dragon is referred to as a sea monster and her name is Bessie. It is said that Bessie is the Loch Ness Monster of the Great Lakes. Hopefully, this explanation will clear up any confusion.
With the help of Khory Katz, Rebol found a way to honor his staff and range officers. Katz, who was Rebol’s stats man, had the idea to give a gold-plated coin to the top staff members who went above and beyond in administering the match. One side of the coin displayed the words “top performer,” and the reverse displayed the 2021 Battle for the North Coast logo. There were 10 coins distributed to staff and Chief Range Officers participating in the match. The coins distributed to the CROs were selected with the help of the five Range Masters present at the match, four of whom shot the match. The Range Masters in attendance were Paul Hernandez, Ray Hirst, George Jones, Jay Worden and Gary Johnson. All five Range Masters were impressed with the ROs and CROs running the match and agreed that they all should have received a gold coin. However, there were only 10 coins, with six coins going to the staff members. CROs receiving the coin were Dan Click, Greg Platt and Jeff Piazza. The staff awards went to Patricia Rebol, Scott Beebe, Don Maher, Alan Swiede, Bud Connolly and Troy Duncan. The remaining coin went to range master-in-training Pam Harper.
Next year will be the fifth anniversary of the Battle for the North Coast, and Rebol is promising a match that will surpass the previous four. Ideas for a new shirt logo are already dancing around in his head and waiting to be designed by Aaron Morse. Will the unnamed baby sea monster join his mother defending the North Coast next year? We will find out next year at the Battle for the North Coast V.
Article from the November/December 2021 issue of USPSA’s magazine.