Despite being postponed twice due to covid, the 2022 NRA Smallbore Silhouette Nationals attracted competitors from across North America to Ridgway, Pa. Held in August at the Ridgway Rifle Club, the match boasted 162 shooters in the standard class and 155 in hunter rifle. In addition, this year’s NRA Smallbore Silhouette Nationals doubled as the first leg of the inaugural Lapua Monarch Cup international points series.
LOVE OF SILHOUETTE
Every passionate competitive shooter says his or her sport is special. Each discipline has its own quirks, challenges and community. While different, all are vital to the continuance of marksmanship and the Second Amendment.
Modern silhouette shooting is rooted in tradition, but the sport has evolved and become more civilized over time. Though there exist several different origin stories, it all started in Mexico around the early 1900s with live animals for targets. Matches moved into the Southwestern United States, taking hold by the 1960s with steel silhouettes.
Nowadays, you don’t hear much about silhouette, even though the many versions of silhouette are alive and well, spread across pockets in America and thriving in Canada and Mexico. The Nationals are also well attended.
Eleven shooters made the trek from Mexico to Ridgway Rifle Club in rural Pennsylvania for the NRA Smallbore Silhouette Nationals, along with five from Canada. An astounding number drove more than a day to compete, with 25 states and D.C. represented. Daniel Salazar, chairman of the Monarch Cup board, said about the number of foreign competitors, “This year, we have broken the record of having the most Mexican competitors coming into this country. So that’s history.”
The new Monarch Cup certainly helped drum up interest. Three years ago, Lapua and a dedicated group of competitors set out to bring silhouette to the next level, introducing big cash prizes in a series of smallbore silhouette matches in North America. Lapua’s Monarch Cup consists of three championship matches, one each in Canada, the United States and Mexico. Participants earn points based on their performances at each match towards $25,000 in cash and prizes. Due to covid restrictions in Canada, the inaugural Monarch Cup is a two-match aggregate drawn from this year’s NRA Silhouette National Championships and the Monarch Cup Championship—held at Club De Tiro Saltillo Safari in Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico, in September.
Adam Braverman, vice president of sales and marketing at Capstone Precision Group (Lapua’s parent company), committed the funding to make the first Lapua Monarch Cup possible. “For this match, we put up $25,000 towards cash and prizes, to be spent as the committee decides.” He already considers the investment a success. “It’s drawn in about 40 percent more shooters than last year at Nationals. There are 168 shooters here at Ridgway, and they anticipate more at the match in Mexico.”
2022 NRA SMALLBORE SILHOUETTE NATIONALS
Though a warm-up match was held on August 6, the real fun began on August 7. Canadian and Mexican flags flew alongside the American flag above the main clubhouse. Competitors stood in silence as their country’s national anthem was played or sung. There was about one hour of sight-in time each morning, followed by a 40-shot standard rifle match and an afternoon 40-shot hunter rifle match.
The matches ran seamlessly, with scorecards collected after each relay completed a bank of animals. Once deposited in the boxes hung at the rear of the covered range, it wasn’t long before scorers took one half of each card to the statistical office, and the other to a table at the far end of the range, where two ladies diligently recorded animal counts on a yellow posterboard for all to see. As the days and matches went on, more people gathered around the two plastic tables blocking off the area, anxiously calculating totals and watching as more scores were added.
When not shooting or spotting for another shooter, competitors had time to visit with friends from across the country and around the world—people they typically only see once a year. Though the range was small, spectators found places to set up tents and chairs within view of the shooters, but not close enough to disturb them. Others returned to their temporary home among the many RVs and campers set up in Ridgway’s spacious lot. Sharing is at the heart of the silhouette community—lending equipment to those who need it, sharing tips and culture. Pepe Valdes and his wife Victoria brought an abundance of Mexican chocolates and candy for everyone to try, setting up a table with a new array of treats to give away each day. The Louisiana squad had pins in the shape of their home state and flag as well as small packets of creole seasoning.
One touching moment—the reunion of childhood friends Pedro Rueda, Jr., and Kenneth Haupricht. Twenty-seven years ago, Rueda won the NRA Silhouette High Power National Championship, an accomplishment Haupricht said is “maybe the single greatest feat in silhouette history.” They spent that week at Silhouette Nationals hanging out, bonding over Michael Jordan and basketball magazines even though they didn’t speak the same language. This year, Pedro and his family returned to Ridgway for the Monarch Cup and the boys-turned-men had a chance to reconnect. “Silhouette shooters are a family,” Haupricht said. “Always be a family. This is why the sport is near and dear to my heart—and always will be.”
Awards were distributed for teams and special categories, as well as for classifications on each match day. All competitors submitted an equipment list serving as their entry into daily raffles for thousands of dollars in door prizes that were donated to the Lapua Monarch Cup by manufacturers including Anschutz, Leupold, Vudoo, Athlon and others.
The shooter equipment lists also revealed some interesting information. Many competitors in both categories were using Anschutz rifles, Leupold scopes and SK Standard Plus ammunition. Regardless of the equipment used, all competitors showed great pride in representing the companies that supported the competition, or any other matches they had attended. While this can be expected of sponsored shooters, the number of competitors wearing hats and shirts from their favorite brands, and pins on their vests and stickers on their equipment was impressive. The silhouette community truly values the support from the outdoor industry, with a few competitors’ dogs even representing.
As for the results, Laura Goetsch claimed the Smallbore Standard Silhouette Championship with a score of 107. Dustin Flint took home the Smallbore Hunter Silhouette Championship with 109. In the grand aggregate, Flint managed to edge by Goetsch with a five-point advantage for the 2-Gun national title. About the match, Flint said this was “the best national championship I’ve ever been to” with “phenomenal” competitor performances.
2022 NRA SMALLBORE SILHOUETTE NATIONALS LEADERBOARD
The 2022 NRA Smallbore Silhouette National Championships were about much more than shooting. They were about uniting a continent over a sport, pitting the best against the best and giving shooters of all levels an opportunity to learn from one another. The best is yet to come for smallbore silhouette, thanks to the Lapua Monarch Cup and to everyone who made it possible. Many also noted that the dedication of the Ridgway Rifle Club, its volunteers and the hospitality of the town of Ridgway made this year’s Nationals an unforgettable experience.
Learn more about NRA Silhouette at competition.nra.org.