The 2017 National Rifle Association Smallbore Rifle Prone Metric National Championships opened at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility under bright skies, warm temperatures, and gentle but stealthily switching winds on March 13th.
The field of 32 sling competitors featured a large contingent of National Champions, National Record holders, and Pershing, Roberts, Dewar, Randle, and Drew Team members, making up with quality for what it might have lacked in quantity.
The metallic sight aggregate opened with the Dewar, 20 shots each at 50 and 100 meters. British Rifleman Richard Fowke posted a 395-26X for the win. While Fowke opened with a 199 Ron Wigger shot a 194 but came back and fired the only 200 of the day to earn him second place with a 394-20X. Allen Thomas was incredibly consistent with a pair of 197s which placed him third, one X behind Wigger. Not to be outdone by his fellow countryman, and traveling companion, Mike Arnstein won the combined Expert, Sharpshooter, Marksman Class with a 379-11X just ahead of Hal Abel.
With the targets at 100 yards it was a close run event between the Army’s Eric Uptagrafft and noted long range specialist Nancy Tompkins. Uptagrafft opened with a 196-12X to Tompkins 199-13X. With fresh targets hung Uptagrafft came on like a steam engine shooting a 199-8X to Tompkins very respectful 196-6X. When the stages were totaled Uptagrafft took first based on X count 395-20X to 395-19X. Reigning Conventional Smallbore Rifle Prone Champion Mark Del Cotto’s 393-18X was good for third place. Arnstein continued his domination of the combined class putting up a 382-15X just ahead of Duane Elms.
Fowke bookended the day with a winning score of 394-20X at 50 meters. Del Cotto and Tompkins faced off again in almost an exact supplicate of the Tompkins’ 100 yard finish. Tompkins opened with a 197-8X to Del Cotto’s 195-8X. On the second card Tompkins shot a 195-11X to a 197-12X put up by Del Cotto giving him second 392-20X to 392-19X. Hal Able was, well, able to finally stop the Arnstein combined class juggernaut with a 379-11 to Arnstein’s 376-13X.
At the end of the day Fowke emerged the winner, a slim two points ahead of Uptagrafft, 1180-65X to 1178-64X. Del Cotto took third six Xs behind Uptagrafft. Tompkins and Kevin Nevius rounded out the Master class with an 1174-54X and 1172-60X. With only eight points separating the top five competitors in a metric match no one can afford to be anything less than a sharp as possible going into the any sight phase.
Arnstein held sway over the combined class with his 1137-39X but will be looking over his shoulder at Able whose 1133-28X is well within striking distance of the leader.
Under the guidance of Wakefield Team Captain Peter Church, Uptagrafft, Del Cotto, Tompkins, Nevius, Adrian Harris, Wigger, Howard Pitts, Kerry Spurgin, Ginger McLemore, Norman Lilyerd, James Gaines, and Ed Foley will take to the line to try to bring the Wakefield Trophy home in this important postal match.
There was a solid F-Class field entered in the match with Jeff Huelin taking home all of the marbles with an impressive 1194-82X which was five points ahead of runner up Jim Murphy. The two were nip and tuck all day with Huelin winning the 50 meter and Dewar matches and Murphy taking the 100 meter event.
In the Master class Ed Mank and Baker Del Cotto, Mark’s father played leap frog with Mank winning the 50 and 100 meter matches while Del Cotto took the Dewar. In the end Mank took the class 1157-45X to 1152-45X.