by Hap Rocketto
Each year I organize the Precision Shooting Magazine shooting teams during the smallbore prone phase at Camp Perry The match always begins at 12:30 and did again this year, but not before some Marx Brother like antics would enliven the day for the Precision Shooting Magazine team members. For some reason still unknown to me, I told all that the match started at one. When I realized the mistake I hustled around and told all. I neglected to mention it to German Salazar because he was standing next to me, I thought, when I was told the correct starting time.
Jeff Doerschler, as is his habit, showed up at point 130 about an hour early to be greeted by eight empty points. Erik Hoskins arrived a little later, set up his gear and wandered on off to find his team mates, but not before being called to task by a range official for bringing his rifle to the line. By noon my brother Steve, Shawn Carpenter, Terry Glenn, Len Remaly, and I had arrived. Seven out of the eight riflemen had set up but Salazar was no where to be seen. By 12:15 we were frantically calling his cell phone and had all of the unattached people we knew on the trail of the wayward German as Hoskins scouted the area on foot.
We needed to stall for time so Sean and Jeff waited until the very last moment to leave the line to hand targets. The sauntered down range as slowly as they dared all the while hoping that the phone, the search party, or Hoskins would turn up the missing German. After reaching the frames they looked back to check things out. I raised my right hand and scissored my fingers to my thumb at them. This is the time honored baseball manager’s signal to a catcher telling him to take a leisurely trip to the mound and talk to the pitcher to stall for time so that a relief pitcher might complete his warm up in the bullpen.
Aided and abetted by coaches Charlie Adams and Dave Smith they fumbled with the targets, dropped clips, stopped to carefully mark the targets, and fiddled with wedges. In the mean time German had been located, dropped off his gear, and was parking his pickup. As the boys returned from the targets as slowly as possible we were setting up German’s gear. At the last possible moment we were ready and the match was under way.
The Precision Shooting Magazine Team Brennan cracked the 1500 barrier but failed to place in iron sights while Precision Shooting Magazine Team Woble continued its streak, winning the Expert Open Club metallic sight for its fifth straight year.
In the any sight match Team Brennan posted a score that had them third over all on the preliminary bulletin. But the truth of the old saying that the match is not over until the challenge period ends was to be proven true. The posted score was below what the team believed it shot. In an attempt to rectify a perceived wrong and hopefully vault into a higher place-second, the team captain challenged.
Unfortunately they won their challenge, unfortunate because the score was indeed incorrect. Upon examination the statistical crew found that Doerschler had crossfired a shot into an adjoining target and levied the ten point penalty required of the rule book. Team Brennan dropped into the second master position, sixth over all. Still, being in the top six was nothing of which the team might be ashamed. Team Woble racked up its sixth win in the Expert class in as many tries.
As a rule I do not challenge for once, as a team captain, I had challenged and lost. The unsuccessful incident was in 1992 when my All Guard Team was in first place but, unsure of the accuracy of our accounting, and seeing other contending teams line up to challenge, I followed suit. Their scores did not change and they lost their challenges. On the other hand I won our challenge but lost points. We moved from National Champion to third place.
When the Team Brennan captain made the challenge and lost, or won depending on your point of view, I thought of my error and a scene from a favorite movie, A Man for all Seasons, popped into my mind. Sir Thomas More, played by Paul Schofield, finds that Richard Rich, played by John Hurt, a former retainer, has given false testimony against More in exchange for the post of Attorney General of Wales. More looks at Rich sadly and softly says, “Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world, but for Wales?” In this case it might best paraphrased as, “It profits a team to challenge for the National Championship, but for second?”
In retrospect it was exhilarating and fun rather like a day at the races or a night at the opera: a day when the two team captains did the work of four men, Harpo, Groucho, Chico, and Zeppo.
Category: Hap's Corner