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The 2015 National Smallbore Rifle Championships – Metric 3P

The 2015 National Smallbore Rifle Championships
by Hap Rocketto

Metric Three Position

Ginny Thrasher edged out Bill Beard by a point, 395-16X to 394-24X to the win the metallic sight prone match, the first of the 2015 Metric Championship, and never looked back. She swept the metallic sight aggregate in convincing fashion probably prompting West Virginia Coach Jon Hammond to sneak a peek at Thrasher’s National Letter of Intent and grin.

In standing Thrasher opened her lead with another match winning score of 378-10X, seven points ahead of John Spaude’s 371-13X which out Xed Marksman Rhiann Travis’ 371-09X.

She sealed the deal in kneeling shooting a 388-16X, to Beard’s 386-19X and Emiliano Concha-Toro’s 380-9X. The metallic sight championship was not in doubt as Thrasher, 1161-42X, easily outdistanced Spaude, 1132-34X and Beard, 1131-46X. Thrasher also took home women and junior honors, Beard was high senior, and Kentucky’s Billy Dixon was top collegiate shooter.

Anysight competition saw Bill Marciniak, North Carolina State, posting a 399-19X prone to lead fellow juniors Clayton Hanson and Dan Pempel who were knotted up at 395-22X. Justin Nissen, a Nevada Wolfpack shooter, took standing with a solid 376-7X ahead of Eric Sloan, ticketed for Murray State, and Samantha Peterson who were tied at 371.

Jacob Buchanan, defending Conventional Position Champion, won the kneeling match shooting a 388. His kneeling score gave him the any sight title, edging out Marciniak and Thrasher who were second and third.

Thrasher handily won the Metric Position Championship, along with women and junior titles, with a 2305-81X. Marciniak and Buchanan battled for second and third with Marciniak edging out the Texan by one point, 2270-72X to 2269-75X. Buchanan was also high intermediate junior.

Nissen was the collegiate champion. Beard added another senior title to his resume while Jeff Doerschler earned intermediate honors. Mike O’Connor took home the civilian title. Sarah Frantz bested all subbies.

The metallic sight paper team match was won by the ‘Black Hawk Intermediate Seniors’, Doerschler and O’Conner. Second place team and club category champions were ‘Queen Anne 4-H Club’ of Mekenna Richardson and David Sink. A pair of Massachusetts juniors, Ruby Gomes and Brenden Whitaker, the ‘NSC 10X Terrors’, and were third and top junior team. Texas State Rifle Association’s Malori Brown and Rhiann Travis won the State Association title. Intermediate juniors Elizabeth Ewert and Samantha Peterson shot as Minneapolis Rifle winning that category.

The Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Club’s Top Gun of Marciniak and Peter Fiore won the any sight match and were first juniors. Gomes and Whittaker were second and Connecticut State Rifle and Revolver Association, Sloan and Scott Condo, were third. Texas repeated as first association while Todd and Clay Hanson teamed up under the Jamestown Rifle Club banner as top club. Minneapolis repeated as intermediate junior champs. The team grand aggregate title went to the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Club’s Top Gun.

Conventional Three Position

The course of fire remained the same but the target changed for the Conventional Three Position Championship. Bill Beard’s 400-38X won the opening iron sight match just ahead of John Pitts and Elizabeth Dutton who each had a 400-36X.

Standing saw Ginny Thrasher take a slight lead in the aggregate over West Virginia team mate Elizabeth Gratz as they finished with a 396 and 395. Rhiann Travis placed third posting a 395. Taunton Marksmanship Unit’s Ruby Gomes, an Expert, out Xed Jeff Doerschler for the win kneeling, 399-26X to 399-24X. Thrasher shot a 398-30X for third.

Thrasher, 1194-86X, won her second women, junior, and metallic sight championships in three days. Gratz was two points behind, 1192-75X, giving her collegiate honors. Travis and Pitts were first intermediate junior and senior respectively. Michelle Bohren took the civilian crown and Doerschler picked up yet another intermediate senior award.

Clay Hanson won the anysight prone match with a 400-37X. Eric Sloan managed a one X win in standing shooting a 397-18X to best Travis’ 397-17X as Gratz finished third. In kneeling Sharpshooter Justin Nissen found himself in a three way tie for first, his X count gave him the win over second place Hanson and third place Mike O’Conner.

The computer spit out the any sight aggregate scores and revealed that Gratz’s 1194-73X was the any sight, women, junior, and collegiate champion. Hanson was second and first intermediate junior, and Rachel Benesh was third. Civilian Larry Sawyer was best in his category. Doerschler again bested all intermediate seniors while Beard added another senior trophy to his mantle. Calista Smoyer, of Pennsylvania’s Ontelaunee Rod and Gun Club, was the sub junior champion.

Gratz shot herself to the women, junior, collegiate, and Conventional Position title with a 2386-148X. Thrasher was second, three point shy of Gratz, and Nissen was third.

Doerschler became the first person to win both the Metric and Conventional Intermediate Position titles in the same year and the first year of eligibility. Erin Gestl won the civilian title and Beard was top senior. Travis was the best intermediate junior and Smoyer took home the sub junior title.

Three state associations mixed and matched it in the team matches with the Illinois State Rifle Association team of Matt Durdan, Johnathan Finegan, Elizabeth Gratz, and Olivia Gratz emerging as the aggregate champion after winning any sights and placing second in irons. Texas State Rifle Association’s Buchanan, Travis, Malori Brown, and Nathan Taylor placed second overall, first in metallic sights and second with any sights. Sydney Katz, Katelyn Kutz, Scott Condo, and Sloan, shooting for Connecticut, placed third in both matches.

After position ended a dozen juniors set up in the center of the line to represent the United States in the Drew Junior International Prone Rifle Team Postal Match. The National Smallbore Rifle Association of Great Britain is considered the junior’s Dewar and is, for many, the first taste of international competition.

Former Drew Cup members are appointed to be the captain and coach and the 2015 team officials were also team mates at The Ohio State University, Captain Amanda Luoma and Coach Remington Lyman. Selected from metallic sight prone scores shot in the metric position championship, the shooters fired an English Match, 60 shots prone, on the A-26 target. The match was shot under windy conditions and Billy Dixon was top gun with a 576-23X. He was supported by Virginia Thrasher, Megan Hilbish, William Marciniak, Clay Hanson, Sarah Frantz, Jacob Buchanan, Elizabeth Dutton, Ruby Gomes, Bailey Urbach, Eric Sloan, and Brandon Whittaker. Team Adjutant Hap Rocketto assisted British rifleman Richard Fowke who served as official witness.

The 2015 position championships was a youth movement. About three quarters of the competitors were juniors and all sub and grand aggregates, as well as 11 of the 12 individual matches, were won by juniors.

Conventional Prone

Gusty and variable winds played havoc on even the most experienced metallic sight competitors as Conventional prone opened. Only Expert Peter Fiore, a New Jersey junior, managed to shoot 40 tens in the Meter Match. Places two and three were also taken by Experts Daniel Pempel, 399-30X, and Brenden Whitaker, 399-27X and the first match set the tone for the day.

The Army Marksmanship Unit’s Hank Gray astonished all with his 400-37X in the Dewar. He seemed to read the wind with the same ease as he might read the newspaper over a leisurely Sunday morning breakfast. Defending champion Kevin Nevius managed a 400-30X for second while Elizabeth Dutton slid into third with a 399-25X. The only other clean for the day was shot by Spurgin, a 400-21X to win the 100 yard match followed by Howard Pitts and Steve Angeli with a 399-26X and 399-24X.

The day ended with exhausted competitors scratching their heads over the trying conditions. Each match had been won with a 400. Gray won the day, four points down with 88Xs. Nevius was also at 1196 with 77Xs while Spurgin’s 1196 sported 73Xs.

Day two of iron sights was gentler but still challenging. Michèle Makucevich put together a 400-36X in the Meter Match to get the jump on visiting British rifleman Richard Fowke who fired a 400-33X for second. Third place was taken by Thomas Allen, 400-32X. Howard Pitts cleaned the Dewar with 36Xs for the win. Fowke carded another 400-33X for second while Billy Dixon pulled into third with a 400-32X. The leader board changed after the Dewar as Gray gave up a point to Nevius.

Gray bounced back at 100 yards with a 400-34X win. Mike O’Connor and Bill Neff, noted Winchester 52 specialist, ended up two and three on a tie breaker over their 400-33Xs. Paul Gideon, former national prone champion, notched his third 400 for an aggregate winning 1200-83X. Fowke, 1199-100X and Pitts, 1199- 98X were second and third.

The Metallic Sight Championship was over with winner Nevius, 2395-171X, well positioned to defend his title. He held the all important point lead by one but his two closest competitors had him by Xs allowing him no room for error. Gray’s 2394-192X insured that it would not be easy for Nevius,. Joe Farmer, octogenarian rifleman from Colorado, finished third with an 2393-177X. Nevius may have enjoyed the lead but Gray and Framer’s X counts were his Sword of Damocles.

Matt Durdan was top junior, Dutton the best women and intermediate junior, Fowke was the intermediate champ and Johnathan Finegan took home collegiate honors.

With metallic sights in the books the team matches beckoned and, although it would be a full day for many, the return of fired NRA team matches was welcomed.

The Dewar Team fired first under the Captaincy of Greg Tomsen and the coaching of Dave Chesser. The top 22 US shooters shot under the watchful eye of British Witness Mike Arnstein. Nevius, Gray, Farmer, Durdan, Pitts, Eric Hazelton, Bob Gustin, Dutton, Spurgin, Peter Church, Nancy Tompkins, Josh Buchanan, Bill Burkert, Steve Angeli, Mike O’Connor, Terry Glenn, Brenden Whitaker, Jim Miller, Bill Marciniak, Finegan, Michelle Bohren, and Pempel made up the team. Dutton, in her maiden appearance, fired a 397 and was awarded the Crossman Plaque in recognition of being top gun.

After the Dewar Captain Edie Fleeman and Coach Emily Caruso brought the Randle Team to the line, again witnessed by Arnstein. Elizabeth Gratz was the Dunn Trophy winner as high scorer with a 400-33X, She was supported by Dutton, Nancy Tompkins, Michelle Bohren Lisette Grunwell-Lacey, Makucevich, Virginia McLemore, Bailey Urbach, Sophia Cuozzo, Ruby Gomes, Malori Brown, and Emily Haag.

The Whistler Boy was won by the Illinois State Association team of Gratz and Durdan, Gomes and Whitaker, the ‘NSC 10X Terrors’, was in second place and first club while the Texas State Association, Buchanan and Travis, placed third.

Four junior ladies, Lillian Davenport, Sophia Cuozzo, Sydney Katz, and Kaitlyn Kutz, representing Connecticut won the metallic sight team match with a 1597-102X. In second place was the ‘Stinknik Over 50’ of Mike O’Connor, Bohren, Pete Church, and Ron Wigger shooting a 1596-119X. The top club team, in third place over all, was the ‘Richard Associates Quinn’ boasting Jimbo Fordham, Vincent Grieiner, Pitts, and Doug McNash, who assembled a 1595-195X.

The ‘Black Hawk Chiefs’ went clean and Clayton Hanson, George Harris, Ed Foley, and Eric Hazelton won the any sight match. Hard on their heels was ‘RI Revolver and Rifle Association-Digby Hand’ consisting of Terry Glenn, Jeff Doerschler, Joe Graf, and Shawn Carpenter who put up a 1599-130X for second place and first club. Ron Deradourian, McLemore, Wes Schumaker, and Andrew Krause shot a 1599-128X as the ‘Western Wildcats’. The grand aggregate winner was the ‘Stinknik Over 50’ followed by the ‘Black Hawk Chiefs’, and ‘Digby Hand.’

With the team matches in the rear view mirror the Any Sight Championship began. Conditions were a little unsettled and experience played a big role in the day. Witness the first Meter match. The top two contenders averaged 77 years of age. Farmer began his run on the Critchfield Trophy with a 400-38X followed by Hap Rocketto, Pitts, and Wigger, all bunched at 400-36. The tie breaker gave second to Rocketto and third to Pitts.

Farmer cleaned the Dewar with 36Xs but was declared second to Thomas Allen on a tie breaker. Vincent Greiner beat our out four other 400-35Xs for third. At 100 yards Farmer had the best of four 400-34Xs shot. The rule book placed Gideon and Gray second and third.

Farmer won the day with a 1200-108X. Hanson was nine Xs behind, 1200-97X, for second while Kutz, was clean with 96Xs.

By the end of the first any sight day the leader board had not changed. Farmer and Nevius were tied and Gray was one point back.

The Randle Doubles/Mentor Match was fired after the first any sight day. The popular match sponsored by the NRA Smallbore Committee, pits teams of an experienced adult and a junior across an anysight Dewar Course. ‘AMU Plus One’, Gray and Buchanan won combining for an 800-66X. Ontelaunce Junior Rifle Club combined Dixon and Bill Berkert who also shot an 800 but had 62Xs. Kutz and Rocketto teamed up as ‘Kaitlyn and the Old Man’ for third place, 799-63X.

The three leaders were perfect in the Meter Match on the final day, a match won by Ed Foley’s 400-37X on a tie breaker over Tomsen. Matthew Liao was third shooting a 400-36X. Farmer was now in position to unseat Lones Wigger, who was a month shy of his 65th birthday when he won the 2002 championship, as the oldest person to win the prone championship.

Nevius and Gray again shot 400s in the Dewar. Gray was third on a tie breaker behind Dave Chesser, 400-36X, and Elizabeth Gratz, 400-35X but Farmer dropped a point. As the relays changed Farmer came up to Nevius, wrapped him an abrazo, and told him that the door was now open for the reigning champ to repeat. Nevius quietly replied that no one was pulling for Farmer more than he. The two great sportsmen then parted to prepare for the final 40 shots.

At 100 yards Nevius and Gray continued to be perfect but Farmer let slip two more points. Gray won the match and day with a 400-32X and a 1200-101X with Nevius right behind with a 1200-93X. Second place in the final 100 yard match went to Eric Hazelton who posted a 400-29X.

In third place, with his eighth 400 of the anysight championship, was quiet spoken shooting historian Paul Nordquist. Nordquist lost a point in the first stage of the first match but then ran 220 consecutive tens and Xs, 2399-186X, for the anysight title and the US Cartridge Company Trophy. Mike Carter was second overall and high intermediate senior while Gray held down third. Nevius was first civilian, Kutz doubled up with women and intermediate junior laurels, and Dixon was top college and junior shooter.

Nevius shot a 4793-361X in the grand aggregate to take home his third Critchfield Trophy. Gray finished a point behind with an amazing 399Xs. Farmer was the bronze medalist and high senior.

Nancy Tompkins earned high lady and intermediate senior titles, Fowke won the Danik Trophy as high visitor, Hazelton and Buchanan were high junior and intermediate junior. Billy Dixon earned collegiate honors. Bobbi Vitito won another Driver Trophy, named after he mother, as high any sight competitor. Kayle Pasko was the high sub junior. In class awards it was Expert Finegan, Sharpshooter Gomes, and Marksman Brown.

Metric Prone

In 2014 a civilian won the Conventional Prone title and the Metric title went to an AMU rifleman who was second in Conventional. Hank Gray had every intention of repeating history.

Irons opened with Howard Pitts winning the opening match with a 394-15X Gray was right behind him with a 392-23X. The Dewar saw Pitts widen the gap with a 390-14X, in a match won by Nancy Tompkins’ 391-18X, as Gray shot a 385-17X. Gray won 100 yards with a 388-20X. Michelle Bohren, 1160-50X, and Tompkins, 1160-46X, finished second and third behind a consistent Gray who posted a Metallic Sight Championship score of 1165-60X.

In category awards Bohren picked up the civilian and woman’s crown, Tompkins was first intermediate senior, Bill Marciniak high junior, and Ed Foley, Jr., was first senor.

Pitts started off any sights with another win at 50 yards 399-28X. However Joe Farmer, who was only a point behind him at short range, won the next two matches. Farmer’s 398-26X in the Dewar and 393-25X at 100 yards gave him a 1189-78X total which secured the any sight crown, along with the senior honors, breaking his own senior National Record in the event. Ron Wigger fired an 1184-72X for second, first civilian and intermediate senior. Nevius was third with an 1183-72X. Tompkins was top woman, Marciniak repeated as junior champ and Matthew Liao bested all intermediate juniors.

The grand aggregate went to Gray, 2347-126X, Tompkins, 2342-115X, was second, first woman, and first intermediate senior. Thomas Allen shot a 2341-110X for third and first civilian honors. Marciniak and Liao captured junior and intermediate junior trophies.

In team matches the ‘Lapua Xactors,’ Nevius and Tompkins swept the matches, ‘3’s A Charm’, Allen and Laio, was second in all three matches while the Hudson New Hampshire Fish and Game Huskies, Elizabeth Dutton and Bailey Urbach, won third and club honors in metallic sights. The ‘Stinknik Gentlemen,’ Wigger and Mike O’Connor were third in any sights and over all. The Connecticut State Rifle and Revolver Association, Joshua Lindgren and Scott Condo took intermediate junior across the board while ‘ANJRPC Top Gun’ of Chris Cunniff and Marciniak took junior metallic sight honors while Ruby Gomes and Brenden Whittaker, ‘NSC Ten X Terrors’ grabbed the any sights.

Under Captain Virginia McLemore and Coach Mike O’Connor the US Wakefield Team participated in the National Smallbore Rifle Association of Great Britain’s newest postal match. Firing an English course of fire were Bohren, Ken Bento, Gray, Nevius, Pitts, Foley, Marciniak, Tompkins, Lisette Grunwell-Lacy, Allen, Farmer, Wigger, and Ted Clark.

The Director’s Award-more universally known as the ‘Iron Man’-symbolized by The Lones Wigger Trophy, was presented to Bill Marciniak for the highest aggregate score in the four National Outdoor Smallbore Rifle Championships. The Lones Wigger Trophy is the gold plated Anschutz free rifle originally presented to Wigger by Dieter Anschutz on the occasion of Wigger’s retirement from the Army which he generously donated as the trophy for this special match.

The 2015 National Outdoor Smallbore Rifle Championships began with a youth movement in position and ended with the sport’s elders in control of prone and nothing more could epitomize the fact that shooting is a life time sport.

Category: Results

About the Author: Hap Rocketto is a Distinguished Rifleman with service and smallbore rifle, member of The Presidents Hundred, and the National Guard’s Chief’s 50. He is a National Smallbore Record holder, a member of the 1600 Club and the Connecticut Shooters’ Hall Of Fame. He was the 2002 Intermediate Senior Three Position National Smallbore Rifle Champion, the 2012 Senior Three Position National Smallbore Rifle Champion a member of the 2007 and 2012 National Four Position Indoor Championship team, coach and captain of the US Drew Cup Team, and adjutant of the United States 2009 Roberts and 2013 Pershing Teams. Rocketto is very active in coaching juniors. He is, along with his brother Steve, a cofounder of the Corporal Digby Hand Schützenverein. A historian of the shooting sports, his work appears in Shooting Sports USA, the late Precision Shooting Magazine, The Outdoor Message, the American Rifleman, the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s website, and most recently, the apogee of his literary career, pronematch.com.

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