Those of a certain age fondly recall Charles Schultz’s Peanuts comic strip. Every year, Linus Van Pelt, the strip’s intellectual, holds vigil in a pumpkin patch waiting for the Great Pumpkin to appear. Across Southern New England the same may be said of a loyal cadre of smallbore prone shooters who eagerly await the annual season ending Great Pumpkin Match sponsored by the Stratford PAL and hosted by the Bell City Rifle Club.
The match is a Metric Regional and took on a more international flavor this year as, in addition to International targets, a group of Canadian Shooters returned to competition after a hiatus, making it a truly international contest.
The early autumn sun took some of the chill from the air but cast long dark shadows across part of the target line. A few of the elder statesmen of the sport gallantly fought the dim sight picture and came up with some innovative methods for dealing with aging eyes and light that was less than optimum for iron sight shooting.
Joe Graf, president of the Rhode Island Revolver and Rifle Association jumped out in front posting a 381-15X in the opening 100-yard match. Hot on his heels was Québecois Gale Stewart with a 379-15X eagerly pursued by three 377s of varying quality: 13Xs for Avon Old Farms coach Len Remaly, Reading Rifle Club’s Frank Garbouchian posted 11Xs, and Digby Hand’s Hap Rocketto eked out 7Xs.
Graf padded his lead in the Reverse Dewar, extending his lead over Stewart by one X, 382-10X to 381-15X. Perhaps strengthen by a heaping helping of Poutine Stewart drew even with Graf in the first stage of the 50-meter match and leaped ahead in the second 20 shots, racking up a 391-29X to Graf’s 383-17X. The Garrison finish of 1151-59X gave Stewart the iron sight title while Graf, 1146-42X, settled for first Master. Garbouchian was top Expert on the back of his 1131-35X.
Anysight Day saw the field increase by nine shooters. The firing line was expanded but it nothing for the dim lighting conditions on the left hand side of the range. The old hands still had trouble seeing the bullet holes and resorted to sighting in in the white area above the sighting bulls and then holding and squeezing in the record bulls hoping, in most cases to see shot holes.
The technique worked for Grasso Tech Rifle Coach Shawn Carpenter who won the anysight 100-yard match with a 386-14X. Mild mannered former National Three Position Champion Jeff Doerschler was three points behind and Graf four back.
Using the white for sighters Doerschler methodically punished the ten ring with shots until his 15th slipped out for a close nine at one o’clock leaving him with an outstanding 199-13X on his first card. Conditions, or eye fatigue, may have played a part in a 194-
11X with which he backed up the first target but his 393-24X won the match. Stewart worked at making up a deficit he established in the first match by coming in second with a 389-16X with Graf two points behind.
A trio of 387-17X fired by Doerschler, Stewart, and Carpenter closed out the match. It was familiar territory for Carpenter as he was involved in two unbreakable 400-40X 50 yard ties at the National Smallbore Rifle Prone Championship at Bristol in July. This time there was a tie breaker available and it went to Doerschler.
The win gave Doerschler an any sight aggregate of 1163-55X and the title. Craig Samuelson, an old junior recently returned to the sport, nearly pulled the rug out from Doerschler with his second place 1161-42X.Carpenter edged out Graf for third, 1157-43X to 1146-29X. Garbouchian repeated his iron sight Expert victory.
Graf won the grand aggregate and The Great Pumpkin, with a 2310-86X. Second place finisher Stewart took home a smaller holiday squash hoping that, as he crossed into Canada, Border Service Officers of the Agence des services frontaliers du Canada would not impound it under some obscure regulation. Doerschler posted a 2284-88X to earn the bronze pumpkin. Garbouchian swept Expert class.
The match would have not been a success without the support staff. Match Director Nicole Panko was ably assisted by Tony Cuozzo who served as Range Officer on metallic sight day. Barbara Flanders took over the range on the second day and, in her maiden appearance as a Range Officer, ran a tight ship.
The Pumpkin usually marks the end of the outdoor season but Reading Rifle Club will be holding two conventional 1600s on October 16th and 29th. Those who have not satiated their appetite for belly shooting should contact Charlie Trickett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2016-ct-great-pumpkin (PDF, 56KB)