Friday, April 11, 2014

2014 Arizona State Mid Range Championship April 4-6

The 2014 Arizona State Mid Range Championships is now, like so many top level matches before it, indelibly engraved in the history books of the storied Ben Avery Shooting Facility. This year the 80+ shooters, a record turnout I might add, were treated to balmy temps and some challenging winds. With top shooters in from a variety of surrounding states, this years state championship match had a true "Regional" feel to it and with Joe Felix, former Army Marksmanship Unit shooter, at the helm as our Chief Range Officer a good time was had by all. The ensuing awards ceremony Sunday afternoon saw no less than 15 beautiful trophy plaques presented to the top three finishers in each of the five contested divisions. I put together a little 10 minute pictorial of the event that can be viewed by clicking HERE

In the division battles it is necessary to note that for the first time in the seven year history of this match an F Open shooter garnered the coveted high overall score. Allan Rosenthal, in a most workman like way, put together a truly admirable score of 1190-66X; seizing the top spot by two points over the nearest sling competitor! Second place award in FO went to John Farragio with a 1176-55X and third went to the matriarch of the "Shooting Harris's", Christine, who posted a fine 1160-29X total. The F-TR crowd witnessed the tightest battle of all the divisions as no less than four shooters finished within four points of each other and the two top spots were separated by a mere four X's. As it turned out, it took the veteran skills of Gentleman Jim Murphy, whose shooting career is littered with championship level victories to negotiate the fickle winds and claim the top spot with a 1166-45X. His nemesis over the two days of shooting was none other than BASF Range Master and friend to all, Matt Schwartzkopf. Third in F-TR was Rocky Felix, a local up and comer, who amassed a very respectable 1163-36X. Honorable mention must go to another of the Shooting Harris's, Scott, whose gritty performance saw him equal the match winners X count. Ah my kingdom for a trio of points indeed!

Of the three divisions who strapped in for this showdown in our desert arena let us first look to the black rifle shooters who were led by a young man who needs no introduction around here. Jaden Swartwood has been wining service rifle matches for a number of years and taking this years mid range Service Rifle championship plaque proved to be relatively simple task as he cruised to a twenty point victory over second place finisher, James Patterson. Third in the division race was earned by decorated Marine Reservist, Chuck Keith. The Palma division was well represented and ranged in age from junior phenom Ryan Hayes to Barry Smith, who,rumor has it, recently celebrated his 128 birthday! Hah, just kidding Barry. Leading the pack of Nato spec. shooters was yours truly with the big man Oliver Milanovic hot on my heels and Rio Salado's own Mike Toliver in the fray at third. Over the last two years both Mike and Oliver have upped their shooting games considerably and are now bona fide contenders in both mid and long range shooting.

Finally the Any Rifle division consisted of a "who's who" list of regional talent as well as some international flavor with Canadian Ken Nelson leading the way by four over Top Cop, Phil Hayes. Just two points down to Phil sat not only one of the nicest guy I have ever met, but a damn fine shot as well, Mr Peter Church!

In closing I would like to acknowledge a few folks who may not have wound up in the overall winners circle but shot some darn good scores. A good example of that is in the F-TR results where as you can see only two clean scores were fired at any distance all weekend long. One of those cleans shot I might add in some of the gnarliest winds of the weekend was fired by F-TR newcomer Derek Moore owner of Desert Firearms. This is Derek's first clean ever and one hell of an accomplishment when you consider the rest of the scores at that days distance. Another standout score was fired by legendary rifleman Bob "Baker" Del Cotto when he bore down at 500 yards Sunday and hung a match winning score. Not too shabby for someone edging closer and closer to octogenarian status! In the F-Open division Dan Bramley, another relative newcomer to the sport, who also grabbed a match win Sunday at 500 yards to provide one of only two match defeats the Rosenthal juggernaut would eventually amass.

Congratulations to all the winners and thanks again to everyone who came out to shoot with us and I implore those who didn't make it, to put this match on your to do list for next year. I think I can guarantee that you will have a good time with many like-minded souls. For all the weekends results please click HERE and scroll down to 2014 Mid Range Results

Monday, January 13, 2014

2014 Arizona State Service Rifle Championship January 10-12, 2014

                                             BEN AVERY SHOOTING FACILITY
                                                       DECEMBER 10-12, 2014

This past weekend, shooters from around the country gathered here in shooting heaven for three days of friendly competition at what is arguably the best 100 point range in the country. Fridays 600 yard matches brought in some of the top sling and F Class shooters from the southwest and beyond, Saturdays 80 shot Regional course of fire witnessed a strong contingent of Marines landing on our doorstep, and Sundays "Leg" match provided some hope for the future of high power shooting as a fair number of juniors were in attendance. Weather wise the three day affair was conducted under mostly clear skies that featured docile winds and daytime high temperatures in the low 70's. All in all our desert playground showed its very best for those who came to join in on the shooting fun and here are some of their stories.
The first matches of the three day weekend were conducted Friday at 600 yards and drew 40 hopefuls consisting of a mix of palma, any and service rifle shooters in the sling and a scattering of F-TR and F-Open shooters. The two F divisions were combined and Gentleman Jim Murphy, now driving an F-TR rig, wasted no time pinning the ears back on his bipod and belly-benchrest brethren by first creedmooring Battling Bill Berta in the first match of the day; eclipsing Bob Bairds wonderful one down 14X effort with a stellar clean with 11X's in the second. Then, in the third and final match of the day, the soft spoken Kentuckian demonstrated that riding roughshod over the Open division was no fluke by besting all comers with a strong 198-12X effort. Jim credits his Berger 168 grain Hybrids for the strong mid range showing and though that may be true to some extent, I'm sure being a first rate shooter also figured in to the equation. Should he choose to campaign his 308 through the Berger Long Range Nationals next month I would speculate that the F-TR division will indeed have it's hand full with this talented shooter.
In the days class battles amongst the sling shooters, Marine Reservist Jesse Bragg drove his AR to two victories in the combined Marksman/Sharpshooter class, that included a sterling 200-10X score in the second. Steve Rossi made his presence known in the third by posting the winning score, a solid 194-4X effort, with his palma rifle. In the Master Class Jeff Miles lit up the scoreboard in the first, with a fine 199-6X with his service rifle. In the second, it was Marine Reservist Chuck Keith edging Miles out by a single point for the class win and in the third match of the day, local junior shooter Jaden Swartwood piloted his AR to the winners circle with a beautiful 199-7X effort. All in all a fine showing by many in the Master Class and I think there may be some HM cards coming to some in the very near future! Speaking of High Masters, when you dangle a mostly tranquil day in front of some of the areas best trigger pullers I can assure you there will be some stellar scores and this bunch did not disappoint as no less than ten "clean" scores were posted by the nine division hopefuls. Rick Curtis led the way through the first two matches with 18X and 16X efforts respectively and Nancy Tompkins, in her first match since her carpal tunnel surgery side-lined her two months ago, put up a solid 15X score to claim the match three victory over mini-me Doug Frerichs's 12X performance. Other notable accomplishments were in evidence as Justin Skaret steered his service rifle to a trio of good scores, 198-9, 199-8 and 199-8 respectively and Chuck Fryer put up some very good scores with his brand new palma rifle with a pair of 197's in the first two matches! Without a doubt Friday will be remembered by most as just a great day to be out on the range with friends and personally I feel blessed to share the same patch of earth with so many good hearted souls!!

Saturday dawned a bit colder than the previous day but thankfully the same tranquil winds took the sting out of what could have been a very chilly morning for the forty-four participants in the 80 shot XTC event. In the standing match Jaden Swartwood continued his winning ways by posting the top score by one X over Marine Reserve Rifle Team Major Charlton Evans. Going into the rapid fire stages Evans caught fire, blistering the pack with a withering 13X clean at 200 and creedmooring civilian service rifle shooter Paul Shumway's 200-9X effort at 300 giving the Marine Major a one point edge over former National Service Rifle Champion Eric Swearingen going back to 600!

In the Class battles Swartwood kept the pedal to the metal in the Master class by putting up a strong 199-13X score in the 200 yard rapid fire match only to stumble at 300 with a disappointing 193 putting him 16 down on the day. Meanwhile Tanner Fadely and Bronson Scott recovered nicely from their humble starts on their feet and with winning in mind began to reel in the unsuspecting Swartwood with solid efforts in the rapid fire stages to close within five points of the wiry youth going back. The Expert Class witnessed intermediate junior Donnie Smith making his presence on the line felt with back to back class wins in the standing and sitting rapid fire matches as well as a second in class score at 300 rapid to lead the upper classmen going back to 600 down a mere 16 points. It should be noted that 14 year old Ryan Hayes who, come January 20th will become Arizona's youngest ever shooter to achieve a High Master rating in Long Range, lay lurking like a Habu in an Okinawan quonset hut, just waiting to strike.

The combined Sharpshooter/Marksmen class battle erupted like Mt Saint Helens as Dick Malone grabbed the class win in both the standing and sitting rapid fire matches, only to be handed a defeat at 300 rapid by the graceful and engaging Ms. Sara Nguyen. Her solid 190-5X effort was head and shoulders above the rest and would have finished well in the Expert Class, but nonetheless Malone remained the man to beat with only the longest line left on their ever diminishing plates!

It is often said that these matches are won standing and lost at 600 and the results of the last match of the day Saturday certainly supports that position. Starting with the combined SS/MK division Steve Speer coaxed a respectable finish out of his M1A to grab the class win in the prone slow fire event, but his less than stellar start standing, relegated him to a third overall class finish. Mike Dawson, who started off down to Malone, had steadily moved closer all day and just needed a strong finish to nab the class "W" but alas it was just not meant to be as his 174 slow prone score eviscerated all hope of that outcome. In the end Malone hung in to take a convincing combined class victory by 10 points over Dawson. The Expert class witnessed a Hindenburg like catastrophe as Smith literally crashed and burned at 600, relegating him to a distant third place class finish. Veteran shooter Phil Meyers turned in solid scores all day long to claim second place among the Experts, but in the end it was Ryan Hayes who got it done the best and one of these days when this young man learns to shoot on his feet, watch out world! In the Master Class Fadeley, on the strength of firing the fourth highest score on the line at 600 cruised to victory by two over Scott and three over Swartwood to claim both the Master class and Hi Junior awards!
The battle for the title of State Champion was to be decided in a convincing fashion as both eventual third overall finisher Jesse Bragg and  second place finisher Swearingen, had less than stellar results at 600. Evans on the other hand continued his string of match victories that had begun at the sitting rapid match by firing the highest score of the day at 600; thus winning the overall title with a solid 791-30X's! Well Done Major, well done indeed!

As of this writing I have not received the CMP EIC results from Sundays match. I do know that Ryan Hayes won it and the only "leg" with a very good score of 488. The weather was great and we had 18 shooters, five of which were already distinguished. When published, full match results will be HERE
In closing I just want to thank all the folks who make these matches happen including Mid Tompkins for publishing the match program and for the stat work, Peter Church and Richard, for making the best targets around, Jim Hahn for his tireless efforts at keeping out comm systems going and to ASRPA President Noble Hathaway for coming out to present awards. All of you are key to the success we enjoy with these matches!

Inline image 1
Inline image 2

Inline image 3
Have a great week, I will get the Coming Events email out tomorrow and I hope to see you on the line very soon!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Interview with a Champion- Mr. Kent Reeve

Rick: Hello Kent thanks for taking part in this first edition of Interview with a Champion.
Kent: Thanks for inviting me Rick.

Rick: Kent I would like to start out by getting a little background on your shooting career, could you tell us when and how you got started?

Kent:  I got started with competition shooting (over the course) in 1988 with a DCM Garand and used it for two years. Mostly that was a waste of time because it simply was not very accurate. Following the advice of Jim Mullis from Charlotte, NC, I transitioned to a bolt gun and immediately started seeing progress and became much more interested in the sport and things took off from there.

Rick: So a little quick math tells me you have been involved in competitive shooting for nearly twenty-five years. I know you are not one to brag but could you walk us through some of your career highlights?

Kent: Several watermark moments in my shooting career include:
1) Making my first USA Palma Team in 1999 and shooting under Middleton Tompkins, such an honor that was! 2) Winning the 2006 Long Range Nationals when I attended mostly on a whim simply because I had a freshly built 300 Winchester Magnum that showed a lot of promise in a 20 shot test string. Yes, that’s right, that rifle went to Perry with only 20 shots through the barrel! That’s not an operational plan I suggest, but it worked out. 3) Winning the rarely achieved famous “double” at Canada in 2010 by winning both the Canadian Fullbore Championships as well as the Governor Generals that year, 4) Coming back to Canada a year later in 2011 and winning the Canadian Fullbore Championships for the second year in a row, 5) preparing for the 2012 Canadian Fullbore Championships with eager anticipation of having a chance at doing a three-peat because no one has ever won it three years in a row, and going right down to the final 15 shots in the 2012 Canadian Fullbore Championships one point behind David Luckman doing some of the best shooting I’ve ever done (seemed like I was on autopilot), yet coming up one point short, because he was just a tad better than me that week and deserved to win. Shaking his hand and the kind words we exchanged will be a lasting memory. 7) Recently learning that the 2012 US Dewar Team I was a member of, won the International Dewar Postal Match for the first time in a long time. It was an honor for me to shoot alongside some of the greatest smallbore shooters in the world. 8) Always looking forward to the next match and socializing with friends once off the line.

Rick: Many of the upper level matches like the Long Range and Fullbore Nationals as well as the International events can run one to two weeks or more. What do you do to stay in shape to offset the physical stresses that these marathon affairs have on the body?
Kent: Rick that is a wonderful question and one that is extremely important to address if one is to be successful at multi week events.  As you know, most of the USA events are 4 days or less. International events can be multiple weeks.  For example, at a World Championships, you will shoot during the host country’s nationals, then the World Individuals, followed by the World Long Range Team (The Palma Championship).  That can be nearly a month away from home, when you wrap the international travel around it.  It can be grueling physically and mentally.  I do work out 5 days a week, swimming 5 days a week for cardio and do weight workout 3 times a week.  On weekends I’m not shooting, I might go bike riding or hiking.  So, I’m staying active and that activity helps me end each match nearly as fresh as I began.  Nutrition and rest play a huge part as well.  You must eat right and get enough sleep if you want to end a month long tour with the energy you had at the beginning.
Your question asked about the physical stress, but there is mental stress as well.  The employment can’t usually be on hold for nearly a month, so for me, I’m working some remotely when I’m overseas. Staying in the present is very important. Identifying what is important right now and channeling your energy into that is something I’ve always believed in.  Some people hear me joking at dinner time when I take a second helping and my typical line is “I could get hit and killed by a train on my way home tonight and sure don’t want to die hungry”.  Live for the moment!  In my opinion, living for the moment helps reduce the stresses of overseas travel for a shooting tournament. The journey is often as fun, if not more fun than the destination, so why not enjoy it!

Rick: Kent many newer shooters as well as some older guys that are aware of your great accomplishments in shooting always want to know how you do it. Can you take us through your physical shot process or routine?
Kent: My shot process is pretty simple.  In my mind, I assign a MOA (minute of angle) number to the wind condition I’m observing.  If that number is inside of the parameter I’ve assigned (for example, three to five minutes), I’ll shoot.  If not, I’ll wait, decide how long I can wait, and keep evaluating the conditions. Let’s assume I’m in “go mode” and believe 3.5moa of right wind is proper.  I take a breath, look through the sights while exhaling to ensure I’m pointing at my target, once exhaled, release the shot, call it in my mind, and watch recoil/follow through. It happens faster than you read that sentence. 

After follow through, my attention is back on the conditions, are they the same, did they pick up or did they drop off?  While the target is being marked, I’ll adjust my sights according to the condition I just observed. Most people adjust their sights off what they see I adjust my sights off what I expect to see before I see it.  I have a very good idea of where the shot should appear before the target reappears from the pits, therefore that is when I do my sight adjustments. If the actual shot placement agrees with my prediction of where it should be placed, I start the sequence all over again. That’s my shot process.
Rick: One of the simple truths about being successful in competitive shooting is mastering the six inches of grey matter between our ears. Let us inside your head Kent, how do you deal with the various mental stresses associated with top level competition?
Kent: My mental process is simple and involves staying in the present. Staying in the present has been easy for me over the years.  One of the first sentences I recall my Mother saying when I was a baby was “cross your bridges when you come to them”. It took me awhile as a baby to differentiate between literal versus figure of speech!! Mom repeated that sentence to me and my sister thousands of times for many different life situations.  Mom was not a shooter but her advice about crossing bridges only when you come to them applies to shooting! That is my mental process.

Behind the scenes, I expect to do well.  The hardware I bring to a big event is proven, so there is no mental clutter there.  I load good ammo and know how it performs.  Again, no mental clutter, I get good rest before a match and there is not much partying going on either. I started playing golf when I was 11 years old and much later in life discovered competition shooting.  For me, the mental process of those two sports is virtually identical.  Therefore, when I started shooting, I was already sold on the idea of how important the mental aspects are in our sport.

Rick: You wind reading skills are obviously second to none. I remember watching you solve some very demanding wind problems in Raton at the US Fullbore Nationals back in 2010. What works best for you, flags, mirage or a combination of both?
Kent: Regarding evaluating flags and mirage, I believe I’m a much better mirage reader than a flag reader. But they both involve the same thing: identifying an image and recalling if that image has changed. Honestly, I don’t know many shortcuts in this area. How do you teach someone to see mirage flow, flag lift/drop like you see it? This is one area where I struggled when I was learning the sport.  My mentor Jim Mullis would say “see how that mirage is flowing left to right Kent?” More often than not, my answer was “I don’t see any flow, all I see is confusion”. Then one day the light bulb lit up and it started making sense. Once I reached a level where I could somewhat understand it, I thirsted for more understanding and things took off from there. For me, the “how” becomes much easier when I understand the “why”. 
Rick: In closing you often hear about people giving back to the sport we both love. What does Kent Reeve do to make this sport better for the future?
Kent: I teach younger shooters (I do selective one-on-one mentoring as a way to give back to the sport), my mantra is “this is what we are going to do now, here’s how to do that, and here’s why we are doing it that way”. The what/how/why, are the three legs of the stool of understanding. One of my best students is Megan Lee. Megan attends Texas Christian University on a shooting scholarship and is much more fun to watch than me. Watch her shoot and you will see her using many of the techniques I taught her. 

She is 18 years old now and I started coaching her when she was 13 and am very proud of what she has accomplished.  Kids are the continuation of the sport we love, so I hope I have inspired those reading this article to make a positive impact with a young shooter. It doesn’t matter how little you have to give, just give it.  Some of the biggest things in life were started by someone who had nothing more than a dream coupled with the willingness to work towards it.

Rick: Thank you Kent for your time and your thoughts. Congratulations on your fine shooting and I wish you the very best in all your upcoming endeavors.

© Richard S. Curtis 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013

Arizona State Palma Championships December 6-8, 2013

The 2013 Arizona State Palma Championships has now become part of the rich history of this storied range, aka the Ben Avery Shooting Facility. With over 70 competitors from thirteen states the match was well attended and despite the cold temperatures and fickle winds, some very good scores were fired. As usual I had my trusty Nikon with me and I put together a little pictorial of the match that can be viewed by clicking HERE


If nothing else, the scores that David Gosnell, Match Winner and runner-up Allan Rosenthal put up in the F-Open division, proves that in the right hands the 7MM's are still a potent caliber. David's 1344-86X effort with a straight .284 is a new State record for the event and Allan's 1338-68X score was a full four points better than Steve Blair could muster with his much heavier recoiling 300WSM. Food for thought for those considering one of these calibers for FO competition.


Back in 2008, Steve Lockwood was just a friend at work who, at the time, was a serious paintball competitor. I remember how he always perked up when I would talk about some match or another and little by little I reeled him in to the point where I got him to join me at a club match. Well the rest, as they say is history as Steve has gone from borrowing a rifle five years ago, to getting a full blown Doan Trevor creation of his own and along the way has turned into one of Arizona's top F-TR shooters; underscored I might add by his wire to wire victory over runner-up Scott Harris in this year’s Championship. In looking at the scores I would caution against resting on your laurels though Steve as Scott just seems to be getting better and better every match!


The winner of the Palma Rifle division needs no introduction. Bob Gustin has been winning matches for decades and in spite of falling short in each of the daily aggregates, Bob's solid scoring over the three days earned him yet another victory to cap an incredibly successful year for the veteran shooter. Fellow Californian Brian Prescott was this year’s runner-up in the Championship with a fine 1337-55X. I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge one very special accomplishment in the palma division. Fourteen year old Ryan Hayes, in his first palma match I might add, stunned the bondage bunch with a day two victory by virtue of a very well executed 448-25X effort and then followed that with a six down 444 on day three! One can only wonder if this young man had shot all three days would we have seen a different outcome in the grand aggregate? Only time will tell as we continue down the road but what a great start with the palma rifle and he doesn't even have his learners permit yet!

In the Team Championship the Blue Stars, consisting of Emil Kovan, Adrian Harris, Mike Dunia and Jim O'Connell put together a stellar score to win the Team Match! US Tactical Supply shooters, Greg Gamboa, Steven Powell, Robert Maust and Allen Spiker took the Silver and ASRPA Red squad of Doug Frerichs, Ken Nelson, Rick Curtis and Phil Hayes took the Bronze


Congratulations to the winners and thank you to everyone who came out to join us in this years Championship. The weather wasn't the best but I sincerely hope you enjoyed yourselves and I look forward to seeing you all back next year.

For Team Results click HERE   F-Open Results HERE   Palma Rifle Results HERE   F-TR Results HERE

On behalf of the Arizona State Rifle and Pistol Association and the Desert Sharpshooters Rifle Club I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!



Rick Curtis

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Haven Williams Memorial 600 Yard Match May 4th 2013

What a great day on the range with friends! The weather was nice with temps still in the 80's, thanks to some very light clouds and a nice breeze to boot.
In F-Open Allan Rosenthal is becoming quite the master of his craft as his 596-31X score tied the high sling aggregate score in some very testing wind conditions. The F-TR division saw the most intense competition today as Scott Harris took the win by a mere point over son Sean and just two over up and coming shooting sensation Jeffrey Russell. Full results can be seen by clicking HERE. Mid was out to test his new SEB joystick bipod and seems to think that with a few mods it will be good to go. Allen was up from Florence to test his new BRX but started blanking primers and was forced to retire prior to finishing the match. As promised, after firing was complete, we took up residence in the new deli down the street and had a great meal which I'm sure met or exceeded everyone expectations!
Since this event marks the end of the 2012-2013 winter club matches I wanted to do something a little different with the pictorial. So after looking through almost 2000 pictures from this past season I put together some of what I thought were the best ones. Looking through all these moments my camera had caught I couldn't help but think of all the good times our little group has had as well as some very sad times as well this this past year. Click HERE for the composite pictorial and sorry about the abrupt ending, apparently photobucket is pretty serious about these things being only 10 minutes long.
Thank you all again for supporting your club this year and I hope to see many of you out for the ASRPA 1000 yard training sessions this month and also in June!
Be well my friends and God bless you all,

Monday, April 22, 2013

6TH Annual Arizona State Mid Range Championships April 20-21 2013

Another chapter in the storied history of the Ben Avery Shooting Facility was written this past weekend as fifty participants tested their mettle in the hot and windy conditions here in the desert southwest. Up and down the line we had many stories of success, some were pure acts of shooting brilliance, but remember everyone who lays it all on the line in head to head competition is a winner in my book!

Day two of the Championship started just like the first day as the teams took the line in rather tranquil conditions for the any sight Team match. The ASRPA Gold squad got it going early on and never let up as they cruised to a victory over team Know Name and third overall team 4 1/2 Men. I would like to point out that 4 1/2 Men won the metallic sight team match on Saturday under the watchful and competent eye of coach Doug Frerichs. The Wickenburg High School Rifle Team entered two teams, one F-Open and one F-TR squad and set not one but two National Records as juniors in the respective divisions at 600 yards. Congratulations Kids and thanks to Rex Powers and Mike Dalton for all the work that they have done over the years for these young men and women!
Following the team match individual scorecards and squadding assignments were completed in short order and the competition for the various solo titles were begun in earnest. In F-Open Ulo Nigol successfully negotiated the ever increasing wind speeds by winning the 600 yard line by five X's over Allan Rosenthal with a fine 147-7X performance.  Rocky Felix, fresh off of his day one winning F-TR performance, kept the peddle to the metal and romped the bipod boys with a solid 145-3X score giving him a two point lead in the grand agg over Scott Harris. In the sling crowd Frank Lucero uncorked a great 147-2X score to lead a talented field in the Expert Class and Tanner Fadeley led the Masters shooting a very good 149-7X with his trusty service rifle no less. Good shooting T!. High Master Randy Teissedre led all shooters with a superb match winning score of 149-11X's in some very testy wind. As the competition moved down to the 500 yard line the leaders, Shaw by two in Open, Felix by two in F-TR, Fadeley in Service Rifle by a whopping 11 points and Curtis in Any Rifle by two appeared to be well on there way to victories in their respective divisions. Well we all know how appearances can be deceiving as yours truly and Rocky Felix were about to find out.
At 500 Felix appeared to be completely flummoxed by the wind as his disappointing and agg killing 140-3X effort clearly revealed. Curtis went for record and promptly carded a miss for his first shot as a cross-fired pimple 10 leered back at him from an adjacent target to his right; eviscerating any hopes of a fifth victory in the six years of this annual competition. Bill Berta rose to the occasion and blistered the belly benchresters with a sizzling 147-5X to move within two points of Shaw for the overall! Pete Church and Gary Eliseo lit up the yard line with identicle 150-9X efforts with Pete getting the nod by virtue of creedmooring the tubegun chassis manufacturing genius. Nice work fellas! In the SR division Jaden Swartwood  beat all the Masters with a very solid 148-7X's and Robert Pirisky led all the Experts with a great 145-5X effort. Heading down to the 300 yard line for the last match of the day Harris led the F-TR shooters by 3 points, Shaw as mentioned above led by two in Open, Fadeley led by 10 in SR and Church led the Any's by just three points.
I have no other way of describing it so let me say that something magical happened while we shot the 300 yard line. In fairly significant wind, that exhibited both angle and speed changes Rosenthal started the magic show by reeling off an absolutely brilliant 150-13X effort to lead the Open crew. Then Tompkins took the line and ran the table, 15 straight X's, and just for good measure added two more to set a new Open record of 150-17X's. I was scoring the shooter to Nancy's left and got to watch her true shooting skills shine as X after X came up within a fraction of an inch of each other; truly masterful Nancy, congratulations. Finally on the last relay of the day Church kept the magic going as his 150-12X effort captured a new Grand Senior record for him. What a great moment for all three of these fine people indeed. For the daily agg results Berta just kept plugging away in Open and captured the division high score of 441-16X but alas it was just not quite enough to reel in the overall title. Steve Shaws two day aggregate score of 884-44X's grabbed the F-Open division win by just three points over Rosenthal and four over Berta. What a great match these men had indeed.
With the Felix meltdown at 500 the battle for the F-TR crown fell to Harris and Matt Schwartzkopf and believe me they battled hard all day with Matt squeaking by to take the days agg but "steady eddie" Harris beat him out for the division overall by just two points. Congratulations Scott on your very first State Championship victory, you earned it my friend. In the class battles Frank Lucero claimed victory over his fellow Experts and Peter Wolf beat the Masters by two points. The SR division was a Fadeley "W" all the way as he won both days, despite a miss on day one, to claim the SR Champions trophy and Peter "Quiet Man" Church stayed the course to grab the Any and overall victory! Congratulations to all the winners and thanks to everyone for coming out to our match.
Full individual results can be viewed HERE Metallic Sight Team results HERE Any Sight Team results are HERE and a little pictorial of the day can be seen by clicking HERE
See you on the line

Rick Curtis
NRA High Power Rifle Director
Arizona State Rifle and Pistol Association

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A New Load for the 6BRX

For over five years I have been shooting the 6BRX with great success and consider it to be one of the most accurate cartridges I have ever competed with. I have extolled it's virtues here on this blog and to anyone who expressed an interest in it. Fire-forming the parent Lapua 6BR brass is easy and is so accurate that I wouldn't hesitate to shoot in a major match while doing so. Up until recently I have used Varget exclusively but as you know its getting harder and harder to find any quantities of this fine powder.

A couple of months ago I stumbled on a post on where the poster was extolling the virtues of using H-4350 in his 6 Dasher. Namely better throat life due to the expanded burn window and the same velocities as Varget. Well I happen to have a little H-4350 on the shelf so I watched with interest as the posts accumulated as more and more people chimed in (why does everyone use an alias??) It became evident that a number of folks were using long drop tubes and getting nearly 37 grs. in the little cases. Being a bit of a doubting Thomas I headed to the loading bench to check out these claims for myself.

Initial case volume tests proved that I could get over 36 grs in my cases by simply pouring the powder charge slowly down my funnel. The current seating depth of my Berger 105 VLD's easily accommodated up to 36.4 grs. with no "crunching". So being prudent I loaded up a set of twenty-five cases with 35 grs. to test in an upcoming 500 yard prone match. The results of that single string and subsequent testing proved that 36.1 grs of H-4350 yielded excellent accuracy and velocity equivalent to my Varget load (click HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE ) for my test results in five 60 shot matches.

To clarify some of the information presented here I have assembled a very short pictorial(click HERE) that visually illustrates some of my points. Better throat and or barrel life is an unknown at this point but should the current shortage of Varget continue I would not hesitate to use H-4350 as an excellent substitute.

In closing I would only add that my max test load was 36.3 grs of H-4350 and no untoward pressure signs were noted and were safe in IN MY RIFLE. Please exercise all caution and slowly work up to any of the listed charge weights as every rifle barrel is different.

Favor Center!


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Lt. Col. George Van Orden - Rest in Peace Sir

Lt. Col. George Van Orden

Lt. Col. George Van Orden, USMC retired, departed this life on Saturday, March 30, 2013. He loved his family, his puppies, the Chargers and Padres, and doo-wop music. He was also a strong supporter of military charities that assist soldiers and veterans.

George, 73, graduated from Fork Union Military Academy, and later Virginia Military Institute in 1961. As a 26-year U.S. Marine Corps veteran, George was the third of four generations of career Marines and served two tours in Vietnam. As a competitive shooter, George won two national junior titles as well as the 1979 National Service Rifle Championship while serving in the Marine Corps. George, his father, and his son are the only three generations of Marines to all become Distinguished Shooters. George retired from the Marine Corps in 1983 and had a distinguished career in real estate until he retired in 1998.

George leaves behind to celebrate his life, his wife of 35 years, Marina; his four children, George, James, Lee, and Rina; his sister, Flora; and five grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at Bennett Funeral Home in Chesterfield at 2 p.m. Friday with visitation at 1 p.m. The burial will be at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Disabled American Veterans ( ).

God Speed Friend!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

1948 Olympian & Centenarian Walter Walsh, Now World's Oldest Olympian Ever

Olympic history will be forever altered Thursday. Still some 324 days away from the Sochi 2014 Winter Games and 1,234 days from the 2016 Games in Brazil, just exactly how you might ask? Age will no doubt be re-defined Thursday when Walter Walsh, a 1948 Olympian in the sport of Shooting, becomes the oldest Olympian to have ever lived at 105 years and 321 days.

Walsh, set to turn 106 on May 4, will eclipse another American Olympian, Rudolf Schrader, whom Olympic historians say lived not past 320 days into his 105th birthday.

"Unfortunately, we only know that he (Rudolf Schrader) died in January 1981 and don't have a precise date of death," confirmed renowned Olympic historian Dr. Bill Mallon. "But if you make it 31 January, so he was as old as he could be, he was 105 years, 320 days old at his death. Our source for many dates of death is the Social Security Death Index, which until the 1980s, listed only the month and year of death, and we haven't been able to track a date from any other source."

For a complete list of Olympic Centenarians, check out Olympic historian Paul Tchir's list <blocked> . According to Tchir, the next oldest Olympian is Swiss Hans Erni who also competed in London with Walsh when art was then an Olympic competition. Currently, there are just six Olympians in total still living beyond the century mark.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "It's not the age of life, but the depth of life." On this occasion, we get to proudly celebrate both. Walsh was born May 4, 1907 in New Jersey and his life has been one of service, honor, accomplishment and compelling narrative.

He crafted his shooting life as a kid by using a BB gun to shoot clothespins off his Aunt's clothesline then graduating at the age of 12 to shooting a smoothbore .22 caliber rifle at rats in the city dump on the site where the Meadowlands would one day stand. He'd later go onto to join the Civilian Military Training Corps (CMTC) and the New Jersey National Guard attending shooting matches at the Civilian Marksmanship Program in Camp Perry, Ohio, and winning several awards for his marksmanship skills.

The G-Man

Walsh graduated from Rutgers law school and in 1934 joined the FBI. Not long after he was tracking down notorious crime figures and gang members. As a rookie FBI agent, he discovered the body of Chicago gangster Baby Face Nelson after a shootout that left two FBI agents dead.
"Think about that," said Alan Abrahamson, an Olympic journalist known to be the last person to interview Walsh and his family back in 2011. "Just 27, in the midst of the Depression, he was a G-Man - when the bureau was very much still making its reputation. He helped make it."

A year later, Walter helped apprehend Arthur "Doc" Barker of the infamous Barker Gang. Barker complained about being arrested by a "damn baby-faced kid." That very same day, Walter shot and killed gangster Rusty Gibson.

In 1937, posed as a salesman in a sporting goods store in Bangor, Maine, he helped bring down the Brady Gang, but not before taking two bullets, one to the chest and the other to his right hand. He shot both James Dalhover and gang leader Al Brady after being shot.

He liked being with the bureau and once told a reporter: "I thought to myself, this might be a good outfit to tie up with. I am not trying to pin medals on myself, but the people in the FBI knew that I was very handy with firearms."

The Corps-man

In Okinawa in the Marines in April 1945 // photo courtesy Walsh family

In 1938, he took a commission as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserve and by 1942 Walter Walsh went on active duty. In 1944, drawn by the intensity of World War II, he longed for a spot on the front lines, a spot he would get as a lieutenant colonel staff officer in the First Marine Division.

Similar to his FBI career, accounts of his courageousness and spirit as a Marine, fighting in World War II, are legendary. After another brief return to the FBI and the 1948 Olympic Games in London, Walsh would serve another 20-plus years in the Marines Corps as a shooting instructor until his retirement.

The Olympian

In 1948, Walsh got to test his shooting prowess against the Olympic competition as a member of Team USA in London. He placed 12th in the Men's 50m Free Pistol event with a firearm that at the time was fairly uncommon in the United States.

"The competition was, as I remember, the usual exchanges of friendship between members of the various teams," Walsh recalled during his interview with Abrahamson. "On some of the teams, I'm thinking of the Germans particularly, they spoke in a broken fashion, better English than we did.

The 1948 U.S. Olympic pistol team // photo courtesy Walsh family

"... You had these people competing - they were all trying to do the same thing. They were trying to speak to each other with various degrees of difficulty.

"... It brings about a mixture between these people. You get by with stuttering and making hand motions. It was a great experience for me. And I enjoyed it."

Posing for an international shooting contest // photo courtesy Walsh family

At the 1952 International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Shooting Championships, he won a gold medal with the U.S. team in the 25m Center-Fire Pistol event and was a silver medalist in the individual event as well.

In 1972, Col. Walsh would again participate in Olympic competition, this time as a Team Leader for the USA Shooting Team in Munich. That team won four medals and includes some of the sport's iconic shooters including Lones Wigger, John Writer, Lanny Bassham and Margaret Murdock.

"Col. Walsh was the Team Captain for the great 1966 USA World Championship Team," remembers USA Shooting President and two-time Olympic gold medalist Gary Anderson. "He was always respected by all members of our teams because of his truly extraordinary record as an FBI agent in the 1930s and his subsequent, distinguished military record. We were proud to have someone as our Team Captain who had been an outstanding shooter himself. He was Triple Distinguished in Service Pistol, Service Rifle and International. That is a very rare accomplishment. I extend my personal congratulations to Col. Walsh for becoming the oldest living Olympian."

"I thought he was a great Team Leader for the 1972 Olympic Games and every other trip I took with him," said the three-time Olympic medalist Wigger who won gold and silver medals at the 1964 Olympic Games and another gold in 1972. "He was always fair and very supportive and did a good job, which is sometimes not easy dealing with athletes. Col Walsh was a gentleman and a great Team Leader. He ran the Marine Corp MTU for a number of years and knew most of the top shooters in the country and was well-liked by all who worked for him and well-respected by everyone."

"One of the challenges you have with those old enough to have been on the '72 team is that we seem to have vivid memories of our events, but if the team manager does his job, we have little memory of him at all," said 1972 Olympic silver medalist Bassham. "The exception is when there is an issue."

One particular memory, however, Bassham did recall: "Both of my events were concluded, but I was still at the Olympic Village. I asked Col Walsh if I could leave the village for a day and a night to visit a friend in Munich. He saw no problem with the request and made arrangements for me to leave the village. That night the terrorists assaulted the Israeli team. Security was heightened. I had a huge problem. How was I going to get back to my team? We did not have cell phones in those days. If there was a phone in the village associated with the shooting team, I did not have the number. I did not know what to do. Fortunately, I had given the phone number of my friend in Munich to Col. Walsh. It did not take long before he called me. He made arrangements to get me back to the village and join my team. This was no simple matter, and it was greatly appreciated by me."

The Rest of the Story

Walsh was married for 43 years; his wife passed away in 1980. They had five children together - three daughters and two sons. The family counts 17 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.

Asked to what he credits his longevity as found in this article <blocked> written by R.R. Keene in Leatherneck Magazine, Walter Walsh ponders for a moment and answers: "To start with, you have to be lucky. Then, if you listen to your parents and follow the path of the straight and narrow, then I think God has mercy on you-permits you to live. That's about it. It has worked very well for me for a long time ... and I've forgotten the SOBs. That makes my life easier."

Bill Vanderool of the American Rifleman wrote in his October 2010 article on Walsh: "At Walsh's 100th birthday party, his family served three cakes: One had the seal of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the second, the seal of the United States Marine Corps; and the third bore five Olympic rings. Each represented a major achievement in Walsh's life, and each could make a major story. For one man to be presented all three indicates just how special that person is."

Father Time is not always a hard parent, and, though he tarries for none of his children, often lays his hand lightly upon those who have used him well; making them old men and women inexorably enough, but leaving their hearts and spirits young and in full vigour. With such people the grey head is but the impression of the old fellow's hand in giving them his blessing, and every wrinkle but a notch in the quiet calendar of a well-spent life. ~Charles Dickens

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

55th Annual Western Wildcats 6400 Smallbore Prone Match

The 55th edition of the Western Wildcats 6400 Smallbore Championship is now in the books and I would like to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit about the match and some of the individual performances. Day one was a true test of the riflemans patience as we were beset upon by a vicious fish-tailing wind that persisted all day. Steve Goff, the day one winner put together a 1595, which considering the wind, was a damn good score. Ron Wigger and Eric Uptagrafft were right behind him with a 1594 and 1593 respectively. More than half the High Masters scored below 1590 but Allison Villa, a product of the top notch junior program at the Los Angeles Rifle and Revolver Club, was not to be deterred as she fired an outstanding 1590 to top a talented field of Experts! As it turned out it was nothing but up from there for her.
Day two was the polar opposite wind wise as we saw only the mildest of breeze's throughout the day. This great condition stayed with us for the rest of the Championship as well. Of course with good conditions come great scores and accordingly a number of 1600's were fired. Surprisingly both Goff and Uptagrafft dropped a point but racked up some huge X counts between them; Goff 149 and Uptagrafft 141. Allison rose to the occasion and fired a respectable 1597 but the California kid story on the second day was none other than Matt Liao, another LAR&R junior, as he cranked out a noteworthy 1600-127X score to take the Expert class win.
As I said earlier the tame conditions persisted into day three but there was just enough angle changes to the wind that everyone on the line ended up dropping a point or more. Uptagrafft took the overall day with a 1599-139 and Allison just kept getting better as her 1598 soundly thumped all comers in the Expert class. Matt came in with a solid 1593 but with a 1575 on day one he sure needed something much better to have a chance at the overall class win. Day four was a carbon copy of day two as six 1600's attested and guess what Matt backed up day two with another anysight 1600 to be one of only two 3200's fired in the match! Talk about an "ear to ear grin". Pending the NRA's blessing, Matt's 3200-258X score is a new Sub-Junior National Record. Allison nearly got a 1600 but her 1599 gave her a great 6384-491X, and beat out second Expert and fellow Californian Randy Teissedre by a wide 11 point margin and nearly 60 X's to boot
The Overall winner and our 2013 Western Wildcat Champion was Eric Uptagrafft by seven X's over Steve Goff, both having fire 6391's. Ron Zerr was third with an 6387 creedmooring Ohio's own Kevin Nevius. Full results are posted on Desert Sharpshooters dot com. For a pictorial of the people competing in this years event click HERE

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The "Quiet Man" Beats "Baby Face" By One!

Legendary Rifleman, Peter “Quiet Man”Church is arguably considered by many to be one of America’s greatest shooting talents. Equally skilled and accomplished in a number of shooting disciplines, mid-range, long range and smallbore to name just a few, the Quiet Man brought his entire repertoire of shooting skills to bear at Sundays smallbore prone match. Thankfully the brutal four day winter that had seized our desert arena in its icy grasp last week was replaced instead by an early spring like warmth, with temperatures nearing 80 degrees. Most pleasant indeed and of course was heartily welcomed by the fourteen men who participated in the third installment of the Jack Greenleaf Memorial Smallbore Prone Match. Here then is the story of those who came to test themselves in the searing crucible of head to head competition.

Right from the start Ken “Baby Face”Nelson of Canada made it clear, as illustrated by his perfect 20X clean first target in the Dewar Match, that he was a force to be reckoned with. Rick “Jarhead”Curtis, riding in on a 2-love lead in the series, responded with a noteworthy 18X target of his own. This however was to be Curtis’ first and last hoorah of the day as he seemed incapable of dealing with the ever increasing intensity of the shifting winds. Entering the fray with a great 17X clean Church’s resolve to take the day truly became clear after the second target as he alone in the sling division had cleaned the Dewar course with a nifty 400-31X. The F-Class division had but one competitor, John “Cool Hand” Andres, and took the overall with a handy 400-35X total in the Dewar.

Following the first break, the shooters took their positions for the 100 Yard Match. While shooting the two 20 shot stages the wind, which had been nibbling at the shooters psyche in the Dewar, grew even more tempestuous as the groans up and down the line underscored. But when the lead dust had settled Nelson not only emerged as the Match Two winner he also had a two X lead over Church. Mick “Texas Ranger” Walker made his presence known with a great 397-21X; creedmooring Church for second in the 100. As the competitors brought their target frames back to the 50 meter line the wind velocity finally began to decrease. The second break of the day was punctuated by a hopeful mindset by all that the wind would continue to lay down for the ever challenging 50 Meter target.

The 50 Meter Match can either make or break a competitors chance for success and Baby Face clearly opted for the former as his 400-32X effort was the only clean in the sling division. Andres in F-Class took the overall with a stellar 400-33X effort. At this point Church’s 399-29X effort had him now down a point and a handful of X’s with only the 50 Yard match to go! Believe me this was no enviable spot as the wind continued to drop and Nelson had only the relatively easy, or so he thought, pair of 50 yard targets to go.
When the NRA decided to drop the 50 yard match from its National Smallbore Prone Championships at Camp Perry a few years ago it was said that one of the reasons was that the 50 was of no consequence in determining the winners. Nothing could be further from the truth in yesterday’s match as Baby Face Nelson not only let Church catch him after the first target by losing a point; he gaped in helpless horror as yet another nine showed up on the second go at 50 handing Church the victory in the sling aggregate! Andres put up another great score at the 50 to take both the overall for the yard line and the overall high score for the match. Congratulations to Pete and John on your outstanding shooting! Click here for Full results  and click below for a video pictorial of the days shooting.

In closing I want to thank everyone for coming out to shoot in our match. I also want to thank Sinclair’s for donating over $800.00 in gift Certificates. I also want to let you know that Ray Del Rio, Executive Officer at the Los Angeles Rifle and Revolver Club in El Monte, California is trying very hard to get smallbore F-Class recognized by the NRA. At his own expense he worked with the ALCO Target Company to produce a new F class target for all three distances in smallbore and will be submitting them for the committees review and hopefully their approval. We all know what F class has done for high power and I can only hope that the smallbore committee will see fit to recognize it for smallbore as well. I would urge all shooters to contact the Smallbore Committe and voice your support for F-Class smallbore.

The last Jack Greenleaf Memorial Match will be a 1200 agg and is scheduled for 9:00 am February 3rd. Following this last match the series champion will be awarded a beautiful Whitneyville Walker Colt firearm in presentation case. So if you are in the neighborhood, drop by for the exciting finish. The current series leaderboard after three rounds is as follows;

Rick Curtis 4783-339X
Peter Church4778-351X
Ken Nelson 4774-363X

See you on the line,

© Richard S. Curtis 2012

No part of this document may be used, reproduced or re-printed without the

Express written permission from Richard S. Curtis.