Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Looking Back at the 2011 Wildcat

The 2011 Western Wildcat match was a mixed bag of emotions for me. On one hand my performance at the Cat, finishing down 10 points to the winner, wasn't my best showing. A number of odd shots throughout the four days has me wondering if my 25 year old barrel should be replaced. On the other hand I have a bunch of great memories from the Cat this year that include friends both old and new. In no particular order I would like to share some of those moments.

On Saturday a competitor to my left asked me about the importance of consistent cheek pressure during the break following the 50 meter match. He had been plagued with errant shots and was growing more and more frustrated. I explained that every contact point with the rifle, shooting hand, face, shooting shoulder and sling hand, was important and must be consistent to ensure repeatable recoil movement from shot to shot. I went a little further and told him that one of my early problems was not replacing my shooting hand elbow in the same place after loading. I pointed out how this will cause different levels of tension in the shooting shoulder resulting in different points of impact on the target. After the first 50 yard target he came up and very happily shook my hand and thanked me. He had focused on these fundamentals and had been rewarded with great groups and no weird "flyers". This couldn't have come at a better time for me as I had been struggling all day with the irons and just the look on this person's face made my own frustrations melt away.

My daily after match routine would not have been complete were it not for Cal Cooper, Barney Higgins and Joe Farmer. These three gentleman frequently travel together to matches and they call Cal's comfortable RV home. Stopping by to visit these guys after a days shooting is always very enjoyable. Listening to great stories of the legendary riflemen of the past like Stidworthy, Whittington, Pierson, Weaver and many more was a great thrill for me. Not to mention the Irish cheese and crackers to snack on and some excellent bourbon to sip. I was honored to have shared some time with these great men!

Up until a few month's ago my friend Rob Nabower was only competing in F-TR. That is until he bought a smallbore rifle. Rob competed in a couple of the matches leading up to this years Cat but his shining moment by far was the worthy battle he put forth in this years Wildcat. His Marksman class runnerup score in the grand agg as well as two class seconds in two days put a smile on his face and will surely put a Sharpshooters card in his wallet. Not to bad for a guy who just put a sling on in January!

I am blessed to sometimes shoot with the juniors at the Phoenix Rod and Gun Club on Saturdays and three of them bear recognizing for there great shooting accomplishments at this years Cat. Luke Harper has been in the PRGC junior program for less than a year. His Grand agg Marksman class winning score coupled with a magnificent 400 in the Dewar and a 1593 agg on Sunday reflect highly on his dedication, the PRGC smallbore program and his family. Great shooting Luke. Zach Kofron quietly went about his business and shooting irons all the way claimed the fourth overall spot for Experts. Zach has been consistantly knocking on the Master class door and it will certainly open for him in the very near future. Zach enjoys great support from his Mom and Dad, which of course is critical to these kids shooting success! Last but certainly not least Richard Layton just flat got it done in great style this year. His 6385 took second overall Master as well as an eighth overall for the Championship. Under the tutelege of Master coach Tom Kempley and with the support of his Mom and Dad, Richard has blossomed into a great young man and shooter. I applaud all the Mom's and Dad's who make it possible for their kids to actively pursue competitive shooting!

One of the most positive people I have ever been around and who I count among my best friends is Nancy Tompkins. Nancy shot beside me for the entire month of "March Madness" and it was a thrill to witness her outstanding shooting performance all winter long. When she got up after the last shot Sunday, having just accomplished the rare perfect 3200 as well as a solid fourth overall, the look on her face was a true highlight of the match for me. More and more the success's of my friends are making my own accomplishments or lack of seem less important in the big picture. Another one of my very best friends, Middleton Tompkins, told me some years ago that he had lost the "killer instinct"in his competitive shooting. I wasn't quite sure at the time what he meant but I think now I might be beginning to understand.

To my friends, old and new, I just want to say thank you for these memories and many more at this years Western Wildcats. I have put together a composite picture album of this years Wildcat, some have been used in other albums and some not, I hope you enjoy!



h4064 said...

Let me tell you. You do one hell of a fine job posting pictures. Everything I see that you have done is just great.

RCURTIS said...

Thanks Chuck, it was good to see you out here for some of the shooting! I sincerely hope to see you for smallbore at Bristol and Perry but it just doesn't look like it's in the cards. But there's always next year!!

Be well,


Los Angeles Rifle and Revolver said...

Good to see so many LAR&R folks out there for the Cat.

RCURTIS said...

We were definitely missing three of your fantastic Los Angeles Rifle and Revolver shooting stars, Amanda, Kevin and Matt! Hope to see all of you at the Regional in April.