Saturday, December 1, 2012


A chilly 6-8 mph breeze from the north greeted the shooters in Day 2 of the Arizona State Palma Championships today. It would not however be a deterrent to those who were determined to succeed as no less than twenty-five possibles were fired at 800 yards. One competitor rose above all others as Californian Bob Gustin produced a brilliant 15X clean at the first distance of the day! The best however was yet to come, with each passing minute the flags drooped more and more until every flag in the facility lay glued to their poles. Such tame conditions are a recipe for monster scores and many ate with gusto and enthusiasm!
In F-Open Steven Blair set the pace early on with an outstanding Stage 1 score of 150-12X's. Steve Shaw took his mighty .30 cal to the line and reeled of a noteworthy 10X clean in the first and set the stage for yet another Blair, Shaw battle. Taking the line at 900, Shaw continued to avoid the nine ring as his sterling 150-9X kept the door open for a run at the National Record, currently a 450-24X's. Blair on the other hand balked at the courses middle distance as his 149-7x not only put him down one to Shaw for the day but also dropped his lead in the overall to just two points. As the two men mounted the 1000 yard line for the last string of the day anticipation ran high among the small group of onlookers eager to see history in the making. Lets face it, with Shaw's talent and a rifle that spits 215 grain pills at almost Mach III, a record for the ages was a real possibility. Shaw began his assault, as he had at the previous yard line, by laying those Bergers into the ten and X rings. Suddenly, in a mid string flurry of X's a nine came up, dashing his record run hopes! To the big mans credit he kept his cool and finished as he had started, in the middle and carded an 8X 149 to finish the day with a stellar 449-27X. Blair too felt the sting of an errant shot at the long line, leaving him with a two down 448-24X's for the day, maintaining that slim two point lead for the overall, going into the final day. Stay tuned as it looks like these two will battle down to a photo finish in the final!
Lige Harris, in the F-TR division, got his mojo going early by firing the only clean at 800. Steve Lockwood answered with a competent 148 but saw his five point lead in the overall drop to only three. The 800 yard line also saw Michael Smith surge to the fore with a powerful 147-10X to take his place at the table with the leaders down a scant six points to Lockwood. The action at 900 saw Harris and Lockwood battle to a draw as each man posted a 145 but Smith, uncorked another three down score to move within four points of Lockwood and trailed Harris by only one. The 1000 yard line turned out to be a carbon copy of the 900. Lockwood and Harris again battled to a stalemate by posting a pair of 146's and "steady eddie" Smith whipped out yet another 147. It's interesting to note that Harris and Smith had battled to numerical ties on both day one and two only to see Smith get the nod on both occasions by "Creedmooring" Harris. A quick peek at the scorecards shows Lockwood finishing in third trailing Smith and Harris for the day but still maintaining a narrow three point lead for the overall victory. Once again we have areal nail biter tomorrow as all eyes will be watching the drama unfold.
In the sling division it was a "California Dreaming" day as not one but three left coasters grabbed the brass ring and nailed down perfect 450 scores! I've lost track of how many 450's Bob Gustin has fired in his storied shooting career, though I'm sure it never feels like "old hat". Being only two targets away I was able to watch the day unfold and Bob's holding ability was simply outstanding at every yard line. Starting off the day with that incredible 15X run at 800 was truly amazing and was underscored by the fact that 12 of those X's fit neatly beneath a dollar bill! Complimenting the effort at 800 were brilliant strings at 900 and 1000 netting him a dominating 450-33X agg for the day and giving him a twelve X lead over Tompkins in the overall. Bob Gill and Allan Thomas were the other two "clean" shooters today and I would be remiss in not saying that this was both men's first clean palma course score ever! Congratulations guys that is one heck of a club to be a member of indeed.
My friends, with close battles in every division raging tomorrow I can't think of a better way to spend a Sunday. So grab a spotting scope or a pair of binoculars and come on out to watch one of America's oldest sporting professions play out and give us our newest Champions!
For those wanting to check out the sling scores click HERE and the F Class scores are HERE
Be Well!

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