Congratulations to the first BPTR Long Range Washington State Champion, Dan Steinmetz of Selah!
Rattlesnake Mountain's infamous winds were on hand this past weekend and treacherous as ever. Gusts over 30 mph during practice on Friday shook everyone's confidence. By Saturday morning wind speeds had dropped somewhat, but the direction was almost the worst imaginable -- a fiendish switching headwind that kept shooters twisting their windage knobs first one way then the other.
At 800 yards only Skip Steinmetz from Yakima, WA managed to keep 'em all on paper. That wasn't quite enough though as Simon Smith from Portland, OR managed to shade him by a single point to take the first match of the day despite a miss. Dan Steinmetz followed with two misses, and Mark Blondin of Yakima with three. All four men were within nine points of each other, with Mark scoring two of only six Xs seen all weekend.
At 900 yards nobody managed to avoid the misses altogether, but Dan Steinmetz limited himself to one, and won the day's second match by a seven point margin. Skip trailed him with two misses followed by Simon with three. Simon did manage to find the center X on that string though, as did Mike Nesbitt from Olympia.
At 1000 yards fortunes reversed. Simon won his second match of the day by rationing himself to only three misses. Everyone else took a larger helping. At the end of Day 1, Simon Smith had the lead by one point and one X.
Sunday brought an unpleasant surprise. Overnight the wind had turned 180 degrees and was going back to where it came from. The almost worst wind direction was replaced by the absolute worst - a fishtailing tailwind; just as unpredictable but sneaky. No wind flags behind you to warn of a coming change. And both matches of the day were fired at 1000 yards where the slightest shift in wind direction has huge consequences.
For Sunday's first match Dan Steinmetz capitalized on a strong but comparatively steady breeze astern to hit three tens and post a solid score despite one miss. Simon Smith took a heartbreaking two misses to finish seven points behind, as his fragile one point lead fell to a five point deficit. Mike Nesbitt posted the third best score of that match with only three misses, but expended the last of his match-grade ammo in doing so, leaving him only practice ammo to finish the day.
The final match of the day, and of the Championship, was a real barn burner. Conditions went from exasperating to demoralizing as wind speed and direction turned to utter chaos. Target pullers signaled miss after miss as spotters tried in vain to coach their shooters back onto their targets. While the scores might seem low to the uninitiated, those of us who were there that day know we were treated to a masterful exhibition of wind shooting strategies.
Simon Smith found the ten-ring with his third sighter then fired his ten record shots in rapid succession, trying to limit his exposure to the random breeze. For a while it appeared he had the answer, hitting a nine, then a six, then a seven. Then disaster struck as he took six misses in a row.
Dan Steinmetz chose the opposite strategy. After missing with six of eight sighers and his first three shots for score, Dan chose to wait for more stable conditions. With steely nerve he let the minutes tick by while the winds if anything worsened. With time running out and no letup in the wind, he was forced to continue. He hit a nine, then three more misses, then another nine, then a six. Bad as it seemed, that score let Dan join Mark Blondin and Gorden Gerken of Pasco in a three-way tie for second place in the match.
Skip Steinmetz showed his mastery of truly vile wind conditions by neither hurrying his shots nor waiting for an improvement that wasn't coming. Instead he concentrated on watching the wind, learning its habits, anticipating its moves; and making the proper sight changes before he fired rather than waiting for a miss to tell him what he should have done. No one is immune and Skip had to accept four misses as well, but his six hits put him well ahead to win the final 1000-yard match of the weekend.
When the powder smoke cleared and dust settled the calculator was brought out to tally up the aggregate. Only 16 points separated the first three places. In addition to his 1000-yard plaque, Skip Steinmetz took home the third place trophy. Simon Smith carried home an 800-yard plaque and a 1000-yard plaque along with the second place trophy. And Dan Steinmetz got the 900-yard plaque and a 1000-yard plaque, and truly earned the distinction of being our first State Champion.
Congratulations to all the winners, and a special thank-you to Skip Steinmetz and all those who didn't compete but showed up and were instrumental in making this an unforgettable weekend: Mike Rector, Bert Lake, Troy Fischer, Don Merhar, Dan Merz, Chuck Nay, Jay Wellnor, Robert Detloff, and Wendy Davis. And of course the biggest thank-you goes to John Hauptmann for coming up with the idea and guiding it through to completion.
Mark your calendars for next year. The 2017 BPTR Long Range State Championship will be 5-7 May. That's the weekend BEFORE Mother's Day. It will be just like this year with 800, 900, and 1000 yard stages on Saturday followed by two more 1000-yard stages on Sunday. And we're going to add a stand-alone mid-range match on Friday morning before the long range practice.
Match notices and results.
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