September 28th, 2017

Hard-Holders Set Records in Montana Long Range Tournament

Deep Creek Long Range Tournament
Deep Creek is a beautiful range, lined with tall timber on both sides.

Report by Jamey Williams
The second phase of the Northern Rockies Long Range Tournament was held at the Deep Creek Range outside Missoula, Montana last weekend. The F-Class portion was held two weekends before, under very different but also favorable conditions. The F-Class event was at the tail end of a very bad fire year, and the conditions were hot, dry, and at times, smoky. Nonetheless, great scores were fired, including a pending National Team Record by the Washington F-Open Team.

This past weekend was very different, with low temps, rain, and fog — a very dramatic shift in a very short time. The 1000-yard team matches on Friday took place under a light rain, and several cleans were fired — a prelude of thing to come. Saturday brought cold conditions and fresh snow on the surrounding mountains. While it was cold and cloudy, several shooters fired high scores with some only dropping only a handful of points or less over the Palma match and the 1000-yard match. This brought us into Sunday morning with a fog starting to settle over the range during the 800 yard stage of the last Palma match. As the day went on, the conditions gradually improved and with some outstanding shooting, a couple of pending NRA National Records were set.

This past weekend was time for the sling-shooters, the “hard-holders” who shoot prone with sling, coat, and glove. There were some very impressive performances — including two pending records, one by an All National Guard marksman SSG John Coggshall, and the other by Kerry Spurgin, who shot incredibly well, to break a long-standing Open Record.

Deep Creek Long Range Tournament
Note: The upper left image shows SSG Coggshall at Deep Creek in 2010.

SSG John Coggshall of the Connecticut Army National Guard and member of the All National Guard Rifle Team fired an outstanding 1093-61X (out of a possible 1100 points), earning him the NRA Silver medallion. This score should earn him the Service Category National Record for the Long Range Regional Aggregate by one point and a bunch of Xs over the previous record set by SGT Eric Smith, USAR. SSG Coggshall previously held this record, which was set several years ago at the Deep Creek Range in Montana. Along with Palma rifle, Coggshall has a lot of experience shooting smallbore as well as service rifle. His Team Coach described him as a hard-holder who can hold half the X-Ring with his iron-sighted Palma rifle.

L to R: Todd Branin, Kerry Spurgin, SSG John Coggshall
Deep Creek Long Range Tournament

Also having a fantastic weekend was U.S. Palma Team member, Kerry Spurgin of Hillsboro, Oregon. Spurgin (above center) was an All-American Rifle Team shooter for Murray State University in Kentucky, and brother to Patricia Spurgin, 1984 Olympic air rifle Gold medalist. Spurgin started out day three of the tournament with an strong score fired in mildly foggy conditions at the 800-yard line, a 149-14X. He continued to fire very well, and ended the individual matches with the Gold Medallion and a pending Open and Civilian record score of 1097-75X. With less than perfect conditions, Spurgin managed to only drop three (3) points all weekend, breaking a National Record that had stood for 17 years.

Deep Creek Range
The Deep Creek Range in Missoula, MT is one of the nicest places to shoot in the Intermountain West region. The range is located in the mountains within a few minutes drive of Missoula, and there is camping on-site. When conditions are good at Deep Creek, records get broken. To learn more about shooting at Deep Creek, contact Jamey Williams at jameydan[at]

Here is an aerial view of the Deep Creek Range (Drone video by David Gosnell):

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