July 22nd, 2010

Womens’ “Dream Team” Sets New National Palma Record

A “Dream Team” composed of four of America’s top lady shooters set a new national long-range Palma record at the Rocky Mountain Palma Championships at Raton, NM last week. The four-woman squad of Trudie Fay (Captain), Michelle Gallagher, Noma Mayo, and Nancy Tompkins shot brilliantly to establish a new National Palma record of 1796-112X, breaking the existing 1791-102X record held by the USAMU (Praslick) team.

Officially listed as “The U.S. National Team”, but dubbed “Team Estrogen” by one of the gals, this squad of four female High Masters was coached by Steve Conico, a veteran long range shooter from New Mexico. Michelle told us that Coach Conico did a great job calling the wind, and all the team members performed well: “Our strategy was simple: lay down, shoot, let Steve think for everybody. Steve’s a fantastic coach. We all just had a good day. All four trigger-pullers were on top of our game. The combination of good conditions (for Raton), great coaching, and good shooting allowed a memorable team performance. That combination is rare. It’s not going to happen again any time soon.”

SCORES: T. Fay: 448-39X | M. Gallagher: 450-35X | N. Mayo: 449-26X | N. Tompkins: 449-22X

U.S. National Palma Womens Team

For Michelle, competing in this match with a team of female all-stars (who are all close friends) was a dream come true: “We’ve been planning to have a womens’ team for 10 years and it finally happened. It’s fun getting everyone together. We’re all delighted it worked out so well. And I loved being able to shoot with my mom.” Michelle shot a perfect 450 in the match, not dropping a single point.

Michelle Gallagher Nancy TompkinsRecord-Setting Equipment
All four Dream-Teamers were shooting conventional single-shot .308 Winchester Palma rifles — no tube-guns in this arsenal. Nancy Tompkins’ rifle featured a wood stock, Stolle Panda action, and 30″ Krieger barrel. Michelle’s rifle was similarly configured but she used a fiberglass McMillan stock. Nancy and Michelle shot ammo loaded with Hodgdon Varget powder, Wolf (Russian) primers, and the 155.5gr Berger Palma bullet. The other two team members, Noma and Trudie, may have been using Sierra #2156 155gr Palma bullets but that’s not confirmed.

Loading for the 155.5gr Berger Palma Bullet
Michelle observed that the 155.5gr Berger Palma bullet doesn’t require any special tuning: “With the 155.5, it’s pretty easy to swap out any load you’ve used successfully with any of the other 155s. The 155.5 doesn’t require a lot of extra load development. As far as seating depth goes, some people are successful jumping them, some people are successful jammin’ them in. Personally I’ve always soft seated. I haven’t found them to be very finicky.” Editor’s note: “Soft Seating” refers to deliberately loading the bullets long, with fairly light neck tension, and then allowing the bullet to find it’s position as one closes the bolt. The potential benefit is that the bullet ogive is always in the same position relative to the start of the rifling.

Good Conditions Aid Record-Setting Team Performance
During the July 10 team match, the weather gods smiled, providing good conditions (by Raton standards) for the female Dream Team’s record-setting performance. Michelle observed: “Have you ever shot at Raton? It can be the devil. Raton can be really nasty, but it was a pretty benign day by Raton standards. The wind was switchy but not what I’d call ‘blow you off the paper’ wind. We were all able to concentrate on the mechanics — just ‘lay down and squeeze’. Steve did all the work.”

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September 4th, 2009

Litz Dominates 2009 Spirit of America Match

Well I guess we’re all going to have to read Bryan’s book now…. Over the past few days in Raton (NM), Bryan Litz, author of Applied Ballistics for Long-Range Shooting, proved he has the trigger-pulling skills to match his technical knowledge. At the 2009 Spirit of America Nat’l Fullbore Prone Championship, Bryan put on a clinic, winning most of the individual fullbore matches, and leading his “Palma Red” Team to victory in the Cunico Team Match, Folsom Team Match, Sierra Team Match, and Galaxy Team Match. The “Palma Red” Team was ably coached by Steve Cunico. Bryan’s fellow “Palma Red” shooters on the team were David Crandall, Trudie Fay, and Noma Mayo, all of whom shot great. Congratulations to Coach Cunico, Bryan, and all the Palma Red team members.

Bryan Litz also lead the pack in all the individual Aggregate standings — Short Agg, Long Agg, and Grand Agg (1793-121X). Finishing second in Individual Grand Agg was Mitchell Maxberry (1788-108X), and Nancy Tompkins took third (1787-112X). Charles Ballard (2008 F-Class Nat’l Champ) was the overall top shooter in F-Class with a 1775-94X. Second-place finisher Danny Biggs (1770-83X) edged Larry Batholome (1769-103X) by one point, but Larry had the high X-count among F-Classers. Keep in mind that F-Class targets have smaller scoring rings than the full-bore targets.

There must be some good info in Bryan’s Ballistics book, because Bryan seemed to have an edge over all the other shooters at the SOA this year. Litz started strong and stayed strong throughout the week, winning three of four individual events. USAR Shooter Russel Theurer captured the Sinclair Int’l Individual Match with a strong 449-24X performance. Russ observed: “It’s interesting to see that every day’s Match was won with the Berger 155.5 bullet”. Complete results of the 2009 SOA can be found on the Bald Eagles Rifle Club website. Here are rankings from the individual events:

McGee Individual Match
Bryan Litz, 450-30X | Nancy Tompkins, 447-29X | Mitchell Maxberry, 446-27X

U.S. Air Force Individual Match
Bryan Litz, 449-31X | Trudie Fay, 449-25X | Michelle Gallagher, 448-28X

Sinclair Individual Match
Russel Theurer, 449-24X | David Crandall, 448-33X | Mitchell Maxberry, 448-26X

Sierra Bullets Individual Match
Bryan Litz, 448-30X | Michelle Gallager, 448-29X | Mark Andrew, 447-21X

SOA Grand Aggregate (Individual)
Bryan Litz, 1793-121X | Mitchell Maxberry, 1788-108X | Nancy Tompkins, 1787-112X

Praise for Bald Eagles Club
Bryan Litz had high praise for the folks who run the Spirit of America Match: “The Bald Eagles do a great job running a safe and efficient National Championship. There is an extraordinary amount of experience and common sense at work…. In my opinion, they’re a shining example of how things should be done. One example is squading the relays according to standings. I believe it makes for a more fair contest. If you enjoy midrange and long range shooting, then I highly recommend making the trip to Raton for the Spirit of America match next year. The range is beautiful, people are friendly, and you’ll get plenty of team and individual shooting in the 7 days.”

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