September 14th, 2019

Trudie Triumps Again at Spirit of America Match

Trudie Faye Spirit of America Fullbore Target Rifle Palma gun
The conquering Heroine! Trudie Fay poses with Fullbore Runner-up Oliver Milanovic (on ground).

Trudie Fay Spirit of America Fullbore Target Rifle Palma gunCongratulations to Trudie Fay, the Fullbore (Target Rifle) Champion at the 2019 Spirit of America Match. Trudie won yet another major title competing at the challenging NRA Whittington Range in Raton, New Mexico. With her great hard-holding skills and superior wind-reading abilities, Trudie shot brilliantly to finish at the top of a very strong field of competitors. SEE Spirit of America Fullbore Top 20 Results.

Trudie had a very impressive performance at Raton this past week. In her Fullbore (sling and irons) Division, she finished at 1781-105X, four points ahead of runner-up Oliver Milanovic (1777-102X). Trudie also had the highest score on two of the Four Days, and was the only shooter to record a 449 single-day score, which she managed on both Day 1 and Day 3. And as you’d expect, Trudie had the high X-Count for the match. This was another brilliant display of marksmanship by Trudie, who is also one of the best wind coaches in the country.

Trudie’s .308 Win Palma-type rifle was built by gunsmith and stock-maker Doan Trevor in Arizona. Doan commented: “I have had the privilege of building Trudie’s rifles for the last few years. Congratulations, my friend… You did it again!”

Trudie Fay Spirit of America Fullbore Target Rifle Palma gun

Blast from the Past — Trudie on All-Ladies Team at Camp Perry
Trudie is one of America’s greatest female shooters. A few years ago, she teamed up with four other legendary lady shooters for an all-female team at Camp Perry. Left to Right are: Michelle Gallagher, Trudie Fay, Nancy Tompkins (coach), Anette Wachter, and Sherri Jo Gallagher. Nancy was the first female National High Power Champion. And Sherri Jo was the second.

Trudie Fay Spirit of America Fullbore Target Rifle Palma gun

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August 23rd, 2019

Flying with Firearms — Smart Advice for Traveling Competitors

Airport security travel bag check-in O'hare TSA

We know that many of our readers will soon travel by air to attend major matches in Raton, New Mexico. The Spirit of America Match runs September 7-13, and the F-Class Mid-Range and Long-Range Nationals follow September 15-22. If you’ll be venturing to Raton, or to another destination by air in the weeks ahead, you need to be careful when transporting firearms through airports both in the USA and in other countries. It is important that you comply with all Homeland Security, TSA, and Airline policies when transporting guns and ammunition. Following the rules will help ensure you (and your gear) make it to your destination without hassles, delays or (God forbid), confiscations.

Airport security travel bag check-in O'hare TSA
The NRA F-Class Mid-Range Nationals (Sept. 15-18) and Long Range Nationals (Sept. 19-22) will be held at the NRA Whittington Center 1000-Yard Range in Raton, New Mexico.

Good Advice from an Airport Police Officer
To help our readers comply with rules and regulations for air travel, we offer these guidelines, courtesy “Ron D.”, a member of our Shooters’ Forum. Before he retired, Ron D. served as a Police Officer assigned to Chicago’s O’Hare airport. Here Ron offers some very important advice for shooters traveling with firearms and expensive optics.

gun transport caseFirst, Ron explains that airport thieves can spot bags containing firearms no matter how they are packaged: “Don’t think you’re safe if your guns are placed in cases designed for golf clubs or trade show items. Baggage is X-Rayed now and cases are tagged with a special bar code if they contain firearms. It doesn’t take long for bad guys to figure out the bar coding for firearms.”

Carry-On Your Scopes and Expensive Items
Ron advises travelers to avoid placing very expensive items in checked baggage: “When traveling by air, carry on your rangefinder, spotting scope, rifle scope, medications, camera, etc. You would be surprised at the amount of people that carry-on jeans and shirts, but put expensive items in checked baggage. Better to loose three pairs of jeans than some expensive glass.”

Mark Bags to Avoid Confusion
Ron notes that carry-on bags are often lost because so many carry-on cases look the same. Ron reports: “People do accidentally remove the wrong bag repeatedly. I frequently heard the comment, ‘But it looks just like my bag.’ When de-planing, keep an eye on what comes out of the overhead that your bag is in. It’s easy to get distracted by someone that has been sitting next to you the whole flight. I tie two streamers of red surveyors’ tape on my carry-on bag.” You can also use paint or decals to make your carry-on bag more distinctive.

TSA Air transport safety locked bag declare firearm

General Advice for Air Travelers
Ron cautions: “Keep your hands on your items before boarding. One of the most often heard comments from theft victims was, ‘I just put my computer down for a minute while I was on the phone.’ Also, get to the baggage claim area quickly. If your family/friends can meet you there, so can the opportunists. Things do get lost in the claim area. Don’t be a Victim. Forewarned is forearmed.”

Important TSA Tips on Firearms and Flying

Choosing a Rifle Transport Case
Ron advises: “Buy the best [rifle case] that you can afford. Don’t cry when your $3,000+ Benchrest rifle has a cracked stock or broken scope. Think about what it would be like to travel across the country (e.g. to Montana or the Cactus Classic) and arrive with a damaged rifle. Remember the Samsonite commercial. (For you younger shooters, it shows a monkey throwing the suitcase around in his cage at the zoo.) Baggage handling is NOT a fine art. There is no guarantee that your rifle case will be on top of all the other baggage. Then there is shifting of baggage in the belly of the plane. Ponder that for a while. Rifle and pistol cases must be locked. It doesn’t take a Rocket Scientist to figure out that a simple pry tool will open most case locks. There is not much that you can do to disguise a rifle case. It is what it is, and opportunists know this. Among thieves, it doesn’t take long for the word to get around about a NEW type of case.”

Plano Double Rifle Case Amazon Airport security travel bag check-in O'hare TSA
This Plano Double Scoped Rifle Case offers the functionality and durability of an SKB-type hard case for HALF the money. This is now just $111.64, while the equivalent SKB is around $240.00.

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September 3rd, 2014

2014 Spirit of America Match at Raton September 5-12

Preview by John Gaines, President, BERC
Sponsored by the Bald Eagles Rifle Club, the 2014 Spirit of America Fullbore Rifle Prone Championship will be held at the NRA Whittington Center near Raton, New Mexico on 5-12 September. The event is open to Target Rifle, F-Open, and F-TR shooters. There will be matches at 300, 500, 600, 900 and 1000 yards. CLICK HERE for 2014 Spirit of America Match Program.

Since 2001 the Bald Eagles have hosted the Spirit of America Match and it has grown in both stature and reputation with every year of competition. It is one of the premier fullbore matches in the world, and the range at Raton is one of the most challenging in the United States.

Spirit of America Match Raton, New Mexico

The short ranges are fired in the mornings and the long ranges in the afternoon. Short range matches (300, 500, and 600 yards) are fired “two to the mound” while the long ranges (900 and 1000 yards) are fired “string fire”. Both individual and team matches are fired and competitors not belonging to a recognized or hometown team are encouraged to join a “make-up” team for the experience and the camaraderie of team shooting. The total round count for the week is more than 400 (counting practice and “blow-off” shots.) That’s lots of shooting on one of the best ranges in the world!

Door Prizes and More…
In addition to cash, trophies, and medals there will be a door prize table containing various merchandise from recognized companies in the shooting sports industry. Top door prize will be a Savage M12 F-Class rifle with a Nightforce Competition scope. To learn more about the 2014 Spirit of America Match visit the Bald Eagles Rifle Club website at www.baldeaglesrc.org.

Spirit of America Match Raton, New Mexico

The Guns and the Targets
The match is for fullbore Target rifle, F-Class (Open), and F-Class (T/R). There will be separate awards for each category.

TARGET RIFLE
Gun Specs: A rifle chambered for the unmodified 7.62×51 or commercial .308 Win cartridge, or a rifle chambered for the unmodified 5.56mm or commercial .223 Remington cartridge. Any safe trigger is acceptable.
Targets: 300 yards-MR63; 500 yards-MR65; 600 yards-MR1; 900 & 1000 yards-NRA LR

F-CLASS
Gun Rules: Rifles and rests must comply with NRA rules 3.4 & 3.4.1
Targets: 300 yards-MR63FC; 500 yards-MR65FC; 600 yards-MR1FC; 900 & 1000 yards-R-FC

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September 16th, 2012

Bartholome, Fay, and Tompkins Win at SOA in Raton, NM

2012 Spirit of America matchThe Spirit of America Match at Raton, New Mexico has concluded. Bryan Litz provided this quick wrap-up last evening: “Just a short time to report the winners before heading to the awards dinner. Larry Bartholome won F-Open, Trudie Fay won F-TR, and Nancy Tompkins won the sling class. The match came down to the last relay at 1000 yards. The photo at right shows a common result in the switching winds. Lots of target uprights were damaged and shooters grateful for hanging a six by half an inch! Congratulations to all competitors for persevering [in] Raton’s difficult conditions!”

Below are match photos taken by Bryan Litz. You’ll find more Spirit of America Match photos on the Applied Ballistics Facebook Page.

2012 Spirit of America match

2012 Spirit of America match

2012 Spirit of America match

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September 14th, 2012

Match Report: Day 3 at Spirit of America in Raton

Report by Bryan Litz
Day 3 of the Spirit of America Individual Aggregate (Thursday, 9/13/2012) started out cold and misty. Everyone was pretty much wearing every shred of clothing they had to get thru the morning, but the afternoon warmed up nicely. Short range was typical; constant and relatively calm at 300 and 500, but the wind kicked up about the time we started shooting 600 and some points started falling. After lunch we shot 900 yards and the points really started falling! As expected, the chaos shook up the standings quite a bit.

Controversy in Sling Class
In the sling class, Noma Mayo was the high shooter at 4 points down. Noma shot a miss at 600 yards, challenged it, and lost the challenge. She finished the range, then later went to the stat house and had the miss removed from her score card. A formal protest was filed, but her amended score stood (without a miss). Needless to say, the result is somewhat controversial, especially considering that Noma is in contention to win the tournament. The current standings in the individual sling aggregate are: Nancy Tompkins at 6 points down, Noma Mayo at 8 points down, and Bryan Litz at 9 points down.

Spirit of America Raton

Trudie Fay Continues to Lead F-TR
In F-TR, Trudie Fay continues her dominant performance at 13 points down to win the day. Trudie is also leading the F-TR aggregate with one day to go. Tomorrow is the Raton 8-man team match.

Larry Bartholome won the F-Open class at 7 points down for the day (Aggregate standings were not posted as of when we left the range so it’s difficult to calculate those full standings).

Click Links for Day 3 Full Results: F-Class Individual | Sling Individual

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September 12th, 2012

Report from Raton: Spirit of America Match Day 2 Results

Here is Bryan Litz’s latest report from the Spirit of America Match, underway at the Whittington Range in Raton, New Mexico. You can follow Bryan’s posts on the Applied Ballistics Facebook Page.

Raton Range

Report from Raton
Today was the second day of individual Fullbore shooting at the Spirit of America match. Some clouds moved in for part of the day and showered on us for about 15 minutes in the afternoon, but other than that the weather was good. There was wind, but nowhere near bad for Raton.

David Crandall won the sling class with the only clean for the day, followed by Bryan Litz, Bob Steketee, and Rick Hunt who were all down 1 point. For the Aggregate standings, Bryan and Nancy Tompkins are tied at 898, but Bryan has 57 Xs to Nancy’s 55. That’s a narrow margin with two days remaining!

Raton Range
Bill Litz, Bryan Litz, Michelle Gallagher, Nancy Tompkins

F-Class Results
Results in F-Open are interesting in that the top three places for todays shooting are also the same top 3 in the Aggregate. The winners for today, and leaders in the F-Open class are [familiar names]: Jim Murphy, Larry Bartholome, and Danny Biggs. These guys are three of the best F-class shooters in the USA. They’ll be difficult to catch.

Top three in F-TR today were: Trudie Fay, Ray Gross, and Darcy Spenst. Local shooter and U.S. Palma Team member Trudie Fay is also leading the F-TR aggregate by a decent margin. This comes as no suprise, as Raton is Trudie’s home range and she’s won the sling class of this tournament in the past. South African Ivan Lamprecht is second in the aggregate so far (Ivan is shooting ammo provided by Applied Ballistics Munitions!). Ray Gross of Team Sinclair is in 3rd place, despite having a miss on the first day of the tournament! Were it not for that, Ray would be leading by (up to) 7 points. Bill Litz (of Applied Ballistics Munitions) got off to a great start today, only losing 5 points in the morning (300, 500 and 600 yards). Bill’s new rifle built by John Pierce of Pierce Engineering is shooting the 215 grain Berger Hybrids EXTREMELY well. In Bill’s words: “That thing’s a freakin’ laser!”.

Two more days of individual shooting remain (on Thursday and Saturday), so we’re only half way through the tournament. Tomorrow’s 4-man team match will conclude the Team Aggregate.

Here are links to Day 2 full scores: F-TR | F-Open | Sling Class

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September 18th, 2011

2011 Spirit of America Results from Raton, NM

September 11-17, the Bald Eagles Rifle Club hosted the 2011 Spirit Of America rifle match, at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, NM. This match serves as U.S. National Fullbore Championships, but there are also F-Class divisions. The match consists of conventional sling (TR) class, as well as F-Open and F-TR, and the event is shot at distances of 300, 500, 600, 800, 900 and 1000 yards. Approximately 80 shooters, including about 20 F-classer attended the event.

Bryan Litz won the Fullbore TR (sling) competition with a 1782-105X overall score, with runner-up Andrew Wilde (1780-101X), just two points behind. Sean Morris finished third with 1776-85X, and Jim O’Connell shot 1772-81X to claim the High Senior title.

F-Class SOA Bryan Litz Fullbore
Photo by Randy Pike

In F-Open Class, familiar names topped the leaderboard. Larry Bartholome earned his chair ride as F-Open winner, shooting an impressive 1776-98X. Second in F-Open, five points back at 1771-96X, was past F-Class National Champion Danny Biggs. In the F-TR division, Michael Smith topped the field with a 1738-69X, followed by John Killen, who shot a 1720-52X. NOTE: F-Open and F-TR competitors shoot a target with smaller-diameter scoring rings than the Fullbore Target.

F-Class SOA larry Bartholome michael smith

Conditions Were Mild… Then Wild
Bryan Litz tells us the conditions weren’t so bad … until the final day: “We dodged some rain throughout the week, but wind conditions were easy to moderate for the most part. That is until the last 1000-yard string of the last day when Raton finally showed its evil side! The most wind I had used all week was just over 3 MOA. That last relay on Saturday, it was running between 7 and 12 MOA with very quick changes. There were many misses, and just keeping all shots in the black was an accomplishment.” Rick Hunt concurred that the conditions were arduous on the final 1K stage: “At 1000 yards, there was a 9:00 o’clock wind running between 9 1/2 and 13 1/2 MOA. As seen by the scores, two shooters really nailed it. Other than that, it was pretty disastrous for most shooters with the really fast velocity changes.”

Raton New Mexico

When the smoke had cleared, the standings were all jumbled up compared to what they were the rest of the week. Litz added: “An experience like that really drives home the importance of wind shooting skills. To be honest, I had no particular strategy going in other than to stay calm and positive no matter what. A big part of shooting in adverse conditions is managing yourself mentally. I dropped 10 points that last relay, more than I’d lost in the entire tournament up to that point. But given the conditions, I felt good about it, knowing I’d done my best.”

Berger 155gr Hybrids Work Well in Fullbore Competition
Bryan Litz credits his 155gr Berger .308-cal Hybrids for his strong performance: “I was shooting the new Berger 155 grain Hybrid bullets which played a part in saving some points in that nasty wind (on the last day). Due to their length, these bullets require a 1:12″ twist to stabilize and have a higher BC than any other .30 caliber 155 grain bullet. The hybrid ogive makes them length tolerant (insensitive to seating depth) and as the results of this tournament show, they are very effective”.

Complete Final Scores On SOA Blog
You’ll find complete interim and final SOA Match Scores linked from the Bald Eagles Match Blog.

Saturday and Final TR (Fullbore Sling) Class (PDF).

Saturday and Final F-Open and F-TR Class Results (PDF).

At the match the USA Young Eagles unveiled the new uniforms the American team will wear at the World Fullbore Championships in Australia next month. On opposite sleeves, the uniforms feature logos from both major bullet sponsors — Berger and Sierra. Bryan Litz observerd: “Historically teams have been sponsored by ‘one or the other’, but there’s no reason a team can’t enjoy sponsorship by multiple brands, and this is a very positive step in that direction.”

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September 27th, 2010

Danny Biggs Wins SOA F-Open Class Shooting from Bipod

Danny Biggs Sinclair Int'l BipodWe’ve confirmed that Danny Biggs, the Spirit of America’s F-Open Class Winner, shot the match using a bipod, rather than a pedestal rest. This is pretty remarkable because top F-Open competitors have traditionally preferred the stability and quick adjustability you get with a deluxe pedestal rest such as a Farley, John Loh (J.J. Industries), or SEB. Of course, Danny had a trick up his sleeve — his prototype Sinclair International bipod features a quick-adjusting elevation control. No, you can’t buy a bipod like Danny’s — at least not yet. Sinclair Int’l hopes to offer production versions before the end of 2010.

Sinclair staffer Pete Petros competed at the 2010 SOA Match, and recounted his experiences in Sinclair’s Reloading Press. Concerning Biggs’ bipod, Petros wrote:

An interesting fact about Biggs’ win is that he was shooting off of the Sinclair F-Class Bipod which is generally used in F-TR competition. In F-Class open most competitors shoot off of a bench-type rest modified to shoot off of the ground in the prone position. The bipod Biggs [used] is a new-model Sinclair Elevation-Adjustable version of the newer Sinclair F-Class Bipod. Danny has been testing this product for us during the past year and obviously is having great results. We should have these bipods ready for production in a few months. Keep posted to our website for announcements. But trust me, I think Danny would shoot well balancing his gun on a rock –- he’s that good!

Danny Biggs Sinclair Int'l BipodWhile most F-Open shooters used a front pedestal rest, either a joystick design or a center column pedestal with remote-adjustable windage top, Danny used a wide-base bipod, as he had done at past Nationals in the F-TR class. But Danny’s bipod was very special. It is a prototype, modified Sinclair design with height adjustment via a central, vertical-axis knob.

As you can see from the pictures below, the left and right bipod legs are attached to a T-shaped silver (aluminum) bracket. This bracket moves up and down as the silver knob is turned clockwise or counter-clockwise. As the knob turns, its threads pull the T-shaped bracket up and down relative to a center block of aluminum bolted to the bipod’s attachment to the rifle’s forearm accessory rail. With this system, Danny can easily reach forward and make precise adjustments in elevation. Note that the Sinclair bipod’s secure rail attachment is retained and Danny can still adjust rifle cant (tilt), using the rear push-button handle. This rear handle functions like a Pod-lock allowing the rifle to be tilted a few degrees to one side or the other to compensate for side-sloping terrain.

Danny Biggs Sinclair Int'l Bipod

Danny Biggs Sinclair Int'l Bipod

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September 24th, 2010

Multiple National Records Set at 2010 Spirit of America Match

We recently reported that Trudie Fay of Raton, NM, shooting on her home range, was the Fullbore winner at the Spirit of America Match. Trudie and many other shooters set new National records during the course of the match. Trudie fired an aggregate score of 1781-104x, which was an Open, Civilian, and Woman’s National Record. Second place, with a Senior National Record, was Tom Whitaker. High Grand Senior was Johnie Franklin, high Junior was Kyle Doney, high Service was Emily Windmassinger.

Trudie Fay 2010 Spirit of AmericaThere were also new records set in F-Class competition, in both F-Open and F-TR classes. High F-Open shooter was Danny Biggs with a score of 1777-88x. Danny’s score was an Open, Civilian and Grand Senior National Record. High Senior was Jim Murphy firing 1766-90x.

Michelle Gallagher was the high F-TR shooter firing a score of 1717-62x. Michellle’s score was an Open, Civilian and Woman’s National Record. Daniel Borwiecki of the Marine Corps Rifle Team was the high Service shooter. Robert Depp was the high Senior and Alan Canavan was high Grand Senior.

Trudie Rides in Style
The winners were “chaired,” holding their rifle and hoisted in the air by the competitors. Trudie Fay, wearing white gloves, was carried in Raton’s timber sedan chair by the Fullbore competitors. Danny Biggs, the F-Class winner, was carried in a rocking chair by the F-Class competitors. Michelle Gallagher, the F-TR winner, was carried in a captain’s chair. All were carried off the 1000-yard line to the Bald Eagles Clubhouse while bagpipe music was played.

Report courtesy Jan Raab and the NRA Blog.

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