December 11th, 2009

Report from Arizona Palma State Championship

Match Report by German Salazar
This past week 89 shooters competed in what is traditionally the biggest winter Palma match in the USA — the 2009 Arizona Palma State Championship. Held at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix on December 4-6, the event included Palma, F-Open and F-TR classes. Ben Avery’s High Power range has 100 firing points to 1000 yards and is renowned for challenging conditions and excellent match administration.

Trend Towards Heavy Bullets
Chatting with competitors, we noted an increase in the use of bullets heavier than 155 grains, with the Berger 185 being the most frequently mentioned alternative, although the Berger 175 was also in use as were Sierra and Berger 190 grain bullets. Competitor frustration with the availability of Varget and its ever-changing burn rate are driving an increased use of H4895, IMR 4320 and IMR 4064 in the Palma. Tubeguns were also much in evidence, being a Western favorite with large number of them on the line in the hands of the California and Arizona shooters. Gary Eliseo was on hand as always and had a good performance throughout.

Ben Avery Shooting Facility

Match Kicks Off With Tough Conditions
The match opened Friday, December 4, as all Palma matches do, with the 800-yard stage. Relay after relay battled cold north winds. Over half the competitors were High Masters, yet only two shooters fired scores of 150 — Tom Whitaker of California and Phil Hayes of Arizona. As the morning wore on and the competitors moved back to 900 and 1000 yards, the wind eased off a bit and scores improved with 150s becoming more common. At the end of the day, Whitaker’s 450-30X topped the list, followed by Bryan Litz of Berger Bullets and Kelly Bachand from Washington.

On Saturday morning, the desert chill remained, but the flags hung limply, raising hopes for high scores. Those expectations were realized as Bud Solis, a retired Seattle police officer, put up a sterling 450-25X to lead the day. Close behind (all with 449 scores) were Bachand, Gary Rasmussen (WA), German Salazar (AZ), and Randy Teissedre (CA). The final day, Sunday, conditions began relatively calm but progressively got windier with frequent direction changes. No one was able to master the conditions for a 450, but the mother-daughter duo from Prescott, AZ, Nancy Tompkins and Michelle Gallagher, came closest, each shooting a 449 with Nancy’s 29X just edging out Michelle’s 26X. David Littlefield (WA) and Jim O’Connell (CA) also shot 449s on Sunday.

Gallagher Wins Match, with Whitaker and Bachand One Point Behind
Michelle Gallagher posted a 3-day tally of 1345-81X, giving her a one-point victory over runner-up Tom Whitaker (1344-91X) and third place Kelly Bachand (1344-79X). Note that Tom had ten more Xs than Michelle, but came up just one-point shy. Bryan Litz finished fourth overall, with German Salazar in fifth (on a tie-breaker over Michael Storer). All the Top Ten are listed, with scores, in the table below. In Team Competition, the US Team coached by Gary Rasmussen compiled a 1787-95X, edging second-place Team Berger (1783-96X) and third-place Bald Eagles Grand Seniors (1782-75X).

CLICK HERE for Individual Match Results | CLICK HERE for TEAM Match Results

Litz Bachand palma championshipTop Ten Grand Aggregate
2. TOM WHITAKER: 1344-91X – HiSR
3. KELLY BACHAND: 1344-79X – HM
4. BRYAN LITZ: 1343-91X – HM
5. GERMAN SALAZAR: 1339-68X – HM
6. MICHAEL STORER: 1339-68X – HiJR
7. FELIX SOLIS: 1338-59X – HM
8. ROBERT GUSTIN: 1337-64X – HM
9. ALLEN SPIKER: 1335-50X – HM
10. JIM O’CONNELL – 1332-62X – HM

The F-Open Class was won by Rick Curtis of Phoenix at 1328-67X with Darren Sucato, another tough Phoenix shooter in second place. F-TR went to John Chilton with his factory Savage F-TR rifle putting up an impressive 1308-45X.

There are weekly matches in Phoenix for across the course High Power, Prone, F-Class, and Smallbore. A complete schedule is found on The Arizona state association website also has useful information.