At last the big day had arrived: the 2018 WMMOA Day at the Range shooting competition. Some of Western Montana’s finest shots gathered at the Hellgate Civilian Shooters range in West Riverside to shoot a wide variety of firearms and represent their branch of service. There were many unanswered questions; could the Air Force win again this year? Who was going to bring the biggest arsenal? and How good would the after match social hour and Bar-B-Que be?
There was a record attendance of 15 marksmen and women. Targets were posted at 10, 25 and 50 yards. There was plenty of guns, ammo and enthusiasm; unfortunately there was not a lot of accurate shooting at first. Things got better as the shooters got used to the hot conditions, recoil and noise. Some folks like Tate Jones had never fired a pistol before and John Harrison became a great coach. There were former FBI agents comparing notes and talking about the good old days and police officers who were more familiar with guns.
The Army was well represented with eight sharpshooters followed by the Marines with two, two Air Force experts and a couple of Navy guys.
After 90 minutes of sighting in it was time for the annual competition. Norm Wight led off the match by shooting the best individual five shot score of the day. Could his partner, Mike Schauf maintain the lead? The defending champion Air Force team led by Larry Schauff and Warren Little shot second and was stymied by some wild shots. The USMC fired next and the team of Colin Rose and Will Deschamps were good but not good enough to overtake their maritime brothers. Saving the best for last, it was the Army teams’ turn. Larry Anderson, Gary Lancaster, Steve Rossiter, Kay Jennings, John Harrison and Gary Swartz provided the superior firepower and blew everyone out of the water, so to speak. When the smoke had cleared, the Navy and an Army team were tied at the top with 80 points out of a hundred. Norm Wight (US Navy) and John Harrison (US Army) represented their teams in a one shot shootoff. Norm shot a solid 8 but the team of John Harrison and Gary Swartz became this year’s champions when John fired a 10.
Mike Schauf and Gary Swartz provided the food and beverages for folks and everyone ate their fill of brats, chips, beer and soda.
It was a great event and another chance to keep in touch over the summer.