The Iowa 1000 yard Bench-rest Club held their last match in June, 2010. I was in attendance and it was truly a bittersweet day. We had been given advance notice by Gordy Gritters, club president, at the first match of the year in April. Some time during the winter of 2009-2010, the elderly land owner passed away. The club had leased the ground from him on an annual basis for many years. I joined in April, 2008 and the range and the entire membership.
The heirs were not willing to continue the relationship with the club and they gave us notice to kindly have all of our property removed by July. After the June match, the 22 concrete benches and target frames and backers were removed. It was truly a sad day when we said goodbye after the June match.
Fast forward to October of 2011. I got a letter from two gentlemen in Missouri informing me (and other club members) that they had purchased the Iowa clubs equipment and membership list and intended to hold IBS sanctioned 1000 yard benchrest matches. They scheduled a "practice" match for the first week of November. I phoned and talked to the property owner and he said that they wanted to hold a mock match just to learn how it went. There were no entry fees or prizes, they just wanted to see how a match was run and scored. I decided to go and took 3 rifles to shoot at the mock match.
Much to my surprise, Gordy Gritters came in from Kansas City to help run the match and show them the ropes. If you've not heard of him, you probably have not followed precision long range benchrest shooting. The last 3 National Champions were all members of the Iowa Club and Gordy put two of their guns together. He has built guns for other past National Champions. Once the range in Pella closed, he moved his shop and family to Kansas.
Ed Nazy, 2009 National Champion came to the mock match from northern Indiana. There were six of us from the old club in attendance. It was a cold blustery day but we shot all three classes; light gun, heavy gun and stock gun. Targets were scored with the same large caliper that they used at Pella. When the matches ended, they let us use the ranges with whatever other guns we brought. Unlike Pella, this range has targets from 100 yards out to 1000. Pella only had target frames at 1000.
Here they had steel targets at other ranges. At 600 yards was what appeared to be a swing set with steel targets hanging from it. I played with my 7 Mag. Sendero with 5.5-22x NightForce and NPR-1 reticle to coordinate the hash marks with various yardages so as not to have to dial up for different distances. With the help of a friend on my spotting scope, I was banging steel from 200 yards to 1,000 yards.
This past winter the guys got affiliated with IBS and have a website with directions and match dates for this year. Our first match is one week from today, Friday, May 12.
Show Me Shooters Benchrest LLC is what they named the new range and club. It is in Northeast Missouri near Memphis, Mo. It is actually closer for me than Pella was! When I returned last fall from the match, I checked the mileage. It was 100 miles from the range to my driveway. That's about 80 miles closer than Pella. They will follow the same practice that Pella had of opening the range on the Friday afternoon before the Saturday match date. This gives competitors a chance to fine tune or check out their rifles and loads.
Also, like the Pella range, there are no pits. You sight yourself in on clay pigeons that are on the berm under your target frame. You fire the shot and in the 1.5 (or so) seconds it takes the bullet to get there you get back on the target with your scope and hopefully see the bullet impact on the dirt bank. This was most problematic for me at my first few matches with my 7 magnum Sendero. I had to get a spotter to help me. Once I put a Vais muzzle brake on it, I could see all of my impacts on the berm and adjust the scope accordingly without a spotter. My 6.5-284 Savage target guns are much heavier and also wear Vais brakes and are pussycats to spot bullet impacts with.
Please excuse the rather long winded post, but I'm really pumped-up about getting back into some long range competition. If any of you are interested in getting into this type of shooting and are within driving distance, please come out and have some fun. The past three National Champions were all members of the Iowa club and none of them was from Iowa. Last years champ was Todd Soeby from North Dakota. 2010 champ was Jim Bauer from Kansas. 2009 champ was Ed Nazy from Indiana. Two time National champ Lee Fisher was from Wisconsin. Joe Thielen, Hornady engineer, and Lonnie Hummel, Hornady custom die specialist regularly attended, coming in from Nebraska.
Here's a link to their site. Hope to see you at the range next Saturday.