Submitted to AAFTA by Jim Whittlesey Match Director.
2022 Nevada State Field Target Championship & AAFTA Grand Prix
The toughest field target match in the world entered its eighth year in 2022, a tradition of pain started by Lonnie Smith in 2015 continues for competitors and match directors alike.
With an average elevation of 5800' above sea level the course offers angle and wind conditions not seen since Larry Durham's matches at his estate in Temecula, California, setting up and shooting this course is a grind both mentally and physically.
This years pistol and rifle course were a slight redesigns of last years courses with the intent of reducing the Troyer difficulty to make things more enjoyable. Not only the relocation of some targets, nearly all of the targets were reset (we set most of the larger kill zone targets at 40 yards and beyond).
A week or two before the match weekend we went out to Nevada and added a few more target poles (eliminating all ground mounted targets) and did some general maintenance with special attention paid to the picnic table area and the shooting boxes.
We also added an alternate offhand (standing) target pole, there are three cliff face mounted target locations (threaded rod epoxied into rock) the least extreme is about 30 degrees from horizontal, the most extreme is 45 degrees.
In total approximately ten targets were moved closer to the shooters boxes. For the last few years the wind has become a serious factor during the match, the idea with reducing the Troyer was to account for more wind on match days.
Oddly enough when we were there for Memorial Day there were high wind and dust advisories for the valley with wind gusts above 50mph. And as luck would have it the same winds would again crop up on Sunday afternoon and evening (with an added bonus of thunderstorms).
Match set up took a little longer than last year since all the targets were reordered, this meant relabelling each target with the lane number and 'near' or 'far' on the face plate. We got a little fancy with face plate painting this year too, this also added some time to the set up process but in the end it was definitely worth the extra effort.
A few people showed up earlier than expected and gave us a hand setting the targets on the poles and pulling the strings to the shooters boxes. Once again the extra time and money spent on staking and setting the poles turned a multiple day process into a four hour process.
Considering the terrain and altitude if each target had to be ground mounted we probably would not be running this match at this point. Lonnie would show up a week or two before the match weekend and set the course, the one year we did the ground mounted targets we were just able to set the course before the match began.
For the rifle course, half of the shooters boxes move from day one to day two. This not only changes the relative wind angles from the first day to the second it changes the distance from the box to the target by at least a yard. Since the targets are pole mounted it is very easy to realign them to thew new box location when they are being touched up with paint between days.
Special thanks to those who pitched in and helped with the set up and take down. Thanks to those who attended, without you this would not happen.
Pistol Match- Friday
As luck would have it...the winds picked up early afternoon and sustained throughout the match. On a positive note it did not seem like the winds were as bad as they were last year.
The top three spots in Hunter Pistol were hotly contested with Scott Schneider shooting a 35 out of 40 edging the win from Wayne Burns (34) who just beat Scott Hull (33). Interestingly enough the top scores from last year were Scott S. 34, Scott H. 33 and Wayne B. 32.
Scott Schneider 35
Wayne Burns 34
Scott Hull 33
Randy Ebersole 26
John Knapp 23
Chris Lovitt 21
Vince Pacheco 15
Once again Limited Pistol was "dominated" by Cameron Kerndt who shot a 30, Pat Callahan wrapped up the field with a 7.
Cameron Kerndt 30
Pat Callahan 7
Rifle Match- Saturday
Nature brought its wrath once again and even though the wind was intermittent, switching between gusty and mildly calm, the gusts were a few mph above what any reasonable wind card might handle. The match kicked off around 10am and from there the wind increased steadily until the final shot was sent.
After the first 56 shots Randy Ebersole was leading Hunter and the field with a 43, Chris Merritt was leading Open with a 41. Second and third in Hunter were filled by Wayne Burns (40) and Scot Schneider (37).
In Open Jim Whittlesey had a paltry 34 and was followed by Dennis Banez with a 30.
In WFTF, Lonnie Smith shot a 33 and was holding a decent lead over Alan Otsuka with a 25.
For WFTF Piston, Cameron Kerndt was scoring in the top five for the day with a 38, a fantastic showing on this course for not only WFTF but for a piston shooter.
For the top shooters their day one scores provided much confidence, for those trailing it was time to reevaluate and hunker down for what was looking like a serious day of wind.
Rifle Match- Sunday
Day two was no slouch for winds, it started heavy and ended heavier. With a high wind advisory and thunder showers due by lunch we started an hour early. The game of the day was to wait out the high winds and shoot during the very, very short lulls. This tactic proved difficult with limited time in the shooter's box, the only other way to make things work was to trust your wind dope and find the same wind for the second shot or adjust accordingly.
When the last pellet was shot and the score came in a few surprises were to be had. Last year was an epic head to head shootout between Scott Schneider and Scott Hull trading first place each lane with the winner and overall high score determined by a shoot off. The story for 2022 in Hunter and Open would be about comebacks, with both classes getting mixed up on day two.
Wayne Burns managed to outshoot Randy Ebersole and climb from second to first place in Hunter. Scott Schneider rose from third to second with a 38 and Scott Hull managed to leap from fifth to take third.
In Open Jim Whittlesey held steady matching his day one score to push from second to first, over coming a seven point deficit on day one and leading by five shots when all was said and done.
Lonnie Smith held strong in WFTF on day two but shot a lower score from day one due to the extra special Horse Canyon winds.
The winds were also tough on Cameron for day two but he still managed to nearly match his pcp counterpart.
Mark Tsunawaki shot West Coast Freestyle and finished with a 63.
For 2022 we had a few new faces, Alan Otsuka and his friend Mark Tsunawaki graced our event. Cameron Kerndt brought his neighbor Walt Hoppe for his first field target match ever. Dennis Banez and Chang Hu braved the "Are you tough enough" challenge and made it out to Horse Canyon for one of the toughest wind blown weekends on record.
Wayne Burns 79
Scott Schneider 75
Scott Hull 70
Randy Ebersole 69
Chris Lovitt 68
John Knapp 57
Walt Hoppe 54
Vince Pacheco 51
Jim Whittlesey 68
Chris Merritt 63
Dennis Banez 46
Rob Jobbes 43
Pat Callahan 41
Lonnie Smith 60
Alan Otsuka 41
Chang Hu 23
WFTF Rifle Piston:
Cameron Kerndt 63
Len Niles 26
Mark Tsunawaki 63
Once again this event beat the Snot out of everyone, but like the years before, the competitors braved the elements and proved they were tough enough for the Nevada Outback and whatever it had in store.
If you haven't attended this event, put it on your calendar for 2023, that is if you think you are tough enough.
For those who attended this year and the ones before, see you in 2023!!!!
Special shout out to Paul Porch for donating four targets as prizes, THANK YOU for your support Paul!!!