Written by Josh Reeves
“Chaz was prompt with his timing and we stared promptly at 8. I believe he hit the wind switch right before he gave the green light as our wind had arrived at 7:55”
National Rifle League’s second match of the 2018 season, the Bighorn Steel Classic presented by Thunder Beast Arms. Held in Nehawka, Nebraska, match director Chaz Macrander welcomes the NRL to the cornhusker state for the first time on March 2nd-4th, 2018.
Zero and Safety Brief
March 3, 2018: It was good to be back in Nebraska. Growing up in the area, I was excited to hear that there was a match scheduled for the 2018 season there, and marked it on the calendar. It was a 22 hour drive and upon arrival I was greeted by a cornfield to zero in. Appropriate, considering this is the cornhusker state. The field was muddy and the corn obscured the bottom of some of the targets. The wind was blowing about 15 mph and shaking the zero targets which made you wonder if it was a taste for the days to come. After the safety briefing and prepping gear, I met with old friends and met a few new ones over steaks, poppers, and a fire pit. A proper homecoming.
So It Begins!!
March 4, 2018: At 7:00 AM the range opened and was scheduled to start at 8:00. The morning was cold, clear and still which was surprising with the forecasted winds to reach 20-30 mph gusts. With rounds scheduled to go downrange at 8:00, we were anxious to get started while the wind held out. Chaz was prompt with his timing and we stared promptly at 8. I believe he hit the wind switch right before he gave the green light as our wind had arrived at 7:55.
The stages were a good mix between belly and position with both natural and man made shooting platforms. The wind kept things interesting with the natural terrain creating unique wind flow. The back stops ranged from reeds, to trees, to dirt fields so reading misses went from difficult to easy which was a good mix, for we had shooters of all skill sets: from national champions to first time shooters. I was squaded with an awesome group of guys who fit into the categories above. It is always great to see top level shooters share their experience with first time shooters and this match was no exception. The stage of the day I must say was “THE TREE” and it was as daunting as it sounds. It was a little cedar tree which caught as much wind as it could. Imagine shooting off a rocking chair with every time you get close to the target someone rocks the chair. You now know how this stage felt. Targets were placed from 453 yards to 560 with the use of only bags for support.
We gathered at one of the local establishments upon completion of the day events to tell the tales of triumph and failures. Chaz was quick with the scores so we were able to see how we all had faired, and retired to our rooms to better prep for tomorrow.
The Nasty Ole Tree!
March 5, 2018: 8:00 the range went live and we were again greeted with the wind. Chaz had a unique layout for the day as we shot all the same stages under a reduced time standard. I was excited to see if I could perform better on the stages now, having prior experience on each stage but with the tighter limits. The match ran smooth with only going cold one time I believe to fix a target. Chaz had mercy on us on the 2nd day and upon arrival at “THE NASTY OLE TREE” as I dubbed it after Day 1, we noticed it had been pruned and offered a new shooting position lower to the base. Chaz and all the ROs did an amazing job and kept the match running smoothly and entertaining.
Awards & BBQ!
After the smoke cleared we were all treated to some amazing BBQ and recounted the days’ events as we waited for the final scores to appear. Again Chaz was on the spot and had them posted shortly after lunch. Jake Vibbert had a dominating performance and bested the field by 10 points which was no easy task with the talented pool of shooters at the match. Congratulations are due to all the top finishers putting up great scores in difficult conditions.
The Staff and MD did an exceptional job and the amount of support from the National Rifle League and the generosity of the sponsors amazes me every time. I think Chaz did an awesome thing with adding the ROs into walking the Table as these matches would not take place without their assistance.