By: George Minerich
A group of dedicated athletes from across the United States gathered at the Minneapolis Rifle Club (MRC) range to test their skill on the 300 Meter International target. For those you who did not know, MRC hosted the 2018 300 Meter National Matches at its range in St. Francis, Minnesota. The matches ran from May 15, 2018 to May 19, 2019. Note: 300 meters is 984 feet 3 inches or 328 yards.
The athletes gathered to participate in matches whose history goes back to before the first World Championships in 1897. The first World Championship was shot in Lyon France and held with regularity except during World Wars I and II.
The event travels around the world and is currently held every four years in different countries. 300-Meter rifle has long been held as one of the hardest rifle shooting disciplines with a 10 Ring of only 3 7/8 inches in diameter.
The 300-Meter National hosted several different events. The three-position match is shot with a “free rifle” from kneeling, prone, and standing. Free rifle means there are almost no rule restrictions for the rifle used except a maximum weight of about 18 pounds and maximum caliber of 8mm. Men shoot 40 shots in each position, and up until 2018, women shot 20. This has been changed and both will now shoot 40 shots in each position. The event is shot in a block time of three hour. A 15 minute preparation and sighting period is given before the match clock starts. Each event is shot twice, one match per day, for a 2400 point possible aggregate.
The 300-Meter prone event is also a co-ed event. Each shooter gets a 15 minute preparation and sighter period. When the preparation period is complete, the shooter has 60 minutes to shoot 60 shots for record with no additional sighters. The match is shot twice on separate days for an aggregate possible score of 1200 points.
Finally, there is the Standard Rifle event; under the current rules this is a male only event. A standard rifle must have a trigger pull of greater than 3.3 pounds and the rifle may not weigh more than 12.1 pounds total, including sights and hand stop. In addition, thumbhole stocks are prohibited, you may not adjust the cheek piece once the match starts, and you can only move the butt plate up and down. No butt plate hook is allowed. The match consists of 20 shots kneeling, 20 shots prone, and 20 shots standing. As I write this, I received news that a world record was set this week for Standard Rifle; it is 590 out of 600. It is a very hard course of fire. The match is also shot twice for an aggregate of 1200 points. We are planning to open Standard Rifle to Female Competitors for the 2019 Nationals.
Minnesota shooters did well in the different matches. Brad Yliniemi (MN) won the Gold Medal (National Champion) for Men’s Free Rifle, Pete Fiori (NJ) took Silver and Mark Gould (USAF, CA) won Bronze. Women Free Rifle Gold was won by Dense Loring (VA), Silver was captured by Michelle Bohren (MI). Matt Griffin (USAF, MN) won the Gold Medal in Standard Rifle after a shooting a solid 558 in very challenging conditions the second day. Brad Yliniemi (MN) took the Silver Medal for Standard Rifle and Mark Gould (USAF, CA) won the Bronze.
The Prone Match is always a difficult one at MRC. The world record is 600 point in a match but the winds at MRC make that an almost impossible mark to equal. Mark Trew (PA) held off the competition to win Gold with a score of 1177. Stacey Tamulinas (MN & TX) took Silver shooting a 1174 and Matt Griffin (USAF, MN) won the Bronze Medal with a 1173. Not to be outdone by the men, Michelle Bohren took Women’s Prone Gold with a great score of 1170. Denise Loring took silver with 1118. All the match scores are below for your reference.
Little did we know that four of the athletes attending the Match were soon to be selected to represent the United States at the 2018 International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) World Championships in Changwon, South Korea in September 2018. The ISSF World Championships offer a large field of events and is considered only second in prestige to the Olympics. Denise Loring (VA), Pete Fiori (NJ), Mark Gould (USAF, CA) and Brad Yliniemi (MN - MRC & NWGC) all competed in the 2018 300 Meter Nationals and have been named to the U.S. Team going to Korea.
The shooters enjoyed Minnesota, even though they narrowly missed the last snowstorm of the winter (or was that spring??). Between shooting at MRC, the match social events, and the cultural events on the Minneapolis/St. Paul area most indicated they would like to return and shoot the match again. In response, the Minneapolis Rifle Club announced if USA Shooting is willing to sanction the match again, MRC would host it the last week of September in 2019. So, dig out your international jackets and slings and plan to attend the 300-Meter National Matches in September of 2019.
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