The Fall 1997 Knob Creek Open Subgun Match

By Dan & Ed Varner, Photos by Kym & Ed Varner

“Simpler is better”, someone once said, and for the fall match we took that advice to heart. Seventy steel targets divided up over six strings at distances from forty to seventy feet. Only four no shoots on the whole field. The strings would be addressed from the three basic shooting positions, standing, kneeling and prone. Just one small catch, three of the strings would be shot from the left hand only, but that’s OK. The remaining three are shot right hand only.

Welcome to our version of “Lefty’s Revenge”, the fall 97 KCR open subgun match. What the shooters faced were two stages with three shooting positions placed back to back on the range. Each one started the shooter on the standing string at the ready. On the signal they would engage the targets through the doorway in front of them, ten “shoot” steel targets, with only one steel “no shoot” obstructing a dead-on pepper popper. Then forty feet to the shooter’s gun side on either stage was the next challenge, the kneeling string. Here, more targets, and a little further out, but only one “no shoot” to work around again. Although the right hand string had a target partially obstructed by a post, it was still a relatively clean field. Finally, forty more feet to the gun side to the last string, prone. Here throwing lead at the steel bad guys through a window in the bottom of a low wall, not a “no shoot” in sight, just steel. The shooter’s time for the stage would stop on the last shot. Fast, clean and simple, until you got to actually shooting it.

Jon Wollishin and Ed made sure that there would be sufficient awkward shots on both stages. The left hand prone string had one target on a post high enough to get nicknamed Jon’s birdhouse. This one really put the monopod (extended mag) users at a disadvantage. Either stage could be shot first, shooter’s choice. Most elected to shoot the right hand stage first. The difference between the stages as far as the arrangement of targets was minimal, beyond the two aforementioned uniquely placed targets. The difference in the time required was impressive. It ran up to seven additional seconds, Malcomb Davis in open class with clean runs back to back, right on out to DNF due to out of ammo. The match itself ran super smooth, which is good because with an all left hand stage in the mix “the weird” dial is really cranked.

Mother nature took pity on the shooters and delivered the nicest weather we have had for a shoot in years. Clear, with lots of sun and temps in the mid seventies and low eighties, (oh yeah). Registration and sign up were another walk in the park, thanks to John Butterfield and Dave Scofield gunning that end. Tony Gooch provided a Big tent to anchor the matches, then worked all day on registration and every other conceivable task that arose. Many thanks from all involved, Mr. Gooch. The NFA bowling pin shoot was running on that other end of the range. Dick Lengler and his team kept the waiting shooters entertained, and for those who had shot the course, somewhere to relieve frustration. Begun at the “crash and burn” that was the MGN Tenth Anniversary Shoot, the pin match has become a permanent event at the Creek. A great place to compete a little if the regular match seems like too deep water. It’s a good place to bring a friend to let them try tossing lead with a subgun just for fun, or to warm up your gun before the main event. We are certain that a lot of people are going to get their first taste of subgunning events... The bowling pin match has another positive benefit. It is a fund raising event for the National Firearms Association, and if ever an organization deserved support it’s the NFA. Aside from being the organizational and logistical foundation from which all these great subgun matches we have been putting on arise, the NFA is one of the few organizations that is promoting class three ownership.

The match got off on time, (a good sign), and stayed on course all day thanks to the dedicated team of range officers. The right-hand string ran consistently faster than the left, both on time required to shoot and to score. What may have contributed to the left side’s longer shoot time could have been some of the “left prone” contortions displayed addressing Jon’s Birdhouse. Over your shoulder to the left and up. Eesh! what a place for a target. But a lot of people picked out the trick, a roll onto the right shoulder, the right arm being still grounded. Or they did it the hard way, with exceptional skill, or just threw large amounts of hot lead at it. They all work. The first eight places in open class were clean runs. Tom Carpenter was a couple of seconds faster on each stage to take first over Malcomb Davis. The TASK M11 also made a good showing in open class. Talk about turning a sow’s ear into a what? The classic shooters weren’t quite as clean either but boy they had fun. Class Winner Fred Watkins would like to extend his thanks to Joe Carrer for not showing up and allowing him to win. Fred, you’re too humble. The big story here was the Swedish Ks. Seven out of the top ten finishers were packing them. After the 97 NFA National Championship Match the big Swedes are bumped up to open class. I’m not sure what else we are going to do yet. Right now we’re considering having the Swede gun shooters start from say, the snack bar? OK, how about the porta can? Well we have to do something, they’re having too much fun with those things. Second place classic shooter Mark Brumet had a story of his own when he shot the course for Tavis Bellow who was sidelined with a broken arm. Classic score sheets resembled open class only with more stage time, about the same amount of penalties though.

Towards early afternoon, when the after lunch malaise started to affect the target setters, some of the shooters jumped in to keep the pace going. The Patriot Sales team put one of their aspiring shooters to work setting targets. If this lad ends up being as good a shooter as a worker there may be another national champ in the making. Looking towards the rising stars, the woman’s class was a blow out. Dueling sisters, Lorcita Gilpin took first, beating out sis with a nearly clean run, getting bitten by the peek-a-boo target on the right hand kneeling string. Lorcita took up subgunning through her sister a little over a year ago. Lisa insists the rematch will be different. Lynn Obeu wisely stayed out of the family thing and ran a clean run to third. Without a doubt this was one of the most fun matches we have had, Part of the blame also lies with Larry Beazley, who builds BEAST targets, for providing us with the new subgun capable pepper poppers and swinging silhouettes. Please thank him with your patronage when you see him at Knob Creek or many of the Midwest gun shows for supporting our sport. He makes a very good product at a fair price. Speaking of sport, want to go for a walk in the woods with your favorite lead flinger? How about hunting “steel space weirdoes”?? The Spring ’98 match will be just that, plus the NFA Bowling Pin Match, we’ll see you at the creek.

Open Class

1- Tom Carpenter, 77.70 MP-5
2- Malcomb Davis, 81.95 MP-5
3- Larry Banks, 88.03 MP-5
4- Jeff Hollifield, 89.52 MP-5
5- Rick Hill, 92.07 MP-5 suppressed
6- M.G. Sawyer, 96.79 Task M-11
7- Eric Graetz, 98.71 M-11
8- Jim Greene, 107.71 MP-5
10- Fred Watkins, 122.5 MP-5

Classic Class

1- Fred Watkins, 140.30 Port Said
2- Mark Brumit, 141.39 Port Said
3- M.G. Sawyer, 158.40 Swedish K
4- Steve Murray, 185.22 Swedish K
5- Ed Varner, 197.55 MP-40
6- Dan Paulmer, 202.16 Swedish K
7- Ron Davison, 203.31 Thompson
9- Gary Loflin, 224.71 Swedish K
10- William Ehringer, 255.95 Swedish K

Top Woman

1- Loricia Gilpin, 340.10 MP-5
2- Lisa Sparks, 528.47 MP5SD
3- Lynn Oberu, 520.82 MP-5

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V1N6 (March 1998)
and was posted online on August 25, 2017


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