October 1997 NFA Subgun Nationals

By J. F. Wright

The 1997 NFA Subgun Championship match was held the weekend of October 25 & 26 at the Chattanooga rifle Club range in Ooltewa, TN. A look at the first two photos will tell you a lot about the weekend. It rained and rained. Then it rained some more. In spite of the rain we had a good time.

The rain pretty well prevented the evaluation of a new NFA rule change designed to level the playing field among competitors. This year there was to be a penalty for a competitor shooting the match in multiple classes. The idea is that, on your second or third time through the course you will have learned how to better shoot the course based on your earlier runs. Accordingly for an individual’s second run there was to be a percentage time penalty. For third and subsequent runs a slightly higher percentage penalty existed. But with the rain, only a handful of shooters got the opportunity to run the course more than once. There wasn’t a chance to see how well the controversial new rule worked.

The match was hosted by Bill and Cindy Ownbey. They did a tremendous amount of work in preparation for the match.. Overall Top Gun for the shoot was Malcolm Davis with a Colt 9mm SMG. Top Female Shooter was Linda Oleszko shooting a S&W 76. Top Senior “OF” Competitor was Ron Cagle using an MP5. The top shooters in each category follow:

Open Class
1st, Malcolm Davis - Colt SMG
2nd, Tom Carpenter - MP5
3rd, Jim Weaver - MAC11

Modern Class
1st, Paul Winters - Colt SMG
2nd, Scott Jens - UZI
3rd, David Dumaime - MP5

Classic Class
1st, Brad Wyrick - MP40
2nd, Mario Lozi -Swedish K
3rd, Tom Shields -Swedish K

Rapid Fire Class
1st, Wyatt Magnum-M11
2nd, Phillip Horn-Thompson
3rd, Matt Bright -MAC11

For those of you who are politically & socially correct there were at least five women shooters at the match. So when I describe a shooter as “he”, you should interpret my remarks accordingly.

The total course consisted of three stages. Stage one was There’s a Whole Lot of Shooting Goin’ On - a conventional course with seven shooting positions laid out in a horizontal line, and a total of 38 targets, primarily steel. Starting on command from a seated position, the shooter stands, loads and proceeds to a vertical barricade where he engages 5 steel targets. He then moves to position two, where from a kneeling position, he engages 3 pepper poppers, which activate 1 turning and 2 swinging IPSIC style targets. Of course there are no-shoots strategically placed. Then the shooter proceeds to position three, where he carefully lays on his belly and engages 7 steel plates through a hole in the barricade 14” above the ground. Now up and move right to position four where, while standing, you engage 2 metal targets and a popper that activates a trap door. For a fraction of a second, 2 metal plates appear through the trap door. Then they go away. Everything but the plates is a no-shoot. There were a few skilled shooters who got both targets. I was not among that group. Onto position five. While sitting, a mandatory mag change. This is fun on the rain soaked ground. At least in the prone position there was a pad. Now engage 5 steel targets hiding among no shoots. Move on to the tunnel. Upon entering the tunnel (approx. 5 ft. vertical clearance - jockeys, dwarfs and other short people have a real advantage here) you must engage 6 steel targets while continuously moving. No mag changes are allowed in the tunnel. A lot of good shooters got penalties by hesitating for a fraction of a second when they fired. The RO’s were tough but fair on this. Out of the tunnel - move to the last position and point shoot 2 IPSIC targets then a mandatory mag change and engage the stop plate. You’re done. Malcolm Davis aced this stage with a total score of 97.25. The rest of us were far behind.

Stage two was A Stroll in the Park. If it hadn’t been for the rain making the ground (read mud) too treacherous to be safe, this stage would have been no stroll in the park at all. In the end, (for safety) each shooter walked from position to position with the clock stopped. This was the stage for quick, accurate shooters. The stage started from the Rhodesian ready, where you engage 5 steel targets. Now walk 40 yards, and from the shooters weak side, engage 6 steel plates and 1 IPSIC around the barricade. Avoid the no shoots. Walk back to the left and down hill to position 3 - another barricade. From the strong side engage 2 IPSIC targets, avoiding the no choose from) and engage 4 steel targets. Move to position 5, the bridge. While walking on the bridge and without hesitation engage 5 steel targets. Then move to the final position and engage 4 steel targets and the stop plate. People had much less trouble firing on the move here than in the tunnel. Malcolm had the lowest score here too but Tom Carpenter was within a second of his time.

Stage three was, Tarzan where are you? You know, those jungle walks with real jungle complete with the monsoon rains dripping down on you from the trees. This was it. You start from the Rhodesian ready then open a window in the barricade to engage 7 steel targets. You know the RO’s were right. Once you started firing, you didn’t notice the window laying on the top of your head. There were some no-shoots here. Move to position two and engage 5 steel and 3 IPSIC targets. The black steel targets in the dark bush were very hard to see. It helps if you remember how many there were to be shot. Move to position three and around the barricade engage 5 steel targets. Unload. Jump the creek and go up the trail to position 4. Reload and engage 7 steel targets. Proceed to the last position, the command center. Outside the door change magazines. Now throw open the door, rush inside and engage 10 steel targets, then the stop plate while avoiding the no shoots. Sound simple? It wasn’t. Malcolm had the best total score for this stage, by at least 10 seconds.

Despite the rain the competitors enjoyed the challenge, the course, the comraderie, and of course the freedom to engage in this sport. How did I do? You know, there are those of use who make the top half of any group possible. See you at the NFA Nationals next year.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V1N5 (February 1998)
and was posted online on September 29, 2017


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