Best Day on a Range, August 11th, 2003
I’ve been playing this silly game for over 40 years and today was about one of the best I have ever seen on any Rifle Range – anywhere. You always hear about the bad things that happen, but rarely hear of the good ones. Well – today a series of unfortunate events turned into an “unexpected” pleasure.
Help a Junior Shooter - Please make a generous Donation to the Camp Perry Retired Marines!
During the 2003 High Power Championships at Camp Perry a sixteen year old junior, Lauren White of California, had a cartridge blow destroying the extractor on the bolt gun she was firing. The armor examined the damage and called the Marine Corps Van hoping to acquire an extractor for that model. A negative reply inspired query of the Army Armor. Again, there was a negative response.
There was no other rifle available for her to shoot and it appeared that she was dead in the water and would have to drop out of the match. Her score card was marked DNF (Did Not Fire) for the remaining seven shots & turned in.
The Chief Range Officer for Rodriguez Range, Pat Clemens came down to the firing point and told her & her Coach, Tim Finicle that if they could get another rifle, she could finish her string on an open target, provided she could do it in the time remaining.
Pat then told them if it took longer to get a replacement rifle, he would hold her out of the Pitts and let her shoot on one of the next two relays – and in “Worse Case Scenario,” we would all come back down to the 200 yard line to allow her to finish her string of fire.
And thus began a beehive of activity… Team Captain Finicle went in search of a new bolt. He found one but the metal debris in the action made it all but useless. He said he had another rifle in his hut & took off running for the 600 yard line.
Shortly, Pat and the NRA Referee, Larry Mead, came by in one of the golf carts. When they’d heard the details & were given the suggestion, Larry was on his way back to 600 to give the Team Captain a hurried ride to his hut & back. They made it back with almost enough time to shoot on her original relay, but Pat pulled her off because she would have to really “Hustle – Butt” to get all of her rounds off. (Talk about pressure).
In the mean time, a shooter (Steve Hayes) who’d lost some of his gear that morning & could not shoot anyway, volunteered to go to the Pitts and pull targets for Lauren.
Next thing I knew, Mitch Maxberry (1994 National Champion) was “Bore Sighting” the new rifle for her. A job made far more difficult by the fact that the target he was using kept being pulled down. Then he had to hustle butt to make it down to the Pitts before they were sealed.
We made arrange to have her scorecard returned to the line and Pat came over to keep score for her.
She was back in the Match.
When that relay was finished, the Pitts were unsealed & Pat gave her a ride down & picked up Steve Hayes, returning him to the line.
I found a whole new level of admiration for this young lady when she walked, no, she strutted proclaiming: “I’m going to do just Great on rapid!” I replied “Way to go, girl!” She had a proper winning attitude.
This was a “Team Effort” by Range Officials and Shooters to “Help a Junior.” Once again it proves my point… There are by far, more “Good Folk” in the world than there are “Black Hats.”
As for Lauren White, I predict a long & prosperous life. She has a handsome array of Guardian Angels watching over her!