by Trudie Fay
Raton, New Mexico
Many people have asked “how did you get into long-range shooting”? Let me look back about 18 years. My husband and I had made a move from Southeast Alaska to spend some much needed warmer winters, in the Valley of the Sun; Phoenix, AZ. We, both, had been competing during the winter months in an indoor bullseye pistol league so we headed out to Ben Avery shooting facility, to check out the action! Much to our surprise, it was a shooting haven with a very popular “public” range that we frequented when we had the time. We went out one Thursday morning and came across a group of people shooting 1000 yards. One gentleman turned around and saw Clark watching and asked if he wanted to try it. He proceeded to lay down and shoot at the target. It went down with the first shot, he turned around and looked at me and I knew he was hooked. My first thought was “this is going to cost me”! Before the winter was over I, too, was competing in the long-range discipline; starting out with a 6br rifle that was a real “tack driver”. Realizing that adjustments were needed to compete in the same category with the local palma shooters, Clark switched my barrel over to a .308 that following year. I was thinking I’d be shooting just to keep my husband company, but then the competitive side of me kicked in. Over the next few years, we accumulated the parts and pieces for competing in the long-range game. Good for me, Clark took an interest in gunsmithing at the same time so my rifles have always been made with care and precision.
Fast forward almost 2 decades in my life. 11 years ago, we made a move to the northeast corner of New Mexico to once again be close to a 1000 yard range. We found this wonderful facility when we competed in 2 of the summer matches on a regular basis. Packing up the travel trailer and camping at the Whittington Center with the fresh air, cooler temperatures and wildlife everywhere we were immediately hooked. The NRA Whittington Center has become a home away from home as I’ve now been working here for over 6 years in the Accounts Receivable office. It couldn’t have fit me any better to be able to have a range in my “backyard”. The staff here have supported me in my travels and they understand when I need a “morning off” to go check my ammo, first hand, on the firing line.
My main focus in competitive shooting is “palma”. Palma matches consist of 15 shots fired at 800, 900 and 1000 yards with an iron-sighted .308 or .223 match rifle. All are shot from the prone position in a jacket and sling for stability. After a few years of practice and enjoyment, I felt ready to “try out” for the U.S. Palma Team. 2008 was the first year I represented the U.S.A. at the America’s Match here in Raton. We took home gold over the Australian and British teams. It was such a great honor that it has held a special place in my heart, and it was a double bonus to do it on my “home range”!
The NRA Whittington Center is host to the Rocky Mt. Palma/Santa Fe LR in July and the National Fullbore Match called Spirit of America, in September. I’ve been dubbed the “Queen of Raton” on more than one occasion so I try my best to take top honors at both of the local matches. This year found the Spirit of America competitor numbers up to 80 shooters so had my work cut out for me. With a 4 day aggregate, it came down to the last 15 shots at 1000 yds. Being behind the leader by one point, came as a challenge once the winds started to blow. Finishing off a wonderful week of shooting would have been enough to make you smile but going back to work on Monday with a gold medal around my neck makes for a good day.
Being part of the team has taken me to international competitions as well. Brisbane, Australia in 2010 and 2011 where I finished 6th in the world in individuals and took the gold for 1000 yard aggregate over the 4 day event. I was thrilled being my first ever “world” championship. Team U.S.A. came away with bronze. 2015 found us all back on U.S. soil with the Palma World’s being held at Camp Perry, OH. The U.S. was well represented in the top 25 individuals and the team took home silver.
The group of World class shooters seems to be right around 400 individuals. We see each other once every 4 years around the globe. When we all show up on the range the first morning it is like old home week. We are family in a sense with the same passion for sending a little piece of lead down range, putting holes in a piece of paper at 1000 yards.
January of 2019 will find me and my gun case traveling half way around the world to New Zealand for the World Palma event. Go team USA! Bring home that gold!!
From Page 20 of our Summer 2018 Issue