The US Army Reserve International (Palma) Rifle Team had tremendous success this season with nine shooters on the ground. Individually, USAR Shooters qualified and won every shoot off for Palma rifle during the long range portion of the Nationals. During long range competition, in order to win a national trophy you first qualify by winning your relay (about 90-100 shooters), then all the top four shoot shoulder to shoulder for the trophy with a large group of spectators watching the shooters. USAR Shooter Sergeant Eric Smith won both his relays and then both shoot offs on the first day. The next day Major Dave Cloft qualified for and won the Edward D. Andrus Trophy, a large bronze statue by Remington depicting a “Scout”. The trophy was provided by the National Rifle Association Competitive Shooting Division, in memory of the previous Director, Edward D. Andrus. SFC Norm Anderson qualified for and won the Herb “Doc” Aitken trophy, an etched oval crystal supported by a walnut base depicting the Palma eagle surrounded by the Palma wreath. MAJ Cloft was third in the Aitken. SGT Smith also won the Sierra Trophy and MAJ Cloft finished second. The Sierra Trophy is a large granite trophy on a wooden base and was donated in 1999 by the Sierra Bullets Company to be used in the High Power Long Range National Championships. In the aggregate of the four days of Individual competition with the Palma Rifle SGT Smith was 4th overall, MAJ Cloft 5th overall.
Team Wins. A total of three team matches were fired and the USAR International (Palma) Team did well in all. The team won the Bausch and Lomb Trophy for the high Service Team in the Herrick Trophy match. In the final Palma Team match Team USAR set a new team record. The match is fired with 15 shots at 800, 900 and 1000 yards for a max score per shooter of 450 points. SFC Anderson served double duty as shooter and SGM Neal Dickey served as Team Captain. The team shot a 1788-100X, MAJ Cloft had 449-29X, SGT Smith 448-24X, SFC Thuerer 446-24X and SFC Anderson 445-23X. MAJ Cloft and SGT Smith earned status in the NRA 448 Club for firing a score of 448 or greater on the Palma Course of fire.
Of the event Team OIC MAJ Dave Cloft said, “We dominated the Army Marksmanship Unit and all other services with the Palma Rifle. All shooters own their own rifles and hand loaded their own ammunition.”
Palma rifle competition is fired with a .308 rifle with metallic sights shot at 800, 900 and 1000 yards. Palma is an international event and the USAR Team has three shooters on the US National Team Roster (Cloft, Anderson, Thuerer) hoping to make the 16-man squad for Australia in 2011. There are three events at the Long Range National Championships; any rifle (any caliber and scopes), Palma rifle and service rifle. The USAR International Team focuses on Palma Rifle because it’s the only international event of the three categories at Camp Perry.