The United States finished in the middle of the pack at the 2011 Palma competition, part of the World Long Range Championships held in Brisbane, Australia. The U.S. squad, captained by Dennis Flaharty finished third behind Great Britain and South Africa. The team's 6980-655X was 47 points off the winning pace set by the Brits and 12 points behind the South Africans. The U.S. finished ahead of Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
If you're not familiar with Palma shooting, it has probably the richest history of any rifle competition. The first match was held in 1876 at the historic Creedmoor Range in Long Island, NY, with the U.S. capturing the first crown over teams from Australia, Canada, Ireland, Scotland.
Palma is a long-range highpower discipline in which competitors are restricted to single-shot, iron-sighted .308 bolt-action rifles and 155-grain bullets. All shooting is from prone. The course of fire is 15 shots each at 800, 900 and 1,000 yards, so at each yardage the possible score is 150-15X; the total possible for the 16-member squads is 7200-720X. The 10-ring is 20 inches in diameter; the black portion of the target is 44 inches in diameter.
The 16-member squad for 2011 consisted of Bob Mead, Bryan Litz, David Littlefield, Gary Rasmussen, John Whidden, Justin Skaret, Kelly Bachand, Lane Buxton, Nancy Tompkins, Noma Mayo, Norm Anderson, Robert Gustin, Sherri Gallagher, Steve Cunico, Steve Hardin, Trevor Hengehold, Trevor Massey, Trudie Fay, Ty Cooper, and Wayne Forshee.
As mentioned, team captain was Dennis Flaharty, aided by vice team captain/adjutant Dan Simpson, vice team captain Dr. Tom Whitaker, armorer Robert Gamboa, head team coach Emil Praslick III and NRA adviser Middleton Tompkins.
The selection process for the 2011 team began back in 2008, and the following outline is based on that process. Anyone can try out. All you have to do is place in the top 20 percent in any long-range match or aggregate at Camp Perry with a legal Palma rifle or finish in the top 10 percent in an NRA approved state match or regional.
From there, potential team members are evaluated by team officials at various tryout matches across the country, and those that make the cut in this phase become members of the National Touring Team — which comes with the responsibility of traveling internationally for at least one tour.
The final Palma squad is selected from the touring team. So if you're interested in taking up Palma shooting, there's no time like now to get ready. The next installment will take place in 2015 at our very own Camp Perry. If you want a gun that's ready to roll, check out Savage's Model 12 Palma.