The Virginia Open at Fairfax Rod and Gun Club (Manassas, Virginia), on the last weekend in April, began at high noon on Friday on a windy note, with bands of rain coming through later in the day. This time the Virginia Open featured five handmade Damascus steel knifes, made by the Virginia Knifemakers Guild, which were awarded to each of the gun champs. Additionally, large cans of Virginia peanuts were given to each of the 12-gauge class first winners … so, 12-gauge shooters were literally shooting for peanuts.
For the seven scheduled flights of Doubles, only 11 brave and bold souls ventured out for the challenge of turbulent targets. Clay Gormish (PA) persevered and claimed the Doubles gun championship with a 94, winning his first knife. Doubles runner-up at 90 was Mike Ramsey, and third, at 88, went to Jeff Miller.
The winds continued into Saturday morning for the 20-gauge event, but the rain had already passed through. With wind gusts creating havoc with our clay targets, 20-gauge shooters had to have a strong mental focus. There was a three-way tie for the top three spots; following a spirited shoot-off, Clay Gormish was Champion and collected his second knife. Jim Hickerson finished as runner-up, and Mike Ramsey captured third.
By the time 12-gauge targets were being released, the weather was near perfect, and the 53 shooters had calm weather, comfortable temperatures and no more weather excuses. There were only two 99s posted, and after a lively shoot-off, Mike Ramsey was declared Champion and won the largest of the knives. It was the young man heading off to the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) soon – Paden Levy (99) – that took the runner-up position, and Doug Frazier (98) was third. Those winning the Virginia peanuts for class first were Jason Armstrong AA1, Col. Tom Williams A1, Jonathan Honey B1, Jeff Miller C1, Colton Barrick D1 and Jeff Key E1.
Dinners at Fairfax are our specialty, with thick steaks, baked potatoes and all the fixins. Our steaks were prepared by our pair of extraordinary pitmaster cooks, Jeff Bolster and Bill Richbourg.
The great weather conditions carried over into Sunday morning, and the 28-gauge Champion was again Clay Gormish, posting the only 100 and claiming his third knife. Runner-up at 99 was Doug Frazier, and third (98) was Jason Armstrong.
Once the .410 event started, the winds returned and were back up to their old tricks – some targets dropped like stones, others took off like rockets, a few reversed directions in flight, and at least one just floated in one position, daring to be shot. Three shooters were able to hang onto 93s for a three-way shoot-off for Champion. After a screaming target took John Murphy out for third, Clay Gormish and Jim Hickerson battled in the longest shoot-off of the weekend. Under a little less than ideal conditions, each would double-check their hold-points, their look-points, take deadly aim and call for the pair. The battle went from station to station and back again – when would this madness end? On their second time back on station 5, the anticipated finally happened — a wind gust made the outgoing target jump just enough that the shot stream missed it by a fraction of an inch and concluded the shoot-off. Clay Gormish won the .410 event and his fourth knife for the weekend, completing his cutlery set. Jim Hickerson claimed .410 runner-up.
With his fine shooting, Clay Gormish was the HOA Champion, Paden Levy claimed HOA runner-up and Jim Hickerson earned HOA third. Additionally, Patti Day (MD) was the Lady HOA for the weekend.
Our thanks to the referees for pulling all the targets and remaining steady throughout the changing weather conditions; Jamie Martin for keeping everything working and making adjustments as required; Dutch Hillenburg for donated coupons to the Signal Hill Supply Pro Shop, and Connie and Van Keys for supporting our dinner functions. Special recognition goes to Terri Bolster for taking on the role of being the new DOE – Dinner Organizer Extraordinaire – we all thank you.
– Contributed by Jeff Bond