The 2nd Annual Harry Michelson Memorial Shoot was held July 17-19 at St. Joe Valley Conservation Club just north of Ft. Wayne, Indiana. The name of the shoot was changed from the Pickle Open (which happened to fall on the same weekend as the celebrated pickle festival in St. Joe, the home to Sechler’s Pickles) in 2015 to the Harry Michelson Open in honor of long-time referee and club member Harry Michelson. Following his death in 2018, it was renamed the Harry Michelson Memorial Shoot. Harry’s daughter, Sandy, has committed to honor his request to continue to provide added money to the shoot each year.
The weather for the weekend was forecast to be hot and humid, with possible late-afternoon thunderstorms, and it was very hot and humid. Friday saw two perfect scores in the doubles event, one by club president and workhorse Bruce Christian and the other by Dess Ivanov. Taking no pity on Bruce, who is always running around adjusting targets for the shooters and anything else that needs to be done, Dess made quick work of the shoot-off to claim victory. A pair of 99s shot-off for third place, with Brent Edwards the winner in that contest.
Saturday was even hotter and more humid, and the shooters were hot, too, posting six 100s in the 12-gauge and seven in the 20-gauge events. Dess was once again the champion in the 12-gauge, followed by Fred Tschantz at runner-up and Owen Knight, third. In the 20-gauge, Paul Giambrone took top honors, with Aaron Benton in the runner-up spot and Jeff Roussey third.
Sunday cooled down a bit, but only because the wind picked up. It never fails, no matter when the .410 is held, the wind makes an appearance. And, not only the wind, but a huge thunderstorm rolled through between the .410 flights, bringing a halt to all shooting. We were in our motorhome and thought that it was going to get blown over! In the 28-gauge event, Dess racked up his third win with the lone 100. Five 99s took to the field to decide the remaining places on the podium, with Brent Edwards runner-up over Cole Gintert, third. The best score posted in the baby bore was 98 by three shooters – Brent Edwards (champion), Aaron Benton (runner-up) and Dylan Dick (third). Aaron’s 98 locked up the HOA Championship with a 397, followed by squadmate Ed Smith with a 394. A pair of 393s shot off for third, with Dylan besting Dess.
The shoot was over capacity at 82 shooters (80 is full) and has a leisurely format with two flights in the morning, a break for lunch, followed by the afternoon flights. Untold thanks go to Harry’s daughter, as well as all of the referees and volunteers. St. Joe is an entirely volunteer club and is one of the best-run facilities in the country. So, if you haven’t been to a shoot at St. Joe Valley, I strongly recommend you find your way there next year. You can choose the Mid-America over Memorial Day weekend, the U.S. Open iShoot at the end of June or the Michelson in July. We hope you can participate in one, two or all three events – you won’t be disappointed!
– Contributed by Trish Magyar