One of the premier events at St. Joe Valley Conservation Club is the annual Harry Michelson Memorial Skeet Tournament. Harry was a decorated WWII pilot, lifelong NSSA member and chief referee for many years. Harry came to St. Joe Valley for many years, serving as Chief Referee for the many events throughout the summer. Harry passed away in 2018, and his daughter Sandy elected to continue her father’s legacy by sponsoring the tournaments in his honor. This year’s tournament was shot July 14-16. with approximately 60 participants vying for honors and prize money.
Friday’s weather was excellent to start the tournament. In the doubles event, there were no 100’s shot, but Michael Schmidt and Owen Knight each scored 99. In the shoot-off, Michael Schmidt prevailed, Owen Knight took runner-up and Bruce Christian third.
Saturday morning the 12-gauge event started out a bit wet, with light rain for a good portion of the morning. By noon the skies began to clear, and the sun began to warm things up. There were nine 100 scores posted for the morning rotations. During the shoot-offs, it came down to three shooters going toe to toe, but in the end Bruce Christian, champion, beat out squadmate Dave Schiebel, runner-up, and Jack Krispin (AA1). Other class winners were Mark Presnell (A), Dan Adam (B), Tom Davis (C), Tom Houlihan (D) and Folke Boman (D).
Saturday afternoon skies were sunny with mild wind for the 20-gauge event. By the end of the day, there were 12 perfect 100 scores posted. With that many 100’s posted, shoot-offs took some time, and participants put on a great demonstration of their skills. In the end, Dan Adams prevailed, Donald Kitchen was runner-up and Joshua Crofutt was AA1. Class winners were Jeff Pope (A), Kyle Krispin (B) and Mike VanZile (C).
Sunday morning opened with the 28-gauge event, and shooters enjoyed cloudy skies and light winds. During the morning session, five shooters posted scores of 99. The top shooter at the conclusion of the shoot-offs was Jack Krispin, champion, followed by Fred Tschantz, runner-up, and Mike Rykaczewski Jr. (AA1). Other class winners were Mike Rykaczewski Sr., (A), Adam Smith (B), Kenneth Meyers (C) and Marc Brown (D).
The .410 winds began early in the afternoon and persisted throughout the remainder of the day. Despite the gusty winds, five shooters posted scores of 99. The winds continued to be an issue for the .410 shoot-offs, but Mike Schmidt prevailed to take top honors. Mike Rykaczewski Jr. was runner-up and Brent Edwards AA1. Other class winners were Tom Davis (A), Gerald Novak (B), Adam Smith (C) and Folke Boman (D).
HOA for the 5th Annual Harry Michelson shoot was Mike Rykaczewski Jr. with a 397. Brent Edwards, Mike Schmidt and Jack Krispin shot-off their 395’s to finish in that order. Class winners were Tom Davis (A), Mike Rykaczewski Sr. (B), Mike VanZile (C) and Folke Boman (D).
A big thank you to John Waters and Debbi Perry for sponsoring the “Fun Handicap Bonus Pool” with added money. Several of the shooters benefited from their generosity.
This tournament is one of the favorites here at St. Joe Valley Conservation Club. We have the privilege of honoring a true WWII hero and skeet legend, Harry Michelson. A big thank you to Harry’s daughter, Sandy, for continuing her father’s legacy.
Next year’s tournament will see a change in the date. Because this is a memorial tournament, St. Joe Valley will be hosting this tournament over Memorial Day weekend, May 24-26, 2024. The Kolar Mid America tournament will be held at St. Joe on July 19-21, 2024. So, mark your calendars for those new dates and join us at beautiful St. Joe Valley Conservation Club.
St. Joe Valley Conservation Club is 100% operated by volunteers. A big thank you to all people that work behind the scenes to make this tournament a big success, including the groundskeepers, target loaders, food servers, machine mechanics and those working behind the counter. Thank you!
– Contributed by Ted Nussbaum