Santa Margarita Gun Club

59th Annual High Desert LR/ HPR Match at MCAGCC 29 Palms MTU

Honor, Courage, Commitment. The core values of the Marine Corps certainly applied to anyone who made the trip last year to the 58th annual High desert match. Equally so it would apply to those who made the trip out for the event this year. It would have been easy to let the 59th High Desert Match slip by considering how quickly is came together and how fickle the weather can be this time of year. However those who had the courage to commit to this event came back with the honor and privilege of participating in a fine match indeed!

Before heading on into the report I would like to take a moment to thank those involved in putting on the match this year. It came together quickly and a bit last minute making it a noteworthy achievement by all involved.

Gunner Skinta
GySgt Herrera
SSgt Gallagher
Sgt Bull
Cpl Torres
Cpl Chicca and his Pit Crew
Mike Jones
John Hermsen
Major Bedle, SOI who personally paid for all his Marines to shoot.
Mr. Ed Folts for all his work and knowledge and especially his awareness of the history of this match.

Without the hard work of these individuals we would have not had the match. Join me in thanking them for their exceptional efforts!

This year upon arrival at the Marksmanship Training Unit we were greeted with a glorious sunrise and a modest breeze that crossed the course with flags united. The valley was crowned with dark clouds and many of us had messages coming in from family and friends reporting rain in the ‘flat lands’. Thankfully we escaped the showers and were given a fine weekend of shooting in which to engage our gear and grit. And this year, that grit was NOT in our actions!


The dark skies made for exceptionally clear shooting with no mirage to speak of. This was a day for magnification if you had it!

As tradition would normally have it, the match is opened by the Commanding General and his first shot down range. As he was engaged in other duties we had the privilege of having Colonel Martinez perform those duties. He welcomed us all and gave thanks for the organization and participation we gave in this prestigious event.


He then put the first round down range to the cheers of those gathered with a well placed shot.

With the ceremony completed Gunner Skinta lays down the law with a sobering safety brief and a high expectation for excellence!


We set up on the line and squaded ourselves into two relays. For those who have not been to the 29 Palms MTU range, I’ll point out how awesome their 1000 yard firing point is! Usually the LR guys shooting in California get a crumbly bit of crust heaped together in  a ‘berm’ as an afterthought on a 600 yard range. Not so at the 29 Palms MTU, it’s paved and has built-in shooting positions that are clearly marked and easy to set gear upon. What a great change!


SMGC members made up the bulk of the civilian component comprising or roughly half the shooters of the day. The remaining were Marines who were competing with issued hardware. It was not unusual to look over to the competitor next to you and see a suppressor on the rifle. Anyone who has shot next to one of these Marines can attest to how pleasant it is to have the hard edge taken off the report of the rifle ‘next door’.

Below a group of Marines are putting their issued gear to task. The shooter on the left has one of the aforementioned suppressors attached to his rifle. It’s a real treat for civilians like myself to observe such equipment in action!


Gunner Skinta and Jeff Lovat were happy to address any questions one might have about the procedures of the match. Thank you both for your efforts in keeping the line moving!

Of course we had others watching over the match operations. John Hermsen MC’d the event and on Friday Corporal Torres performed the data entry.

The team kept things moving and made sure everyone was well serviced by their pit crew. Last year the winds and blown sand made the whole event shudder and grind to a halt. Pit service this year was a well oil machine and was exceptional. Not only was service on the line quick and accurate, those struggling to make good hits got helpful recon from the service members watching the impact berm. Many thanks to Corporal Chicca and his crew of Marines who gave the competitors excellent service!

While we certainly didn’t have the extraordinary winds of last year’s match to deal with, we still got treated to the High Desert winds. This was an event that challenged the shooter and here Mark Roth coaches Kerry Stottlemyer on the lay of the land. It’s just another benefit of shooting in a club like SMGC – members in competition are still willing to take the time to lend a hand to those who would like it.

As the day went on we continued to have the benefit of continuous cloud cover and thankfully the rain around the valley stayed away from the line.

Getting ready on the line, I was photographed by Steve Williams. My Wife was thrilled to finally see a photo of me out doing what I love!

Ahh yes, the sacred parapet. Kerry carefully repairs a small defect from an errant shoe impact. It’s an important feature on the line that keeps erosion at bay. Thanks for spreading the word Kerry, we all need to be responsible visitors to the range like you!

After the match we were able to purchase a hot lunch served by the crew of the MTU. Hamburgers, hot dogs, chips and soda refreshed us all. Thanks for providing the tasty grub guys!


Inside the MTU building we gathered for the awards ceremony


The awards up for contest included the coveted Commanding General’s trophy and MTU Trophy along with plaques in the shape of the 29 Palms base for leaders in their disciplines.

Gunner Skinta (R) and Ed Folts (L) welcome us to the awards ceremony and give appreciation for those who helped behind the scenes in getting the 59th annual match together.

Without further delay, on to the awards! Lou Murdica won F-Open overall

Simon Wagner won F-T/R overall


The Marine who won High Service Member


Mark Roth won his place on the McVey Memorial Trophy

Lou Murdica won the Commanding General’s trophy

Here are the aggregate scores for Friday the 17th 1000×3 LR 59th High Desert Match

11-17-2017 59th Annual High Desert Match - 1000xLR

Last NameFirst NameClassScoreX Hits
MinturnJAMES; USMC ReserveSling57515
BedleNathan; Major; USMC SOIF-T/R4193
FlynnGySgt; SOIF-T/R2281


I’m afraid I was not able to attend the next two days of the match which consisted of a High Power Across-The-Course (XTC) match on Saturday and an EIC Rifle and Pistol match on Sunday. Below I have some photos from the Saturday event for you to enjoy plus the scores.

Harry Harrison being presented his awards

Randy Callister being presented his award

Aaron Perkins being presented his award

Harry Harrison and Gunner Skinta

Sergeant Findley won a number of awards!!!

Harry present a Trojan award to Sergeant Findley


Aaron Perkins won a CMP medal

Harry Harrison won a CMP Medal


GySgt. Herrera presents an award to Gunner Skinta

Here are the scores for Saturday’s XTC match

11-18-2017 59th Annual High Desert High Power XTC Match

Last NameFirst NameTotal ScoreTotal X
HarrisonHarry; retired Master Gun's; USMC78024
GallagherSSgt; SOI73815
BedleNathan; Major; USMC SOI7278
FlynnGySgt; SOI6707

Here are the scores for the Sunday Rifle EIC Match. Rifle EIC was dominated by two SMGC members #1 and #2: Jeff Lovat and Dave Ellis.
Earning 8 and 6 EIC Rifle points respectively towards their Distinguished Rifleman Badges.

11-19-2017 59th High Desert Rifle EIC Match

LASTFIRSTTotal ScoreTotal X
BedleNathan; Major; USMC SOI4465
HoltJeffrey; Colonel USMC; SOI4142
FlynnGySgt; SOI3780

Here are the scores for the Sunday Pistol EIC Match. The Sunday Pistol EIC had Harry Harrison as #1 but unfortunately under the minimum cut score

11-19-2017 59th High Deset Pistol EIC Match

HarrisonHarry; retired Master Gun's; USMC2462
BedleNathan; Major; USMC SOI1760
FlynnGySgt; SOI1590
HoltJeffrey; Colonel USMC; SOI1590