Taking aim at the longshot

This year's Berryman Invitational long-range shooting competition goes to new heights.

With its distinctive spiral-fluted barrel, the custom rifle Mike Albright, left, and another brought by his father Marvin Albright to this year’s match stood out from the crowd. The tubes on the muzzles are suppressors, which ratcheted down the sound signature quite a bit.

With its distinctive spiral-fluted barrel, the custom rifle Mike Albright, left, and another brought by his father Marvin Albright to this year’s match stood out from the crowd. The tubes on the muzzles are suppressors, which ratcheted down the sound signature quite a bit. Photo by Andy Porter.

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Six hundred yards. It’s one thing to say it. It’s another thing to shoot it.

On a bright morning last month, some 22 shooters gathered on farmland north of Walla Walla for the second annual Berryman Invitational, an informal (or semi-formal) test of long-range shooting skills.

The match was the brainchild of Craig Noble, a Walla Walla County wheat farmer. “We dreamed this up so we’d have something else to use our hunting rifles for,” he said.

The first match was held at the Berryman gravel pit next to State Route 125, hence the name “Berryman Invitational.” But the site lacked any shelter and was, well, a bit rocky.

So this year the competition was moved across the road where Noble has a shop building. On the day of the match it became the scoring center and, later, the site of the post-match barbeque and awards ceremony.

More than bragging rights were involved for the best shooters.

The entry fee of $100 apiece went into a pool that paid out for the top shot at each range (150, 250, 350, 500 and 600 yards), along with cash prizes for the first, second and third place overall scores. The money also paid for the catered lunch that followed.

The rifles used ranged from regular hunting rifles to some fairly exotic custom pieces. Among these were a pair of rifles brought by Marvin Albright and his son Mike Albright of Lewiston.

Chambered for the .243 Ackley caliber, the rifles stood out not only because of one’s spiral-fluted barrel, but also because of the suppressors mounted on the muzzles which toned the “crack” of each shot down quite a bit.

Although custom touches don’t guarantee success, Marvin’s shooting that day won him first overall at the match while Mike came in third. But the best shot at the far mark, 600 yards, was Noble, who took the prize for that range.

Noble said he hopes to continue the match next year with as many, or more, shooters.

U-B reporter Andy Porter participated in the event as a range safety officer.

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