Thompson Falls graduate Nicole Hagedorn set a National Record by shooting a 431-5X in the junior, open category of the F-Class Long Range Regional at the Deep Creek Range in Missoula on Sept. 24-26.
“I’ve been shooting with my dad since I was really little,” Hagedorn said. I just like doing it because I get to spend time with my dad and he loves doing it.”
Hagedorn left the meet, knowing she had won both the women and junior divisions to become the Montana state champion, but echoes of her shots carried farther than she could have imagined.
“At the time I didn’t realize how good I had done. I knew I did well, but I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was until afterwards,” Nicole said. “I was shocked. I wasn’t expecting that at all.”
“We actually didn’t find out about the national record until two or three days later,” Nicole’s father Tim said. “The match director called and said you’re not going to believe this…”
Although Nicole had been shooting with her father since she was little three years old, she was a stranger to serious competition. The match, which fielded 42 other experienced shooters, was her first F-Class contest.
In Nicole’s Cinderella story, her rifle, which was built by her father, fit her like a glass slipper.
“What we ended up with was a Remington short action with a used Lilja 30” Sendero contour barrel in a HS Precision tactical stock,” Tim said.
Tim literally built the rifle with spare parts he had lying around. After rebarreling his own match rifle to 6.5-284, he took his old barrel, which is chambered to 260 Remington, and fit it to a spare action. The unusually stiff factory trigger was set at about two pounds and
the stock was acquired via trade with a friend. A Bushnell Elite 6500 6-24x50 tactical scope provided the cherry on top.
“It was kind of funny,” Nicole said. “All the other guys had their high tech stuff that they had used before and I had this little, kind of thrown together gun. It worked great that day.”
Adding another element of dramatic flair was the fact that Tim sighted the rifle in just two days before the match, and Nicole hadn’t fired it herself until the day of the competition.
“My first trip to the long range I could not get on target at 800 yards,” he said. “The state championship match we were preparing for, starts at 800, then goes to 900, and 1000 yards.”
Tim remounted the scope to get the extra elevation needed and got the rifle sighted back in at 100 yards, and then by shooting at a steel plate mounted near his house at 600 yards.
“I figured this would be good enough to get her on paper at 800,” he said. On match day, she hit paper, made a minor scope adjustment and was on her way.”
Nicole, a college junior at the University of Montana, is studying to become an x-ray technician. She also plans to continue shooting both recreationally and in competitions.