FL -- Bellingham youth Keith Neher narrowly "made the cut" at the
recent Steel Challenge World Championships in Frostproof, Fla. Having
finished 42nd overall, Neher shouldn't have qualified, but shooters
above him didn't show, giving Neher the No. 31 spot -- out of 32
Paired with the legendary Eric Grauffel of France, together, Grauffel
and Neher steamrolled the other 15 teams on the match's last day.
Head-to-head competition in Steel Challenge is rare, giving Neher and
Grauffel a distinct advantage. While Grauffel is new to Steel Challenge,
he shoots in head-to-head shootoffs in Europe from time to time.
18-year-old Neher is a product of Custer Sportsmen's Club's "Team Gotta"
-- a Scholastic Steel Challenge youth team that cross-trains in
head-to-head events like bowling pins and falling plates.
"This is killing me!" Said proud father Rob Neher as his son's team
worked its way up the ladder, knocking off some of the best steel
shooters in the world, including seasoned competitors from Japan.
Grauffel's job was to mow down a long row of 12 steel plates, while
Neher's job was to take down a half-dozen widely-spaced poppers before
converging on the stop plate. The division of labor worked perfectly,
and the Grauffel/Neher team never lost a bout.
Their victory won both men a "full card" entry into the 2013 Steel Challenge world championships, worth $550 each.
--- Robin Taylor