The Patriot Sporting Challenge Scores Big
by Chuck Roy, Editor, The Community Chronicle
The Patriot Sporting Challenge recently presented the 2018 edition of the Lake Fork Challenge to a record crowd of spectators, guests, and participants at the Links at Land’s End and J & K Shooting Sports. As Garry Schnabel, Executive Director of the PSC said, “It was a wonderful weekend for an outdoor party and a celebration of patriotism.”
Skilled competitors from many states and local talented amateurs coalesced on the Lake Fork area to again test themselves against each other, the elements, and the fish, the links, and the targets of the Patriot Sporting Challenge (PSC). Shooting, Fishing, and Golf made this a signature event that the Lake Fork Challenge has come to represent.
And it was almost everything an outdoorsman could expect with ambitious goals, high expectations, and demanding sporting venues, plus and including unpredictable weather. The Challenge was again this year challenged by occasionally demanding weather conditions. Overcast skies and fickle breezes challenged the shotgunners aiming to dust the fast and high flying clays. Clouds rotating with the bright sun and then clouds again tested the pistol and rifles team’s marksmen to remain true to their targets. And the changing light and wind intensities probably kept a few of the giant fish unimpressed with anglers’ skills.
Lake Fork was stingy with her bounty this year. Many of the targeted largemouth bass were either watching ESPN as the Longhorns beat Oklahoma and the Aggies beat Kentucky, because professional and skilled amateur fishermen were frustrated by the fish’s lack of interest in the cooperation department. A few good fish were invited to get their photos taken before being released as a couple of 7 and 8 pound lunkers did fall to the angler’s prowess. Skeeter pro, Kelly Jordan said, “this is Lake Fork after all and today she was a bit miserly.”
But the jewel of the sporting day was the spectacular views and challenges of the Links at Land’s End. One foursome after another came in with excellent scores and chatter about the pristine condition and challenge that the golf course had to offer. One young man from Quitman shared, “this is as nice a course as I have ever played. I loved being here today.” It was high praise as the young man was on the Quitman State Championship Golf team a few years ago. Omar Uresti, a PGA professional who has earned $4.7 million on the pro circuit, agreed that the course was in great shape and his participation in the Lake Fork Challenge was great fun. “It was a wonderful experience to meet all of the golfing folks here at Lake Fork and to participate in the Challenge. I would not have missed it for the world,” Uresti said.
This year presented an enhanced shooting element to the Challenge – a modified 3-gun event where each competitor fired shotguns, pistols, and rifles in individual competitions to determine an overall shooting score. One competitor said, “this was the most fun I ever had shooting at targets. Most of the shooters were good to excellent and it was a fair and challenging day.”
Another comment often heard was similar to a statement from an observer from New Mexico, “This is nuts. I have never seen so much anticipation and competitiveness as here today. Shooting all three weapon platforms sequentially is almost unheard of where I come from.” And another marksman said, “I have been a shooter for a very long time and I have never had a more enjoyable experience as what I had today. This was an almost perfect event and so well staged and managed. I will be here again next year, for sure. I loved it.”
After the first day of The Challenge, Saturday evening delighted the more than 500 dinner guests with excellent cuisine from several local restaurants. Accompanied by both a live and a silent auctions for high end merchandise and products met or exceeded all expectations for a big time charity event.
Excellent musical entertainment was provided by the Local Mission Band.
But the undeniable highlight of the evening was an inspirational speech by keynote presenter, Lt. Col. Allen West, aka “The Old School Patriot.” His dialogue was delivered in an almost conversational manner and was motivational, articulate, and perfectly on point to the challenges we, as Americans, face everyday.
Lt.Col. West shared that he was an American who strongly advocates for “equality of opportunity rather than the equality of outcome. That the cesspool of politics has come full circle and that the Washington swamp is due for a draining.”
At the end of the evening, Lt.Col. West entertained questions from the audience. The question and response that got the most enthusiastic applause was, “Will you consider running for office again in the near future.” To which, Lt.Col. West responded in a clear and firm voice, “I will follow the course that God has set in front of me.”
Many jumped to their feet in appreciative applause for the man who reminded them that the country was at a “crossroads and that decisions had to be made that would influence the course of our legacies and the image of what this country represents to the globe. For America to be a guiding light for other nations, our lamp can never be allowed to dim.”
Sunday also presented another unique feature to this year’s Challenge with a brunch for the ladies and invited guests at Scarbrough Haven in Emory. Delicious food provided by Appetites in Quitman served adroitly in concert with the beautiful surroundings and a very special tour of the greenhouse and the “wall-less chapel” at the venue was marvelous according to the ladies.
While the men competed in the golf and fishing phases of the Challenge, these ladies were sharing stories over selected wine varietals and vintages. One lady shared that she hopes that her golfing husband and son can again participate in this so she and her daughter in law can “revel in the enjoyment of this venue again.”
The Folds of Honor is the beneficiary for the funds from the Lake Fork Challenge. The Folds is a national organization that has earned Platinum level service to their charitable objective. The Folds of Honor Foundation will provide educational support for the Gold Star families of our American military — “Honor Their Sacrifice by Educating Their Legacy.”
An event of this scope could not be possible without the support of many. The John and Bonnie Strauss Foundation and Skeeter Performance Fishing Boats were the Medal of Honor the Signature Sponsors, respectively. The Patriot Partners for the 2018 Lake Fork Challenge were the Links at Land’s End, The Community Chronicle and Army Bass Anglers. Host for the shooting events was J and K Shooting Sports near Sulphur Springs.
A host of medal sponsors either came aboard this year or repeated their support from last year. Silver Star Sponsors: Rocky and Sally Gray, Tom and Debbie Keenan. Purple Heart Sponsors: The Yantis Federal Credit Union, Lake Fork Area Chamber of Commerce, Alliance Bank, Peoples Communication, Stonewater Roofing, Midnight Resources, and Signature Properties. Bronze Star Sponsors for 2018 Wood County Electric Cooperative, Burnett Construction, Advanced Plan for Health, and Bill Lewis Outdoors Rat-L-Trap fishing lures.
And, of course, the PSC certainly thanked and appreciated the dedication, commitment and talent of the team leaders and their support staff that made this event possible. “As in almost all fields of endeavors, a small army of volunteers made invaluable donations of time, energy, and talent to bring the Lake Fork Challenge to fruition for 2018,” said Garry and Nancy Schnabel, Co-Chairs for the Lake Fork Challenge.
At the end of the awards ceremonies, more than a dozen teams indicated their desire to return for the 2019 version of the Lake Fork Challenge. Four more teams have expressed similar expectations by press time. If you, or someone you know, would like to get a reservation in for next years event in October, maybe consider contacting one of the Board Members of the Lake Fork Challenge at PatriotSportingChallenge@gmail.com or call The Community Chronicle main office line at 903-383-2072 for more information.