Nevada Day rock drilling: Local competitor Tobin Rupert takes eighth place
November 1, 2008
With the crowd chanting “go, go, go,” to the rhythm of the hammer striking the bit, hometown favorite Tobin Rupert pounded away at the 33rd annual World Championship Single Jack Drilling Contest in the Carson Nugget west parking lot Saturday.
“C’mon Tob,” people yelled. “Stay loose, Tobin. Stay loose.”
Announcer and former world champion Fred Andreasen pumped up supporters.
“Tobin is really driving that steel,” he said. “He’s way down in that rock already.”
However, it was a disappointing finish for Rupert, whose best drill was 9.5 in 2003.
His distance this year was 8 5/32, putting him in eighth place overall.
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“That’s drilling,” he said. “Sometimes you just hit a hard spot. I hit that sucker 120 times, and I couldn’t get through it. Then when I got through it I was out of gas.”
The single-jack drilling contest, in which contestants have 10 minutes to pound the drills into a block of white granite, is an annual part of the Nevada Day celebration. The deepest hole wins. The contest goes back to the Comstock mining skills of earlier times, when blast holes for dynamite were punched into ore bodies by hand.
The deepest hole this year was drilled by 23-year-old Emmit Hoyl of Rollinsville, Colo.
He grew up around single-jack drilling, he said.
“We did these competitions as kids.”
However, it’s only been in the last three years that he’s seriously competed in the circuit.
“I’m elated,” he said, after being named the winner. “It’s been a lot of practicing, a lot of training up for it.”
His profession as a blacksmith is also good training.
“I’m not shy to swinging a hammer,” he said.
He makes his own hammers and sells them to other competitors as well. He sold one Saturday, but the real windfall was the $2,000 prize money.
“That’s the fastest two grand I’ve ever made,” he said.
The only help drillers receive is from an assistant who runs water into the hole so the loose stone chips are splashed out with every stroke of the hammer on steel.
Ted Rupert, who refers to the job as “the idiot next to the driller,” has worked with his brother, Tobin, for the last six years.
He also helped Fred Mitchell of Carson City, who drilled for the first time this year. In fact, the championship competition was only the second time Mitchell ever drilled.
He turned out a respectable 6.5 inches.
“I’ve known (the Rupert brothers) all my life,” he said. “It’s something to do other than nothing.”
The Carson City landscaper said he’ll continue next year.
“All I can do is try and try,” he said. “Practice more technique.”
The world record was set in 1993 at 16.34 inches deep by Scott Havens of Elko.
– Contact reporter Teri Vance at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1272.