Instructor nails down national championship

Frank Oborney demonstrates his technique for hammering in nails with both speed and accuracy Tuesday at Clovis Community College. (CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Mike Linn: CNJ news editor

Frank Oborny is worried a national championship and a brief appearance on ESPN’s top 10 plays of the day is going to send the wrong message.

After all, the Clovis Community College and high school carpentry instructor doesn’t want his students trying to hammer three nails into a board of wood in seven-tenths of a second.

But that’s exactly what the Nebraska native did in his trek to become the Stanley National Nail Driving Champion on Jan. 15 at the International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Fla.

“I had to break all the rules,” he said. “If my students hammer the way I did I’d really get on them.”

Choking up on a hammer and using two hands are unsound techniques in carpentry, but they have a tendency to attract national recognition — especially when records are broken.

During his preliminary heats, Oborny knocked three nails into pressure-treated wood in less than a second, breaking the Stanley competition record with a time of .70 seconds.

The competition advances the four fastest among thousands of competitors during the three-day preliminary rounds.

During the semi-finals, competitors are matched head-to-head against another semifinalist, with the quickest competitor to nail down five advancing to the finals.

Oborny said he has made it to the final four the last two years and had competed in the event for about nine years.
He took home a plaque and $750 for his winnings.

During a demonstration Tuesday, Oborny’s rapid-fire technique was machine-like, yet when he attempted to hammer 10 nails in a row his estimations proved true — he missed a few of the nails.

Weeks after the finals, Oborny’s family noticed he had made No. 5 in ESPN’s top 10 plays.

“Nobody could believe people could nail that fast,” Oborny’s wife Susie said.

Even so, Oborny wasn’t thrilled to make national television.
“He didn’t want his students to see him,” Susie said, “but I said ‘there’s no hiding it honey because you’re on national TV.’”