Thursday. Prep day. It was bright. It was beautiful. The air felt and smelled great upon arrival at our venue above Mormon Lake. The sky was an awesome and rich shade of blue with hardly a cloud to be seen. It would last this way throughout the weekend for the 2015 Arizona state field target championship. There was a nice breeze, but no wind to speak of. That would change, sometimes rapidly, over the two days of competition, and then diminish to almost nothing again. Just Mother Nature playing games with us as usual. In reality, we could not have asked for better conditions. It was just delightful over the entire weekend.
It was just after noon when I arrived, followed shortly thereafter by Larry, and then by Steve. We were ready to get started. The area that we are permitted to use from the USDA forestry department is fairly extensive and we have a multitude of possibilities for course layout. Due to the lower number of registered entrants this year, we decided to build only one course. This would consist of 13 lanes of two targets each. That equates to 52 shots per day, or 104 shots for the match. The odd number of total shots was just in case we had to eliminate a target due to malfunction, and still maintain at least a 100 shot match to qualify as an AAFTA grand prix. As it worked out, we had one or two string snags, but no target malfunctions for the entire match.
We positioned lanes 1 through 5 facing to the northwest in an attempt to take advantage of the tricky wind conditions that are always present in that area. Lanes 6, 7, and 8 were facing the north to take advantage of the long downhill slope on the west side of the pit, the abrupt, almost straight down spots in the middle of the pit, and then across the pit from one cliff edge to another facing the east. We then positioned lanes 9 through 13 back up on the flats in a shallow arc from the northeast to the east using little clumps of trees as firing points. As we went from position to position, we planted the lane stakes and decided what size kill zones should be allocated for each location. These were all plotted on paper to make it easier for actual target placement on Friday. We cleared some of the grasses to make line of sight easier and then called it a day.
Larry and Debbie conducting the raffle
Saturday, Day One of competition. We had exactly 20 shooters. Some notified us that they could not attend, one is recuperating from a leg injury, and others showed up at the last minute finding their schedules cleared enough to be able to attend. The sight in range was busy, and then the shooters meeting was called, the course was explained, gun safety rules were reinforced, and lane assignments were handed out. We were on our way! During the course of the day we had a sizable number of visitors and friends who attended to see what field target was all about, walking the course and watching all the action.
I was squadded with George D from California. I know George but had not shot with him before, so we got to know each other better, enjoyed shooting together, and otherwise had a great time. George shoots a Steyr LG110 at 12 fpe in the WFTF class. I am amazed at what a 12 fpe gun can do and would like to try that discipline some time, but may have trouble bending in the middle to comfortably shoot. At least in open class, I can use a harness to support my bad lower back. Throughout the course, George demonstrated some amazing shots and I was grateful to be able to shoot with him. He is a great guy.
Scott H from CA is another whose position I cannot duplicate. He just literally folds himself in half. He probably saves a lot of money on traveling; just folds himself inside a suitcase and closes it, and has it forwarded to his destination. I have heard several descriptions of what his position looks like, but to me he folds in half like a taco.
One other notable from Day one is Sandy. Today was Sandy’s birthday and we were honored that she chose to spend her day with the rest of us. Happy Birthday, kiddo! Sandy also shared the leaderboard in Open PCP with Garrett, each shooting a score of 43. William S had a 41 in Hunter PCP and George D had a 43 in WFTF. In the freestyle class, Steve M, and John B were battling each other with identical scores of 47. Freestyle class is not recognized by AAFTA at this time, but we wanted to include these guys just the same. It will be interesting to see how this class develops over time, or if these guys gravitate to one of the other competitive classes.
Day One Troyer (difficulty) factor was calculated to be 33.01 without taking the wind into account. With the wind, it calculated to be 38.52.
Friday arrived and I was pleasantly surprised to find some of our group with camper trailers already on site. Larry, Steve, and Ron were already starting to place targets. Dale and Deb arrived and joined in. We busied ourselves for the next several hours with target placement, and some of the placements were really interesting. Lane one was designated as the prone/offhand lane. A fallen tree provided a space to shoot from underneath, or standing, but you had to change positions to do either. Tree stumps and fallen logs were used to set other targets. Lane 4 had a standing dead tree that we were able to set a frog on the one limb up at about 15 feet. On lane 5 we had a turkey head poking up from behind a berm of earth at about 45 yards. Moving to the pit, we had a target almost straight down, while another was stretched out about 50 yards with the firing position on top of the cliff. As mentioned earlier, we had a penguin planted on one cliff face while the shooting position was on the opposite cliff face. Stretching that string was a real chore just to make sure it did not get tangled in a tall pine tree that you were looking down at the top of. Lane 11 was the designated kneeling lane that tended to be a little tricky due to target size. The kneeling lane would shift to lane 10 on the second day. Finally, getting around to lane 13 presented itself with a bent over tree trunk that you had to shoot from in underneath. If I say so myself, I think we did a very creative job of lane and target placement. With only a bit of lane clearing left to do, we were ready to go.
As with all successful events, it is always a team effort to get things done in order to make everything go smoothly. That being said, I want to thank the following people for their unselfish contributions to this year’s state championship;
Bonni Jo and Natalie for working their butts off to prepare all the food for lunch on both days. They had enough left-over from Saturday to feed the troops again on Sunday. They took care of planning, purchasing, preparing, and serving everything and then cleaning up afterwards. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Dale and Debbie for foregoing their competitive participation in order to man the “stat office” and take care of all late registrations, score cards, assisting with the raffle and taking all the photographs for the event, in addition to helping set up and tear down afterwards. I cannot thank you enough.
Larry Piercy for bringing the PAD van to the event, manning it, filling air tanks, demonstrating all the neat toys, helping to layout and set up the courses, running the raffle, acting as Master-of-Ceremonies, and probably a dozen other tasks that have slipped my mind. Thank you, my friend.
Robert Buchanan and Airguns of Arizona for your generous and never-ending support of field target and air-gunning in general. Your contribution is greatly appreciated.
To the guys from California; Scott, Vince, Ron, and George for taking time out of your schedules and traveling the distance to come shoot with us. We hope that you had a good time and great experience.
And finally to all of the club members who helped to set up and take down afterwards. You guys and gals are the backbone of the club and without you, none of this could happen. Thank you all for always being there!
Our next monthly match will be Saturday, October 17. This will be the last match for the season at Mormon Lake before moving back to Ben Avery shooting range in Phoenix. This will also be the Founder’s Cup match and will commemorate 24 years that Airgunners of Arizona has been in existence.
So, until next month, practice, practice, practice….but remember to have fun.
Secretary, Airgunners of Arizona
Sunday, Day Two of competition. We were re-squadded based on the previous days scores. After the requisite shooters meeting, we were off once again to do battle with the steel horde. Today, I found myself paired up with Ron J from CA. Ron appears to be super serious all the time, but in reality, it is just his dry sense of humor. Ron shoots the prettiest Daystate CR-X with a red/black laminate stock, and does it shoot! We worked our way around the course swapping the lead back and forth and enjoying the day. The wind did not appear to be as strong today, but it was still making itself known from time to time. For instance, it would die down when Ron shot and pick up noticeably when I shot….or so it seemed. Ron is a good shot, but I was lucky to edge him by one shot today. We still had a good time shooting together.
Scores did take a noticeable change about as well with most shooters improving over their Day One performances. The Troyer factor changed a bit considering some of the modifications done after Day One’s completion. Today, the calculated Troyer factor was 32.65 without taking into account for wind. With the wind figured in, the Troyer factor was 38.16. Even with the difficulty of the match, there were a lot of good scores posted.
With all cards turned in and both days scores totaled, Bobby C was the big winner in Open PCP with a score of 90 and barely edging out his bride, Sandy, who finished in Second place with a score of 89. Garrett K. finished third with a score of 87. William S took top honors in Hunter PCP with a 75 while George D did the same in WFTF with a score of 88. The big surprise came in Freestyle class with John B taking first with a score of 91 and edging Steve M, who finished with a 90, by one point. Newcomer Dewain M made an impressive showing with a score of 85 for third place.
Sandy C took the High Lady medal, John B took the High Senior medal, and George D took the High Out-of-State Medal.
Here are the scores:
1st WFTF PCP
2nd Open PCP
1st Open PCP
3rd Open PCP
Airgunners of Arizona
Field Target Club
1st Hunter PCP
Arizona State Field Target Championship Match Report
September 19 & 20, 2015 – Mormon Lake, AZ
Hosted by Airgunners of Arizona and sponsored by Airguns of Arizona
LUNCH! My favorite part of the day. After shooting, we all gathered around to partake of all the goodies that awaited us. Bonni Jo and Natalie went overboard to take care of feeding all of us. Beer boiled, then grilled bratwurst and hot dogs, Bonni’s home made cole slaw, chips, dips, grilled veggies for atop the brats, fruit, cookies, brownies, apple cobbler, etc, etc, etc. It was wonderful! Many, many thanks to Bonni and Natalie for taking on this responsibility. We are most grateful. While sitting around, stuffed to the gills, it felt like it was time for a nap, but we weren’t finished yet….
The RAFFLE! Airguns of Arizona sponsored this years shoot and donated almost $1900 worth of merchandise for our annual raffle. This included lots of pellets, pellet pouches, pellet tins, pellet holders, a pellet trap, gun socks, a field target, CO2 pistols and BB’s, gun case, flashlight, bum bag, cleaning accessories and lube, several Hawke scopes, scope mounts, scope levels, and the big prize; a Weirauch HW57 .177 caliber spring piston rifle! The PAD (Precision Airgun Distribution) van was also on site the entire weekend and was kept busy filling air tanks and demonstrating the new guns on board. We are very grateful to Robert Buchanan and Airguns of Arizona for their extreme generosity to our club and overwhelming support of all airgunning sports.
Additionally, Bonni Jo, one of our club members, donated a beautiful field target motif quilt that took countless hours of hand stitching by her to make. Thank you so much for your thoughtful gift.
Day One ended with everyone present either mobbing the PAD van or retiring to the sight in range where club member John B set up and conducted a silhouette novelty shoot at various distances using 10 meter rifles.
The PAD van
Natalie is a raffle prize winner
Here is a view of the sight in range in use. I am hopeful that the camera was positioned down range and not the photographer.