I wanted to share this with others as I think it's an insight into why we love this sport...
This past winter was pretty long, and the spring was wet, which meant that field target in the northeast was shut down from the middle of November through the middle of May. Eric and I had been busy with 4-H and both of us just felt drained and had even talked of leaving field target. Neither of us really knew why we were feeling this way. So on the way down to Binghamton we talked about what our plans were and how we were both unsure of continuing with field target, which brought conflicting emotions from us both.
However, after the shoot we were suddenly talking about how excited we were about this season and all of the things that we had planned. Strange. So I mention the change in view from the car ride down vs the car ride back home and Eric confirms the change in view.
The only thing that I can think of is that we have gotten to the point where we look forward to the social aspect of field target maybe more so than the actual competition. And it's not just seeing people you know. There's teasing, telling jokes, normal everyday trials and tribulations, stories of good times and bad, and the joys and frustrations of everyday life. All are shared as we shoot next to each other with our nearly silent rifles and pistols.
It's a sport unlike any other that I've been involved with or heard about.
Here is a course outline that we put together for teaching an in-depth field target course
This past weekend I went down to Mt Airy, MD (close to Frederick) to shoot at the DIFTA match on Sunday. Now, keep in mind that I have taken my scope on and off several times over the winter and have not zero'd it in since.
After helping with the lines I get to the sight-in area and take a couple of shots at 10 yards on a clean target. Can't see where it's hitting at all. I finally see some dirt move WAY off and realize I can't possibly adjust the scope enough to compensate. At this point I'm ready to just go spend the day with family because I'm obviously not ready. Last ditch effort I pull out my hex tools and take the scope and mounts off. During this process I realize the front mount wasn't actually attached...it was sitting on top of the dovetail <argh!> Getting everything back together I am finally seeing the pellet and get things dialed in. I have just enough time to check 30 (zero) and 55 yards but not much else. Things seem to be OK and I've run out of time so I register and get ready to shoot.
I quickly realize that 30-55 is close enough, but any small kz between 10 and 20 is essentially a miss on one or both shots throughout the whole course. Something is off, but I have no idea what it is, so I shoot the rest of the course simply enjoying the day and having some good conversations with Mike Harris (DCFSA) who I'm squadded with and the fellows next to us, Paolo and Scott.
Afterwards I realized that I didn't even laser that the 30 and 55 were true.
SO, don't do what I just did...
Come prepared with your gun shooting where you want it -- having zero'd and verified the day before, or at least within the last week ESPECIALLY if you've done any adjustment to your gun. Having a last minute panic like I did is not a good start to the day. Sight-in should be a time to verify that you are shooting every target at the hold-over you expect.
You should have a routine for your sight-in. It's a good idea to bring out small targets for your 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, and 17 yard increments as that is where the most change in trajectory will be. And you can pretty much bet that there will be several close targets with small killzones. I typically have small index cards that I attach to popsicle sticks and put into the ground.
In the end I didn't do as well as I had hoped, but I was hoping for a miracle given that I really wasn't prepared for this match. It was great to see friends after the long winter and meet new people that became friends by the end of the match.
To many a string winder is just a string winder but to a match director this can be a source of utter frustration -- for many. Case in point are the current string winders that we use. They work great but have a tendancy to get tangled WAY too easily when they are in a box being taken from one location to the next and also after a match when people don't keep tension on the string as they wind. Lately is seems that one person is spending the entire time untangling a line.
Probably two years ago I went to DIFTA, in Frederick, MD, for one of their shoots and just fell in love with their winders. Simple, efficient, tangle free, and small footprint. All of that from a simple piece of plywood, who'd have thunk it :)
So in an effort to make things more efficient on my end I set about duplicating these pieces of wood so that I could replace our current winders with these new ones in time for the 2019 season.
I started by figuring out what size I wanted length wise. I wanted 12" between the two half circles. I then looked at the hole cutting bits that I had and decided on the largest one which is 3" diameter. So the final rectangle would be about 15" x 4". Got a sheet of 1/4" plywood, cut that into 15" strips, and then cut each strip into 4" strips.
The hole saws are hard to handle, so I made a quick jig out of some scraps to help. I put a straight edge on top of another board and then drilled a hole 2" from the straight edge. I could not place the strip next to the straight edge, put the inner drill bit into the hole and push the strip I intended to cut a 1/2 hole in right up against the inside drill bit. Start up the drill and a couple of seconds later you have your 1/2 hole. Flip over and repeat.
I think the worst part of drilling these holes was getting the 1/2 circles out of the cutter.
I then took each stack of finished winders and drilled two holes, in opposite corners, so that you can fold the string in half, put it through the hole and loop it around the edge. This then prevents the winder from unwinding and also gives a strong method of pulling the string and is easily undone for winding up at the end of a match.
I ran all of the edges over a sander, which also had a rounded end to get inside the circles where the string would sit. Ended up with 60 of these, which is the minimum I need. I'll probably pick up another piece of 1/4" ply so I can make some extras for Pistol and 4-H courses.
I'll paint them, transfer the string, and get some more pictures at a later time.
Information contained is the result of several hours work by Dennis and Tom Himes. I certainly want to give credit where it is due and they went above and beyond IMHO.
The manual I received indicated it was for an M2R version, so we were working from scratch on this one.
Out of the box the trigger is extremely light, but what we found out was that neither the first or second stage screws were even making contact with the trigger, so it was just the rocker arm doing all the work out of the box against the trigger blade.
If you don't feel comfortable working with the tube pressurized then there is a sunken hex bolt forward of the trigger that allows you to degass the pressure tube. I believe it's between the two larger screws that hold the stock on.
Take the stock off by removing the 3 larger hex screws from the under side of the stock. One is at the metal piece holding the tube and floating barrel. The other two are close to the trigger.
Once you remove the stock you can see the trigger workings a bit better and you will find it easier to work on things minus the stock.
Also, before you do anything else, if you haven't degassed then set the trigger mode to dry fire.
Remove the trigger plate/rod by loosening the one screw that this assembly attaches to.
Once removed there are two small screws used to adjust the 1st stage (forward screw) and the 2nd stage (rear screw). There is a larger screw just forward of that allowing you to adjust what we believe to be the 1st stage spring tension.
The 2nd stage is so light that you probably don't want to increase the first stage tension otherwise you won't be able to feel the 2nd stage.
Try to make all adjustments with the trigger engaged, which might bean you having to keep re-cocking it. Again, trigger test mode is best for this.
Also, you don't have to keep attaching the trigger plate/rod assembly. We found it easiest to insert the small hex tool into one of the screws and feel the tension. It wasn't until the fine-tuning at the very end that we bothered with the rod/blade assembly.
Dennis screwed in the 1st stage screw quite a bit until he felt it contacting the release blade.
Once you have the 1st stage then you can start to wind up the 2nd stage.
This trigger is very much like the Marauder trigger but a whole lot lighter.
In the end the trigger is still extremely light, but you can definitely feel the 2nd stage. And while there is a tiny bit of play in the 2nd stage I will have to use it some more to determine if I need to take out some of that play.
To appreciate Hector Medina you need to understand that he is crazy meticulous to the Nth degree. So anything that he does has a lot of thought involved trying to take into consideration every possible detail. Sometimes it's a bit much and leaves my mind whirling and asking for a sippy cup, but, if you can take it in, you end up learning a lot.
Over the Thanksgiving weekend I was within 25 miles of his home and figured that I would drop by to visit him and his family.
We were working on a couple of projects and so I showed him were I was at. Veronica surprised me by expecting me to have brunch with them and wouldn't take no for an answer.
After brunch the kids were getting tired and I got ready to leave at which point Hector disappeared for a couple of minutes. Not wanting to leave without saying goodbye I figured he was downstairs in his workshop so waited patiently.
He comes up and hands me a pen. OK, thanks, I think...
But WAIT! True to Hector's meticulousness, if that's a word, this isn't just a pen. It's also a ruler, both standard and metric. But wait, there's more! It has a level built into the body as well as a tip on the end to use on your smartphone. And if you screw off this tip it also has a micro screwdriver (standard and phillip) that can also accept any other micro bits that you might have.
Who knew a pen could have so many uses? I certainly didn't.
So when someone hands you a pen, ask them "So what else does it do?" and see what kind of look you get
This past season I came across people that were adding "bling" to their equipment. Not necessarily my cup of tea but it looked "cute" and added personality to their equipment.
The first I noticed was Betsy who took her all black synthetic Marauder and added bling with some stick on diamonds and such, which suited Betsy's personality very well.
Later in the season the Himes' brothers introduced anodized scope screws and of course Betsy was one of the first to implement this. I liked this bling but on my "grey/black" streamline I just couldn't see adding that.
Fast forward to this past Thanksgiving weekend and I stopped by the Himes' brothers for the day on my way back from Frederick, MD. I had gotten a "gift" for each of them in the form of a pellet tin for matches (here) and wanted to drop that off. I had shot with Dennis at some point and he pulled out his current pellet tin and all of the pellets promptly went all over the place so I thought this would work for him.
We worked on my Pyramyd Air Cup Ataman M2S Field Target rifle. After working on the trigger and some other things we all sat back in our chairs and looked at each other thinking "what next". Tom got up and brought over his anodized screw sets and started looking at colors. As his gift to me he asked if I wanted to add some bling to my rifle. WELL, the Ataman now seemed to be the perfect candidate and the red, white and blue stock just called out for some red screws integrated into the scope to match the red in the stock. You can get their screws here
So succumbed to a bit of bling and I'm now the proud owner of an Ataman with some "flair". For those younger ones that reference is here :)
Bigger competitions can be intimidating, but PLEASE don't be intimidated. We're fortunate in our sport to have such a great group of people representing airguns and they're the nicest bunch that I've come across. So if you're unsure about going to Pyramyd, Crosman, Nationals, Cajun Classic, etc. I would sincerely encourage you to just do it (pardon the Nike reference...)
Each person I have shot with I have learned something from, even if it's something not to do. The number of stories that we have created seems to be endless and it's always fun to reminisce when you're shooting with someone again.
Big comps are also a great time to try other equipment. For example, I have a bucket with a plastic "tractor seat" on top. Typically someone sees it for the first time and sort of laughs, but I get up and have them try it and their smirk changes to a look of envy. And there's no limit on this. If you didn't have equipment there is typically someone ready and willing to share their equipment with you.
Look, we're in this sport because we love it and we are happy to share our addiction in any way that we can. So please don't think that you're not "good enough" for a match and get out there and have fun.
Last weekend was Pyramyd and next weekend is the Nationals, but there wasn't any shooting the weekend in-between so we threw together an impromptu match based on responses from the question..."who wants to shoot this weekend?".
All in all there were 15 people that showed up to partake in the Rochester winds that decided to show up in force, with gusts to 8 mph (measured). We had one new shooter, Eric Book, whom Eric and I met at the Wyomoco 4H State Championships. He's easy to remember because he like to shoot spring/piston :)
The match was moved back an hour, to start at 10 am, and 2 minutes before Dennis Himes finally made it. Threw some shots on paper down the sight-in range and was ready. We took down the sight-in targets and shot in the sight-in area, allowing for the wind to really affect the pellet trajectory. In the end Dennis didn't disappoint and ended up with 57/60...again.
It was a wonderful morning shoot. The weather was a bit chilly because of the wind, but if you could handle that then it was a beautiful to be outdoors with friends shooting.
Let me just start out by saying that I dreamed of this happening but realistically NEVER expected the following to happen.
We went down to New Philadelphia, Ohio this past weekend to participate in the yearly migration to the Pyramyd Air Cup, put on by Pyramyd Air. This is, honestly, a must-go event if you are interested in field target at all. Tyler puts on a great course that is challenging but not crazy hard so beginners and veterans can enjoy two days of wonderful field target courses.
We (my daughter Sydney, Eric and Sean) got there Thursday night and set up Eric's camper when we were greeted by the Tusco Militia (to put it lightly) asking for their $15 camping fee. Which is fine and you knew it was coming. The strange part is we were then told that the bathroom shower facilities weren't supposed to be open so there is a "Tip" jar. Wow! That's strange because Tyler and Kristin had meetings with them and determined that the shower facilities WERE part of the camping. Oh well.
Friday was a day for sighting in, trying the guns that they had out, and socializing. The pistol comp had been cancelled due to incoming weather so it was a relaxing day. That night we ended up pretty much taking over Hog Heaven...AWESOME FOOD. I think we must have had 50 people eating there in total that night. We took up the whole back room and then some. While we were there the incoming weather hit hard with high winds and rain. As we left the rain had stopped and the worst of the weather was over. Our camper was mostly dry and intact.
Because of the constant wind all day I suggested to Eric that we go out under cover of night and do a quick sight-in even though the range was technically closed :) So we took his truck out there and spent 5 minutes making sure we were straight as far as left-right was concerned.
Saturday morning was an early one. Getting breakfast and out to the sight-in line which was wet and crowded. I shot 10 shots, making sure my elevation was where it should be and got out of the way. Went down to the registration area and waited for 8:30 to roll around then went to the pavilion and waited for the shooters meeting to start with Sydney. No surprises and we were all anxious to start.
Sydney and I were squadded together as requested both days as we were sharing my equipment so it was a nice weekend with some quality father-daughter time. We shot with Rick, who was fairly new to the sport, and another fellow whose name escapes me. We had a good day. The wind was challenging and I had taken my time. If I had close ones I tried to hurry but not rush leaving more time for the long ones and allowing the wind to die down to then take the long shots, hopefully, with little to no wind. By the end of the course I thought for sure I was out of the running once again with a 43/52 (-9 shots).
As I started making my way to put my stuff away I found out that the Himes brothers hadn't done very well with the wind. Dennis was looking at the wind in the grass but didn't take into account that the grass was extremely wet from the rain the night before so grossly underestimated the wind and was down -13 and Tom was down -15 I think. Talking to others I proceeded to figure out that I actually did very well. At one point John Eros came up to me and said "looks like we're tied for 1st...". I was completely surprised. I always figure that someone must have shot better than me, so I'm always very humble about my score and try not to get my hopes up.
We all went to the banquet that night at the Elks Club, which is always top notch. PA has many things out to raffle off, plus they were raffling off a new Air Venturi Compressor! The number of people from the Northeast has grown so we took a picture of our group, which is in the pictures below and called it a night.
Sunday came and I didn't even bother sighting in. I figured that I put the rifle away and nothing had changed or gotten bumped, similar to last year. So I spent the morning relaxing and talking with friends. Tyler got the meeting under way, but this time with some humor. Someone had really messed up their score sheet so Kristin pulled out a big "X" on paper and Tyler said "this is what you write down when the target is knocked over" <laugh from everyone>. Kristen pulls out an "O", "This is what you write down when the target is NOT knocked over"....
Sydney and I were paired with John Eroh, who I was tied with for 1st and Jim Cylan, who was 1 point behind us. First lane and John's fingers were visibly shaking to the point that we all asked him if he was OK. He had never been in this position so was WAY nervous. We went on with our shooting and I missed two early on so I just started shooting for fun like I try to always do and enjoy my daughter's company. But as we worked our way through the course I ended up not missing as many as John and managed to tie Jim. So Jim remained 1 point behind me and John was 3 behind. So at this point, unless someone had a spectacular day, I had a chance.
We packed up the equipment, went back to the camper and got everything ready to leave and had some lunch. Tyler and crew took the score boards into a private room since there were some protests to work out and to keep the scoring private. Maybe an hour later they put the score boards up and I had a "1st" next to my name! WOW, a dream had come true. Then Eric said that I had better look at the prizes to see which one I would like. And since you didn't know the order you needed to create a list of 1-5. I started getting congratulations from EVERYONE, even Tyler. It was one of those moments that is just surreal.
Well, Kristen called the 1st place finishers out and had us draw numbers. High score went first, drew a 3. Next highest drew a 2. Then I went and drew 1! Wow, I won and get first choice of the prizes! Crazy.
Tyler started the presentation and my name was announced as 1st Place in Hunter PCP. I made my way up to him with the room erupting in cheers. Just crazy. For this particular weekend I had managed to beat 49 other people over two days of shooting. I got a very nice 1st place Cup trophy and was able to pick out an Ataman M2S Field Target rifle worth $2399.
You might recall that I had written earlier about having someone in line above you that you are close to beating as your next goal. And I had called out the Himes' brothers, to which they were very flattered.
On the way home I just kept reliving the weekend and thinking any more mistakes and this wouldn't have happened. But I managed to keep my cool, enjoy the weekend, spend time with my daughter, shoot really well, AND I BEAT THE HIMES' BROTHERS! So I came to the conclusion that I had won the trifecta by beating both of the Himes' brothers AND winning the cup.