So, let me tell you it's an 18 hour drive given 70 mph speed limit 90% of the time and it's honestly not that bad. Eric and I just came back from an absolutely wonderful weekend spent with our new friends at the Bayou Airgun Club in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
They picked the perfect time of year because it's not too hot and the bugs aren't out in force. We had high's in the high 70's/low 80's and the lows at night got down to 50. The hospitality of the folks down there is just amazing -- the southern hospitality and charm is strong in these parts and I was immediately drawn in.
We left Wednesday at 1pm, took a break between 3:30 am and 6:00 am which got us arriving there at 11am. So with the time change the trip down, with stops for gas and food took us about 22 hours. After we checked into the camp ground we went to the club to sight in our rifles and pistols. Eric was an immediate hit as Don was talking to him and relaying how he has the same gun and it shoots horribly. So Eric went through all of the do's and don'ts, modified the trigger a bit and explained what he found worked best to hold and shoot that gun. Don sat down and took some shots and the look on his face was pure joy! His frustration was gone and he was absolutely delighted at the difference in accuracy by changing your hold and lightening the trigger. He also used the pinch method that Veronica Medina mentioned to Eric and Peg many years before.
Well Eric worked a miracle for Don, so suddenly everyone knew Eric and he was more than happy to talk springers with them.
Friday we helped set up the sight-in range and got ready for the pistol match. The course was 40 targets spread out over 10 lanes and it was a great course. You go down a path into the woods and they have chiseled lanes out of the thick bush that Louisiana is known for. They had targets on the ground and in the trees offering a great variety of shots. Eric ended up being tied for first and ultimately won the shoot-off. While I didn't win I did a lot better than last week at our monthly match. My pistol was sighted in better this time and I was able to double my score from 15 to 30 and ended up 9th out of 13.
Friday night we went out to dinner with Don at a place called Sammie's and it was amazing. The food in Louisiana is amazing. This night we tried Alligator and had Po-Boy sandwiches both of which are amazing.
Saturday came and we got up early, got to the range and started sighing in. Eric heard a "thud" while cocking his rifle and immediately knew that something was wrong. With just a couple of minutes until the match he was left to figure things out on the course. Ultimately he didn't do very well on Saturday and spent the day trying to figure out where his gun was shooting. At the end of the day he wasn't very happy and wasn't near the top like he usually is. This is where Eric really shines. He has an uncanny ability to figure out and track where his gun is shooting as the match progresses.
I managed to somehow sneak into third place in Hunter PCP by the end of Saturday.
Saturday night we went out with 30 other shooters and some of their wives to Sammie's again and had a great time swapping stories. This time we tried crawfish, which tastes just like lobster...YUM.
Sunday came and Eric was at least able to get numbers for his holdovers and also found that his gun was shooting 45 fps slower. So he suspected that the spring had broken resulting in the "thud" he heard yesterday. With his numbers ready we went off to the 2nd course. Eric ended up doing much better and was 4 shy of 3rd by the end of the day. Mine was a bit worse and I ended up going from 3rd to 7th. I only shot 2 lower than the previous day but the rest of the group shot really well. What threw me was the amount of light/dark. Targets in the dark definitely range different than if they were in direct light -- something to work on.
After finishing Sunday's course Eric took his rifle apart and found that the spring had broken in TWO places.... and he still came in 4th. Wow, just wow.
We made it home safe and are looking forward to next year's 30TH Cajun Classic. Despite the long drive this was well worth it.
Wow, I reminded myself why our first match is typically in May and NOT April! Thursday I started setting up in SNOW! Got the sight-in area ready then pulled out the cinder blocks. Place the blocks for rifle and left the pistol ones for Friday when the weather was nicer. Once I was chilled to the bone I left to get warm and, wouldn't you know it, the snow stopped! Crazy.
On Friday I went back out and placed the targets on the blocks and got the distances down. I attached the lines and also set the cinder blocks for the pistol match where I wanted them and got those numbers. The weather was still going to be a bit chilly on Saturday, but it would be manageable -- starting out in the 30's and going up to the low 50's with an 8-12 mph wind.
Got up and out to the field by 6:30 on Saturday to make sure everything was in place. Put out the positional signs for rifle/pistol and started to sight-in. Eric showed up followed by Shawn, Doug, Rick, Vincent, Daryl, Greg (and Pat) and Curt, for his first ever try. We sighted in and got caught up with all the happenings over the winter. Everyone was just glad to be outdoors doing something that they love, and no-one had any expectations of doing well because none of us managed to get any trigger time over the winter.
By 9 am we were shooting and by 11 am we were finished. We moved the targets to the pistol blocks and picked up the third target in the lane to leave the pistol course. Those people not shooting pistol then left and we proceeded with the pistol course. At 1:30 we had finished the pistol match and cleaned up. There were only 3 people shooting pistol - Eric, myself and Vincent. Shawn and Daryl were shooting their rifles kneeling/standing just to get some extra practice in.
Greg Shirhall -- WFTF Pistol -- 36/60
Eric Brewer -- Hunter Piston -- 22/60
Kurt -- Hunter Piston -- 17/60
Daryl VanWhy -- Hunter PCP -- 38/60
Shawn Pragle -- Hunter PCP -- 20/60
Rick Vaeth -- Hunter PCP -- 47/60
Doug Wall -- Hunter Pistol -- 12/60
Vincent -- 19/60
Sean McDaniel -- 40/60
Daryl VanWhy -- Rifle -- 25/40
Shawn Pragle -- Rifle -- 21/40
Eric Brewer -- Hunter Pistol -- 18/40
Vincent -- Hunter Pistol -- 16/40
Sean McDaniel -- Hunter Pistol -- 15/40
Everything considered, it was cold but manageable if dressed appropriately. The wind definitely factored into the lower than normal scores as it was anywhere from 0 to 12 mph gusts and everything in-between. We all had smiles on our faces as we left, so that is the most important thing.
It's the beginning of the season here in the NE, and twice now I've seen this issue:
One of the clubs had all of their matches, even their 1st Grand-Prix event, on days when other clubs are having matches. The second one was having their second match on Sunday of the next month and I saw it was on the same day as TWO matches close to them -- and Saturday had ZERO matches. You could potentially have a great turnout if you are that close as people might choose to go to both since they are that close to the other one.
The problem in our sport is that if you have 20 people attending matches in an area then to have 2 or three in the same vicinity waters down the pool. The potential of having a handful of shooters turn out is devastating and NO-ONE likes that.
This is especially true for clubs that are just starting out and trying to increase the numbers. Give your match the best chance possible by choosing days that don't have other local matches.
From my perspective, I'd rather spend a weekend having my own "grand-prix" two day event by traveling to two matches than going to a single match only to find out the majority of shooters went to the "other" match.