While at the Baldwinsville 4H event this past weekend David Lee mentioned that Nick Gregoris had grown up a bit and had a girlfriend and that his "sight picture" was being clouded a bit. Well, Nick finally showed up and I was doing a bit of teasing based on this "info" and trying to get him to come to more shoots.
I even tried the tactic of "field target lasts forever, but girlfriends well..." to which he smiled and laughed. He got my point I think.
Baldwinsville is one of those events that I had heard about for years but had never been able to attend due to Canadian Nationals and/or the Crosman competition. This year the weekend was free so I offered my time up to Dave Lee (out of Binghamton) to help out with the field target portion of the event.
This event seems to be mostly airgun people selling/trading in the large main building. But they also have kids in the 4H shooting sports program going through some competitions. This year there were 4 kids that came through...Rachael, Cayleigh, Spencer and Ashleigh. Rachael is the daughter of Nate, who Eric and I met at the Wyomoco 4H Pistol training earlier this year so he was here to see field target for the first time.
At 9:45 am Doug and I proceeded to set up the field target course and get it ready for the 11 am start. This also included 6 tents that Dave Lee had brought to help with the sun. The Quigley bucket challenge was also set up, but the Challenger they provided wasn't holding air so that didn't happen. After some confusion I decided that the kids would shoot the course and be scored 0 for a miss, 1 for a faceplate, and 2 for a knock down.
Rachael shot on Friday with her Crosman Challenger, which was NOT set up for field target, but she persevered and had a smile the whole time. Half-way through the course she realized she was focusing but not adjusting her elevation turret, so she pretty much missed everything before that. Eric, Paul, and Doug also stopped by on Friday to see what this was all about and help out as much as they could. We lowered the tents and cleaned up for the night at 5pm.
Doug and Betsy were wonderful and offered me a place to sleep so I wasn't traveling over an hour to get there/back each day so I got to spend some quality time with them after the shoot. We went to Heid's in Liverpool (maybe?) which is their "dive" (at my request) and then we had ice-cream. And it was a dive...sticking to the seats outside and probably 20 coats of paint on the tables, but I loved it. Was exactly what I had requested :)
Saturday started at 8 am, raising the tents and getting everything ready. This went quickly with Doug's help. Dave then provided a Crosman Discovery for the kids to use so I got that sighted in and made sure the numbers were ready. We had Caleigh, Spencer and Ashleigh shoot on Saturday. Caleigh did very well and has been a precision shooter with 4H for two years. Spencer did well but I'm not sure how long he had been shooting. As Spencer finished up shooting Ashleigh came by and I found out that they are brother and sister and apparently have a very competitive rivalry with Ashleigh declaring that "I'm much better than he is" followed by a grunt (maybe) from Spencer .
Having fired the warning shot, Ashleigh then started shooting and was definitely on target. I think she was the only one to have 11/12 per lane. She came so close to getting a clean lane but it wasn't to be this day. With 4 lanes left I start tallying her score realizing that she fired the warning shot so she probably wanted to know where she was. The "win" over her brother looked like it was within reach at her current pace. Then I looked and realized that Caleigh had the high score for the day and that also was within reach. I let her know what she had to get on the last two lanes and she went to town. The last lane was kneeling and would determine the outcome. She ended up getting 3 knockdowns and 3 face plates which secured her win over her brother and also her top score (by 3 points) with just a couple of minutes to spare before the 4 o'clock deadline.
We had visits from Glen Thomas, and Louis (Binghamton) and some others that came by (sorry, the day is a blur) to shoot the course and they all appeared to have some fun. Louis even traded his rifle in for a Gamo Urban.
Doug, Betsy, Glen, and I started tearing down the course at 4 pm and shortly after I looked over and Ashleigh and her mother were approaching. Thinking something was wrong I went over to see what was up. Nothing was wrong, Ashleigh's mother was speaking to her daughter and asking her how everything went and she wanted to make sure I knew that "Ashleigh said that shooting field target was the most fun she's had shooting ever". Well, of course I was thrilled to hear this as it makes all of the time I spend worth while to get this kind of feedback.
What a way to end the day.
This past weekend I found myself in the unfortunate position of having to parent my peers...
As in anything that you do there is typically a single person that ruins it for others. As match director of the Crosman 2018 CAAFTC match this past weekend it came to my attention that a first time shooter, who was squadded with a veteran shooter, saw behavior that they felt was unethical, and after hearing the story I have to agree. As told to me by a third-person, the veteran wasn't starting the clock when they picked up their gun but instead was starting the clock after they ranged (which was specifically gone over in the safety meeting...4 minutes per lane, no time allowed to range and time starts when you pick up your gun). The second issue was shooting targets out of order. Sometimes targets may be too close to call (near/far, left/right) depending on where you sit or the ranging ability of your scope, but this wasn't the case. So shots taken out of order were scored as hits instead of misses.
All of this happened on Saturday, the first day of the rifle match, on the woods course. So I knew it was a Hunter PCP person but I wasn't given the info to talk with them in private. So I had to open up my "scolding" to the entire group on Sunday as I gave my safety briefing.
Hearing that someone is essentially Cheating in our sport really hits me hard. I work my butt of trying to get new people into this great sport so hearing that someone is working against me is painful. There aren't many rules and in the end a lot of what we do is self-governed in that we don't scrutinize every single thing and expect that the players in this game will be ethical. However it is becoming more prevalent that people are not being ethical and cheating to try and get those extra points.
In the end this is just a game and imho if you are resorting to cheating to obtain points and a higher score you are only cheating yourself and ruining it for others. The only valid way to get better in anything that you do is to practice and if you can't find the time to practice then you should expect a lower score but please, please, please don't cheat as it taints our great sport. And I feel sorry for this first time shooter, whoever they are. I wish I could apologize to them and let them know that the person they shot with is NOT your typical field target person. And I hope the person who was cheating is ashamed of what they did and does't do it again.
So, yes, the low point of this weekend was me having to parent 85 of my peers that this is just a game, and if you're so serious about this game that you are cheating then it's time to find another game.
Special thanks to all of the people who stepped in to help this year given the extenuated circumstances. It made quick work of what has historically been the worst part of the job...Thanks!
The fun has started....Friday at 6:30 am I was out at RBGC setting up the sight-in range by putting in new paper. Half-way through some help arrived, so Shawn Pragle and I made quick work of finishing it up to get the sight-in active. People promptly pulled out their rifles and pistols to start at 7 am. After putting the numbers into the AAFTA Grand Prix spreadsheet the night before it showed that some targets weren't quite right so It was off to the pistol course to make some minor corrections from the previous day setup.
Friday at noon the Quigley Bucket challenge started. This takes the scene from Quigley Down Under in which the main character has a ranch hand gallop his horse some 650 yards away and then shoots this standing. Bring this down to airguns and you have a Crosman Challenger shooting 177 pellets at about 600 fps at a small bucket shaped target that is 1.75" using a peep sight. Having tried this several time and my inability to actually see the target let alone where the pellet hit I no longer participate in this, but it's amazing to watch people knock this down. There were three people who hit is 1 out of 5 times and they had a shoot-off in which Gary LaRocca ended up being victorious.
We then had the pistol field target in the 9-18 mph winds. And I had a new 1720T from Crosman that I got the night before that I was shooting so it only seemed appropriate that I pulled in Ryan and Reg Landry (father and son) to shoot with me for their first time shooting pistol. Reg, the father, had never shot field target before and so he was really diving into the experience and taking it all in. The three of us shot and scored and never even looked at how we did because we were too busy having fun, talking, and laughing. In the end it turns out that I tied Paul Porch for 3rd. I conceded 3rd to Paul and took 4th. Kevin Kunkle took 1st and Craig Evans took 2nd in Hunter. Then in Hands you had Virgillio Gonzales (1st), Ray Apelles (2nd) and John Eroh (3rd). In Open there was a tie between Nathan Thomas and Bill Rabbit in which Nathan won the shoot-off followed by Jeff Paddock (3rd) and Tyler Patner (4th) who also tied.
Friday competition over, we headed to the clubhouse for the Crosman meet and greet to relax and catch up with old friends.
Saturday was a repeat of the previous day with winds gusting to 18 so I put the WFT people in the fields and let them battle the winds that they so "LOVE". I had Mike Harris come up to me after he was done Saturday and say that if he knew there were winds like this close to him he wouldn't have needed to go to Poland for the worlds...
There were three protested targets that had issues so we pulled them and gave credit to everyone who missed them.
Saturday afternoon we had Tyler and Kristen from Pyramyd Air running the gunslinger and Bill Rabbit maintained his title in PCP.
Sunday was the BIG question the entire weekend. Forecast the entire week had possibility of rain at some point and, with Rochester being Rochester, we got it. Saturday Night/Sunday Morning it rained....a LOT. On Sunday at 5:30 I woke up to an absolute downpour and was nervous that we would have a repeat of Crosman some 5 years ago. But the rain quickly started to subside and was a light drizzle by the time the competition started. Some pulled out for various reasons due to the rain, but everything went on as planned and by 11:30 the rain had stopped which then meant that the sun and WIND then started again. Crazy gusts like Saturday were throwing the Hunter PCP group around on their last several lanes.
Both Saturday and Sunday I was squadded with the Landry's and Reg was using my gun to try field target for the first time. Both days were wonderful and we all had a great time. I didn't even touch my scorecard so I had no idea how I had done but felt I had done better than in the past.
After reviewing some new protests and giving credit the ladies at Crosman (Sonia and Sue) were able to get the final scores up. We had another two ties. The first was between the Himes brothers, Tom and Dennis. These two are super competitive and both shoot crazy good, you can read my other rambling about my weekend at their house. So, knowing these two as I do I set out the 1" killzone at 55 yards in the sight-in area so there was plenty of wind to battle. I had a hunch that the target wasn't a problem but the wind would determine the winner. And I was right. Dennis took his shot and missed while Tom was able to correctly account for the wind and hit it.
We then had the WFT PCP guys come out and after targets at varying distances and positions we finally had our winner.
Crosman is in my back yard and they have stood beside us every step of the way to support our field target activities at RBGC. So special thanks goes out to them for just being AMAZING. Mark DeBoard and all of the volunteers continue to help out year after year and continue to put on an amazing event. This year there were 85 competitors, with 45 pistol shooters (more than double what we had last year). So the sport is growing in many ways and I look forward to next year's event.
Being a match director is an absolute labor of love. So if you're pursuing fame and fortune then this is NOT the thing for you. But the rewards are priceless. I have John-John, who I shot with last year and taught him and his uncle to shoot field target coming back again. Making sure that they told me that they came back because they had such a great time last year...priceless. The people seeking you out and thanking you for the continued dedication and hard work....priceless. The friendships that are created or continued...priceless. Field target isn't about the money, it's about the fun and friends....ultimately it's a sport but is more of a game and should be enjoyed by spending the day with friends and family and not be so concerned about always trying to win. Winning is the icing on the cake but it shouldn't be achieved at the price of your ethics, and we are starting to see that some people are putting their ethics aside, which is unfortunate.
Suggestions from Leo Gonzales for next year
So this starts out maybe two or more years ago. Shawn Pragle and I are shooting together and talking/laughing about everything. I ask where Mark DeBoard is and Shawn explains that he is down in North Carolina showing off their new AirBow to the disabled veterans association (or something) because it offers those that can no longer draw a bow the ability to hunt again because of it's eight pound c(*# (the cocking effort to reset the trigger)
WOW! That's quite large Shawn, as I bust out laughing. Shawn realizes what he said and we wait a couple of minutes to stop giggling. For the next two years this story continues to come up and we laugh and giggle about it the same as we did when it first happened.
So this past winter, when the season had ended and I had some spare time I thought about this and figured that I would make a field target face plate to commemorate this moment.
At the end of the safety meeting last month I presented this to Shawn in front of all his field target friends.
If you want to see the unedited picture of his "special" field target send an email to email@example.com
The weather today was calling for light winds so we went to the woods to do our shooting this month. I'm grateful that we didn't have to set up in the snow this month!
Eric, Paul and I set up the course on Friday and made quick work of it. Mowing needed to be done and then, after some direction to Paul and Eric, we each setup our lanes. Time was a bit short so I didn't have time to get target distances. Come Saturday morning there were a couple of targets that needed to be moved.
We ended up with 15 people shooting the course and this ended up being a very relaxed shoot. After we had shot the course we chose a shaded place and went over the final scores and such.
Mike Norris: Open: 50
Eric Brewer: HFT Piston: 42
Greg Shirhall: HFT Piston: 45
Paul Manktelow: HFT Piston: 43
Doug Rogers: HFT PCP: 41
Betsy Dunlap: HFT PCP: 42
Doug Dunlap: HFT PCP: 43
Daryl VanWhy: HFT PCP: 46
Kevin Kunkle: HFT PCP 47
Sean McDaniel: HFT PCP: 48
Rick Vaeth: HFT PCP: 48
John Cimbalo: HFT PCP: 49
Shawn Pragle: HFT PCP: 51
Tom Himes: HFT PCP 55
Dennis Himes: HFT PCP 57
Several years ago the Himes brothers arrived on the scene and have quickly shown us what can be done in HFT with crazy high scores (57, 58). Having shot with them many times I have come to consider them good friends and just good people in general. For the past couple of years they have asked me to come visit them and spend the weekend shooting down in Lewis Run, PA. I made the time and visited them this past weekend.
I had heard for years stories of their standing courses and how they go out several times a week and shoot them. And while some may have doubted the stories they are all true:
a piece of wire at 15 yards, a small propane tank at 120 yards, a pellet tin at 70 yards, a 1/4" socket at 35 yards. What they have put together is something that you will (hopefully) NEVER experience at a field target event because it makes you realize that you should have stuck with the blue pill.
When I got there Friday night we went over my FX Streamline to determine if anything needed to be done to it. Saturday we got up and went out Tom's back door and started shooting one of his courses in the woods behind his house. The entire time they are having to point out this tiny target painted orange that you would have totally missed were it not for the large orange paint mark on the tree next to it. Most times I couldn't see the target until I put the scope up to my eye...really, a piece of wire hanging between two trees <argh>!
So once you figure out where the target is, and just how damn small it is, you let your heart rate settle a bit and you take your shot. Their "game" is to hit the target within two shots for a point. So each target only offers 1 point and each course might be 18-25 targets. My first time on Saturday yielded I think 6/18 while Dennis and Tom were up in the 12-15 range. Saturday afternoon we went over to Dennis' house and shot his field target course and compared notes then shot the same course kneeling. Again, trying to hit a 55 yard target kneeling is a LOT harder than it is sitting but it can be done and is a real thrill when you do.
Sunday we went over to Dennis' house first thing and shot one of his standing courses and I actually saw an improvement over the prior day with 15/25 but again at the back of the pack with Tom and Dennis getting 19 and 21 or something silly like that :)
While I was frustrated at times (okay, almost the entire time) during Saturdays standing course I definitely saw the improvement when I shot on Sunday. So this told me that shooting at crazy small targets at longer distances was helping me improve my standing skills.
What I took away from this weekend was that it's not hard at all to take your shooting to the next level. What amazed me is that I actually hit a propane tank at 120 yards (10 mil-dot hold over), I hit a pellet tin at 70 yards (3 mil-dot hold over), and I actually hit that damn piece of wire at 15 yards. Yes, it will be frustrating, but each time you practice you should see some improvement. And for the cost of a cheap socket set, wire, and some ingenuity you can set up your own standing course to frustrate your friends with!
So try setting up a course like this, take the red pill, and see how deep the rabbit hole goes...