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