Our first 4-H Air Rifle Shooting Sports Class is starting Oct 1. The packets are below:
"The packet must be completed before or on the first meeting night. Enrollment fee is $15 per youth. Checks payable to CCE-MC or cash. I will collect if they have them first night. If a family has limited resources we do offer fee waivers – all they have to do is provide a copy of the letter that they received from their school district stating that their child receives a free or reduced fee lunch at school – no other questions asked and it is kept confidential who receives fee waivers."
Next week is the Pyramyd Air Cup. As a match director I try to prepare people for comps by increasing the difficulty at our monthly matches. Not to a crazy level, but definitely more challenging than usual.
Eric and I met on Friday night and proceeded with setting up the course for Saturday with a 38 troyer on the rifle and a 34 on the pistol. Saturday came and I arrived at 6:30 am to put paper in the sight-in targets. The wind at this point was as still as it would get, so I started sighting in my rifle and pistol.
We had some new people attending that I wrote about a couple of months ago... Ashleigh and Spencer along with their parents Craig and Heidi. It was great to see them again and to hear that Spencer and Ashleigh were hounding their father to come to one of our matches was a great thing to hear. With Ashleigh, Spencer, and their father, Craig, shooting I got them paired with the people/equipment that they would be shooting with and they got to work putting holes in paper.
We had a quick safety/shooter's meeting and we went to our starting lanes in the field. It's tough to shoot well and help someone, especially a younger shooter, but it's a necessary requirement if you want to bring in new people to the sport. The wind on Saturday also proved to be light and variable...enough that scores were considerably lower than normal but everyone had smiles on their faces and we were all having a great time spending the day outside shooting.
Ashleigh and Spencer are very competitive and so the entire time they were comparing scores. In the end Ashleigh was able to pull out another win over her brother.
After cleaning up the rifle targets and switching things over to pistol we ended up with 6 people using two pistols... Eric and I were the only two with pistols and we ended up forcing/coercing/begging people to stay around and shoot. Again, Ashleigh and Spencer were immediately comparing scores however this time it was Spencer who got the win in the last couple lanes.
Ashleigh 93/120 (FIRST TIME)
Spencer 80/120 (FIRST TIME)
Dennis Himes 50
Ken Burley 46
Shawn Pragle 44
Rick Vaeth 44
Sean McDaniel 44
Daryl VanWhy 42
Doug Rogers 39
Sue Burley 31
Glen Thomas 42
Craig Rosen 7 (FIRST TIME)
Tony Garland 6
Greg Shirhall 48
Paul Manktelow 31
Eric Brewer 29
Eric Brewer 27
Sean McDaniel 23
Craig Rosen 20
Doug Rogers 10
Friday started out at 1 pm with a quick lunch at the Wyomoco 4H Mess Hall and then out to the field to set up for the weekend. The constant wind atop the hill made it feel colder than it actually was.
I wasn't sure what to expect, but had brought my air rifle/pistol with me in addition to the 4 Challengers that we had just gotten the week prior. Scopes were mounted and they were ready for sight-in. I took care of the rifle setup as soon as the course was done.
I certainly didn't expect what came next.... exhaustion :)
One young lady, Holly, stopped by on Friday to check things out in her spare time, and I think a couple of others came through on Friday. Not too bad.
Then Saturday came about and everything changed. There were times when I had 5 kids/adults shooting at one time (3 challengers, my rifle, and my pistol). Everyone had a smile. I believe that every 4H participant, except 2, came through at one time or another. At 3 pm Eric Brewer called to let me know he was on his way and asked how I was doing.... I was exhausted both mentally and physically (but in a great way). It's a wonderful thing to have young kids asking to try this sport they've never heard of and to then hear things like "this is awesome!" was the icing on the cake. But it meant that I had to work individually to get each person set up and shooting, and then keep an eye on the line for any problems and for safety while getting the next person set up. Safety wasn't an issue as they had all shot guns of one type or another so they all knew the MAT (Muzzle, Action, Trigger) acronym and followed it well. Eric Brewer showed up at 6 pm just as two kids were laying down their rifles. And before I could say hello I then had a family of 4 show up, so I started getting each one going. But that was the way Saturday went. Just when you thought there was some time to rest or shoot, up the hill came some more kids to try it out...which is a great problem to have!
Sunday was more of the same, but at least I had Eric around to help. We again had kids coming through on a regular basis and even the adults were trying it out and loving it. We also had Mora and Keith, who are higher ups in the 4H hierarchy, along with John who I first met at our training in Balson Spa. John tried it out (even tried Eric's spring piston rifle), but Mora and Keith were on their way to start tearing down the 3D course. It was great to talk with them further about our sport and have the interest coming from the 4H side. Mo really wanted to stay and talk but Keith kept reminding her that they were on a schedule.
The final awards were handed out and we thanked everyone for allowing us to come out and share our great sport with them. Nate, the organizer, then announced that field target will be included next year as one of the competition categories! What a GREAT SURPRISE!!!
One kid, Kearnan (spelling?), absolutely loved shooting the targets. On Saturday he was there for 2 2-hour sessions constantly shooting my rifle. The smile on his face never disappeared. However, he is a bit of a rascal as he was keeping an eye out for new shooters. They would shoot a close one or two and then they try for longer and longer ones. At this point he would snipe their target with a "WHO SHOT MY TARGET" followed by a long snicker by Kearnan. He was having a blast.
Max, who was the youngest, came in and was shivering. So I took off my jacket and had him put it on figuring that if he's shaking he can't possibly shoot well. Got him set up and he was having a great time shooting the two close ones. Then he wanted to try the long one at 40 yards but he wasn't hitting steel. So I tried it with the rifle he had and found out the hold-over I had was wrong. Trying myself I realized it was shooting 8 mil-dots down. So I say that he needed to hold 3 mil-dots from the bottom for that one. I think he nailed it with the very next shot!
And then there was a mother who came to me on Saturday and said she would love to give it a try but she hadn't shot before. Absolutely, come on over tomorrow....Really? Yup. So she brought her family over and they shot. When a rifle opened up I walked over and asked "You ready"...Really?!...Yup, come on over. Again, I got her set up and as she's knocking down the targets she's looking at her family saying "Did you guys see that!?"
Eric (a 4H participant) had been by several times over the weekend and had been using my rifle to shoot with. The butt pad came loose, so I went to tighten it up, but in the meantime Eric Brewer pulled out his piston rifle and Eric tried that. He was knocking down targets near and far the first try. Really impressed Eric Brewer and he really enjoyed shooting piston (which is strange :) and might be coming to our next match.
In my previous post I shared some of the frustrations behind the scenes, but then something like "this" happens which makes it ALL worth the time and frustration. THESE are the moments that will always stand out in my mind.
I just got a call from Craig in Syracuse. He didn't even have to tell me who he was as I distinctly remembered him and his two kids, Ashleigh and Spencer, from the Baldwinsville shoot in July. He explained that Ashleigh and Spencer had been hounding him to get to our field target matches ever since Baldwinsville -- MADE MY DAY!
He wanted to know more about the matches, how they worked, and when the next match notification would come out so he could plan.
So we had a quick conversation about equipment and getting all three of them shooting next weekend, letting me know that all three of them would be there.
So, it seems that getting any new venture off the ground ALWAYS has it's ups and downs. Just when you think things are going great a curve ball seems to be the next pitch. Such is the case the last couple of weeks with trying to get the 4-H shooting program off the ground.
Suddenly I realized that October 1st is coming up quickly, so I contacted the rifle club to continue where we left off...NRA Membership, rifle club membership, 4-H schedule. Seems straight forward to me. No, there is also a rifle club orientation (90 minutes held once a month) that was in 3 days and I wasn't a "Member" yet (read $$ hadn't been paid) and the next one in September was over the Pyramyd Cup weekend, so it had to be the one coming up. Great, I get approval to go after explaining what is going on. I thought I was just going to the orientation and would pay the dues once I got my NRA membership established. Nope, I got there and luckily I had an old tattered check, for emergencies, in my wallet so I pulled that out. Application form? nope, it's at home... so I filled that out. Now, the NRA membership I had signed up for just happened to be during the week that they were cutting over to a new system....my luck. So I paid on Wednesday and was told it would be at least a WEEK before anyone saw my membership renewal. Strange that the NRA is that far behind in the times. It would seem to me that as soon as I click the submit button that their entire organization would know about me, but that wasn't the case. So three days after the orientation (a week after I signed up) I finally got someone who could provide my proof of membership. Great, smooth sailing ahead... nope.
I try following up with the guy in charge of the activities letting him know everything was set and we just needed to settle on a schedule. Oct 1 through November 19 from 6-9 pm right? Nothing. Try again in a couple of days. Still nothing. Finally get a response and he wants to start Sept 29 and it's only 6-7:30 pm. In my head i'm SCREEMING WTF! However, I had to keep it cool if I wanted anything positive to come out of this. So I politely explained that there was another email with the 6-9 pm slot that I had requested because he said it was open. I also explained that our fiscal year starts October 1 so we couldn't do anything before that date.
He was responsive, this time, and understood where the mix-up occurred and we are now waiting for final approval with a couple of board meetings that we'll have to work around (something I also wasn't made aware of earlier).
To answer your question, "Yes, I've considered several times to just drop it". That would be the easy thing to do, but I've come to realize that the things that make us want to throw our hands up and quit are also the things, that if you dig deep, will challenge you to become a better person. And in the end if I someone involved in shooting airguns and see that they have a smile on their face while doing so then I will consider the frustration more than worth it, and if I grow a little in the process I guess that's a good thing.
I'm surprised that this match even took place...
Thursday the weather looked iffy, so I sent out messages that a decision would be made by 2 pm on Friday. Friday rolled around and the weather wasn't clearing for Saturday, but I did see that after 2 pm there was nothing but sun and overcast. So I sent an email out asking who would be interested in starting at 2 pm.
Slowly the responses came in and at 10 people I said it was on. But mid-morning on Saturday I was surprised because there would be 16 people confirming. So at 9:45 I started setting up the course and at noon I had two new fellows, Chris and John, come in and start to help. At 12:45 I finished and left to get my equipment while sight-in started.
I get back to the match with my equipment and I see Doug and Betsy, who weren't supposed to be there as well as Greg and Pat Shirhall, who also had said they couldn't make it. What a nice surprise.
At 2 we got started with a quick shooters meeting and then got started with the match. The course was 32 Troyer. I was shooting with Chris who had never shot before. We both used my equipment and he had a blast. After 5 lanes I hadn't missed a shot and Chris was having all sorts of fun. The kneeling and standing lanes I missed 1 shot each, so was very happy and starting to get excited that I might beat the Himes brothers. But the last two lanes were to be my downfall. I missed 2 on a small kz on lane 9 and then 4, FOUR!, on the last lane. And I couldn't even tell you if I was high/low/left/right. The small kz was so shot up I couldn't tell where the pellet hit. After all was done I had tied Tom Himes and was 4 behind Dennis. So I was very happy.
After the rifle course had been cleaned up we got to shooting pistol and it was just 4 of us. Looking at the clock it was around 6 pm, probably the latest any of us had shot here but it was the greatest. Weather had calmed down, there wasn't any wind, the temp was mid 70's, and there wasn't any noise coming from the powder burners. Absolute perfect time to shoot. In the end Eric took first in pistol followed by Mike Norris, then myself and Kevin Kunkle.
We made quick work of cleaning up and left about 7:30.
Dennis Himes 56
Tom Himes 52
Sean McDaniel 52
Shawn Pragle 48
Kevin Kunkl3 47
Doug Rogers 43
Doug Dunlap 40
Betsy Dunlap 37
Chris Schaeffer 32 (New Shooter)
Rick Vaeth 34
Pete Kopf 27
Greg Shirhall 48
Paul Manktelow 28
Eric Brewer 22
John McNamara 12 (New Shooter)
Tony Garland 9 (2nd time out)
Kurt Rudolph 7 (2nd time out)
Mike Norris 48
Glenn Thomas 37
BCSA (Broome County Sportsman Assoc.) is one of the closer matches for us with a 2.5 hour drive down to Binghamton. I started my travels at 4:50 am and got to Eric's by 5:10 am and we were on the road by 5:15 am. What's funny is that we seem to always pass Paul Manktelow on our way. Not that we're speed demons or anything, but we drive at 10 over and Paul drives at 5 over in his red Mustang with a black racing stripe down the center. A honk and wave from us and we continued our journey.
Up in Rochester the weather was great, but as we got closer to Greg's we realized the rain had set in. We were the first to arrive with Greg and Pat questioning our sanity. They were almost positive that nobody would show. However, another 30 minutes later and we were bringing out additional tents and setting up additional sight-in targets to accommodate the 22 people that showed up to shoot in the rain. It's really nice when it's raining and you know you'll be shooting from under a tent.
Greg kept his pre-match speech to a very bare minimum and we began to shoot. Shawn Pragle and I were squadded together so of course we giggled a bit because of the 8# elephant in the room :) There was 1 cold line due to a string tangle but other than that we all just had fun shooting.
After shooting and before the scores were announced, Betsy Dunlap brought out a cake to celebrate her husband, Doug's, 70th birthday this week. Greg then started with the results and handing out the medals.
I ended up with 49/60. I had one technical error (shooting the wrong target) and a bunch of missed shots on the standing/kneeling. But for the difficulty (35.9 troyer) I was happy with how I shot. Greg announced that I had the high score for the match, so that was nice. I beat Brian V. by one shot, similar to last weekend at Ray's when he got me by 1 shot.
We then started the pistol match and I later wished I had sighted in earlier. I ended up missing 4 shots in the first two lanes because of this. Pistol was shooting to the left by almost a full mil-dot. In the end I ended up with 31/40 and both Eric and Nic got 33/40, so if I'd just sighted in I <could of, would of, should of...>
Despite Nic's sight picture being clear today Eric ended up winning the shoot-off. We helped clean up the targets and strings and headed to McDonald's for a quick lunch. Our good-bye's said we headed back to Rochester.
Just a short note about equipment and the first time field-target shooter. Do NOT go to Wal-Mart, Dicks, etc and buy a rifle you will be disappointed for sure. There have been many before you who have tried and failed, ultimately ending up wasting money.
The latest "thing" for trying to sell rifles in the big-box stores is high FPS, but that means absolutely nothing when it comes to accuracy. In fact, slower is more accurate. First of all, a pellet leaving a rifle above the speed of sound is really loud. Second, if the pellet is traveling above the speed of sound when it leaves the barrel then it typically slows below the speed of sound before it hits the target. When this happens the pellet typically tumbles and accuracy is lost. Other things to consider are that pellets are typically designed to be shot at an optimum velocity. Meaning that a JSB Exact Heavy coming out at 865 will most likely be more accurate than the same pellet coming out at 930 fps. As the speed increases in the barrel the barrel then becomes even more picky with regards to everything about the pellet...head, softness, weight, etc.
My suggestion is to spend some time shooting different pellet rifles and/or pistols at one of our matches. Doesn't cost anything and you'll learn a CRAZY amount about the guns that we shoot, what works, and what doesn't work. The most frustrating thing is to buy a piece of equipment only to find out it doesn't work or isn't accurate. Then you're frustrated, and broke, and either have to find more money or give up in frustration. Either way, it's an issue.
The people involved in field target are all too happy to share their addiction, so please, please, please seek their advice and help. We've all been where you are and have learned a lot to get where we are now.
Once you do get interested in field target, whether you have your equipment or not, just go out and shoot. I get some people telling me that they want to practice some more before they come to a match...wrong. Just go to the match and you'll improve so much quicker. You'll get tips and advice from those shooting with you. We also get some that come out saying they've been able to hit the 50 yard target in their back yard 100% of the time. They get out to an actual match and miss it 100% of the time. It's a different world when you have the wind, sun, and timers added to the mix.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. You can submit questions through this web site and I'll try and respond promptly.
Eric and I headed out Friday afternoon making our way to Frederick, MD for the DIFTA shoot. We planned to stay with Hector and Veronica and their two kids Daniel and Sophia the next two nights. Shoot DIFTA on Saturday and then drive to Wappinger Falls EARLY Sunday morning to then shoot at Ray's and head back home.
Our time to Hector's was about 6 hours. I started helping Veronica with Dinner while Eric and Hector started working on Eric's Steyr to undo the previous tuner's modifications and get it back into good order. This ended up taking Friday night and all Saturday afternoon.
Saturday weather was forecast to be about 88 and humid (typical for Maryland in August) and it didn't disappoint. We got to DIFTA at 8:15 and were sighting in by 8:30. At 9:45 Paolo started the match with the shooter's meeting. A "Speed Lane" consisting of 3 targets (6 shots) in 2 minutes or less was the only thing out of the ordinary.
So Mark and I headed to our starting lane and began knocking down targets. My second lane was the speed lane and I got them all, but having only 2 minutes to range and then make your shots definitely gets your adrenaline going. I got them all, but it took me probably 2 lanes before the adrenaline was gone. We'll be adding that to the RBGC course the next match.
After 6 lanes I had only missed 1 shot, but I ended up dropping another 7 on the next 7 lanes to finish with 64/72 which got me high score (and another free DIFTA match) and 1st in Hunter PCP. Mark, the fellow I shot with was 2 behind me in Open PCP. We had a good time shooting together and shared some laughs. Eric finished 1st in Hunter Piston.
For anyone who hasn't been to DIFTA I would suggest you make the time. It's an absolutely beautiful course with the sight-in and course all under a forest canopy with minimal ground growth. In the spring and summer you have a lush, dark green canopy and in the fall you have wonderful colors as the leaves begin to fall.
Sunday morning was an early one. I was up at 2:45 am and we were out the door by 3:30 am. We drove the 5 hours to Ray's in Wappinger Falls and got there at 8:30 am when the range was opened. Ray has a great course that is also in the woods. It's a lot more condensed than most, but he makes the best of it. The sight-in area gets congested as there aren't many targets, but it gets done. The other advice for Ray's is to bring both long and short sticks (for hunter) as most of the lanes are angled up where you sit, so having short sticks proves beneficial as you are then shooting down at almost all targets. The last lane you're usually shooting up at a 60 degree angle at some targets that are 10 yards away.
Both Eric and I shot Hunter PCP and Hunter Pistol, so we had our hands full shooting twice per lane but it was fun. In the end Eric and I were at 71 and 74 if you scored 0, 1, 2 (miss, faceplate, hit) and so we thought Eric had won pistol. But then Ray was counting hits only and somehow I managed to beat Eric by 1 point in pistol.
So Eric finished 1st in Hunter Piston and 2nd in Pistol while I was 1 shy of high score, 1st in Hunter PCP and 1st in Pistol.
After the match was over we all went to a Chinese buffet and caught up and then we left for home, about a 4 1/2 hour drive, arriving about 7:30 pm on Sunday.
We had a great weekend of shooting and seeing friends.
After spending the weekend with the Himes brothers I realized that pellet head sizing is critical to being accurate. If the head size is smaller than your barrel then it could go in at an angle relative to the barrel and come out the same way resulting in a pellet that is initially not flying straight. I could see this at 15 yards indoors. Unsorted would sometimes produce a 1-hole group but more often it would create a one-hole clover. At 15 yards it should be a single hole. And given sorted pellets at that point I could produce 1-hole groups all day long.
Next step is to figure out how to sort them. You have the Pellet Gauge which is about $50 but is very slow and a bit hard to use, or you have the Compellitor system from Mark Buchanan for about $370.
This second option is a bit pricey, but it is quicker and I think more accurate. I can do about 15 pellets a minute once I got the motions down. This requires a compressor generating 80psi or more and a reloading tool (about $30).
Setup is easy. Screw in the gauge at the top of the picture, put the die in the bottom and attach the pellet "seat" in the press. You then attach the air compressor, use the provided brass pellet to set it up and you're good to go. The directions provided have some typos, but nothing that prevents you from getting the gist. Below is a small video showing the operation. Currently I'm looking for pellets with a head size, according to the gauge, of between 29 and 36.
The Pellet Gauge will get the job done, but trying to get a 177 pellet straight up and down and not have the "die" shave anything off as you're trying this is just painful. It does work if you get the process down, but I would honestly need training because with my "large fingers" it is a long drawn out process.
In comparison in about 2 hours with the Compellitor gauge I was able to fill a tin with 500+ pellets that were of the size I was looking for after going through probably 1500 pellets.