I'm taking a short break and taking advantage of the peculiar situation known to all when:
"It was the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse".
So, tonight, my Christmas gift to you all is a short view into an impressively well laid course in New England, specifically, the Pennsylvania location known as "Hawk Valley", part of the Delaware County Field and Stream Association, do note this website is under construction and therefore the FT section is not yet in there.
The Hawk Valley course is the latest addition to the long history of serious airgunning that has been going on at DCFSA, to give you a brief:
in 1985 (32 years ago), the first airgun range was established, it was a temporary arrangement until 1992 that saw a dedicated building setup just for airguns.
By 1995 the already well established Field Range was separated from the Airgun Range and given its own responsibilities, officers, schedule, etc.
For many years, the Field Range was kept unchanged, made up mainly of bells and spinners, it presented the advantage that any member could go and shoot it on a weekday, or at some odd time (as long as there was daylight and the ranges were officially open). While that may not be within what some would call "Field Target", it did provide a wide base of airgunners, mainly interested in the offhand shooting typical to the Pennsylvania small game hunting crowd.
Officially, the Field Target Pennsylvania State Championship has always been shot at DCFSA, but DCFSA opted out of AAFTA many, many, years ago.
In recent times a few hard working and dedicated individuals under the main driving force of Mike Harris, have been at work in the Field Range at DCFSA; the result is a great collection of very challenging lanes with all sorts of variations in the shots: uphill, downhill, across gulleys, targets in the trees, targets in the ground, short and small KZ shots, long and not so big KZ shots, but above all, what strikes the shooters is the execution of the courses:
Tethered reset lines with pull handles
Numbered lanes and lettered targets
Permanent stake markers
and other aspects not quite so evident to the eye.
When we launched the Minutemen League back a few years ago, we visited DCFSA to try to convince them to join the league, alas, because the matches had to be AAFTA compliant, they decided very graciously to decline the offer.
But times change and new blood brings in new ideas and I really do have to recognize how much effort and work has successfully been invested in the courses.
As many say: a picture is worth a thousand words, so here we go on a short visit as the December 3, 2017 shoot unfolded.
With the attendance of shooters from upstate NY, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland and Pennsylvania (and perhaps someone from NJ), after a reasonable period of sighting in and warming up, the shooters' meeting was convened:
It was a cold day, and there would not be any strong winds until the end of the match. A little foggy, but nothing to impair visibility of the targets.
Some of the lanes are setup at the very difficult uphill angle of around 20°. It is not high enough to use an unorthodox shooting position, but not low enough to make you comfortable with your normal shooting position. So I find it a hard situation. Perhaps someone has found the secret, I haven't.
Note the positional shot card and the pulls for each one of the targets (A, B, and C in each lane)
Next lane, same angle uphill:
We shot the course in a DESCENDING order. Yup!
We started on lane 2, then 1 and then we had to walk all the way to lane 10:
Please note the tethered reset strings. While this is something I do not like personally, I have come to accept it as a en expediency to not having as much terrain as we all would like. Close quarters invite string tangles, and those mean the even less desirable cold line. So, what needs to be done, gets done.
Do note, however one saving grace here: The tethering point is as close to the firing line as possible.
This is what makes FT so much fun, By contrast, shooting always the same target at always the same distance, seems a little bit stale.
All in all, a fantastic shoot. Very enjoyable and very challenging.
We were almost done with our shoot, when we suddenly heard the shotgun range getting active, VERY active, LOL!
That sure put some fire into the rythm and even those shooters that normally take their sweet time started to accelerate the pace, LOL!
The occasional pellet from the shotguns fell on the hats, and we could clearly hear the "shower of lead" that was taking place.
After the last shot had been fired, we convened at the container that houses the Field Range things and Mike did all the arithmetic which led to awards being presented. I will let Mike Harris post the exact details and scores, I'll just post here all those that received awards
It must be said here that it is somewhat controversial that a course stays the same for a number of weeks or months.
And in a way I can understand the fact that if you know you have already shot a lane, it may not be as interesting, but there is another side to this and one that SHOULD be taken into account by MD's that have the space and the resources to setup a course that can stay for an extended period of time:
NOTHING BEATS PRACTICE!
And it is much more interesting to practice shooting at FT's, or at least in an FT-like environment than shooting paper. Yes some shooters can setup their own courses with a few targets (or many) in their own backyard, BUT, there is a value to the notion that a shooter can go to a range and shoot a course in a weekday, or for a lunch break; even if it's made mostly of spinners and bells, or other targets that do not need resetting (and therefore no strings). That course can stay put for a month or two and then changed.
This would allow more shooters to practice a lot more in a setting that more closely parallels a normal match.
If you have not shot at DCFSA lately, you owe it to yourselves to take the trip and shoot the Hawk Valley course, it is really a World Class setup with lots of long shots and terrain differences that makes even soft winds play peculiar acts on the pellet's trajectory.
And so, keeping in tune with the season's theme:
Happy Christmas to ALL and to ALL a good night!