And it was a VERY NICE match.
Perhaps we should start by understanding what is "Piedmont".
Piedmont in most romance (derived from Latin) languages will mean the same thing: Foothills (Pied-Foot, Mont-Hill).
Why is this important? Because it gives us an understanding of what the "lay of the land" is.
In the USA case, the Piedmont goes from New York, to Central Alabama, and, clearly, North Carolina is well included.
Because the Piedmont is formed from the erosion of the Appalachians the lay of the land will be of smooth, undulating hills, with creeks and ravines, and sub-alpine vegetation.
The "Lay of the Land" also dictated which immigrants chose to make that region home. It is not surprising the foundational role of Scottish Highlanders, Germans, Moravians, Italians that created the populations centers and even gave the region its name (mirroring the Italian Piemonte, or the French Piedmont).
Usually, people like to settle in places that remind them of the "Old/Home Country".
For us, FT shooters, the lay of the land means specific challenges that need to be met, it means being aware, awake and alert to the changing conditions, and how the wind flows in "abrupt" terrain. How it shifts, shakes trembles, rattles and rolls, and how our "little pellets" are affected by it.
For spring-piston shooters, in particular, it also means that you need to be aware of the change in trajectory. Different elevations present different amounts of air mass per unit of volume, and so our MV sees some effect.
And, lastly, for low power shooters (sub-12 ft-lbs), it means that we need to be EXTRA CAREFUL to the "profile" of the winds along the trajectory of the pellet from muzzle to target.
Having laid down most of the premises, let's get to the trip and the shoot.
First of all I have to thank my family, for having taken the trek to this "new to us" venue. They had gone in the past to Ennice (6 hours drive), and to Pleasant Hill (4 hours drive), both NC destinations but this was the first time that we went to Lynnwood. Which ended up being an 8 hour drive due to construction and long weekend traffic. It was not easy on the kids, but they took it the best they could.
We arrived on Friday directly to the range just to make sure that the gun was reasonably in order and that we knew where the range was.
Proper road signs directed us well, and we found the range in no time flat.
There were no paper targets on the Friday session, but a plethora of spinners, bells and self-resetting targets were available and so I took the Walther LGU out of its case and started checking that everything was good to go.
I had shot the same rig at the local DIFTA match and the Palmyra match of a few weeks before, and I was still fine tuning some things. For this outing, the lesson from Palmyra had been that a buttplate that helped in making the shouldering repeatable was important, and the results at DIFTA confirmed the fact.
So I mounted a WKP buttplate and it proved to be exactly what I needed.
I had already mounted a WKP buttplate in my DIANA 54, but I had not taken into account the different cocking mechanisms and that brought problems. More on that later.
Next morning, we arrived in time for the sight-in and, again, gun proved to be stable, which is quite interesting in a spring gun.
Zero and trajectory confirmed, family went off to the North Carolina Museum of Transportation (son is a fan of railroads), and I settled into the Chrono certification and the Shooter's Meeting.
All due formalities covered, we went to the lanes. I was shooting with my good friend Gerald Long. And he started cleaning lane after lane after lane. I didn't start too well, but I was not worried.
The course reminded me a LOT of the WFTC's in Portugal. Two of the courses were set up at the top of a small hill and the winds were a headache. They switched and swirled coming from all directions and the course was laid out in such a way that you had to move from one shot to the next. Not only rotate, move.
Apologies for my pictures, as they were taken with a waterproof camera that is "basic" to say the least.
By the time we reached the "cul-de-Sac" of the course (lane 20), I had let go a lot of points. Another lesson.
We were about halfway through the course when the standing lane came up and I forgot to keep track of where I was putting the force in the gun during the cocking stroke, and the upper "wing" of my buttplate snapped.
I was mad at myself and I never thought it would have such an important effect.
Nothing further from the truth, after more inexplicable POI's, I decided to put a correction to the scope of -0.4 mRads, and I stopped posting big fat zeros. Still the proper correction would have to wait till the end of the match.
My partner Gerald was also having a hard time. He began the match by cleaning lane after lane, but suddenly he posted a zero. We thought he had been one revolution off, but upon further shooting, it was not the case.
He decided to not shoot the rest of the competition, and he was kind enough to stay with me as my scorer.
Day ended with a dismal 24/60.
But there was still another day and, even if it was forecast with nastier weather, I hoped that I would be able to redeem myself.
First day of the Match went well, except for a couple of cold lines called to fix some targets; after that, everything went smoothly and we finished shooting at about 13:30 hrs. AND the weather held for us, as it started raining by the time we were having lunch.
We even had a chance to smoke our yearly (yes, only once a year at every NCC) stogie during the raffle:
The forecast for the second day of the competition was that it would stat raining from 08:00 hrs.
So, after breakfast with the family, we arrived at the range and I started checking everything.
Wind was blowing somewhat violently, but some lulls could be used and there was no rain.
Targets were raised, some of them weighted and we proceeded.
I found that zero was still out, after -0.5 mRads of correction, finally I was on again.
Almost a full (-0.4 -0.5 = -0.9 )mRad! and just on account of a change in shoulder positioning.
I have always advocated the curved rifle pads for the DIANA 54, but this experience tells me that recoiling spring guns are even more unforgiving of small changes in shoulder positioning. Big lesson.
Several groups were shot at 55, 40, and 25 yards. The one I could not shoot was the 10 yards because the target had been blown down. And I thought it would not make too much of a difference. Again, a big mistake.
Chronoed the gun and there was only 1 fps between the day before (733.9 fps) and this day's reading (735.2 fps), so that was good.
After the shooter's meeting and the squadding, we proceeded to the lanes and the second match began.
I was squadded with Aimee DeLaCruz, as we shot lane after lane, Aimee was having problems. But as a good trooper, she stuck to the issues, corrected a few things and started connecting.
BUT, Aimee's father (Russell Sauer) was also taking pictures! And his pictures are very good indeed. You can see some of them HERE.
As the shoot progressed I was doing much better, till we reached the short 3/8"s targets. The first miss at 10 yards told me that something was dramatically wrong on the short ranges, and so more "zero hunting" took place over the next lanes.
When I felt I had some serious data, after lane 4, I took out my Tablet and re-calculated the whole trajectory. There was ½ mRad of correction that was needed in the short ranges (9 to 15 yards), from there on, I started connecting with the 3/8"s KZ's of the Yellow course.
One target in particular was an interesting lesson: It was at the top of the ridge and the wind was blowing over from the rear/left, so even though the wind was blowing left to right, most misses were a bit wide on the left and low. It was not a far away target and most shooters were shooting at 18-20 ft-lbs ME, so that was strange.
What was happening was that the wind was curling and started rolling over the ridge, creating a high pressure zone on the UPPER/RIGHT of the target which tended to shift the pellets to the left and down.
As I said, interesting course with much to learn from.
Overall, the end result for the second day was a much better 42/60 and the total for the 2 days a 66. Not bad for the third outing with a gun and pellet combo.
Only the last two lanes were shot under rain, so the weather was not as nasty as it had been forecast.
Perhaps we are somewhat masochistic in cherishing the opportunity to shoot in the rain, wind, and darkness but I have to say I had a ton of fun!
Question still lingers: What will I take to the WFTC's?