And oftentimes I’ve heard shooters that have not participated in a specific event disparage a shoot that took place in an open field as a “bowling alley” shoot.
Well, the reality is that an open field is never TRULY open, there are always clumps of vegetation, small undulations in the terrain, trees here and there can create really interesting swirls, and a point often overlooked is that when it is windy, it is windy for the WHOLE course.
Of course the forest courses have their charms and challenges as well. If you do not know the layout of the land, the natural “avenues” that get carved in the forest by wildlife (whether four legged or two) create special wind funnels that can accelerate the average/general wind speed by factors of 3 or 4.
If, on the open Field course you set the wind machine to variable with the possibility of coming from all angles (from straight ahead to right from behind and all in between), you have the recipe for a really tough match.
This is more or less what happened in the Massachusetts Bay Colony Challenge (MBCC), not by design but by fate.
For a few years, Matt and Len Sawyer, and later with the help of John Eroh; have been putting on exceptionally tough courses at the side of the Archery range of Mass Rifle (the oldest Rifle Club in continuous operation in the US), located in Woburn Mass. We usually shoot what the Welsh would call Forest Target: targets in trees, in logs, on berms, sprinkled here and there, usually more ”way over there” than “here”, but it is all in the fun. When targets are placed in trees that sway with the wind, THEN it gets really funny . . . LOL!
Anyway, it was a great surprise to find out that the whole section of land that we had been using for our Forest Target (FT) had been taken over by machines, all the trees had been removed and that the nice lanes so lovingly prepared had been dozed over. Instead, we would be shooting in the shotgun trap range:
So, the field was set up in the “Bowling Alley” style and we shot out into the Trap Range.
Twenty Two shooters showed up for the first leg of the GP, after registration and signature of waivers and legalities, and an hour of sighting in, a shooters meeting was called and after the customary safety and precautionary admonitions had been given, as well as a shooting order (near to far), the shooters lined up to take their “for score” shots.
Estimated winds of up to 15 mph were present; probably more important than the intensity was the fact that at times it came from the front, at times from the back, and it switched around constantly.
Seeing pellets hit a good ¼ mrad (about 1 MOA) higher than expected was an enlightening experience.
The rules call for Hunter shooters to go first when squads are mixed, so we applied the rule and called Dave Bingham and Thomas Wade to the shoot-off line, where two identical targets had been placed side by side at an unknown distance (both targets had been moved from their original Match position).
On the first round both shooters missed the target.
A second chance was given, time for preparation was allowed and when ready, the command to cock and load was given and then a minute allowed to take the shot. Dave Bingham shot first and downed the target; Tom took a breath, released his shot and missed.
Therefore Dave placed first on this leg.
Now the shooters of WFTF Piston had to shoot it off, to the line were called Leo Gonzalez and Matt Brackett:
First shot, again, they both missed, so the round was repeated.
Next shot first one, and then the other, took down the target, so still no conclusion.
The command to kneel, as is customary in WFTF shootoffs, was issued. After changing position and getting ready, the command to cock and load was given and one minute was allowed to take the shot.
In quick succession, both shooters got the target down.
Still following WFTF style, the command to stand was issued.
And then again.
And then again.
So, following WFTF practices, the distance was reduced by 10 yards.
Because the line was cold, we decided to advance the shooters, better than bringing forward the targets.
After preparations and, once the OK to shoot was given, Leo took a deep breath and released his shot; target fell down. Matt concentrated and released his shot, but missed.
It is worthwhile to note that the two targets were set at 51 yards, with the wind blowing as it was; it was truly good shooting form from all 4 shooters.
We all had fun, enjoyed the outdoors and each other’s company. Talk was abundant and interesting; some of it was extremely funny. It was nice to see Dave B and Steve G, and other shooters we do not generally see. And it was an excellent preparation towards the World’s in Portugal.
True “FIELD” Target.
So, after the first day, standings were:
Next morning saw 15 shooters preparing to face the challenge of the course. Again signatures, score cards and waivers were processed and sighting in began.
Not this one:
And there was another one at 25 degrees in another lane; can you see the two elevated targets???
After lunch, while the rifle scores were being tallied, the second half of the pistol shoot took place:
While a 35.8 may not sound as much, once you add that variable wind, the whole course gets affected and rises to 44.75
The Layout for the Maine course was:
The Pistol course was as hard, if not harder:
It was a full weekend of intense competition, rising challenges and defying the wind, long drives and relentless heat and wear on the shooters and the equipment. But it was also a weekend of exemplary camaraderie, good humor, interesting learning experiences and meeting with people we like and appreciate. Not everyone could stay for lunch, then the pistol shoot and then the scores, but we really did enjoy everyone’s attendance.
Greetings from the airgunners in New England!