A Veritable Learning Experience
In our case, that ONE match was Matt Sawyer's Massachusetts State Championship.
Matt S. had laid out the course with the concept that a State Match is, well . . . a STATE Match, no one expects it to be easy with lots of gimme's.
But he did not count on the wind.
As you can see in his excellent report, he was surprised by how much wind there was at the range.
It made for a difficult sight-in and an even more difficult match. But, we are getting ahead of ourselves.
Let's start at the beginning:
Matt S. posted a reminder of the Match on Sept 16th, and that started for us a number of things:
Since my son is in Boston, it was a good chance to have some time with him, we rarely see him as his studies take a substantial portion of his life. So we sent an Email to him to let him know we would be in the area.
As days passed, the Maine State Championship came around.
I was still testing some ideas that had yielded good results at the Pyramyd Air Cup's second day and with Leo G., we drove to Maine.
It was a very nice shoot and the tests proved successful, so I was fairly happy to go to the Massachusetts State Championship with the rig as it was set:
Rifle.- CCA WFTF D54 Mk XIII
Scope.- Sightron SIII 10-50X60 FT MOA-H reticle, set at 27.9X
Mount.- CCA Accurized ZR mounts 30 mm's.
Pellets.- AA 8.44 grs. 4.52 mm's head size
To complicate matters a little bit, Veronika had to go to Dallas, TX; on business, so we agreed that she would fly back on Saturday to Boston and I would pick her up at Logan.
Friday came around and I departed New Canaan, hoping to be in Boston in around 3 hours, but it was not to be. Traffic jam after traffic jam and accident after accident, I arrived in Boston at 8:00 PM, 5 hours later. By the time we had had dinner and talked a little it was already midnight and I made my way to the Sheraton Commander, the only spot where I had found a good rate to stay; but it is in Cambridge and it is not the closest thing to the Range.
Next morning, at 06:00 AM I got up, got ready, had breakfast and started on my way to the Mass Rifle Association shooting range.
I was chatting with Len S. while he made the scorecards, and it became obvious that the "créme de la créme" of spring gunning in the northeast was going to be there: Matt Brackett (World's 2nd place 2015), Ray Apelles (World's 2nd place, 2014), Paul Bishop (Several States Champion at different times), I did not know if Matt S. was going to shoot springer or not, but still, the "field" seemed well populated with lots of talent in the WFTF Spring Piston class.
On the other classes: WFTF PCP could have Matt S. who is an outstanding offhand shooter and has his FTP well dialed in. Nathan Thomas has been doing very well and we knew that Leo G. also an excellent PCP shooter was going to have to skip this one.
Now, the Hunter PCP Class was a thing to behold: John Eroh who has been on fire for the last shoots including Crosman's All American Field Target Championship, Glenn Thomas that has also been shooting well and progressively better was also there. Bill Day said he would drive all the way from Maine just to shoot with all the gang, and he was also there.
It was a great surprise to see Todd Banks show up and a delight to see Sharon and Bob. We really missed Tim Caradona but he was not feeling too well. I always enjoy Tim's twisted humour, LOL!
Hans and Len rounded up the group and shot in the "Unlimited Class" which has proven quite an interesting experience.
So, with 16 shooters, we all tackled the sight-in range:
After finishing the setting of the course, John and Matt S joined the zeroing in crowd and with just a few shots both declared themselves sighted in.
The shooters meeting was short and sweet because everyone had at least two matches worth of experience, so there were no absolute newbies, even Keth proved to take to FT like a duck to water.
We started in Lane 3 and it all seemed quite good! Little did we know that Lane 3 was, possibly, the easiest Lane in the whole Match! LOL!
Lane 4 was the Kneeling Lane, and I was afflicted by a severe case of SSS (Second Shot Syndrome), where I had no problems making the first shots, but missed miserably the second shots. Ah well . . . just smile and keep on truckin' !
Lane 5 presented a VERY steep target, which was a surprise for me because usually, Matt places his targets at inclinations that are more reasonable. This one was not! LOL
There and then I decided that the bleeding had to stop and I got the next 4.
Lane 6 proved interesting because I missed two first shots accounting for a wind that the windflag at the end of my muzzle told me was there, my skin and ears told me it was there, but upon shooting, the pellet told me it was NOT there!
Lane 7 was the standing lane, got the first two, then missed the second two. Tough target peeking out from behind a huge slab of concrete or rock at 32 meters (35 yards), have not decided still what it is.
But, got one of the long shots (35 meters / 38 yards), so I was not completely unhappy.
At this stage I was thinking that my shooting was lousy and that surely Matt B. was doing much better.
Then came lane 8 that presented a long (39 meters / 43 yards) target where the paddle clearly moved sideways when hit but the FT refused to fall for some, we protested the long target to our own deep sadness.
After that I was able to clean lane 9 and then came lane 10.
The most horrible lane I have ever seen.
Something that looked like a Chipmunk with a 3/8" KZ at 18 meters/20 yards (missed both), then another chipmunk partially hid by some rocks where I got REALLY MAD at myself: From the outset, I thought that I would be better off shooting that target kneeling. It was only 21 meters and the KZ was about 3/4". It was a perfectly doable shot from the kneeling position. But as I sat there rangeing, I thought "PERHAPS I can get away shooting it seating down". Bad decision. I saw the pellet hit the rock, glance and hit the faceplate.
SO, after a heavy sigh, I changed my kneepad to the right leg, took the kneeling position and proceeded to bring the target down.
Ray thought that I had missed completely the first shot, as he commented that he had not heard the pellet strike the rocks, but I knew what I had seen through the scope and I never argue with reality: the second shot from the kneeling position brought the target down and that is what I should have done from the first shot.
At times it is hard to feel that the courses are harder for some shooters than for others just because of their shooting style or anatomical shape, but as I said at the top: This Match was a "Veritable Learning Experience".
I then proceeded to hit the long target the first time, but miss the second shot. SSS AGAIN!
We walked around to Lane 1 and proceeded to shoot, got the first two target twice, but the last one eluded me, twice. I did observe, though that the shots had landed low, but exactly where the crosshairs were sidewise. Hmmm . . . . something interesting there!
Walked to Lane 2 and though I hit the first two shots, missed the first on the second target (38 meters / 42 yards), and missed my last two shots on the far target (41 meters / 45½ yards). Not the best way to finish a match.
If I count all the shots that I definitely should have made, I could have clearly matched the PCP's scores. I was not too happy overall.
After such an abysmal performance, I thought, I was quite resigned to the second place and so I went back to some of the missed targets and took the "Learning Experience" thing to heart and 'repeated the lessons'.
On the elevated target, there was no way I could bring it down. And I was seeing my pellets bounce off the top of the KZ hole. Clearly the angle was such that from the ground (where I shoot from on those inclined targets), there was no geometrical way that my pellet could pass through the KZ.
And then when I re-shot out of competition, the long target on lane 1, I realized that not only I had mis-ranged it (from 38 meters to 44 meters), but I also had not thought that the target was EXTREMELY LOW to the ground. ¿How low, is LOW, you may ask?
I also noticed that there seemed to be TWO different winds blowing at the same time into our targets: on one hand was the wind that came from the open field that we use as sight-in range. On the other, there seems to be a wind that comes in from behind and slightly to the right of the lanes. Tricky situation indeed, ESPECIALLY for the elevated targets.
Suddenly, I received the news that I was going to be in a Shootoff! Paul Bishop I thought, as I new that Ray ended up a couple of points behind me, but no! I was on the shootoff for the First Place!
Wow! I thought, the range setup had treated everyone as bad as it had treated me.
Matt S. checked the scorecards and decided to use Lane 1 as a tie-breaker. GULP!
Matt S. moved the middle squirrel a little further out (because it was the one with the reducer), and we took our stations
I was having a little bit of trouble with the lane marker, as Matt had taken center spot and I was on the edge, but Matt S. quickly took the lane marker off and I prepared my shot
I had ranged the target at 38 meters / 41 yards, so for that distance, the trajectory calculated by PP Calc showed a hold over of 0.56 of a division (0.28 mrads) and hold off for wind of 1.01 divs. (0.5 mrads.) for every 5 kph. Since the scope at that point has the center dot, then a space, and then a line that measures ½ of a division, I knew that the pellet would hit at the top of that "mini-post" formed by the section of crosshair and the first hash-mark.
I watched my wind flag, that was indicating about 4.5 kph (3 MPH), but mostly form the rear, so I decided that the target was too low to need any real side adjustment for wind, and I took the shot dead on.
The learning experience of a few minutes before paid off, and the target fell.
Matt S. confirmed all the scores, we had some Pizza and then proceeded to give out the awards.
From left starting from the third row in the rear:
Keth Comollo and John Eroh
Standing: Len Sawyer, Todd Banks, Glenn Thomas, Paul Bishop, Hans Apelles, Sharon and Bob.
Kneeling: Ray Apelles, Matt Bracket, Matt Sawyer, Glenn Thomas and Hector Medina
Our deepest gratitude to Len S. For making the scorecards. Matt S. and John E. for setting up a VERY challenging course that was fun, safe, and 'enlightening', to say the least.
And thanks to all shooters that attended because it is "We the People" what make this sport so special.
See you all sometime along the lanes!