And the Final Match for the Eastern Field Target Competitor's Club
But, definitely, for quite a number of Field Target shooters in the Eastern USA, and some around the World; the last match of the EFTCC hosted by Hans and Ray Apelles at the Dutchess County Pistol Association (DCPA) marks the end of an era.
If I may recall some history from the purely personal point of view, I would go back to 1999 when I returned to "Adult Airguns" through the purchase in Media, Pennsylvania, of a certain Diana 52. The seller was Mr. John Tripier, who operated an airgun shop in the back of his auto parts shop, the rifle in question was equipped with a Vortek Gas Spring (1st Gen). He was one of the few persons alive that actually knew how to restore "Franklin" cars (external, three cylindered engines), and he was quite a character.
I spent two hours at his shop and learned a LOT about airguns in those two hours.
When I bought the gun, he mentioned something about the Airgun Letter.
For someone living in México, at that time, it sounded almost like science fiction.
But I decided to investigate.
Navigating the "Old Yellow" and searching for information, I found AAFTA, and together with a group of friends we decided to incorporate the Mexican Pneumatic Shooting Club. (Club Mexicano de Tiro Pneumatico).
We became members of AAFTA, paid our dues, and started receiving the Newsletters. And it was there that I saw something that called my attention: a target placed in an overturned 50 gal drum. Darned good idea!
The B&W pictures, the terse commentary needed because the articles needed to be kept short, and the comments of the shooters in the forum about the shoots were always a magnet for my attention.
I even bought a Career 901 Carbine in 0.20" cal and ordered a regulator for it from Ray.
He dutifully sent it to Mexico and with the L-W barrel I installed, that carbine was one of the most accurate long guns I have ever had.
Back then, with a young child and working on my own, I had to sell that gun to fund the next purchase, but I kept the DIANA 52.The gas spring failed and I converted that gun to steel spring, but that is another story.
Years passed. The Air Gun Letter forum disappeared, James Kitching's forum appeared and the conversation continued.
Even more years passed, and then, almost suddenly, I found myself living in the USA.
Because of business reasons, we established ourselves in Connecticut, and therefore going to the Matches at DCPA in Wappingers Falls was, in reality, going to our "local" club, it was our "home turf". Hans and Ray always made us feel at home and we established a good friendship. Veronika started shooting (and beating me) and life acquired a sense of stability, continuity, and balance.
More years passed and we found ourselves moving to Maryland, and starting a family with two little ones.
Life has now a different "texture". Gone are the senses of balance and equilibrium, peace is non-existent, and everything is an exercise in controlling chaos, LOL! Life goes on.
Being at more than 5 hours drive from Wappingers Falls, it was not easy to go to the matches there, and we missed it. Every time I saw the reports I said to myself: "You have to make the time to go", but as it's often the case in life, little lives entrusted to us take precedence over most things.
We still met at the World's and the Nationals, and Crosman, and Pyramyd Air. But . . .
DCPA was not anymore our "Home Turf".
So, when Ray announced that this was EFTCC's last (LAST) Match, I decided to MAKE the time to go.
Obtained permission, booked a hotel, planned the trip, packed the bags, and agreed to meet Sean McDaniel and Eric Brewer for dinner the night before.
Mike Harris and Al Otter joined in and it was a good dinner, but we were all overshadowed by the fact that we knew it was a very specific occasion what had brought us together there.
Next morning, continuing an old tradition, we met at Perkins and the proceedings started.
Ray had told everyone that it would be an easy match and that he expected someone to clean it. (Hah!)
Shooter's Meeting was called and because we had a group of youngsters, special care was taken with all safety directions.
Eric Brewer set us onto a 30'ish yards target that we both got sitting, then kneeling and then standing. So we moved to another target that was at around 55 yards up in a tree.
I missed it and Matt took 2nd place. Well done, Matt!
After the shoot-off, we all helped bring in the "field" and the place returned to its slumber, this time for who knows how long.
It was a well deserved standing ovation.
As you surely have surmised by now, the problem with the pictures was not the subjects but the photographer, that forgot to open the flash unit. (Big DUHHHH! to myself)
For those that like to study the technical details, this is the layout:
Finally, to make this an official AAFTA Match report, we need to put all the scores, and for those that like the tech details, I am enclosing shooters equipment (when available):
We all owe a debt of gratitude to Hans and Ray Apelles.
Their dedication to the sport has been unwavering (though sorely tested at times) through all these 20 years and more.
Their pioneering work in gun accurizing, PCP regulating, scope setting, pellet performance analyzing, and the generosity with which they have been sharing their results is among the best in what is already a bunch of really excellent characters.
They leave DCPA with a well-stocked shed of targets, strings, clip-boards and a bunch of other stuff, the bases will remain in the field as well as in the trees. The only "Elevator" in the USA will stay there. The overturned 50 gal drum will become silent.
Let's hope that someone in the area can bring them all out of their sleep sometime in the future.
Till we meet again, keep well and shoot straight!