An interesting aside is that my gun is still stuck in Poland!
After the WFTC's I had to travel to Germany on business and I decided to ship the rifle (action+stock) to the USA via UPS.
I called UPS and they accepted the shipment over the phone, I packed the gun, made the waybill, paid with my CC and left the package to be shipped from the hotel I was staying.
Went to Germany and then went home. It was then that I received a note from UPS (Poland) letting me know that the gun had been declared a "Weapon" and therefore they were unable to ship it.
As much as I had declared the goods under a Harmonized Tariff System number that is SPECIFIC to spring-piston airguns, they just would not listen to reason.
To cut a very long story short, more than 30 EMails have gone back and forth and still the gun is stuck in Poland.
Hopefully with the help of some friends in the industry (Poland and Germany), we can get it unstuck.
What is frustrating is that UPS does not truly answers Emails, and when you send an Email, you do not get a confirmation of receipt.
But, life has to go on, and I managed to put together a gun from parts I had around and I am slowly getting used to the "new" gun.
I feel for my stock, that had been made by a very dear friend whose health is failing at the moment and that had proven to be very stable. But we'll learn and live on.
Back in 2011 when I first started shooting Piston, there were a total of 16 piston shooters out of 79 at the Nationals held in Tennessee.
And that included 8 in Open and 8 in WFTF.
Then in 2012 that I shot the season in WFTF Piston, there were 19 Shooters in Piston classes at the Nationals of that year. Out of 67 total shooters. It was also the first year that we went to the World's; held in Norway that year.
By 2013, the Nationals in Texas, there were 13 piston shooters, out of 87 Shooters.
The 2014 numbers were 9 piston shooters out of 77, but it was the first year that we had a major player switch over from PCP to Piston.
By 2015, the Piston shooters had grown to 21 out of 88, but the WFTF Piston shooters had grown to 11
2016 saw again 11 shooters in WFTF Piston out of 106 shooters
By 2017, there were 10 WFTF Piston shooters out of 103 total.
The names you see in the WFTF Piston roster have also changed, Matt Brackett should be regarded as a "seminal" shooter in the sense that he has always shot WFTF Piston. Ray switched over from PCP to WFTF Piston when he realized that there was an architecture that allowed him to shoot piston without too much strain on his shoulders.
We'll see how things go this 2018 Nationals, hopefully, we can attract more shooters into the Piston categories. Eventually, some of those will find a way to WFTF Piston and that is the way a Team gets stronger.
Parallel to all this, I have to say that becoming an American Citizen late in 2011, and being able to shoot for the USA Team has also been a dream come true.
So, it has been a long road, but one that has been worthwhile every day of the way.
About the 2018 WFTC's:
Perhaps the picture that best describes the 2018 WFTC's in Poland is this one:
This "2/3 rds" logo will be a permanent reminder of the fact that the competition was not a full competition.
Please understand that nothing in this blog entry must be construed as criticism. As someone who has organized large events and been a project manager (including some projects that have run into the hundreds of millions of $), most of his professional life, I understand that "things happen".
So, let's try to take a constructive point of view and analyze those things that were truly outstanding:
Most of the targets used in the Match were locally made.
They worked perfectly well at the practice range, the system is well made, simple and reliable.
Sadly, when placed in the courses, the psychological factors overtook rationality and a few overzealous PCP shooters derailed the whole shoot.
The place where the shoot was held and the courses prepared were absolutely amazing:
The hard work and unfailing efforts from the Polish Marshalls was always welcome!
The courtesies and attentions by our hosts were worthy of note!
As the Rules stand, anyone can protest a target and it has to be addressed immediately. While that is an OK procedure for a "Bowling Green" style of course, it was completely inappropriate to this setting and this course.
Getting an officer/Marshall up the Cliff to check a target was an exercise that took at least 5 minutes per protest, if you count the 21 protests that were lodged, it all adds to more than 1½ HOURS of delay.
That is enough to derail ANY event.
Add to that the very strong weather we had on the second day that impeded even further the catching up of time, and you get, literally, the unfortunate results of a series of unintended consequences.
While it is true that no one can control the weather. It is a known factor that there are some areas of the earth that are more prone to thunder and lightning.
Probably, and most importantly, this shows that WFTF needs to be present at several points in the course of the year it takes to prepare all this. It is very hard for someone who has been working real hard all year to suddenly receive comments that would have changed substantially some things if those comments had been issued opportunely
All in all, I really enjoyed my visit to Poland, it is a great country, with great people, the Polish FT RGB did its best to provide us with a great experience.And they stuck at it to the end. I am sure Pawel and all his crew would have gladly chucked everything out at some point in time, but they didn't.
They carried out their end of the bargain to the last consequences and this is admirable.
To me, Poland will always elicit a bittersweet memory. It was a great place, the shoot was run by great people, and it is a historical date for FT in the USA because it is the FIRST time that a Team wins the Championship.
As an airgunsmith, three of the four highest scores in Team USA were guns made here or had parts made here.
Yes, it's been a long road. And there is still so much more we can do!