Preamble and Acknowledgements
It forces you to always start from the basics, if you forget the slightest thing, BOING! there goes a shot where it should NOT have gone. And you only have yourself to blame.
Demanding? Yes! but we spring-piston shooters love the challenges!
So, when the Falls Township Rifle and Pistol Association (FTRPA) FT team posted that they would be hosting a shoot in July, I quickly obtained permission from the "High Command" and got my license for "R&R", LOL!
Hotel booked and everything settled, the trip started after a Saturday full of activities with the kids and wife.
The drive was somewhat annoying. Gone are the days of little traffic due to Pandemic's partial lockdowns; statistics say that we are back, if not above, Pre-"Year of the Masks" levels of travel and traffic; the Hospitality Industry has even coined a term: "Revenge Travel" where people travel just to travel, to feel free and unfettered by quarantines and isolation rules.
SOooooo.... After three different traffic jams and an almost 5 hours drive, I arrived into Ewing, NJ to spend the night.
Morning after, I headed to Fairless Hills, where FTRPA is located, just 17 minutes from the hotel. Funny how some states have much better economic policies than others, and it is a pity that PA does not realize how much business is lost to NJ simply because taxes for travel and leisure are lower. But that is another discussion.
FTRPA is easily one of the prettiest courses/venues in the USA. It's been going strong for MANY years. The first time we (Veronika and I) attended a match there was 2011. MUCH has happened since. Venue though, is still as beautiful as ever.
Between the woods and the lake, scenery is calming and serene.
Range is shared between Airgunners and 3D Archers, and the effort that the Airgunners take to "put the least possible footprint" into the woods is more than commendable:
ALL tree bases get removed after the shoot.
ALL concrete bases and pavers get taken out
ALL stakes/gates also are taken out
NOTHING remains of the shoot
So, EVERYTHING has to be set out again for the next shoot. You will never shoot the same course twice at FTRPA!
HUGE effort, so VERY COMMENDABLE!
THANKS! therefore to the FTRPA crew that spends many hours setting up the field for us to come and shoot!
It is also clear that the Field Target group gets serious support from the Association's Directives. So THANKS also go to them.
The FTRPA crew puts out a more than reasonable sighting in range with targets every 5 yards in plentiful supply.
Also some spinners, some "shoot to reset", and once in a while even some FT's.
Get there early and you will have a ton of fun just shooting at paper.
These 60 shots are laid over 10 lanes with 3 targets each lane and two shots per target.
Shoots are not "impossibly hard" usually in the 28 TDR average, in recent times only ONE shooter (and a truly top one at that) has cleaned a Match. So, it takes a LOT of skill and dedication to get high numbers even in a relatively "simple" shoot.
Another aspect that is common at FTRPA is the assistance of new shooters. A lot of it obeys the clear familiarity and friendliness that all the members exhibit, and the atmosphere that prevails and pervades all the shoots. It is an excellent course to get started, and you never stop learning . . . ;-)
One most important part of any shoot is the Shooter's Safety Meeting. Make no mistake, we have shortened the name to SM (Shooter's Meeting) but the real purpose is to re-instill the principles of safe gun handling in all the present shooters, especially the old timers.
As a shooter, be aware, be conscious, be courteous, but above all, be SAFE.
Among the WFTF MD's there is the acronym: SFC (no, it does not mean Sargent First Class; it stands for SAFE, Challenging and Fun), which is the aspirational goal of all shoots.
I was paired with Johnathan, a first time shooter, and it was very pleasant to shoot with the young man (I double his age). We proceeded at a good clip and he clearly had done as much of his homework as was possible without actually having gone to a match before.
We started in lane 9:
Apologies that you cannot see how small that long target KZ is. If you locate it on the general picture above, you will only see a black dot where the KZ is and, while I cleaned this lane, the impact on the paddles were all clearly visible, perfect elevation, but to the right.
Hmmmmmm Wind? ... mental note.
John proceeded to shoot his stint and we moved to lane #10:
Here is a zoomed in view:
After John took his shots, we moved back to lane 1:
After shooting lane 1, we could advance to lane 3:
After John shot we moved to Lane 4:
In my, very low, sitting position, the pellet grazed the ground and didn't even touch the faceplate! So that was a miss!
I had to scoot back almost to the limit of holding the muzzle in front of the gate to get the second shot to count.
Distances were not that long: 18 yds (16 m), 27 yds (25 m) and 35 yds (32 m).
After John's turn, we moved to Lane 5 which was the offhand lane:
Arghh . . . need more practice!
After John shot his turn, we moved to lane 6:
After John shot we moved to Lane 7:
We closed the match at lane 8:
I had shot the two shots on the first target when John told me:
-There is a person in the lake beyond the middle target, not that you are going to miss, but just to make you aware"
Stood up and tried to locate the person, but he had rowed past, so I deemed safe to shoot again.
I calmed myself down, breathed real deep a few times and asked John which was the next shot.
John informed me that I had to take my first shot on the second target, so I started there and the rest of the shots went well.
Enough to close the Match with a clean lane that is always very nice.
Truth is: I don't. LOL!
When Veronika started shooting, she made it a point to keep notes of every shot, and so we designed a D.O.P.E. card that I try to keep for all shoots. It is a source of experience, as sometimes after thinking things over a day or two, I come back and find something that needs to be learned.
It is something I would highly recommend:
Clearly, the long shots are harder than the short ones.
Clearly I have problems with the second shot: 8 of 13 misses were second shots.
Need to work in my offhand shots (usually, real top matches are decided on the "discipline" - forced position - shots).
In this way, you can "coach" yourself to improved scores.
Of course, I always take a picture of the official score card:
After all the shooting was done, some of the shooters pitched in to "take out the course":
After the cleanup, awards were given and conversations got started
So I took leave from my friends and started heading home.
The drive home was easier than the one out.
Quick refuel, snack, and in 3 hrs and change I was home.
When you analyze the scores of the match, it becomes clear that the course was not THAT hard (measured as TDR), yet the scores were not THAT high.
There is much more to a course difficulty than the TDR, and even when the MD's think it is one of the easiest they have set, results tell that it was not so easy after all.
As far as equipment is concerned, I am still very happy with my "Simple FT rig" the DIANA 430L is a "good" gun to start with, but with some engineering and the right accessories, it is approaching the "great" status.
The combination of the scope, the mount, the gun, and the pellet has proven that FT'ers should not be afraid of running at slow speeds. It's the accuracy, precision and consistency of a system that are most important.
It is also important to have fun and, if your system is becoming too complicated, take a step back, re-think the whole thing, see into yourself and decide what is what makes you truly happy. Then simplify.
You may loose a few points in the first few matches, but if you were honest with yourself and the simplification gives you more enjoyment, then you will practice more, be more proficient, and in the long run, you will score better.
FTRPA's July shoot is now done, it has become part of the collective memory, some things learned, some things re-learned; it was a hoot and I deeply appreciate Larry's, Rick's, and Jim's knowledge, cooperation and efforts on behalf of the sport.
Good times and good memories are created from this.
Best thing was to meet old friends and make new ones, I've said it many times, but the best part of FT is the people that shoot FT.
Keep well and shoot straight!