"Your FT sport, you've been at it for,. . . what?, something like two decades?"
I had to admit that, yes, a bit under 21 years. And he countered:
"And in those 21 years, has the sport advanced?
Hmmmmm, yes, I said, I assume it has advanced in some aspects and has retrograded in some others.
"OK" he said. "Let's concentrate on those aspects on which you think it has retrograded. What has become less interesting?"
In here I have to clarify that he refers to many things, and persons, as being "interesting" or "uninteresting", and that in that seemingly simple concept, he engulfs all sorts of aspects and feelings from 'fun and exciting', to 'loveable and cherishable'.
So, I told him: "It has become MUCH more complicated. The 'Simple' in it is gone"
As a good surgeon he once was, he began dissecting the issue:
"Is the 'simple' in IT or in YOU gone?"
And THAT made me think.
Yes, the courses have become harder, longer, more challenging, but the pellets and the rifles have advanced so, ¿Why do WE make it complicated? Is it truly that important to place "Top X" that we allow it to detract from the enjoyment of the sport?
¿Why do we want to solve all issues with equipment and more equipment?
¿Why not return to "Simple FT"?
I had been working by times and lapses, on how to improve the DIANA 430L, and my last conclusion was that it was still not an FT rifle. My objections were, mostly, what I had told my friend "detracted" from the sport!
AND that statement applied to a rifle scoped with a 2-7 X 28 scope.
So, I pulled the Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical 6-24X50 FFP - Mil/Mil (probably the best spring-piston airgun scope currently on the market) from the Walther LGV and mounted it on the "small" 430L.
But the 430L is not REALLY a small gun. It is compact, yes, but it is not a carbine.
And the scope is not a SIGHTRON SIII, so I do think they go well together.
The addition of a leather cheek-rest was VERY useful to accomplish a uniform eye placement in relation to the scope. The stock itself is ambidextrous, but now the gun is right-handed.
A few detailed pictures:
I put a "secret sunshade" in the scope and it was quite effective cutting off the glare of shooting towards the east in the morning without adding undue length to the scope and obstructing the loading port.
I used it at 24X. A bit under the 29X that I normally use my SIGHTRON at, but the glass is clear enough that I didn't feel challenged by the lower magnification.
A truly simple rifle/scope combination. No hamster, no inclinometer, no level, no "custom stock".
Simple sporter stock capable of fitting-in VERY well around a camp-fire.
The system shoots well the Baracuda FT. And I had tested the trajectory several times at DIFTA's sighting-in range Monday night shoots. Finding it remarkably consistent from week to week.
So, on Wednesday, before the NCC-2021, I was at my range, putting numbers in the sidewheel and seeing if all the data was more or less consistent.
To do that I shot some groups with the same pellet (BFT), but in three different modes: Lubed with baked Pledge, lubed with T-9 and Naked, results were "interesting":
Each bold square is an inch, and each small square is a ¼ ", so, the group at the 50 m mark with baked Pledge measures less than ¾" high X 1½" wide O-O so, with better wind reading and more practice it IS now an FT "system".
It is also interesting that the SAME pellet, at the SAME MV, does exhibit a different POI at 50 m depending on whether the pellet is lubed or not.
So, we went with baked Pledge lubed pellets.
Thursday morning saw me pack and by 15:00 hrs, I was on the road to Roanoke Rapids.
I was somewhat worried that there would be problems refueling, as the "hacking" attack on the Eastern oil pipeline had shut down fuel deliveries for 5 days already. Luckily, it seems that Diesels are privileged:
Early next morning, I whooshed by Wendy's take out and went directly to the range.
Last year, the navigation had taken me to the wrong spot on Jack Swamp Road, so I had saved the entrance location and this year, there was no problem finding it.
Of course, this year they HAD put up a large red banner. ;-)
Got to the range and met all the friends, checked in, signed the waiver, and proceeded to the line of fire.
Shot about 100 pellets that day, at different distances and under different wind conditions and in all aspects, the PP Calc data seemed to be good, so, called it a day, we went together for dinner at Logan's and next morning we met again.
After checking zero and just warming up, we were squadded and sent to the "White Course".
This course is challenging in several fronts:
On one side, it is a wind tunnel. The gas line clearing clearly collects and bounces around all the stray currents. Some cuttings allow certain cross winds to flow and when they do, even a small cross-wind meeting an almost solid wall of trees, rises and swirls and creates challenging conditions.
Last time (2018 Nationals) we had shot this same place, we were shooting from the sun into the shade. This time, shots were longer and we were shooting from the shade into the dappled shade of the tree borderline, or far into the shade. So, very challenging light conditions.
Add to that the wind that kicked in with gusts of up to 20 kph (12½ mph) and you have indeed a challenging shoot.
And that we can use more real match practice, shooting a lane out of order, and timing out were not smart moves!
We can chuck that to CoViD! LOL!
By the end of the day, the score was not bad:
Next morning we met, checked our zeroes, and I found the gun shooting just a bit to the right, took mental note and decided to shoot as it was.
I was fairly confident that the more calm day and the woods course wouldn't be as challenging as the open wind-tunnel course.
Till I saw the targets.
All targets painted in blue.
In here we have to say that THAGC is a strongly-WFTF leaning club. Shots are long and they adhere to the basic concepts of shooting by target number, using the standard colors designated by WFTF, lane markers that inform the shooters of where they are, what they are shooting at, and keeping timers on track.
We DID shoot twice at each target, as is the custom in the USA.
So, BLUE they were!
On top, the real life experience was that of a much darker setting, the camera images tend to enhance the brightness and reduce the contrast/balance.
As the day wore on, I did realize that my ranging was not as good as in a brightly lit setting, and I started ranging two and three times at different objects and textures, so as to check the numbers.
This is one aspect where a larger scope would have performed better, perhaps at the expense of the ease of handling of the "smallish system"
I also had a peculiar "failure" where the cocking lever opened, something I did not experience again, but that I think I will address anyway with a magnet to reinforce the holding of the lever in the "battery" position.
But they are good shooters and they were more consistent than I was.
The courses were World Class courses in their style, presentation and challenges.
It was a pleasure and a privilege to shoot those courses, so thanks go to the designers: Ketih Knoblauch for the White Course and Chris Corey for the Blue course.
When MOST of the shooting was done, and all the scores were in, I asked Chris C. how I could help, and he very graciously allowed me to set the shoot-off lanes.
As WFTF rules call for, the lanes were IDENTICAL as far as distances and KZ's sizes, ranges were paced out roughly, then measured with a tape, distances and KZ's were checked against WFTF rules, and targets were checked with an official target checker with the recommended three hits to the paddle (low, medium and high in the KZ). Greg, Nathan, Phil and other friends pitched in and they were ready in a jiffy.
And then shooting started:
With the shootoffs done, we all proceeded to the awards ceremony.
I am happy with the result and I THINK I will continue to shoot "Simple FT".
Without the complications of extra large scopes, shooting jackets, slings, hamsters, etc. I enjoy more the outings.
I will also continue with the development of the 430L, it is a great platform that can easily compete with other underlevers.
¿Perhaps we can convince DIANA to bring out a 430L "M Improved"?
Next time you have the chance to go to an FT shoot, GO. You really will enjoy yourself!