It has become the largest Field Target event in the USA, with 89 shooters attending, 8 different individual competitions being disputed and an International Team event.
Back in 2008 and 2009, when Broome County Sportsman's Association (BCSA) was doing it, the NERFTC's was growing, but there was doubt about whether the FT shooters had the commitment to do a successful two day event. So the first year that Crosman hosted the NERFTC's under the auspices of the Eastern Field Target Competitors Club (EFTCC) it was shot all in one day with 20 lanes for 80 shots. It was a resounding success. Scores were real tight across classes and everyone had a ton of fun.
You can see the scores of that event at the EFTCC's Match Library, here.
By this time, EFTCC had refined the layout and the Match was shot over 2 days, 30 lanes, 120 shots.
Again, it was a success.
And so it has been, year by year the Match grows and matures and this year marked the last time that the Match will be hosted under the auspices of the EFTCC.
As with most things in life, if they do not evolve and change, they stagnate and die. So, Crosman is electing for change and evolution.
This year's NERFTC's was an incredible experience for me. On one hand I was entrusted with a very young shooter and his father, on the other my first day performance was completely sub-standard. But we are getting ahead of ourselves, let's start, like some good stories, from the beginning.
We drove the 5½ hours that takes to reach the upper regions of NY state through some rain and bad weather. Nothing unusual for this time of year. By the time we reach the Microtel in Victor, NY, we met Tom Wade and Tom Holland and we did our check-in.
We went to dinner at Chili's and had an early night.
Dinner was full of laughter and good points, not only about shooting, but about life in general. The social aspect of these shoots is also an attractive part of them.
The first day of the shoot was somewhat of an anticlimax for me. I shot terribly! With barely 36 points out of 60 I knew it was going to be an uphill climb the next day to even place decently. The high point of the day was shooting with young Henry LaVoie and his father Mark.
By the end of the first day, Jerry LaRocca was leading the WFTF Piston pack having shot a 41 and tying with Ray, Veronika shot a fantastic 39 to place 3rd and besting me by 3 points.
But, as the great Yogi Berra once said: it is not over until it's over and by Sunday, Mother Nature unleashed her furies on us.
It rained and then cleared and then rained some more and seemed to get stuck raining, but in an hour or so, it cleared again; just when everyone felt that it would stay clear the skies darkened and it started raining again.
Over the course of the shoot, it rained and stopped no less than 5 times. By the time my squad (Art Deuel, Tom Peretti and myself had one more lane to go, thunder started striking within earshot and the MD Mark DeBoard decided to suspend the shoot while the thunder and lighting went away.
Tent became a little overcrowded and we were asked to put our gear in the cars to make space for people.
Just when most of us had put away our gear, word came about that the shoot was to resume.
So, we picked up our gear and headed for the range.
People get hurried and start loosing focus.
Water starts getting into the actions of some rifles and into the stock of some others.
Shot cycles change, and not always for better.
Pellets get wet if not carefully loaded and in spring guns, this turns the airgun into a steamgun.
BUT, if you keep your calm and follow your ritual/process and do not let the rain distract you so that you are one turn out on your turret, you can shoot decently in the rain.
I posted the highest Piston score of the day, at 45. But the first day's disadvantage was too much to be overcome and I ended up third.
Jerry LaRocca posted an impressive 84, followed by Ray Apelles with a very good 82 and then me with an 81 overall.
The rest of the shooters in most classes were not too far away, either up or down. It is a tribute to a good course's design when all the top shooters in all divisions shoot within some points of each other.
I find it interesting to analyze not only the positions within a Division/Class, but also the relative positions of all Divisions/Classes.
This year, the three highest scores in the Match were posted by WFTF PCP shooters, then came an Open PCP and a Hunter PCP shooter. The 5th highest score was posted by a WFTF shooter and the 6th was shared by Hunter and Open PCP shooters. At seventh highest score comes the first Piston shooter, a Hunter. sharing the score with an Open PCP shooter.
Notable that piston shooters are shooting now to between 80 and 85% of the PCP scores. Something that we could not have imagined a few years ago.
As with all good things (even rainy ones) it all must come to an end, and the end of the NERFTC's was, as always a very moving awards giving ceremony where we all shared the satisfaction of having completed one more cycle.
It was my pleasure and privilege to award the second place of The America's FT Challenge Cup to Team Canada composed of Tim McSweyn, Dennis Eden, Dave Bartlett and Tom Peretti.
But even more pleasure was the fact that the Cup stays in the USA. Team USA, composed of Greg Sauve, Ray Apelles, my wife Veronika Ruf and myself outscored Team Canada by 30 points (not too much in a 480 possible points competition!)