With two little ones now in the house, getting away for a weekend is not twice as hard, it's hard²!
But, as all grandparents, they are wonderful and agreed to come and stay with Veronika and the kids while I went shooting. Thanks, Oma and Opa!
Then came the next thing, driving to Ohio was now a possibility from Maryland, something that could not be done from Connecticut, but driving back after a full day of hard competition on a Sunday alone was not at all appealing.
A quick post in the "Green Forum" seemed to have had no effect, but after a few days I received an EMail from my good friend Tinh in the Virginia area and we decided to go.
It was a fun trip, centered around airguns, and cars. Part of the attraction of riding with me was the fact that we would be using Veronika's new TDI Golf.
Whatever the EPA wants to say, and whatever the lessons were learned by VW over the "Dieselgate" I do hope they keep on manufacturing Diesel cars. For the American way of making "Road Trips" a family vacation thing, the Diesel represents unique advantages and the lowest running costs of all current cars. Even the Hybrids are hard pressed to reach the current level of performance of good Diesel cars.
Next morning (Friday) it all started with a nice breakfast at Denny's and then the short trip to the range.
But, we were here to shoot, and shoot we did, LOL!
So, thanks to Pyramyd Air, Oleg Volk, and hardairmagazine.com/, I was able to come up with quite a lot of really good pictures!
BTW, if you go to Oleg's website be prepared to spend some time there, absolutely stunning photos; mature audiences suggested.
Anyway, coming back to the shoot:
I was shooting in a class of ONE; no, not "Freestyle/Unlimited/Whatever", I was shooting in one of the hardest classes to master: Open Piston.
It is hard to master because there is a PHYSICALITY to it. Cocking a 20 ft-lbs gun 100 times every day over three days does require some level of physical fitness. And mastering the hold of powerful airguns is a challenge.
As soon as I was offered the chance of going to PAC, and being completely dissatisfied with the way WFTF handled the Lisbon World's and is currently de-evolving into a pure target sport where there will be cheaters and there will be loosers, I decided to shoot my 0.20" cal D54.
I've had that gun for over 7 years and yet I have shot it relatively little. It is really my hunting gun and many a pigeon, grackle, rabbit, chuck, possum and raccoon has fallen to a well placed Predator pellet.
It has sported a nice Tyrolean stock, an OEM D54 stock, a pre-historic lightweight sporter Diana 52 look-alike stock and even a Gin B stock. Of all the stocks, my preferred stock is the lightweight sporter style stock.
On top of that I wanted to take the D34 converted to N-Tec for the Gunslynger. At last year's Cup I saw the punishment that this fast and furious style of competition does to an airgun and I didn't want to risk using my "FT" gun for that.
The N-Tec, when properly installed and lubed, is extremely robust and consistent. My little D34K (K for "Kurtz") shot the H&N FTT real well when held properly (a little on the firm side, always with consistent placement of fingers on the stock screws).
Besides, the challenge of shooting a 16½ ft-lbs power/8 lbs scoped weight powerhouse attracted me. It was going to be fun!
As usual, conversation with other airgunners gravitated to airguns and pellets and ballistics, and other related stuff.
After laughing our sides out, we adjourned for the night and since no one wanted to go on a quest for Ice Cream, I decided to take a quick trip to WalMart and get some.
The hunt was successful and with two chocolate cream pies I went home for a little mind-blanking TV and sleep.
Next morning started windy.
As the day wore on it would get even more windy.
Wind is a challenge for airgunners because it is very hard to learn how to shoot in the wind unless you have a windy 'home range". It also presents the challenge that since no two guns are exactly alike, the wind-drift tables that are displayed by the common ballistic programs serve of little purpose nor guidance.
To spring-piston shooters, it presents the further complication that our MV changes for every venue, and sometimes every day, we shoot, and so the number of variables increases quite quickly.
Recognizing this some time ago, I structured Pellet Path Calculator so that the BC that was calculated for that shoot in particular using the ACTUAL trajectory of the gun/pellet/scope combination would also be used for the drift tables.
Once that was achieved, it was "simply" a matter of learning how to read the wind-flag with some accuracy and the tablet would let me know exactly where to aim.
When all the numbers were in, it was pleasant to discover that I was shooting a projectile (the 13.7 JSB Exact) that exhibited a BC of 0.0484 (weighted).
Still, it is not a laser and the challenges of FT are there.
After the first day of shooting. I was really happy. Not because of my score but because, as I told a good friend, I was seeing my pellets hit on the lips of the KZ. So, had it been a true hunting scenario (the purpose of the rifle), I would have had a BUNCH of DEAD CRITTERS! Definitely the gun was performing, it was the shooter what was being minutely inconsistent with position, release and follow-through. Yes, the stock was not designed for that. Yes, I was not using ANY aids (no sticks, no jacket, no straps, no sling), but it could be better and so the determination was made to do better the next day.
After the FT part and a quick lunch at the Club House, I headed to the range again for the Gunslynger.
When I arrived, I saw that the friends were overexcited. It seems that a good battle was establishing itself between Ray and Nic (Experience vs. Youth), and then I was informed that I had to shoot against Paul Manktelow, Hunter Piston shooter extraordinaire.
So, without too many hopes nor expectations I sat down and prepared for the countdown.
After a three Gunslyngers, I entered the fray telling myself: Just DON'T miss! and I quickly cleared the chickens, but as I went to the other animals, I started missing. Then I remembered reading somewhere that the distances would be changed for this year and that the distances would be the same for PCP and for Piston! Aaaaarrrrgggghhhhh!
So, trying to keep my cool, I broadened my focus and started seeing where the pellets were hitting. Slowly raised the "bead" shot after shot and I started connecting.
Slowly, but surely, my hits started accumulating, I was having less problems loading the bigger pellet than the other shooters were trying to pick, handle and orient the small 0.177" pellet, and the BC of the H&N FTT helped reach the rams all out at 50 meters/55 yards (REAL 1/10th scale of the official Silhouette game, but 10 yards longer than the "normal" for USA distance of 45 yards).
I was suddenly done and as I prepared to stand up, the line Marshall tells me "Don't go anywhere, you have to shoot another round". . . . WHAAAT????
"Lady, you don't get this, every time I cock this little gun it takes 40 lbs of cocking force" I thought to myself and then decided that it was better to just stay put and gather all my wits.
Suddenly up comes to the line Eric Brewer, reigning Gunslynger champion! I felt lost. I know Eric is a good shooter and he was now sporting an HW98. For sure I am lost, I thought.
BUT, my father told me that there is no worse fight than that which is not, and so I prepared myself and tried to keep tabs of where I was hitting the little beasties and the wind hold (not much, but there nonetheless).
The MD asked if we were ready and we prepared to shoot.
"Commence firing in 3, ... 2, ... 1 ... GO!
I started off with the chickens, then the proceeded to the turkeys, then went to the javelinas, and finished with the rams. When I looked up, Eric still had one or two left.
Done! was the shout that erupted from the spectators and I was terribly relieved, but somewhat sad that Eric had fallen.
Like a true warrior, he fell fighting and like the true gentleman he is, the first thing he did, even before casing his gun, was to come over and shake my hand.
Thanks Eric! This relay will be one of my fondest memories.
And in here I have to say that, TO ME, the most attractive part of FT is the PEOPLE that shoot FT.
Regardless of profession, language, nationality, or any other trait, there is a camaraderie that pervades the sport. Everyone will help everyone. Even competitors help each other most of the time.
PAC's banquets are always fun, with Rossi's shenanigans and Kristen handing out prizes, it is always fun.
I was lucky enough to share a table with Tobias Schmidt, the current representative for the new Diana, and we had some pretty good conversation pieces with inputs from Jerry LaRocca, Eric Brewer, Mike Norris and the others at the table. Further actions have already been determined and, hopefully, Diana will have soon guns that more closely reflect what the high quality market expects from such a prestigious brand.
Tobias also had a go at the Gunslynger!
And so the first day of PAC 2017 was over.
I was to shoot in the semi-finals of Gunslynger, and I was determined to do better in FT and so I went to sleep preparing for the next day.
Next day was a calm and sunny day.
There seemed to be an almost imperceptible "base wind" in the range. Hmmm . . . interesting.
Zeroes checked and trajectory confirmed, the FT portion started and as I headed to the range, I forgot to re-launch my tablet.
Conversation was too good, expectation was high, and even though I was shooting last, I still forgot to re-launch my tablet.
By the time it was my turn, and the timer was going, the seconds ticking away, I shot the first lane from memory, hmm another not too good idea.
After shooting, I then decided to re-launch the tablet, but forgot to renew the screen. Bad mistake again. I was shooting with someone else's data! I skunked the lane. Upon reviewing my data, it suddenly dawned on me that I had been rather silly (to be kind to myself).
So, reset the tablet, make sure every data point is correct, compare to the backup copy I make in my phone every match and make sure that I would be using the proper data from thereon.
As the day evolved I felt better, I was being consciously more consistent and the hits started accumulating. I was not waiting out the wind and taking each shot as it presented itself, and the targets kept falling. Sure there were a ton of lip hits, but this time they were real close, most of them grazing the edge.
I ended the day with a 36, that might not seem much, but it would have placed me at the top of the day in Hunter Piston or in 5th place (of 11) for the day in WFTF Piston, so I was happy.
I was even happier for Matt Sawyer that recovered from a not too good first day to post the day's high score in WFTF Piston.
But we still needed to shoot the Gunslynger!
To gauge how punishing the Gunslynger is on guns and shooters, let us look at how my gun ended up after two days of this treatment.
As the MD called the countdown, I was trying to make the maths in my head to be able to hit ANYTHING.
I started by cleaning the chickens, but when I moved on to the Javelinas/Pigs, I couldn't hit. I simply couldn't hit.
Shots started going by and frustration started to accumulate.
As much as I tried, the gun was still moving POI.
Suddenly one of my shots hit a reset string almost 10' in FRONT of the silhouette, and I started adjusting.
Little by little the silhouettes started falling, but so were Jerry's, by the time I was at the Rams, he was at the chickens and going full steam ahead, but suddenly he missed the last chicken and I struck my last Ram.
DONE! erupted the spectators. My arm was sore and I was literally dizzy.
My good friend "Poli" Morales came over and showed me the time we took to clean the 16 targets:
12 minutes and change! I looked at my pellet pouch and estimated that I had fired around 60 times in those 12 minutes.
It was an epic battle against the changing conditions and the lessons learned will be put to good use for next year.
Of course, when it was time to shoot against Nic, as Tyler put it in his Report (that has full results and better comments than I could ever make), Nic "made quick work" of me, LOL!
Still, it was a wonderfully satisfying experience to come to the PAC with no expectations and end placing second in the Gunslynger.
The 2017 PAC is history now.
I have shown that it is possible to shoot full power "sporter" airguns at a decent competitive level. It takes more time and practice, yes, but it is possible. In the end it all boils down to what each of us wants to get out of airgunning.
Hopefully, next year it will be even bigger and better. A 60 shot match (15 lanes times two courses) would allow PAC to host up to 120 shooters and perhaps someday a one shot per target format can be adopted with shoots in the morning and in the afternoon with 3 shooters per squad, the total could go up to 180-200 shooters.
We'll see what the future brings. I am sure Tyler, Kristen, Cory and the rest of the crew are already discussing what to shake and what to leave alone, and I am sure that they will get the support from the Top Brass at PA because, better than anyone in the industry, they understand that they are in the entertainment business.
Thanks Pyamyd Air!
And to all of you that have never been to a PAC, you owe it to your airgunner's heart to go at least once.
Here's to seeing you all at PAC 2018!