It is challenging. Maryland is a maritime state and the weather can change at the drop of a hat. Wind is also very tricky in the woods where there are open fields to both sides of the little woods patch and a depression runs alongside the shooting lanes, creating interesting shooting positions and conditions.
The forecast had always been that Sunday, June 10th, was going to be rainy. What was on the balance was at what time it would start to rain.
Following closely the trends in the forecasts, it was fairly obvious that it would rain at about noon.
And in Maryland, when it rains, it pours!
Just to give you an idea, courtesy of my friend Mark Mayer, there is a video here, that shows how hard it was raining, and how suddenly the sun started to peek in again.
The other thing I love about shooting at DIFTA is that, occasionally, my upstate NY friends Sean McDaniel and Eric Brewer will come down the night before and we can spend some time sharing a meal and shooting the breeze.
We decided to start early, even if the Match had been called for a 09:00 hrs start, we were up at 06:00 then breakfasted and at the range by 07:45.
We waited a little while till 08:00 hrs. and started shooting at the sighting-in range.
This time there were no downed trees to clear and so, we re-purposed some old targets and got down to the business of getting ready for the match.
I needed the time, I was testing a new-to-me hunting pellet that is being made by H&N in Germany
I had had reports from my friend Tony Leach (UK), that these pellets were actually quite accurate, even at long distances (55 yards and up) and, preparing to do the work of testing the Stormrider at higher power levels (you can read tests at low power levels here: Part 1 and Part 2 ), I had bought a lonely tin.
Upon testing, it became obvious that H&N had a great achievement in their hands. But it is such an important development, that it deserves its own entry in this blog, so, for the time being, let us say that I found these pellets more than satisfactory for ANY shooting an airgunner might want to do. Long gone is the need for a different zero, a different trajectory, different rifles, different scopes. A savvy airgunner CAN be the ONE-Rifle Man that everyone should take seriously.
At DIFTA's sight-in range, Sean and I ended up shooting at the same bullseye at 55 yards and I was keeping right up with him. Sean was on fire that day and it was to show at the end of the Match, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. I was having a lot of fun seeing holes appear exactly where I wanted them, and for a Sproinger to keep up with the PCP's, it is a good feeling indeed.
Shooting groups, and inputting the observations into PP-Calc, showed that the data was good, and so with certain confidence, we waited for the match to start.
The match was very well attended, 15 shooters came up to the range and it was very nice to meet old friends that I had not seen in some time: Keith Knoblauch was there, in between his Estonia and Euzkadi trips, Ray Apelles was also there, Brian Van Lieuw, Mike Harris, Al Otter, Chris Cory, all traveled long distances to make the match.
The sighting-in range was full:
Because we were the lonely 3 man squad, Paolo allowed other squads to leapfrog us.
I had only dropped six points between lane 12 (our starting lane) and lane 8, when thunder and lightning forced the MD to call all the shooters back to the sighting-in covered area.
Even the last lane shot before the "hiatus" was called. I only dropped one point in lane #8 and by then it was REALLY coming down on us!
What I didn't know then was that all other squads HAD finished their shooting. We were the only squad that had not.
So, we waited under cover for the rain to pass and when it subsided, we set out again to shoot.
What happened in those 20 minutes that we waited?, I really do not know, nor I ever will (for reasons to be explained later), but when we returned to shooting, the POI had moved a full mrad (3.44 MOA's/15 clicks) to the right. Of course I didn't know that, I just started missing.
Over the last two lanes, I dropped 7 points! Ah, well . . . that is FT for you, specially Spring-Piston FT.
The banter and the conversations (serious and otherwise) is always a good break from the daily grind.
By the time we were finished, most shooters that had to travel long distances had left, but a few shooters were present for their awards.
Yes, I know that, officially, this is discouraged, but it is very human. So, a big "CONGRATS!" to Sean!
Upon returning to home base, I disassembled the gun to dry all the internals and so, I will never know why the gun moved so much.
Following day, after re-assembly, the POI was where it was found after the rain, so I simply re-sighted it in and it is printing great groups again where it should.
I am sure that, by now, some of you have already raised their voices about the choice of pellet for this match, but I assure you all it was a very conscious choice and that I have no regrets about it, I like so much how these pellets shoot that I am considering shooting them in future matches.
I will write a separate Blog entry for the Barracuda Hunter Extreme pellets, yes they are THAT good.
Some further testing needs to be done, specially the testing that goes beyond the simply excellent accuracy of the pellets and their high BC. So, stay tuned for an in-depth view into the wonderful world of total ballistics.
A BIG THANKS! have to go to Paolo, Mark and Vince for setting up the match, running it, and then taking it down on Tuesday when everything had dried out (well, sort of).
I am happy that the gun shot well, and that I fully tested my rain gear that came through with flying colors. Some adjustments need to be done in the shoe to trouser interfase, but I think I will not fear the rain anymore.
If Pleasant Hill decides to pull an "Ennice" on us, I will be ready.
I just hope that the shoot does not get interrupted!
Keep well and shoot straight!