I'm writing this fast between work, kid and sleep to get Haverhills Sunday match report out your way before the day is done.
Our hardworking leaders Ken and Tim had declared days ahead that shooting would happen rain or shine on the 17th, so I trudged out into the morning downpour with my gear knowing that at least I'd get some shots in with the hardcore heros. During my hour ride north, the rain ceased, the sun broke, and I wondered if we'd shoot out from under the range shed after all.
I was expecting a skeleton crew at the day's shoot, so I was astonished to see the club's lawn choked with vehicles already when I arrived - 'nice way to begin our season! It turned out we had many newer shooters joining us, with three regulars bringing their sons. All the lanes' targets had been pulled as a result of the morning's rain, but we rolled the meteorological dice and reset them all, determined to get a real match in.
The skies clouded over as some of us attempted to sight in our rifles - I dont think I was alone in feeling a little unfamiliar with mine after the long New England winter months - but it sure felt good to let them have their legs again in the relatively warm air. New shooter Chris introduced himself and his custom Crosman 1750 - an impressive project gun that would treat him well for his first field target shoot. Joining him also for his first Haverhill shoot (I believe) was Steve G. who was prepared to give WFTF a go with his EV2. We were pleased to see the Bingham brothers (Matt and Fred) again from afar, and even more so to see Matts son, Jarrod in attendance. Jarrod's cool attitude and keen shooting will be a welcome addition to the Junior class this season I hope. Len S. and Matt S., also father and son, brought fine, twin Daystates and endless good cheer, and Dan B. brought his son, Daniel for his second FT shoot. Dan was shooting his infamous, modified FX Independence and Daniel brought a hot Marauder to shoot the entire match prone. New visitors Tim L. and Ruth came to give Hunter class a try, and they were joined in that class by the sharpshooter John M. and his B-51, and Al with his gem of a FWB124. Veterans Hector M. and Vernonika brought their usual rifles, a .20 cal. Diana 54 and an HW95 respectively. Hector also brought along a tantalizing prototype (?) '54 shooting in the sub-12-ft/lb range. I dont know much about it (he can tell you more!), but I shot it, and it left me, um, INTRIGUED
Ken brought his "squirrel gun" HW97 .22 cal. to compete in the Standing class, and Tim shot PCP as usual with his HW100.
Sure enough, the patter of rain began as Tim wrapped up his safety briefing, and by the time we got our squads to the lanes, we were all well wetted along with our gear. Ive never shot in rain before, and the resulting distraction and frustration was tempered by the realization that it was at least good practice
For the entire shoot, I swear we saw almost as many different weather conditions as one might see in a whole season. I think it cleared and showered three or four times, and a mad, swirling wind, first calm then gusting to 15 mph from all points of the compass really kept more than a few pellets out of the killzones. At least the sun, when in view, lit the targets well through the still-bare trees so we could see what targets we were trying to hit!
Ken and Hector
Jarrod and Matt Bingham
John M., Tim L. and Ruth
Fred, Steve, Chris and the firing line. Don't believe the sun!
Matt B. - "Is it me or my gun?..."
Matt and Jarrod
All in all, it was a really entertaining, challenging day, and there was good natured jokes, chuckles and groans up and down the line. I think all shooters should be pleased with their scores, especially the class winners today, whose high numbers were especially good considering the conditions. And let's remember that Ken got 50% offhand while
running about setting up the pizza lunch delivery for after the match!
A real highlight was when it was determined that father and son, Len and Matt needed a shoot off to determine second place in Hunter.
All kinds of pithy jokes flew about as the shooters found their seats next to each other and Hector placed a 3/4" killzone target 30 yards out. Plink - plink. No problem. [Here, we were immediately stunned by the quiet "report" of Len's AirWolf. After the target fell, Tim called with a grin, "Hey Len, when are you going to fire?"]
'Out to 35 yards. Puffing wind....Plink... plink. Well done! Out to 40 yards. Plink. Surprised applause.... Plink! More applause!
And so out to 45 yards. Len settled, breathed and... Plink!! "Why the hell didn't I shoot this well during the match?" he said with a smile. Matt settled down into his rifle, looked long into his scope, picked his point of aim, and sent a pellet into the targets faceplate at last. Well done, and thanks for the great show, guys!
[Kudos to Hector and Tim for the photos in this post]