Diablo FT has had quite a surge of FT enthusiasm over the past few years and 2009 has kicked things up a bit with new and experienced FT shooters that are pumped up about stepping out of the local pond and testing the waters elsewhere.
We have several new shooters that are hungry to learn and experience FT which they know comes from trigger time and exposure to new conditions. And the regulars that want a change of venue, competition and to see old friends.
So everyones jazzed to make the trek on down to Angeles Gun Range for CASAs 7/26/09 Field Target Match. Making it on time for the 10 am shoot is going to take some coordination of logistics given how spread out some of our shooters are, coming from 2 hours north or south of our local club. Everyone wants to go in one rig so I hook up my camping/utility trailer to my van conversion and load up my gear in preparation of the road trip.
3 am or so and Kevin and Guy are at my house, gear loaded and were on the road heading down Highway 5 to meet up with the rest of the crew. 2 shooters heading down from Sacramento Area and 2 heading west from Santa Cruz to meet up with us at Santa Nella to have a solid breakfast at the local truck stop. Shortly after breakfast, we transferred their gear into the trailer and continued our trek down to the CASA Match!
Driving down Highway 5 was a pleasure given the company and destination. To put it mildly we talked a lil about airguns and FT!!! Jonathon and Ron were stoked about getting out of our backyard pond and testing the open waters that Angeles provides with long targets, unrestricted wind and a roster of seasoned shooters and airgunsmiths/tuners that they knew all too well by name yet hadnt met yet.
Our youngest shooter, AJ, was of the mindset of knowing he liked shooting and FT and figured what the heck, Im young, a road trip packed with shooting sounds fun, Ill probably be dead tired by the time I get home but Ill live! The seasoned shooters were interested in seeing how their equipment was shooting, a never ending saga it seems, and to see old friends.
Its 10am and were approaching the range, its getting warm with low humidity and expected temps in the 90s. Luckily CASA is just finalizing the target placements as we arrive. Getting out of the van felt good and it felt even better seeing familiar faces greeting us like LD, Doug & Vipha Miller, Tim McMurray, Vince Pacheco, Ron Jobbes and Steve Moore.
After a few minutes, Tim McMurray called the line hot so we could commence with sighting in and verifying our ranges, clicks, holdover, etc.
The Sight In Range:
Youd of thought a new episode of Candid Camera was being shot as we sighted in as a few of us from Team Diablo experienced POI shifts!!! POI is high by almost an inch for those of us experiencing the shift at 35+ yards! Was it the air density, the smog, the heat, that was different in Southern Cal that was causing the issues? Time to sort this out fast and/or determining how many clicks to add to get back on at the various ranges! A quick look at my gauge showed I was slightly over filled.
Fanning the hammer of my USFT got it back in the meat of the typical fill pressure and sending some JSBHs downrange verified that life was back to normal for me at least. A few more shots and Im done sighting in, time to register and pay fees:
Fan taking care of administrative duties:
After the Sight In Period, I am paired up with Ron Jobbes who is shooting a beautiful Air Arms 100(.22) variant in a sporter stock:
As were moving along the course, the heat is climbing but luckily the wind is mild and Im not experiencing any perceived POI shifts beyond the coffee induced misses as I tried to settle in, lol! Such are the joys of being the designated driver for the trip down and the need to be awake and alert!
Elsewhere on the course some International Class competitors are warming up their game amidst the heat. Ron J. from Diablo FT is paired up with veteran FT competitor and airgunsmith Tim McMurray. Ron is a new shooter at Diablo FT but has tons of trigger time with his EV2 MKII. He put 4,000 rounds downrange with it before deciding he was ready to have a go at FT and make the trek down to Diablo for his first match. We could tell he wasnt a new plinker deciding to give FT a whirl on a whim. He showed up with the EV2MKII, bum bag and harness in hand! It was further confirmed that he was gung ho when he decided he is going to the nationals!
Tim is one, if not the only competitor that is going to make the trip to South Africa this year to represent the USA at the World FT Championship. He just set up USFT #7 at sub 12fpe and got some rough numbers for his clicks before the match. Today was going to be a good match up as both were trying to get used to the lack of a harness!
Tims USFT #7:
Another gung ho new FT shooter at Diablo is Jonathon R. who shoots spring piston class. He just got a TX200, put a Bushnell 3200 7 21 x 40AO Mildot on it and started shooting using holdover with no harness at our club. His form is excellent and hes eager to learn and get experience. To put it mildly he was dying to get down here and shoot a different venue with longer targets and to meet other shooters and sports legends.
Today he was battling with Steve Moore and Erwin Bragg from CASA in Springer Class. Steve Moore is a prior CA State Champion in Piston Class. He had a new HW97K with Venom Lazaglide Kit in it that had yet to be proven in the field. Everyone knows the feeling of shooting a new kit at the match, wondering if its going be consistent or if things might go south, always hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. Erwin Bragg was shooting a TX200 MKIII from what I recall. I met him at last years State Match and again later at the CASA Christmas Party/FT Match. Hes one heck of a nice guy that really enjoys shooting FT.
AJ is another new kid on the block as far as shooting and FT is concerned. Hes really enjoying it and adapting to it quite well for a young 15 year old that is Lonnie S.s nephew. AJ was shooting a sub 12fpe Air Arms S400 Carbine(.17) with Nikko Stirling Nighteater 8 32 x 60 using holdover. Being young and flexible, hes choosing to forgo the harness and work on developing more strength and flexibility to help his FT game!
Elsewhere on the range, AJs uncle Lonnie is paired up with Vipha Miller. Lonnie is shooting his Daystate MKIII FT-R and trying to get settled in with the rig. Vipha is one heck of a shooter, me thinks Lonnie is going to up his game to try and stay with her!
Lonnie S. trying to stay out of the heat(the pic makes me wonder if he left his gun in the heat and direct sunlight, lol):
As Ron and me make our way from Lane 4 to Lane 6(the off hand lane), Ron easily clears it. Now Im up to bat and I notice that something isnt feeling right as I shoulder Big Bluethe butt plate/hook assembly loosened up and is swinging freely! In haste, I decide its not going to make a difference, I can hold it steadyWRONG!!! 4 shots and 4 misses a relatively easy targets! Must have been the lack of sleep and caffeine that made me make such a poor decision!!! This is not good, Rons walking away from me score wise, I better pull it together or this is gonna get embarrassing with more errors and misses like that, lol!
Me acting like I knew what I was doing, lol:
Kevin Y. is paired up with long time friend L.D.. The sight of Kevin shooting a USFT that his own always makes me smirk. For years he was trying to find the perfect pre-charged FT Rifle and all of us that know Kevin kept telling him to just go with a USFT, all FT Rifles are a compromise of sorts but the USFT would be the most reliable and consistent gun out there for him. Well Kevin was dead set against it, hed buy and try every FT rifle out there before hed shoot buy and shoot a USFT due to the looks and unusual balance of it. Plus as he put it You know what my wife is gonna say if I buy one and she says you spent that much on that ugly bb gun?!?! At least a Steyr is a rifle that everyone looks at and can appreciate the quality and elegance, etc.
Well low and behold, many rifles bought, customized, sold or just sitting and look at what hes shooting now!!!
Another big matchup on the field of honor is current California State Champ in PCP Class, Doug Miller and seasoned shooter but new to Diablo Rod and Gun Club, Guy O. These two have shot with each other over the years at various Regional or National FT Events so it was a reunion of sorts.
Guy O. and Doug M.:
Vince Pacheco and Fan B. were paired up and shooting their USFTs and having fun at it.
At the end of the day, the scores were as follows:
Springer Match Winner Johnathan Reyes 34/48
Erwin Bragg 15
Steve Moore DNF
PCP Match Winner Doug Miller 47/48
Kevin Yee 45
Larry Durham 44 There was no shootoff for third
Guy Omictin 44
Vipha Miller 43
Lonnie Smith 40
Tony Inocentes 37
Vince Pacheco 37
Ron Jobbes 34 (shooting a .22)
International Class (12 fpe/no harness)
Ronnie Easton 37
Tim McMurray 33
Fan Boyett 30
AJ Smith 26
After we got the targets and strings off the course, LD suggested we all drive down to the local diner to get some grub and refreshments, hang out, relax a bit so that the journey back home would be more pleasurable. As we started driving down the road, my Achilles heel reared its ugly head, allergies/sinus headaches! All the dry dusty conditions caught up with me, had to take some Tylenol sinus and wait for the cavalry to arrive and provide relief, lol. As we get into the restaurant and settle in at the table, it was clear that this place was the real deal for airgunners, I mean how many restaurants in the US do you know of would have this picture(or any other that looked even remotely like it) proudly displayed on the wall!?!?!
As we waited for food, I was in a world of hurt waiting for the relief to hit, sitting quietly, sweating up a storm with my sunglasses on to shield the light from my now sensitive eyes. Then the food started coming out and like Moses parting the Red Sea, my pain subsided, I could breathe, remove the light shields and join in on the great company and conversations at hand!
I had an awesome Salmon Salad but admittedly, next time gonna order the Fish & Chips and Onion Rings like LD ordered, with my headache gone, I was eyein his food like Pavlovs Dog when a bell rang, it looked and smelled tasty!!!
It was a great trip and FT shoot with friends on the way down there and awaiting us at the match. Looking forward to the next trip, thanks again to CASA for providing a fun and safe FT Match at the Angeles Range!