(Match Report by Tyler Patner)
The Northeast Ohio Airgunners kicked off the 2021 Field Target Season on a beautiful Sunday that featured temps in the low 80s, some tricky winds and a touch of insanity. 29 shooters made it out, in a well diversified field featuring shooters in 5 of the 6 AAFTA divisions. When the course was laid out, it was noted that the course may have been set a little on the long side. That is to say, an unusually high number of targets were placed over 40 yards. Some new target placements were tried out, and they made for an interesting challenge that humbled many.
The troyer for the match was just under 32T, with 15 of the targets placed beyond 40 yards. Yes, that’s right...half of the targets were over 40 yards. Not only does this create a range finding challenge, but to compound things, there was enough wind through the day to push many of these shots out of the kill zone if you were holding dead center. And to compound things further, someone (not me) decided to paint the many of the targets in a dark or light shade of brown and then set them in the trees. It was a perfect storm.
Not to get too off track, but as a funny side note, Bill Rabbitt mentioned earlier this year that he wanted to shoot the first match entirely offhand. I told him he was crazy...and then suggested that it would be less crazy if we (funny how this turned from “he” to “we” all of a sudden) shot the close targets standing and the far targets kneeling. And so it was set, we created the KO class (which you will see denoted by asterisks on the score sheet), which stands partially for “kneeling and offhand” and partially for “knockout” because about half way through the course, all those that took part were about ready for a nap. I say “all those” but in reality, it was just Bill, Jeff and I that braved this challenge. Most probably thought we were joking before we made it onto the course, but quickly they learned that our insanity knows no bounds! Interestingly, the 32T troyer difficulty factor turns into a 47T when you shoot the entire course standing and kneeling, and about half of the targets end up being illegal per AAFTA rules.
The length of the course took its toll on many, as we saw a number of our top shooters post slightly lower scores than we are used to seeing. But as score cards came back the usual names rose to the top. In Open PCP, Keith Walters posted a match high 54/60 to earn top honors. In WFTF Piston, Dan Putz shot his HW97K to a solid 36 for the win. Tyler Patner shot an impressive 44 in WFTF PCP shooting all kneelers and standers to take the top spot. Doug Cunningham continued his impressive shooting this year with a 50 to top Justin Roberts by one shot in Hunter PCP. And we ended with a tie in Hunter Piston between Eric Jones and Al Duster, both on 29.
Ironically, Eric and Al tied last week at Sherwood, and would have to duel it out yet again for the title. A 1.25” kill zone target was placed between 35-40 yards away, in the open field of our sight in range where the wind was howling for the shoot off. Al won the coin toss and elected to go first, dropping the target on his first attempt. Eric took aim, but was unable to match, with the wind whipping his pellet across the kill zone. Congrats on the shoot off win Al.
I want to thank everyone that came out for the match, it was a great turnout to kick off the season and great to shake off the winter rust on a beautiful day. For the new shooters that attended, I promise, the next match will be a bit more “tame” from a course layout perspective. Still a challenge, of course, but maybe a little less distance intensive. We look forward to seeing everyone on June 27th for our next match, and until then, don’t forget that the other clubs here in Ohio are hosting matches between now and then, so there’s plenty of opportunities to get out and shoot!
All the best, stay safe, and see you on the lanes.