Jonathan Reyes Nationals Report

The drive towards the Damascus Ikes Field Target Association (host club for this year's Nationals Championship) was most pleasant; cool crisp air, blue skies in contrast with the fall foliage and green and brown earth below. As it would turn out, we arrived just a few days before the trees make the complete transformation from lush green to crispy gold, but the countryside was still gorgeous. A nice change of pace from the usual California grind!

The DIFTA layout is most impressive, boasting two sight-in ranges (one out in the open, the open under the forest canopy close to the courses, both within 75 yards of the parking lot), a two-story clubhouse that includes a lounge area, 10m range, assembly/dining hall, fully equipped kitchen and library.

Art imitates life.

I knew that veteran FT shooter/premier custom stock maker Paul Bishop would be competing, and was eager to meet him and take a look at his work first hand. Simply amazing, I think the pictures speak for themselves. (Beeman R11 in custom FT stock, HW50s in Tyrolean inspired stock, Quigley Crosman Challenger, and Custom Marauder stock). Superb craftsmanship with the wood!

Turns out Paul wasn't the only gifted woodworker present. I met Don Carkhuff who made this true to scale jig-saw puzzle of a postage stamp. Impressive!

It's now around 4:00 pm, and the temperature has dropped slightly to about 60 degrees or so. I decide it's time to assemble my TX200 so I can take a few sight-in shots. The action with mounted scope was packed in a Pelican case per Hector Medinas suggestion(many thanks!), to avoid having to remount the scope (more time consuming and aggravating to match your previous zero/clicks). The stock was inside my check-in bag. Once I got the action mounted in the stock, I was off to the sight in line. I was only a few clicks off, not too shabby considering the rig was last shot in 85degree California heat. I took about 15 shots at a few targets between 10 and 55, then proceeded to practice kneeling/offhand (without actual cocking/shooting, just brushing the trigger back). All that concentration worked up an appetite. Operation Crab Cake was about to commence!

A few of us go out to a restaurant for dinner. We had some salmon, seafood fettuccine and lamb (but no crab cakes. They weren't on the menu) Guy Omictin told us his experience along with Rick Lake in developing the FWB P70 for use in FT competition. After dinner, it's time to rest up. The 20-30mph gust forecast was very real, and we wanted to be mentally prepared to face it!

Saturday A.M. The club parking lot and sight-in ranges are buzzing with activity as shooters from 21 US states, a Canadian Team (CAFTA) and our sole overseas competitor Ian Harford (Wales, UK) went about preparing our gear for the day's match. It's worth mentioning that some of the Canadian shooters and Ian have just returned from the World's FT Match in Hungary, Budapest. Kudos to them for competing in that match as well as making it to our US Nationals!

AAFTA Chair & DIFTA Match Director, Joe McDaniel, calls for a Shooter's Meeting to address safety concerns, course of fire and last minute shooter concerns. Phil Dean goes over some administrative matters, and squad/lane assignments are handed out.

Today I'm paired up with longtime DIFTA club member, Ed Canoles (NC). Ed left his usual HFT Beeman R9 rig at home and decided to use his HW77 with Bushnell Elite 4200 4-16X40. We shot the new course (lanes 15-30) and had to encounter a tricky wind to shoot: a gusty headwind (at the lower lanes) which progressed to an off center headwind (middle lanes), and a nearly 90degree crosswind (higher lanes). Not to mention between 35& 45 yards there was a bit of ravine that ran parallel to our firing line. Wind will concentrate and channel through faster in such places, so we definitely had to think our shots through. Ed made some amazing shots, and is one fine HFT competitor with his springer! I snapped a photo of Ed's rifle and bipod leaned against a tree-it struck me as iconic.

We had a grand time, and kept a nice banter going until the end of the match.

Close by are HFT shooters Bill Price (VA) and Jerry LaRocca (NY):

Current MA State Piston Champion Matt Bracket along with Bill Day (Hunter FT Champ) scoring long time FT veteran Clifford Smith (FL)

Kevin Yee (CA) addressing a target.

The cordial Piston class competitor Hector Medina (CT) scoring Veronica Ruf (CT):

A WFTF Piston conglomerate consisting of Leo Duran (TX), Don Carkhuff (IL) and Keith Knoblauch (MD):

Four time National Piston Champion, GOB Match Director, host of the 2007 Worlds FT Match, and soon to be host of 2011 AAFTA National, Roz Sumpter (TN) on left scoring Keith Knoblauch.

Two-thirds of the A-Team, Laura and Ray Appeles (NY) along with Guy Omictin.

Guy O, on process # 7 of his Shot List in Target Acquisition:

Nearing Shot Completion, approaching process# 9 (notice the trademark mechanical 'hunkering down'). Targets begin falling any second now 'wink.gif

A-Team Ray and Jeff Paddock (OH), talking about what WFTF shooters talk about (20-30 mph gusts and their predicted effect on lead airgun projectiles)

Michael Malinconico (NY) & Mathew Rushton (AL) passing by Vipha Miller's (CA) lane.

With the day's shooting over, now's a good time to catch up with fellow shooters to see how they fared and share some highlights. Doug Vinson (GA) had a spectacular day in the wind with his Ripley. Needless to say he had to compensate even for the close targets in order to score his hits!

The Crosman Tent is up, Dick Otten's targets are up for display/sale, the Auction table is set, and I can smell what the DIFTA club is cooking. While eating I got a chance to meet some fine DIFTA shooters such as Rex Aurelius Gori and Thomas Jones. The chow hit the spot, the beverages were ice cold and the company was excellent!

Crosman Tent

Satisfied shooters

The day's match is over and I'm content with a full belly. What's left to do? You guessed it my spring-gun brother Doug Burke, back to the range for some more sightin in!

A few of us are there under the forest canopy, shooting at some targets and enjoying each other's company. Rick Knowles (WA), a WFTF PCP competitor and I got to talking about the stuff that blows are pellets in all directions and practiced our kneeling/offhand positions a bit more (simulated firing only). Day turns to evening and the famous Maryland crab cakes are still dancing in my head. Maybe I'll have them for dinnerNot!

A few of us meet for dinner at Roppongi's, a small, quaint, family style Japanese restaurant. We enjoyed good conversation and excellent food, and for all of us it will be a night to remember! In that historical dinner that occurred on the 16th of October, between the hours of 8:00 pm and 10:00 pm in the town of Fredrick, MD, the integrants may have discovered the ultimate in pre-Nationals match Field Target nutrition.

I'll take the liberty to dub it the "Four Japanese S's", being, in order of importance: 1) Sake 2) Sushi 3) Seaweed 4) Soybeans.

Three people present in that wonderful feast would emerge as National Champions! The raw-fish of champions consisted of eel (as savory as any scale less fish could be) and salmon (buttery!). The Great State of Maryland's luckiest Sushi Boat:

Sunday arrives and we're busily packing away our gear. Hotel checkout and breakfast were finished in record time. After a mandatory stop at Starbucks for their accuracy enhancing java, it's back to the sight-in range. After a brief sight-in period, Joe McDaniel calls for a Shooter's Meeting. Squad partners and lane assignments are handed out. Today I'm paired up with HFT shooter David Galyen (IL) and Piston shooter Abe Diaz (VA). David, who came up to MD with his shooting buddy Edward Stack "Big Ed" is legally blind but does not let that interfere with his love of airgunning. We were stoked to see him knock down some targets, as well as try a kneeling shot for the first time ever on the course. Inspirational!

Abe has been away from the FT scene for a while, but since this year's NATS was practically in his backyard he decided he'd participate. And we're glad he did! Abe is one heck of a piston shooter- he began the first few lanes clean, and made the positionals look easy. A tough act to follow! In the first few lanes I was already down a couple shots, so I definitely had to get in the 'zone' and remain focused to keep up.

Diablo R&G Club FT shoot flashbackLast year, while trying to address a target with the sun in my eye, my squad partner Paul Booker slapped his hat on me and said "That'll keep the sun out of your eyes". Well, while on the early lanes of the course (lanes 1-15) I noticed the sun in his eye, reflecting strongly in his ocular lens, so I handed him my hat and said "That'll keep the sun out of your eyes". It was a good, sportsmanlike gesture that we repeated throughout the day.

In the near vicinity are Al Otter (MD) & Leo Duran:

Kevin Yee, Joe Erler (VA) and Ron Zeman (FL) of Desoto Airgunners:

Last year, at my first NATS I had the pleasure of shooting with Ron Zeman and his trusty TX200 SR, so it was great to see him again. My very tall buddy Ron and myself:

George Harde (Ontario, Canada):

Hector Medina, Veronica Ruf, and Andrew Stephens (VA) on lane 15th .

Today the wind was mild, but would pick up enough to where we had to pay close attention. Beyond lane 15 is an open field, and I wanted to see just where all that wind was coming from yesterday. Harold Rushton posted a short video of the wind conditions on Saturday, here's what it looked like on Sunday (milder)

Short video on youtube:

Finished with the course, we head back to eat, but before, some of us take one last look at Dick Otten's wares!

Here's Harold The Champ Rushton and son Matthew:

And the Maestro of Whiscombe Harmonics, Piston Champion Ken Hughes:

2nd floor of Clubhouse, kitchen / dining Hall:

I had to rush out to the airport, missing the shoot-offs and awards, but I would hear some good news minutes before boarding the plane. Guy O tells me that Team California (Doug Miller & Vipha Miller, Guy O and myself) won 1st place! Tim McMurray had approached me on Saturday morning before the Shooter's Meeting and says "We need to have a springer on our team". I told him I'd do it, he gets the green light from Team Captain Vipha, and tells me I'm on.

Well, after Saturday's match Tim asks me how did I do.
"39" I say.
"Not bad. Do better tomorrow." He says.
You better believe those last three words of his carried some weight!

I gave it my all on Sunday and was able to shoot a 51/60. Big shout out to Tim McMurray & Vipha for believing in the springer! My overall score secured 1st Place in WFTF Piston Division, so I was extremely happy about that, too!

It was a fantastic experience at the 2010 AAFTA Nationals in MD. Joe McDaniel, Phil Dean, along with the help of Laura Appeles, Paolo Amedeo and countless others ran a fine event. Thanks for all your hard work! Several sponsors showed their support for AAFTA through their donations (see AAFTA match report for a comprehensive list.

In closing, if you have a friend or family member that enjoys airguns and the shooting sports, definitely encourage him or her to come check out a Field Target event. Let's all do what we can to promote our hobby/passion with others!

Until the next match...

Thanks for reading!

Jonathan Reyes