The 2015 Western States match is done. It was the biggest Western States yet, with 103 cards shot over two days, encompassing pistol and rifle, with 50 individual shooters. It was also the toughest Western States yet. No one broke a 90% score in the rifle match.
We had a few first time shooters. We had lots of veteran shooters. We had our first pistol match as part of the new AAFTA Grand Prix series. We had a new East course with almost all new lanes. The first shot fired on those lanes was Saturday at the match. Weather was good though warmer then expected (mid 80's vs 70's). We had lots of camping at the range and the nights were pleasant. We had competitors from Southern California, Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and Arizona. We had sponsors that donated raffle prizes including an FX pump, a gun sock and hats from Airguns of Arizona. Pyramyd Air donated a Diana 34 rifle and t-shirts. A 4500psi SCBA tank was donated from MAC1 airguns. Every score card from Sunday's match was entered in the raffle.
Tim McMurray from MAC1 airguns competed in the match. Larry Piercy and Robert Buchanan from AOA brought there decked out airgun support van and also competed in the match. Thanks to those generous competitors and donators for making the Western States match complete.
Scott and I set up camp on Wednesday including 2 extra tents with blow up mattresses in case anyone else needed a shelter to sleep in. Scott S. and Jim C. graciously showed up on Thursday and helped level bricks and with any thing else that needed to be done, a big thanks to those skilled shooters. We setup the course, but left the string unwinding for Saturday morning. Friday night brought a local tri-tip, sausage, grilled sourdough bread dinner, and sided with "Dennison's" beans. This all prepped up and grilled to perfection by fellow San Luis Smallbore club members, Tim S. and Laura C. Tim is a huge contributor to the food portion of this event, and he is usually found next to the grill taste testing this fine art. People that arrived early were able to get set up, sighted in, and relax, by finishing the evening with dinner and drinks before the early Saturday morning jitters set in.
Starting off on Saturday, we introduced the new East course and shot the West course, variations of which are shot at our monthly public matches. Each course (East and West) contained 15 lanes with 2 targets and 2 shots taken on each for a total of 60 shots. This made for quite a long and grueling match in the heat. The match started at 9am and it wasn't long before competitors started utilizing the current and standing protest procedure which has been used the past 2 years.
This consisted of a competitor being able to request that a target be tested, and if it failed the 4 fpe pistol test, that it be replaced with currently 4fpe-able target. Many of the competitors (mostly 12fpe shooters), were able to find a total of 8 targets that did not successfully go down after they believed they hit it. Bob Sloan and I had our hands full, but it went smoothly. At any time and on any target a shooter may protest and request a test, but if the target proved functional by test, they no longer had that option the rest of the day. As there were quite a few "cold lines", most only lasted no longer than 1-2 minutes which is all that it took to test the target. Most targets that were protested on day 1 proved to be working. There were 61% more targets that passed the 4fpe test, than failed. That being said, I still believe that the 8 was far too many and unacceptable for future matches. Looking at the data and score cards from the match, had we used current guidelines for protests and card marking "p's" most of these targets would have been considered "fine". Many were happy with their protests and thanked me for testing the targets. Overall I'm happy with how this procedure went, and I have plans (aside from obviously better functioning targets) to streamline this approach to testing and replacing.
After competitors conquered the course by completing their 60 shots (or more with successful protests), they came back to the club house to enjoy some large fresh grilled burgers and chips. Getting in late and listening to all the chatter and laughter, all I could think about was filling my belly. I don't know if it was all the running around, but I can't remember having such a fresh juicy burger that tasted so good. Saturday evening brought a smoked turkey dinner, complete with garlic bread, beans and sausage appetizers! It was Frank Simon and wife Flo Simon, both San Luis Smallbore club members, who generously prepared the turkeys. I'm sure some admired his old military style jeep parked in front of the club house.
The pistol match happened just prior to dinner. This was setup and led by Lonnie Smith, who generously lent and set the splendid course over at the cowboy action range for us to enjoy. It was my first match using my new Crosman 1720T pistol. Not only was it challenging, but fun. Thank you Lonnie Smith and friends for rounding out the Western States and making pistol happen!
Sunday showed us a lot fewer cold lines and much fewer protests, but more equipment failures of other kinds. I saw more than a couple seasoned field target marksman have equipment failures either before or during the match that day, greatly increasing the difficulty of the course for them and their game. I was impressed that all the people with equipment failures persisted through day 2 and completed the course. The scores for both days reflected the windy conditions, with breezes and gusts from mostly 3 to 9 mph for the larger part of the competition. If you were still on the course past 1pm, you were really feeling the hurt by those 10-14mph gusts. I really gotta hand it to all the lower powered piston and WFTF shooters who braved this course. The smiling faces of the Brinkley boys and girls kept the day fresh. The Brinkley girls, while having to share Tasha's 13fpe rifle, due to another equipment failure with Ana's rig, still managed to knock out a whole slew of squirrels. I want to stress how difficult this course can be for those lower powered shooters. I've shot this course with both a piston gun and at 12fpe and wasn't able to manage anything close to a 19 fpe Marauder.
This match was a big build up of work and setup, but it came together after all. I was happy to see so many willing competitors offer help with multiple things during the match as everything helped make the overall event run smoothly. I'm happy to say the match is over. The top scorer's in their respective classes really need to pat themselves on the back for not only finishing, but giving the course a good beating. Afterall this is a game and meant to be enjoyed. We had juniors, ladies, seniors, and club members. We had all classes represented including freestyle. We had newbies alongside veterans. We had fun.Alan Harold Rule chart: