Saturday, March 25, 2006

North Whidbey Sportsman's Falling Plate Match

You all are going to have to help me out as bit on this particular post. You all have good imaginations, right? Super! You are going to have to imagine the pictures that WOULD have been with this post had some dummy not forgotten the camera! (razzen-frazzen-bazzennnn....)

Anyhow, imagine a pleasant sunny day, patches of blue sky, a gentle breeze, an outdoor gun range, a falling plate match, got it? Good!

I had never been to any of the matches held at the North Whidbey Sportsman's Assn. range, since they usually conflicted with my home club's shoots, or there was something else going on that day. Today I made it to my first ever NWSA shoot, and also it was my first ever falling plate match too, having never shot in one before.

The concept is simple. Six steel disks (10"?) mounted in a horizontal row, and each one hinged at the bottom so it could be knocked over when hit. An ingenious mechanism allowed for all of the plates to be set back upright by the pull of a rope.

Four distances were set up, 10, 15, 20, and 25 yards. Each shooter would shoot six shots at the plates in the time allowed at the first distance. Every shooter would shoot 3 times for a total of 18 shots.

Then the shooting station was moved back to the next distance, and three more strings of six shots were shot. Total shots fired was 18 at each distance times four distances, for 72 total shots. Scoring was one point per plate hit, so a perfect score would be 72.

To keep it from becoming a target shoot, you started in a "Low Ready" position, and had to get all shots in each string in either 6, 7 ,8 ,or 9 seconds. The farther the distance, the longer the time you had to get your shots off.

We had six or eight shooters from CWSA, and the rest were from the home club, so there were a lot of faces I didn't recognize. One of the best parts of matches like this is sitting back watching the other shooters and BS'ing with everyone! It's as much a social event as a shooting competition.

I entered both rimfire iron sight, and rimfire optical sight. Iron sight is always a struggle, and today was no exception. I changed glasses back and forth, trying to find a combination that would allow me at least a fuzzy view of the front sight and some idea where the plate was.

I managed to hit 45 out of the 72, which wasn't very good, but since there were only three iron sight rimfire shooters, I got a second place out of it.The winner, a local club shooter, scored 55 for the win.

Rimfire Optical Sight was a different matter. There's a magic that sometimes happens in a shooting match, and those of you who have had it happen will know exactly what I'm talking about. Your hand-eye coordination, your muscle memory, the setup you've got on the gun, it all comes together. Everything becomes smooth and automatic, it's almost like it goes on auto-pilot and you are just along for the ride.

When the buzzer sounds to commence firing, the gun rises automatically, the red dot moves over the first plate, and the gun fires, almost all by itself. The dot moves to the second plate, and it fires again, until all six shots had been fired. Incredible!

After the first 36 shots, my score was a perfect 36! Since my High Standard is sighted in for bowling pins at 25 feet, I have to remember to shoot lower and lower on the plate as the distance becomes farther. On plate number 37 I forgot to do that, and missed it.

I didn't miss another plate until the very last plate, plate number 72. No excuse, I had plenty of time left, but I rushed it, and missed the last plate. That gave me a final score of 70 out of 72! That was good enough to not only win the Rimfire Optical class, but it was also the overall top score for the day across all classes.

Every so often in a competitor's life a day "Goes Magic" on you. Today was one of those days!

What Fun!


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