Puyallup Steel Report
Last Sunday Keewee and I drove to Puyallup, roughly two hours travel time, to the Paul Bunyan Club's steel match. The weather was absolutely fantastic for February, with blue sky and pleasant temperatures. There was a bit of frost on the ground early, but once the sun came out it warmed up nicely.
The good weather brought out the fair weather shooters too, so the attendance was good. John and Debbie were there from KRRC. James and Scott, two absolutely amazing revolver shooters were there, and as we usually do James, Scott, and I were on the same squad. We always try to get squadded together as we have so much fun picking on each other all day! Today was no exception. Our times are usually pretty close, but to be fair, they are shooting centerfire revolvers and I'm shooting an open class rimfire race gun. I keep reminding them that they are both thirty or forty years younger than I am, though, but they don't give me any slack, regardless.
For not having shot since last Summer, KeeWee shot amazingly well. My main High Standard race gun gave me a bit of trouble, though. The trigger bar was hanging up a bit and not always grabbing the sear, so when I pulled the trigger noting would happen. I made a quick trip to the safety area and cleaned under the trigger bar, and also increased the "Grasshopper Spring" tension a little, and the gun ran fine the rest of the day. This week I'll give it a much more thorough going over, as I suspect the trigger bar might be developing a small burr that needs to be polished off.
Throughout the day Scott had been running sub-totals on the scores, and between the three of us it all boiled down to the final stage. It was five large 18" by 24" plates side by side, but varying a bit it distance off the ground. After both Scott and James shot the stage, Scott had just barely edged James for total score. It was within a second between them, if I remember correctly. I was the last of the three of us to shoot, and Scott figured that I needed to average 1.98 seconds per shot string for four of the five runs to edge Scott's time. Of course, both Scott and James were all over me on that. Pressure? What pressure? They reminded me that if I failed I would have been beaten by a couple of old antique revolvers! Scott's revolver, a S&W 627, I think, is hardly an antique, but they certainly didn't want to ruin their trash talking with the facts!
Any sub two second run is a special run for me, but to put together four runs out of five, all sub two, would be quite a challenge! I've been experimenting with a slight change in my grip for situations like this, where I can trade off a little accuracy for a little bit more speed. This looked like a good time to give it a try, although I'd never tried it in a match before. On an extremely fast stage like this one, the time to get the first shot off is critical, as it can be a big chunk of your time. You have to start raising the gun on the "Front" of the buzzer's buzz, and try to get the shot low on the first plate, thus not wasting time raising the gun any higher than necessary.
I tried to put all of the"Thinking" part of the stage out of my mind and let muscle memory do its job. I had the shot sequence fixed in my mind. The far right hand plate was quite a bit lower than the far left hand plate, so it would be a quicker first shot. The buzzer sounded, and I managed to keep all five shots on the plates. "One point six six" the timer announced. Faster than I had wanted to go, and faster is usually riskier. Do I want to slow it down a bit and be a bit more certain of the accuracy? The first run had felt pretty smooth, so I decided to not change anything except to work on the time to the first shot a bit. "One point five six" the timer announced following the second run. The second run felt a little less smooth, but not too much so. I decided not to change anything for the third run, but work a little on being smoother. "One point five two!" he called. I now had three good runs on the books, it was time to take a safe one and be sure. After all, any sort of a gun malfunction or a miss could change things totally. My fourth run came in at 1.88 seconds, still pretty fast for me! I finished up with a 1.68, if I remember correctly.
What a fun stage! I love it when you do your homework, practice the stuff you need to practice, pick the right approach to the stage, the gun runs flawlessly, and then it all comes together for you. The 1.52 is an all time personal best on five separate targets.
After the match John, James, Debbie, KeeWee and I all headed over to the Hangar Restaurant at nearby Thun Field.Not only are their hamburgers delicious, it's right next to the light aircraft gas pumps and in a good position to watch the planes landing and taking off. In addition to the more common general aviation planes, we saw a Kitfox, a Stearman, an assortment of RV's, and other homebuilts coming and going.
After a good lunch and conversation, it was back on the road to head back to Whidbey. Once back on the Island, we stopped at the DQ for some ice cream for desert.
We had a good day!