Our travel to Prescott Arizona went just about exactly as planned. Our flight out of Seattle left right on time, and we qarrived in Phoenix a few minutes early. We picked up our Renta-Jeep at the airport, and the drive to Prescott even was uneventful. We even had our choice of three Jeep SUV's. The motel where we are staying has a Mexican restaurant attached, and we had dinner there on Wednesday night. Thursday we had quite a good buffet breakfast at the motel (included in the room charge). After breakfast we drove the roughly 25 minutes from Prescott out to the range.
We arrived just as they were getting the final settup completed for the first day's shooting. They were going to shoot their regular Thursday "Mini'Steel" match and also the first day of the three day Arizona State Steel Challenge Championships all on the same day. For Championship entrants entering three classes, they would shoot their first class on Thursday, their second class ofn Friday, and their third class on Saturday. If a Championship entrant was only shooting two classes, they would shoot on Friday and Saturday, and Championaship entrants only shooting one class would shoot their match on Saturday. Since KeeWee and I are both only entering one class, we will shoot the Championship on Saturday. That meqant that we could shoot the Thursday Mini-Match if we wanted to. COOL! Small problem, though. We only brought enough ammo for the main match, but not enough for two matches, even if one of them is a small one.
We had about an hour and a half until the shooter's meeting, so we decided to drive back into town and pick up some more. One of the guys at the range told us about J&G Sales in Prescott, so that's where we headed. J&G Sales is a little bit off the main road and it sits back aways from the street, but their sign was big enough tyhat we spotted the place and pulled in. Although it was just before Noon on a Thursday, their parking lot was almost full. When we entered the store it was quite busy, with a number of customers at the counter and several firearms sales underway. There appeared to be an excellent selection of hand guns and long guns in stock, although I didn;t have time to do any browsing on this visit. Looking behind the counter I saw what appeared to be and excellent selection of ammo, and few, if any, empty spaces on the shelves. Although there was a short wait to be helped, a very courteous young man waited on us, and even apologised for having to wait. I've been in gun shops that weren't at all busy and it still took much longer than that to even get an employee to help you! We were both impressed, to say the least! I picked out a brick of Federal for KeeWee, and 200 rounds of Eley Sport 40 gr. for myself. I haven't used much Eley Sport, but I ran a few hundrede rounds through my race gun a while back, and it seemed really similar to CCI Standard Velocity. Strangely, J&G Sales had no CCI on hand at all.
We quickly paid for our ammo and scurried back out to the range. We arrived just a few minutes before the shooter's meeting, so I had a few minutes to assemble the guns and get all of our gear sorted out for the match. The mini-match, or "Thursday Steel" as they call it, would be five stages of Steel Challenge, but only three runs on each stage, with one throw-our run per stage. It should go by qiuckly, but it would also be a good chance to get in a little shooting before the main match, so we could be sure everything was working as it should.
After we had everything ready to go we walked over to the covered area to sign up and for the shooter's meeting. I looked up from the signup sheet t osee a familiar face, but for just a second I was drawing a blank. ""I move 2,000 miles tp Prescott so I wouldn't have to shoot against you anymore, and you show up down here anyway!" he says jokingly! It was Jasn Schmaling whom I used to shoot against in the rimfire bowling pin matches in Custer, Washington, up near the Canadian border. Jan is a great guy and an excellent shooter, and I remember having some very close matches against him several years ago. It seems Jan moved to Prescott, and has been doing very well in the local matches. What a great surprise to run into Jan here in Prescott! We didn't get to squad with Jan on Thursday as he was shooting three classes in the Championships s ohe was in one of the Championship squads and we were in one of the Thursday Steel squads.
The Eley Sport ammo was a definite question mark for me, as ammunition definitely performs differently at altitude than it does at sea level.Most of the time I'm shooting within a few hundred feet of sea level, and the Prescott range is close to 6,000 feet. That's a big difference! Some powder produces higher energy at altitude, and some produces less. Why? Beats me, but it all depends on the individual powder.
One the very first shot string on the first stage the second round didn't feed properly. I cleared it, and finished the string, but the time was terrible, and I was wondering if this Eley was going to be a nightmare all day. The second string went fine, though. The third string I screwed up the time all by myself, and even with the throw out of the worst string, I had a lousy time for the first stage. The rest of the match everything ran perfectly, and in no time the match was over. I had managed a couple of decent stages, a couple of OK stages, and the first stage nightmare! Fortunately this was just a fun match, but it was a good tune-up. The light is very bright and there's a lot of glare, so it was good to shoot in those conditions a bit.
we loaded up our gear, and headed back to Prescott for dinner. We had heard there was a Golden Corral Buffet nearby, and we both like buffet dinners, so that's where we ate. After dinner it was back to the motel for a good night's sleep. When I got back to the motel I fired up the netbook, and the results from the Thursday Steel match were already on line. The guys at Prescott Action Shooters have definitely got it together!
Friday was planned to be a big day, starting out with a tour of the Ruger factory, followed with some sight-seeing. We also will need to get the race guns cleaned and checked over for the big match on Saturday.