Monday, May 18, 2009

Paul Bunyan Championship Report

We couldn't have asked for a more pleasant day as far as the weather, partly cloudy and mid-seventies temperature. The drive from Whidbey Island to Puyallup and the Paul Bunyan Gun Club range was uneventful, and I even found all of the correct freeway exits and turns on the first try! There's one exit that's kinda tricky, but I think I've finally got that one dialed in.

The match format had been announced as man-on-man, and something along the lines of a falling plate match, but exactly what it would be wasn't going to be known by anyone by Will, the match director, until the morning of the match. It turned out to be four fairly small plates, on metal bases, set in a row on a horizontal 4x4. Between the two sets of targets perhaps six feet from the closest target, was a double small popper target. The popper was set up so the two poppers would fall over each other, and which ever one was on the bottom would determine the winner of the round.

Due to the seeding, I was matched up in the very first round against Scott. Yep, the same Scott who's been leaving me in amazement at some of the most recent steel matches. When the buzzer sounded Scott and I blazed away at the targets, but they wouldn't always go down when we hit them, so we both took a couple of extra shots to finally knock them over. I managed to get my popper down first, and it appeared I had won the round. The Match Director called for a re-shoot as the targets were too heavy for rimfire, and he changed the targets to some lighter metallic silhouette targets. Unfortunately for me, this time Scott got his popper on the ground ahead of me, and I moved to the loser's bracket. Although you always hate to lose, I was also happy to see Scott win, if that makes any sense!

Watching the other shooters, I could see there were a lot of really fast folks at the match, and I suspect most of the fast ones shoot falling plate matches regularly. I worked my way through the loser's bracket, winning a few rounds, and was finally starting to get the feel for the match. I was getting the first four in four fairly quick shots, but the popper was still taking a lot of time for me. If I could get on to the popper a little bit faster I might still stand a chance in the match. In the fourth or fifth round I got the first four targets quickly, and I could see I was perhaps a third of a second ahead. I decided to slow just a little bit and be sure of the popper. Bad decision! When you shoot as fast as you can go you often are pulling the trigger just a fraction of a second before you get the red dot onto the target. If you slow it down a bit, you have to wait for the dot to be ON the target or you will shoot just short of the target, and that's exactly what I did. By the time I got a second shot onto the popper the other guy had sneaked a shot in on his popper for the win. Both poppers were falling at the same time, but his was slightly ahead. Looking back, I can see that with over-laying poppers, since they often fall fairly slowly, you should shoot them all the way to the ground to get them down as quickly as possible. A quick third shot at the popper may have changed the result for me. Next time, I'll know better!!

Losing in the loser's bracket put me out of the match, but when the final results were figured out, I had managed to pull myself back up to sixth in the Open class. More importantly, I had a lot of fun shooting against a bunch of shooters that seem to be really good at this sort of a match.

After Open class they went into several other classes including Stock, Draw, Revolver, and carry gun. James, whom I've been shooting with the last few weeks , was on a mission today, and he was shooting some really fast runs with his revolvers. James ended up winning two of the classes. I don't remember how Scott did in the other classes, but he was having some ammunition problems and didn't always get the runs he was looking for. Mark, also an outstanding revolver shooter, had some great runs too, and was right on James heels. If James had bobbled even slightly, Mark would have got him. Between Scott, Mark, and James, you absolutely couldn't ask for a better bunch to shoot with, and as always, we had a great time at the match.

It seemed like the day went by to quickly, and it was time for the awards and prize table. I really like the way Will (kudos to Will, by the way, for a great job of setting up and running the match) distributed the prizes by drawing, rather than by finish position, so everyone got several trips to the prize table. I came away with a set of brass sorting pans, a tool head for my Dillon 550B reloading press, and a gun rug large enough for my 480 Ruger with the red dot sight on it. Everyone got lots of goodies, and a grand time was had by all.

I can hardly wait until next year's Championship match, and I WILL practice my double-taps!!



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