Field Target just isn’t about shooting, the shooting part is simply the excuse to get outside. Being a dad means responsibility, discipline and sacrifice. It rules our world most of the time but every once in awhile I get the chance to simply be a boy again and my boy to be an inspiration. Our road trip to the Oregon State Field target match was one of those special times.
I was surprised and elated, ok, and a little apprehensive to find out my youngest son Andrew (10) wanted to go up to Oregon with me to shoot. Having never taken a road trip with me before I was eager to make a good impression and show him a good time. I also looked forward to the continuous parade of bubblegum top 10 music that my son was going to subject me to. I’ve always felt that people hook themselves with FT, it isn’t necessary to try to hard. Folks either had the competitive fire and that puzzle solving mentality or they didn’t. With that in mind I laid out a nice mix of activities with his interest in mind and thought I’d let him hook himself like a big ole trout.
Thursday 6/25 – One of the secrets to shooting FT is being prepared. Nobody likes missing targets you know you can hit so having a gun that is sighted in is critical. The day before departing I took the day off and parked myself on the range to sight in my sons gun. I had recently changed things on it for him so it needed a complete work up. I don’t do the chairgun/ballistics thing so I sat down and shot every yard till I reached 25 yards then went by 2s, then finally by 5 yard increments when my scopes ability to range finding disappeared. Now that I had a sufficiently sore back I was all ready to listen to my kid sing along to that trash they call music for 5 hours in my bouncy truck.
Friday 6/26 – Our trip up the coast was uneventful we stopped by the Headwaters of the Sacramento River and gawked at all the hippies getting their magical medicinal water. We then had that father-son talk about zombies and their link to waterborne pathogens eg Cryptosporidium parvum, Giardia lamblia. Confident i scared my child sufficiently i know he’ll boil his water if he ever becomes a hippie. Can’t wait to talk to him about girls and STD’s. It was just a little payback for having to listening to “Worth It” by Fifth Harmony over and over again; based on their lyrics they seem to think a lot of themselves.
We arrived at Wacky Wayne’s in the heat of the afternoon it was showing 104f on my weather doohickey. We were in the grips of a pretty substantial heat wave in the west but despite the heat I feel it’s important to check your scope “dope” whenever you go to a new venue. The elevation and weather changes often have an effect on your gun, and if you shoot a springer it’s often dramatic. I also wanted Andrew to get some practice in as he had never shot the reconfigured gun before or at any targets outside of the garage. Andrew initially struggled with the harness being too tight and the configuration of the gun. But he soon found his groove, seemed to hit stuff most of the time and we progressively worked our way up to further and further targets. Eventually the scope became so hot that my sidewheel broke free and spun round n round as the sleeve retainer glue i used liquified. I placed the wheel where i thought it might go and put the gun in the shade to cool and wished the glue would harden again. I haven’t quite figured out why in FT something is always breaking and why it tends to be during a match. Luckily it really wouldn’t matter. Andrew was going to shoot “Freestyle” where a laser range finder was legal. This new freestyle class isn’t really an “accredited” class its a western concoction where you can use any gun, any scope or any aid. If you could drag around a bench from target to target it would be legal; I think it’s perfect for little kids.
Saturday 6/27 – Match day one. Having got a nice nights rest in my plush air conditioned motel versus sleeping on the concrete like those “camping” I felt great and didn’t feel even the least bit guilty. Double espresso in hand we went off to check our guns zero and warm up. Andrew picked up where he left off killing the 1” circles but I on the other hand almost immediately noticed my scope was now on the fritz, my side wheel was wobbling from side to side with alot of backlash. Its mounting point had broken loose!! I’m guessing the heat melted the locktite on the securing set screws. I was going to have to remove the side wheel completely to tighten up the screws and it was guaranteed that it wasn’t going back on in the same spot. This would destroy my rangefinding and consequently all my clicks would be off. I hate Karma. I guess i should’ve been more sympathetic to those campers.
Wacky Wayne is always doing something wacky. This match was 1 shot per target with 3 targets per lane and there was 17 lanes. For those not accustomed to this it tends to make for a long tiring match as you have often have to reposition and RF for that 3rd target and march all over the place to those extra lanes. Each target (IIRC unpainted and shot up) is in a wooden box and every lane is pretty much right next to the other so it can get pretty confusing out there. The box is painted green but not always, I’m sure there is some type of method to the madness but i haven’t figured it out yet. The strings look like a giant spiders web and tend to go all over the place so youre always checking to see what your true target is and that the string isn’t bound up. This course was mostly small tiny kz’s everywhere. I’m told the Troyer rating was 30T and the average KZ 1” @25yards but i think someone ran a special on ½” targets and Wayne bought em all up and dropped them everywhere. With the heat messing with everyone’s scope and changing their dope, it was pucker-up ally.
I asked to be squadded with my son. He isn’t very used to a scope and lining up the gun barrel, scope and target isn’t easy for someone new and with 3 targets per lane it was going to be bad. We used 20x and on occasion dropped it to 10x so he could find his target. Which the 100f heat and inevitable frustration from the tiny kz’s I let my son know that he didn’t have to finish, we could stop whenever he wanted, it was his vacation too and there was a nice pool waiting for him back at the motel.
I shot first to show him it wasn’t any big thing unfortunately the first lane was on an ant hill and they weren’t very happy I decided to sit on them. As Andrew knocked off the ants while I shot, I thought better of having him start on this particular lane. I’d let a few other fat butts clear the lane first. Andrew started out 2 for 3 and then started cleaning lanes. Every once in awhile he’d shoot the wrong target but most of his misses he’d say he didn’t mean to fire and for me to make the trigger heavier. I spent years getting that trigger where it is, I should’ve gave him a Gamo. I on the other hand dropped easy ones here and there. Sometimes my position would slip, sometimes I held for wind that stopped, sometimes i just plain ole missed. At the end of the day Andrew shot a 40/52 and kept it close all day long. We ended the day with Zoey’s natural ice cream, street tacos and a cushy air conditioned room.
Sunday 6/27 – Day 2 We squadded with Jeff Carmello on the second day. Since I still needed to help Andrew I shot first, then Jeff and last Andrew. We made good time and my fears of everyone backing up behind us proved to be unfounded. Jeff was absolutely crushing the targets, i’m not sure how he RF’d the farther targets but he did and didn’t miss any. I was impressed. The course had a couple of new lanes and a few choice targets. The one that got my goat was a target down in a ravine, because I have a low shooting position I couldn’t properly shoot over the hill’s edge and my pellet hit the dirt a few feet in front of me. The KZ was small enough for me to doubt my kneeling skills to take it, though I wish I had tried.
We ran into some of the Diablo FT crew and most had broad smiles on their faces. Riz was down only 2, Son Lu 4, Gabriel 5 etc. They all seemed to be enjoying Sunday more than the previous day. Everyone likes it when targets fall. I on the other hand was worried i’d lose to my son. My fragile world would end and i’d never hear the end of it; My 10 year old offering me shooting advice.
On our trip we saw a Salmon, Sturgeon and Steelhead hatchery; Schemed about how we were coming back at night with fishing poles in hand. We went splunking, saw some very cool caves and added a few rocks to his “prized” rock collection. We both then stood on top of the tenth most dangerous Volcano in the US then called mom and told her about it. Only approx 3300 more years till it erupts again – Crater Lake.
After it was all done. Riz took first in Open PCP with a 95/102, Son took WFTF PCP 92/102, Lonnie took Hunter PCP 90/102, I barely escaped in Piston class 92/102. Freestyle’s high score was Alan Hull with a 100/102. Andrew shot a 80/102 He finished the whole match, didn’t whine or complain (unlike me) and I couldn’t be prouder. He ended the day saying he wants to shoot like me in WFTF or Open; I told him he might be making some new enemies. He smiled.