The 2014 Western States Field Target Championships were held by the Morro Bay Airgunners at the SLSBA range on the 16th and 17th of August, 2014. Typical (near perfect) California Central Coast weather with temperatures in the mid 70's for most of the match.
One goal for this year was to minimize target problems. For this year, both courses were 100% Gamo targets. They are inexpensive. They can work reliably with low power hits. They hold up fine with a couple of modifications, and regular servicing. We use mostly the ubiquitous squirrel, but also a fair number of rabbits, chickens, pigs, turkeys, and rams. We weld flat washers on each removable reducer and use that to secure the reducer to the faceplate. Any bad spring clip retainers are replaced with screws and nylock nuts. The open link chains were all replaced with closed link chains. Bad key-ring loops are replaced before each match. They do get shot up. The targets were all serviced and painted before this match. Cinder blocks were placed and leveled according to the course plan. On Thursday before the match, the targets were clamped in place using a pair of spring clamps on each target. The strings were attached and left under the faceplate with the target in the tripped position. We don't like to run the strings early as wild life traffic at night ends up dragging the string all over, and many of the strings get chewed up. Bob and I unwound the strings early Saturday morning before the match and pulled up each target. They were good to go. We had no chain hangups during the entire match. The only cold-line fix made during either day of shooting was when one string came untied from a pull chain.
The Gamo targets (especially those with squirrel faceplates) are susceptible to rattle downs. I don't worry too much about it. It happens sometimes, especially with a .22 caliber, but as a strategy, it won't get the shooter a high score.
The match consisted of an East facing course and a West facing course. Each with approximately the same overall difficulty, but each with a slightly different character. The difficulty charts do not include any subjective multipliers. There are a few angled shots but none that I would consider to be extreme up/down. All of the targets have sufficient light, though each course gets sunlight from opposite directions, which may or may not affect ranging. Wind is the only factor that would cause the difficulty rating to increase. There is one 2 inch target on each course placed in the lane with the most wind affect. I placed a wind meter near the refreshment canopy and monitored it throughout both days. We had unusually mild winds for the first hour or so on Saturday. During that period, there were 30 second periods of zero wind interspersed with light 3mph gusts. As the last shooters left the course on Saturday, the highest I ever saw on the meter was 13.7mph. Sunday was typical with 2-4mph winds early on and increasing to 6-12mph for the stragglers. The East course is set once a year, specifically for the Western States match. The first few lanes are over open fields but backed up by a raised road and a few trees that help to reduce the wind affect. The far lanes on the East course lies amongst a number of berms. The East course has a lot of small hit zones, but few far targets.
East Course: hit rate is for 44 counted cards (88 shots):
The West course is set mostly on lanes that are used for the monthly Morro Bay field target matches. We bypassed a couple of our regular lanes and added a couple of new lanes just for the Western States match. The lanes with the most wind affect are the far lanes (13, 14, and 15).West Course: hit rate is for 44 counted cards (88 shots):
We implemented a new protest procedure that would be fair and eliminate any after the fact score adjustments, with as little match disruption as possible. As described in the registration form:
Target Malfunction Procedures:
If a reset string breaks, call a marshal to repair it.
A shooter may lodge a protest if they feel a target failed to fall with a good hit. The procedure is as follows:
1. Immediately after finishing shooting a lane, the shooter must remain in place and protest if they feel that a target was malfunctioning.
2. Before proceeding, the other squad member calls a marshal who will shoot the target with a 4fpe pistol to check for proper function. The protestor may accompany the marshal during the test.
3. If the target does not fall from a clean test shot, the marshall will repair or replace with a comparable target and retest to satisfaction. Only the shooter in the box that protested may reshoot the target.
4. *If the target falls from a clean test shot, the competitor must move on.
Last resort - A target that cannot be repaired or replaced is removed from scoring for all shooters. It is crossed off the score cards. The announcement is made to all before shooting resumes.
*each competitor is allowed an unlimited number of protests as long as each protested target proves faulty. However, the competitor is only allowed one false alarm. After which, that competitor's protest privilege is suspended for the day.
The individual shooter makes the decision. We had several protests, but no failed targets. Each time, the targets passed the specified test and the match continued with no pulled targets. In general, the protesting shooters seemed satisfied with the test. I try to make it clear that even a functioning target can fail to fall with a good hit under certain conditions. Under this system, the protests are welcome as a way to catch potential problems and take care of them on the spot. Targets get fixed, not pulled, and no ones score gets changed after they leave the course.
I camped out at the range starting Wednesday night in order to start preperations and to be there when the out of town assistance was scheduled to arrive on Thursday. By Friday morning, everything was in place and competitors were rolling in. We had some fun shoots at the 100m rimfire silhouettes. Competitors got sighted in and we socialized and enjoyed a great tri-tip BBQ for dinner.
On Saturday, the Hunter and Freestyle shooters took over the West course and the Open and WFTF shooters took over the East course. Regardless of their scores, I saw lots of smiles as people enjoyed the great weather and great shooting. At the end of the day, Alan Harold Hull lead the West side with 56 points, followed a ways back by John LaPointe (53), and Jim Cyran (51). On the East side, it was Rizalde Marques and Doug Miller, each with 57 points, followed by Jim Whittlesey (55). There was a pack close behind the leaders - George Doganis, Tim McMurray, and Vipha Miller, each with 54 points. There was a lot of good competition shaping up for Sunday.
The final day usually has shooters squaded with their nearest competitors, often with each doing their best to move up to a top award spot. Real head to head competition. That's when it can be the most exciting. When you make or break in the last couple of shots. I got to participate vicariously as I witnesses the see-saw scoring by a number of the closely matched squads. Doug and Riz in an epic battle. Scott Schnieder and Art Burciaga also giving it their best. And many others.At the end of the match, the top three scorers for 2014 were:
It's interesting that out of all of the competitors for both 2013 and 2014, it's the same top three, just a different order of finish.
There was a lot of good shooting over the weekend. Check out the links to the results tables near the top of this page, and the picture links just below.Western States Championships Pictures by Scott Hull
We had over 60 people enjoying the weekend including 46 competitors, family, staff and guests. As usual, the Cowboy Action shooters made some of their facilities available and the hot showers were welcome after a hard day. Members of the SmallBore club donated their time to make sure that our needs were met. That effort, along with the generous donations by those attending, makes it all possible.
We are already making plans to improve things for the 2015 Western States Match. Mark your calenders for August 15th and 16th, 2015. That is the planned date for next year's big match. Look for the registration to be posted on this web site in January of 2015.Scott Hull