The 2016 Western States match is done. Early on this year, I knew we would be short handed as far as food prep. I decided not to push the registrations as much as in the past. With fewer registrations, I determined that we could get by with one course on Saturday and one on Sunday, rather than two courses each day. We had 35 competitors, on a single out and back course. It reduced the amount of walking and made the match that much "cozier", and less "grueling". Weather was pleasant both days as temperature was more typical of the coastal Morro Bay. Rather than the higher temps of the last few years, the fog hung up high for both days keeping temps in the 60's and 70's throughout the match. The fog burned off before noon on both days.
Last year, no one broke 90% in the scoring. This year we were required to have more far targets for AAFTA Grand Prix Compliance. Far targets can be the nemesis on this course when the wind picks up. I have shot a lot of FT courses throughout the country. Outside of the Temecula Challenge, this course can be the "trickiest" as far as wind velocity and direction changes. I purposely made the course with a Troyer difficulty as low as allowed. We had a good spread of distances. 60% full size targets and 40% reduced targets both days. The wind was mild in the early mornings and moderate later in the match. The targets worked very well. On Friday before the match, Lonnie Smith tested every target, in place, with a 3.5fpe pistol. One target was swapped out. Both individual and group protests were allowed. We had the test pistol handy but there were no calls to test during the match. We had only two brief cold lines to swap out targets that were looking suspicious through the scope. Those were swapped out before they gave any problems.
Saturday afternoon, we had a silhouette match as a side shoot. The hosting club for the Western States Field Target match (SLSBA - San Luis SmallBore Association) is primarily a silhouette club. So it seemed a fitting side shoot. Cash prizes were made available by Thomas Air. Mike Niksch from Thomas Air led off the competition with the high score but was not shooting for prizes. Scott Schneider was the $100 1st place winner, Chris Merrit for the $75 2nd prize, and Alan Harold for the $50 3rd prize.
After day 1 of the main Field Target event, there was a three way tie for the overall lead. Kelly Hawe, Alan Harold, and Doug Miller, each with 56/60. Mike Niksch (54/60) and John Knapp (53/60), were not far behind. And there were six others with 50 or better that could easily upset the leaders on day two. In the end, Kelly Hawe shot a 57/60 on day two to win overall with 113/120. Mike Niksch also shot a 57/60 on day two for second overall with 111/120. Third and forth were decided by shootoff between Alan Harold (3rd) and Doug Miller (4th). Jim Whittlesey's 55/60 on day two secured him the 5th place trophy.
There were good contests in the AAFTA Hunter Division. Jeff Carmello edged out Darren Taylor by 1 point in Hunter Piston, after being down by 1 point going into Sundays shoot. Lonnie Smith started down 3 points on John Knapp, and closed to within one point by the end of the match in Hunter PCP.
The pictorial link will give you a "feel" for the weekend.
Western States Championships Pictorial
Equipment rule chart (includes Freestyle)