I’ve been on the road the better part of a couple weeks now, first in Tokyo on business followed by a quick trip to Arizona to participate in the Extreme Benchrest competition sponsored by Airguns of Arizona, Daystate, and FX Airguns. Then back to (a frozen) Minneapolis. The jet lag, hours in the airport, frustration of using borrowed gear …… was it worth it? A loud an resounding yes!!
I go to several Airgun related events throughout the year, from competitions, to airgun shows, to hunts, to tests of new products….. and the EBR has become a high point in my year, for several reasons. First, it is a gathering of shooters from a wide geographic area; all over the States, Europe, South America and the rest of the world. Next the competition is at a high level, in the sportsman and pro classes with several events including benchrest, field target, and silhouette disciplines. There is a wide selection of guns from many manufacturers, along with modified and custom guns. And finally, it is just a lot of fun. I get to see friends from around the world that I don’t often get to catch up with.
I rented a car at the airport in Phoenix and drove down to Quail Creek south of Tucson. When I arrived on Friday afternoon, many shooters were already down at the range getting their guns and gear set up. Quail Creek has done a fine job on the design and build of their airgun range, with 20 well marked lanes and solid, ergonomic, and comfortable benches to shoot from. The range lanes go to 75 yards, with movable targets mounts. I checked in and caught up with the AOA guys and several other friends, then ran over to get set up in my weekend digs.
And our lodging for the event was an airgunners frat house! I was rooming with Ted Bier (Ted’s Holdover) and Gilles Barry (Airgun Gear Show) with Andrew Hugget a charter member staying in another house, but using ours as a staging area. Ted was the first to arrive, but kindly took the room with the small single beds figuring that Gilles and I would not fit. There were guys testing guns in the hall way, swapping stocks at the dining room table, pellets, scopes, and gun cases were piled randomly around the living room. It was a great setting, lots of interesting talk on guns, gear, the industry, YouTube, airgunning history and trivia, Ted’s always entertaining and Gilles just cracks me up …… but both really know their stuff!
Day 1 started with a 6:30 briefing session, to cover competition rules, safety rules, and general information. The first even was the 25M BR and my flight was shooting at noon, so I immediately went back to the house and back to bed for a quick nap, followed by breakfast, and was back on site by 10:30. Actually, I walked out of my room and directly into Gilles who was doing an Episode of :Airgunners Cribs” which you can see in the attached video here: http://youtu.be/2ivMXCRtW8A . The 25M was interesting to observe; with serious competitors shooting modified or custom rifles off custom rests, with weighed, washed and sized pellets. These guys showed me everything I was doing wrong….. I shot a borrowed rifle, with pellets I found stuffed into a gun case, rested on my backpack initially….. my results spoke to my preparation 🙂 . But no excuses (even though I’ve just presented every one I can think of), I shot my best and found that what would be 25 dead prairie dogs doesn’t cut it when shooting for scores!
The next event was the timed silhouette, which is the most exciting airgun competition I’ve seen. There were two groups, sportsman and pro, that shot three rounds with high score retained. Shane Keller was a machine with his single shot rifle clearing the targets in amazing times (you can see the guns and times in the results). I also watched a 12 year old shooting phenom named Noah from Texas. This young man was dead accurate and FAST…. he’s somebody to watch in future.
At the close of the day, there was a cocktail party for us all to get together and talk over the days events. Ross Marshal from Milbro served as master of ceremony, with Ted and I giving keynote talks, topics related to airgun hunting for me (no surprise there) with Ted presenting filming techniques and answering frequently asked questions from his YouTube channel. We all hung out and chatted afterwards, then joined up with Gilles, Andrew,Shane, Kip and several of the AOA gang at a Mexican restaurant for a well earned dinner.
Day 2 started off with the obligatory briefing (the range masters were outstanding by the way) and then to the 75 yard EBR. Lots of mid bores with the usual suspects in attendance, namely the FX Boss and Wolverine. But there were others of note; John Bergquist had a self built bottle fed Marauder .30 and there were a couple RAW 1000 HM’s on the line, again you can get the resdults here: http://youtu.be/2ivMXCRtW8A . A big congrats to Tim McMurray for winning the. Extreme Bench rest with his own USFT rifle.
If you didn’t make it this year, you really need to attend next years match. If you were at this event, I’d say there is a high likelihood you’ll be back next. For my part I am going to be ready, I will get my gear ready, pick the gun I intend to use, get a rest set up, and practice……. of course I say this every year and then don’t follow through. But that’s what is cool about EBR, you can be as serious (or not) about competing as you want to be, but just being a part of it is worth the trip!
After we wrapped up, I met up with Scott Dellinger and a couple other friends to shoot Eurasian doves….. but that’s for another post.