I’m getting packed up and preparing to leave on an airgunning hog hunt down in Texas for a few days. It’s going to be a lot of fun, getting out in the field for a quarry and in a place where modern big bore airgun hunting really took off. Being out in the field, and hunting is one of the things that bring me a great deal of satisfaction and enjoyment.
I have to admit that I never had any great interest in competitive shooting; I have always been impressed with good shooting, but the type of methodical interest in the smallest of detail to wring the absolute best accuracy out of gun and ammo, never captured my interest. When I’d read my monthly subscriptions to the British airgun magazines, I’d absorb the hunting articles while glancing over the field target match reports.
But then about three years ago I attended EBR which was my first match (outside of the LASO big bore long range matches) that really focused on the discipline of target shooting. I smiled as I watched these guys pull out specialized rifles with heavy, angular, chunky stocks, placed in over engineered bench rest, set up timers and wind flags and at what seemed precisely timed intervals carefully squeeze of a shot. This was a million miles away from my typical shooting environment, but it held no strong appeal. I shot that first match with a borrowed gun I’d never touched before, and while the other guys on the line were letting off a shot a very minute, I sat down, threw the rifle over my camera bag and was done in about four minutes. Every shot a dead rabbit…. But a mediocre score that dropped me in the middle of the pack. Then I shot the timed silhouette and the fast paced action, and had a blast! Now this was an event I wanted to try again someday. Unfortunately that year I could only spend a day before having to return home for a family gathering.
But I thought to myself on leaving, next year I’m going to bring my own gun and really practice up! And I did…. That year I brought my FX Boss, sighted in and proven for the EBR and also brought my Huntsman Classic for a .22 for the other events. Misfortune snarled at me again, the wife of one of my staff (from my day job) decided to have a baby on Saturday morning, and I found myself on the way back to Minneapolis to pick up a suit and tie, before climbing on a later plane to fly to the east coast to cover a meeting for him….. no shooting that year!
So this year I was all set to come to play!! But shortly before the scheduled event I was called to our corporate headquarters to review my department’s performance: the good news was that our performance was very good and that I could still make the event. The bad news was the meeting was in Tokyo and I returned to Minneapolis the night before and had to leave early the next morning for Tucson. I was worn out and disinclined to lug my guns along, so once again shot borrowed guns …. And I shot horribly. But I still had a great time …. And that’s what I want to write about in this post!
Why would I kill myself to rush halfway around the world, say hi and goodbye to my family that I’d been away from for a week, to jump on another plane for a cross country flight? It’s because while I have a growing interest in the competition (and I swear next year I’ll be prepared J ) the Extreme Benchrest has become for me the ultimate airgunning event! There are great shooters, many very interesting guns, a lot of old and potential new friends, and no matter who you are a chance to learn and see something new. The fact that the heads of some of the finest airgun manufacturers in the world have a presence and are committed to the event provides an outstanding opportunity for airgunners to meet the guys that produce the guns and gear, and speak with them in a relaxed and open manner. The camaraderie is great as well: I know I’ll see my friends from Europe, south of the border, and from all over the country. The guys from AOA do a fantastic job of organizing and hosting the event, and I have some good friends in that group that are always fun to catch up with. The fantastic social gathering can’t be discounted, I think you’d have to work hard not to enjoy it!
The shooting events include the 25 Meter Benchrest, the 75 yard Extreme Benchrest, the Time Silohuette, Field Target disciplines, and pistol matches. There is something there for just about every shooter, and I will go into more detail on each event and the competitors in upcoming blog posts. I will tell you that after years of watching these serious shooters, I am motivated to take a more competitive view of the EBR in future, I was happy to be a spectator (and spectators are very welcome by the way). But when you see how focused and talented these guys are, you want to jump in and do your best. There are Sportsmen and Professional classes for the events, so newbie or very experienced there is a place for you.
So now I’m going back to packing for the Texas hunt in the morning, and will follow up with you later to share more experiences and observations about the EBR!