The Extreme Benchrest competition for 2017, sponsored by AofA, is now in the history books. Held October 12th – 16th at the Rio Salado Sportsmen’s Club facilities in Mesa, Arizona, this is the third year at this venue and the largest one so far with over 150 competitors coming from 9 different countries and all over the U.S. to compete.
Begun 7 years ago as a natural offshoot of the powder-actuated discipline, the EBR has blossomed under the guidance of Robert Buchanan and his incredibly hard working group at Airguns of Arizona. The move to R.S.S.C. 3 years ago signaled an expansion to a larger venue that would serve the event well. As the Host Club for this event, the R.S.S.C. runs the Indoor 10-meter air pistol event in an air conditioned building equipped with 8, 10-meter lanes and an electronic scoring system. The airgun division of R.S.S.C. is the fastest growing arm of the 6000+ member organization.
The 4 days of competition consisted of an American Field Target shoot, 25-meter event – including a Springer Class component, Speed Silhouette shooting at proportionally reduced metal animals set up at 4 different ranges, a Big Bore Benchrest/Steel Challenge 200 Yard event for airguns up to .34 caliber and another for over .35 caliber, the 75 Yard Extreme Benchrest and the 100 Yard Extreme Benchrest finals. Sportsmen’s and Pro Class divisions shot in the EBR and there was an Open Class for one of the Speed Silhouette events. In all but the Big Bore Benchrest/Steel Challenge, any pellet airgun up to .35 caliber may be used with almost all competitors using PCPs and .22 to .30 caliber being the most common. Manufacturer’s guns on the line consisted of various models from: FX Airguns, Crosman, Air Arms, RAW and Daystate plus a few others. Only mass-produced pellets may be used, no slugs or cast bullets; and there are no weight or power restrictions on the airguns. The exception is the Big Bore/Steel Challenge event which requires the use of cast bullets/slugs. The youngest competitor was a young man that appeared to be about 7 or 8 years old. The youth are the future of our sport/hobby and the ones who will carry the torch to keep our firearms heritage intact. They deserve our support and it was encouraging to see the young shooters on the line during the competition. Notable names from the airgunning world in attendance were: Fred Axelsson, owner of FX Airguns, Ted Bier of Ted’s Holdover — a regular competitor at the EBR and winner of the top honor last year, Steve Archer of Hard Air Magazine as well as Giles Barry of The Airgun Gear YouTube channel and Andrew Huggett of Huggett Precision Products (Suppressors).
All prizes and medals were awarded at a banquet held on Sunday afternoon with the top Pro Class shooter bringing home a cool $5000.00 for his efforts. Additionally, raffle prizes were drawn after the luncheon with an estimated value of the combined goods totaling over $25,000. Sales of raffle tickets help to support next year’s EBR.
Everything ran like clockwork, a testament to the year of hard work that occurred since the last EBR. Safety was the primary consideration and I never saw so much as a cut finger. Shade tents were available and water provided, as well as several Omega air tanks behind the firing line for free refills. The Precision Airguns van was there offering competitor’s emergency mechanical help on their guns.
Shooting, auctions, raffles, shooting, prize money, comradery, shooting, good food, old friends and meeting new ones, and more shooting. Do these guys at AofA know how to have a good time? You bet!
For results of the 2017 competition or for information about next year’s EBR – when it becomes available, navigate to www.extremebenchrest.com. Additional details are available from the folks at www.airgunsofarizona.com.