Hanna Field Target Club Match Summary July 1, 2012
There is a lot to say about this match that was our first attempt at hosting and also the first Field Target match we as a group have ever attempted to shoot in! It all started with a call from my brother George Harde in Ontario (George is one of the governors of CAFTA and currently top piston shooter in Canada) and an announcement that he had only the following week available this summer to fly to Alberta in order to act as Match Director. With absolutely no experience on our end, we knew we needed George for our first shoot so with just one weeks’ notice we decided to go ahead with a July 1st shoot. In order to understand a little history of our club and the urgency of this shoot I am going to take the liberty of backing up to last fall when George visited our farm in Alberta for the entire month of October. First of all, George has been talking Field Target for years but we didn’t really “get” the sport until he arrived with his TX 200 and we had a chance to take some shots. There is a huge feeling of satisfaction when you knock down your first target and you are completely hooked by the third knock down! During the course of his visit, George had us convinced not only to start up a FT club here in Hanna, but to join him the following summer at the World Field Target Competition is Ramsdal, Norway! For everyone who participates in this sport you can appreciate the fact that there is a pretty steep learning curve when first introduced to Field Target. By Christmas, my son Brian (17), daughter Nicole (15) and myself all had pretty sweet spring piston guns worthy of competition and visions of practicing all winter in our back yard. Oh dear! The reality sets in when it is minus 40 outside with gale force winds and blowing snow. Lesson # 1 – Field Target is not a winter sport in Canada. This spring we began to practice with greater diligence and learned Lesson # 2 – Targets don’t fall when they are tipped in an unnatural forward position and rusty after spending months outside on your “winter range”. This lesson was followed rapidly by Lesson # 3 – If you really want to know what your gun is doing (after missing like 50 shots on the knock down target) shoot on paper, paper, paper….. We exchanged countless phone calls with George as we puzzled our way through the complexities of FT and the requirements (insurance, waiver forms, targets etc.) to start up a club. Fast forward through hundreds of tips via phone conversations to the last week of June when George declared it was time for our first official match. I put the word out to the air gun community but had few expectations given the very short notice and the fact that our match fell on a long weekend with most people having made previous plans. Locally, we have tons of interest but most individuals currently shoot coyotes or deer (moose, geese) so we have an abundance of shotguns, 303’s and 22 rim fires and a shortage of air guns! We had acquired three piston “loaner” guns and ultimately matched shooters with the guns we had available. At one point we had 15 shooters coming but by the actual day of the shoot seven of these had cancelled. In the end we shot our first match with 8 competitors, 2 experts (George as Match Director and Robbie Stewert from Calgary who in the past was one of the top PCP shooters on the South African Team and has competed at the Worlds on numerous occasions), and some interested and potential FT enthusiasts who stopped by to watch and see what the sport is all about. We had a total of 12 lanes set up with 2 targets per lane/2 shots per target and an additional “lane 13” with one target/2 shots set about 15 feet up in a tree and shot from a standing position. George set up the course the day before the match and it had a Troyer difficulty rating of 25.4. What was not factored in until the next day was the wind which caused all kinds of havoc for us shooters. Adding the wind factor we adjusted the Troyer difficulty to 31.75 which changed our moderate course to one which could be considered fairly hard. Now would be the time to mention that in our family we like to practice in nice calm weather since we seem to knock down targets fairly consistently. Lesson # 354 – Field Target becomes a real sport (and challenge) when you are fighting the elements and have to calculate for wind, sun in your eyes, standing and kneeling positions, mosquitoes and a timer!!!! While this is old news for you FT pro’s it was an entirely new experience for us newbie’s! To summarize our shoot I would have to say we all had a fabulous experience and a ridiculously fun day! We ended our match with trophies for the top 3 shooters in the Piston Hunter Division and trophies for 1st and 2nd place in WFTF Piston. The highlight for all of us was when George signed our Certificate of Membership to CAFTA and the Hanna Field Target Club was finally official We ended the day with beef on a bun, lots of laughs and a commitment to see this sport grow. We all received a great number of pointers from both Robbie and George and can thank them for most of the shooting improvements we make in the future. Personally, the greatest lesson that I learned was if I wanted to get a hit I would have to be brave and get out of the kill zone when the wind blows! I forgot this over and over again during the match and now have that little chunk of wool at the end of my gun … I promise further reports from our club will not be so lengthy but I cannot end without thanking a few individuals on behalf of our club. When George arrived he brought 150 lbs. of targets out from Ontario, timers, clipboards, string and so much more including a wealth of knowledge. He worked non-stop for 6 days getting us set up and ready to function for the match and as a club. From the bottom of the heart THANK YOU George! If you have never seen a Dennis Leite target you are missing out big time!!! These are targets of the highest quality and workmanship you may ever see. Additionally, they have a cool factor about them that makes them soooo much fun to shoot. Thank you Dennis for allowing us to purchase 10 fabulous targets and if you have more ….. We were also very honoured that Robbie would make the drive from Calgary. We have high hopes that he will agree to be Match Director for future shoots and wish he would get his new PCP gun sooner than later! Robbie has become a great friend and we appreciate his willingness to coach and share his expertise with us. Finally, huge thanks to Tim who was firing off a lot of emails to me in order to provide us with score cards, attendance forms, charts and waivers etc. From my experience I have to say that when it comes to Field Target, Tim is one of the most helpful and knowledgeable individuals in Canada. A few of us are hoping to make the Nationals at the end of the month and it will be amazing to meet the Ontario shooters and CAFTA governors who have put so much effort and commitment into this amazing sport!