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Southern Open match report

The preparations for the match started months ago, targets cleaned/adjusted/painted, course design, catering and logistics all have to be taken care of. Then your worst nightmare looms large on the horizon, a very large chance of a rain out!!! NO!!! Not a rain out! After all the planning, hard work, worrying it's not fair for it to end that way.

For well over a week prior to the match the forecast called for rain in varying percentages on Sunday. We watched and prayed they got it wrong but as the match got closer the chances went up! After discussions with the AAFTA BoG it was decided to run both matches on Saturday. It was Plan B but it was the only option that made sense.

Friday morning: Friday was the day for sight in, catching up with friends from around the country and the pistol field target match. The warm sunny day was ideal. The sight in range was busy all day, lead was flying as well as catching up with shooting buddies and making new ones. Ron Brown, Paul Porch and Bob Dye coordinated to run the pistol match. Bob Dye designed the course, Ron Brown cleared and set up lanes, Paul Porch brought his beautiful targets from NC (almost too beautiful to shoot at). Eighteen shooters signed up for the pistol match, which out of forty total was a great success! The 40 shot course was challenging without being overly difficult, lighting and terrain added to the fun.

The Hunter Pistol class top honors go to Mike Niksch 37/40, Mike Schultz 36/40, and Steve English 32/40. Limited Pistol class top honors go to Tyler Patner 35/40, Chris Corey 30/40, and a tie for third between Chris Berry and Jeff Paddock 28/40. A huge thank you to all that participated in the pistol match.

Friday night as we checked the weather forecast for Saturday we got the shocking news that now the bad weather was coming up faster, it might be here by noon on Saturday!! We watched it during the wee hours of the morning and looked at other options but decided to get the match started early and try to get it done before the rain set in.

Saturday morning: Shooters were on the practice range waiting for the 7am opening of the range, the sun was coming up over the trees with not a cloud in the sky as a gentle breeze blew keeping things cooled off for a bit. Pretty soon the firing line was full and the happy sounds of airguns popping mixed with friends discussing wind drift affecting pellets at 50 yards. This is the music of pre match mornings, good for our souls.

We held the shooters meeting at 8:30, consisting of the usual safety reminders, course layout notes, shooting order, etc... and a reminder that the bad weather was coming so we needed to keep moving along. We ran both courses of 13 lanes each for morning and afternoon matches which allowed us to run squads of two that really speeds things up. The upper Green course was set at a 33 Tdf (13 shots over 40yds, 7.63 SD) with several extreme down hill and up hill shots, long open wind affected shots and "interesting" kneeling and standing shots. The lower Red course was set at 32.6 Tdf (11 shots over 40yds, 8.55 SD), extreme uphill shots and open field shots into the shadows with more traditional kneeling and standing shots. Spreadsheets full of numbers don't do justice to the courses, with the foliage, terrain/topography, and scenery so many interesting lanes can be dreamed up, it never gets boring.

We are fortunate to have many top level shooters in all the classes attend the match, the scores reflect just how good they really are. We are also proud to have shooters who came great distances just to test their skills against the Heflin courses. They came from New York, Wisconsin, Ohio, Maryland, North Carolina, Florida, and Tennessee.

We got the morning match started early and everything seemed to go along quit well, a cold line or two for string issues, as the heat started to go up during the match the wind picked up too. By 11:45 we were done shooting and sitting down to a tasty lunch. The lunch menu was Beef Brisket, Shrimp & Grits, coleslaw, baked beans, rolls, and for dessert Pecan pie cobbler!! That was some really good food, a big thank you! To the caterers.

The top guys in the morning match were: WFTF PCP: Danny Ayers 48/52 Green course, Hunter PCP: Phil Eakley 46/52 Green course, Open PCP: Mike Vrendenburg 49/52 Red course, Hunter Piston: Thomas Wade 18/52 Red course, WFTF Piston: Brad Troyer 48/52!! Red course. Amazing shooting by all. Open pcp was very tight with several guys within striking range. Phil Eakley had a notable lead in Hunter pcp really good shooting. Brad Troyer was barely ahead of Rod Bradley both with incredible scores.

The afternoon match got underway around 1pm after another brief shooters meeting. Now we were racing the storms, the clouds started to blow across the sky and I know I did some serious praying for it to hold off just a little bit longer. The clouds brought dark shadows and more wind! It sure made things more interesting as the time passed, I think it was obvious that the rain was near and competitors finished up and headed for shelter to pack up gear before it hit. Mrs Brown was using her ATV cart to shuttle tired weary shooters back to their cars from the courses, many people were glad for the ride! A big thank you to the wonderful Mrs. Brown and her ATV!!! I heard she got a $10 tip from one grateful shooter.

After totaling score cards we had one shoot off for third place in Open pcp between Scott Allen and Mike Vredenburg. As we got ready for the shoot off the rain set in but glory be praised we were all in off the courses!! We made it!!! Mike prevailed over Scott in the shoot off to take third in Open pcp. Awards were handed out to the deserving winners, as follows:

Open Pcp:

1- Will Piatt 95/104

2- Chris Berry 93/104

3- Mike Vredenburg 90/104

Hunter piston:

1- Gabriel Sallusti 35/104

Hunter pcp:

1- Phil Eakley 91/104

2- Bob Dye 82/104

3- Mike Schultz 81/104

WFTF pcp:

1- Ken Hughes 95/104

2- Mike Niksch 94/104

3- Harold Rushton 92/104

WFTF Piston:

1- Brad Troyer 95/104 * This is AMAZING!!! Shooting. JMHO

It was a full day of competitive shooting in the heat, not as rough as last year by any means, and I think it went really well. I know I was tired when it was over but what great fun it is to have your buddies come shoot with you and enjoy themselves, doesn't get any better folks.

Thank you's go out to the city of Heflin for having the fore site to build such a great Airgun park, to the members of the Mt Cheaha Airgun club and Airgunning Atlanta club who worked hard as usual, the caterer for great food, Mrs Brown for lending us her ATV cart, and my wife Deborah for being such a huge help with keeping me sane and keeping up with all the information/administrative side of things. Without this huge support system it would not be possible to do these matches so thanks guys!!

We also want to thank everyone who came out to shoot with us, it is for all of you that we do the work and it's our pleasure to do it so we can enjoy each others company. We look forward to doing it again in the future.

Ken Hughes

Match Director Southern Open