I decided to do something a little different for this regional, and elected to shoot the afternoon/morning sequence. Squading myself in squad 15, we all showed up at a casual 1115 on Saturday for the shooters meeting. As we were finishing, the skies began to speak to us and provide us with a gentle cooling rainfall.
That lasted about 20 minutes. Just enough time to make our way over to Stage 7, grab a raincoat and see that the morning squad before us was just getting started. The rain quickly turned into a prolonged deluge that came down for the next hour or so and by the time it was our turn to shoot…. the footing was interesting, with standing water in places (where you had to stop to shoot of course) and slippery soft mud in other places.
Stage 7 was an interesting stage that had a mirror image, left and right with a shotgun array at the farthest in area, a steel array a couple of feet behind that and finally two large steel plates at 40 yards. A good mix of steel, paper, and clays. Two 100 yard (?) plate racks were to be engaged with the rifle to start the event, followed by a 30 yard sprint to the primary shooting area. I had high hopes for this stage and could have achieved them…. if I had not strayed from my original plan and taken the long range plates with slugs instead of trying it with pistol. I wound up hitting 3 of the 4 required shots on that steel but it took much too long for me. Then another 15y pc of steel gave me some grief before I could finish up. All in all, I only left the one shot off the steel but I should have stuck with the slug plan and done better.
Stage 8 had the promise to be an awesome stage. Right up to the point where we tried to walk the path during the walkthrough. The stage ran to the left of a berm and over the edge of it. As a result, there was a right to left downward slope that was inches deep slippery mud, that you crossed as you had to take a clay on the left. You then had three shotgun arrays including a Texas Star before climbing to the first platform of a tower to do some moderate range (<220y) targets. I was first on this stage for the squad. Start the stage shoot all the pistol steel against the berm (10) proceed down range to the shotgun table, shoot the paper on the left behind the banner and drop the pistol in the dump bucket things were going awesome I hadn’t fallen and I was only partly wet…. except there were two additional paper targets on the right hidden behind a barricade before you reached the table that I blew past. Shotgun comes up, and I nail the first clay and then have to gingerly pick my way across the slope and take the rest of that clay array, feed the Mossberg and take the steel array. Things are going too well again… feed the Mossberg and then take the next steel array before the Texas Star…. I shoot the first steel that was positioned low, intending to move to the one behind it and slightly right, then the rest to the right. That first steel threw a wave of water over everything sight picture gone, plan gone bad transitions between targets now…. the normal things when you get a surprise like that. Finish things up, drop the shotgun head for the tower. Everything is wet, my shoes are muddy, and the tower was slick. Manage to slide my way up and get the rifle unslung, and managed to get through the long range targets without too much trouble. The transitions were rough and I was unhappy with a couple of make up shots but, those are all things to work on.
Oh my. Mandatory slug targets, flying birds and four inch mud. Just getting to the stage down the road in the mud was fatiguing. Of all the wet, squishy stages, I wish it had been dry for this one. Starting position was with the shotgun in the back of the SUV. Get the shotgun, move to the box engage the 70y slug poppers from the box. 8 clays to the left of the SUV by the box, 8 steel to the right of the SUV on the way to the poppers, steel plates, and aerials. Then a sprint to a mix of paper and steel, ending on 40 yd pistol steel. I was ecstatic I actually hit the slug targets. I have struggled with slugs but connected on these two with only one makeup shot. The clays and steel I worked through with alacrity. I missed the second bird on both poppers. Another area to work on, although these aerials were really low. Then it was off to more slippery races to get out to the rest of the array. I wound up struggling with the longer range pistol targets again and that seems to be the story of the match for me. All in all though I was pleased with my slow performance.
Shoot from a helicopter simulator then jump out and shoot some more, in a bay that allows you to shoot 360 degrees. What’s not to like? Thunderstorms.
This stage would have been AWESOME dry. As it was, I am glad it was the last stage of the day. The helicopter shots required you to manage your feet in an uncomfortable way shooting a lot of steel and paper scattered in about a 120 degree arc from your seated position. Fortunately it all went well, although more slowly than it should have (fog on the shooting glasses makes it hard to see) and I didn’t shoot the chopper as some did. Jump out, shoot the paper targets as planned and move on to the shotgun. So shotgun… 15 targets (steel) of which 12 are placed against a grey berm, and they are grey in color and it is the end of the day, and we are in a rain squall. I think I took some extra shots are at an empty target stand…but it was hard to tell. Moved over to the next array… load four birdshot, load four slugs… boom one steel boom boom boom boom four slug hits on paper (feeling good about slugs now) feed the Mossberg, shoot three more steel and then drop to a deep knee in three inches of muddy standing water to shoot the four steel under the barricade. Did I mention that it was raining? Super fun stage, I could have shot it better, I could have shot it differently but all things considered it was a lot of fun.
That wrapped up our day. Figuring that we started at 1115 and we finished around 1930 it made for a long day of alternating rain, thunder, heat and high humidity.