I’ve been looking forward to Round 2 of the Daystate Midlands Hunter Series all month, and it did not disappoint! A great course and strong turn out for the recoiling class, plus a surprising top scorer for the day.
As I was snoozing this morning I knew I had to be hearing things. That couldn’t be rain. The forecast had said sunny all week, even when I checked last night. So what could be outside sounding a lot like rain on my window?
Obviously it was rain. Big drops of miserable rain, falling from a miserable red looking sky. What’s the old saying, red sky in the morning, shepherds warning…
However I try not to be a fair weather shooter. As a wise man once said, it’s only water and we aren’t made of sugar. So we got the guns into their hard cases and started packing the car. (Side note here, since we started using hard cases in the car we very rarely have issues with shifting zero. That’s really helped give me confidence in my setup).
Lights and window wipers on, trying to keep a positive face on. At least it didn’t seem too windy yet….
Anyway 40 minutes later we passed the last little yellow triangle, and were headed up the track up to Zone HFT. The wipers had been off for the last half of the journey and rain clouds were making way for blue skies. Don’t know what I’d been worried about, the weatherman had come through for us!
It was already busy when we arrived, so the slightly damp start didn’t seem to have put anyone off. Quickly signed on, one green card for me (recoiling) and a white card for Laura (open class) and headed round to the zeroing range.
You might be starting to find out I’m a bit springer mad, so I was made up to see at least 3 other boingers on the zero range at the same time as me, and even more coming as I was leaving. Hopefully this continues for the rest of the series. I’m sure I’ll shoot a PCP in a competition one day, but that might be quite a long way off yet.
A bit of hanging around and chatting before the the safety brief, then trudged up to lane 22. The rain had stopped falling but it was still wet and muddy underfoot. Good job I remembered my boots this time.
For the first target, I was confident on the range and the wind wasn’t blowing enough to move the pellet too far. What should have been a case of lining up the crosshairs and dropping the target went a bit wrong though. As I squeezed the trigger, the recoil from my TX200 (although small) was just enough to make my hand slip down the peg slightly. I think I’m going to blame this on the gloves I wear. They are just fingerless knitted ones, and are perfect for letting the gun move around, but they don’t have much grip on the peg. This happened three times today, so next time I’ll have some new ones to try. Either way, the pellet hit at exactly 6 o’clock, but over a mil dot low.
That first lane was relatively flat. But then we moved up onto the railway embankment and found out what the course setters had planned for this end of the course. Lanes 23 to 29 were all aimed down the bank and into the adjacent valley. I reckon some of them must have been pointing 45 degrees down. Two targets I found particularly hard were small kill zones, maybe 15mm down the bank. The first I dropped low, on the lip at 6 o’clock. The second I had a bit more luck and the target flopped over fairly convincingly.
On the plus side I think I had a small advantage here. I never rest my butt pad on the ground, preferring instead to hold up the peg (common with a lot of springer shooters). A lot of PCP shooters prefer to rest their butt pad on the ground, but in this case they were forced to hold up the peg to get the angle right. I imagine this added an extra element of difficulty to the open class today.
The whole way up this stretch, I came across a whole new problem I hadn’t encountered before. My springer technique is a very light hold, with the gun just resting on my leading hand. It turns out that as you start pointing at extreme angles downhill, gravity takes hold and the gun starts to slowly slide forward out of reach of my trigger finger. The quick fix for this was to take my gloves off and hope there was enough friction from my skin to hold the gun in place. It kind of worked (for long enough to get the shot off) but it definitely wasn’t ideal. I don’t know what the long term solution for this will be, but I’ll write a ‘Shooting Springers’ post when I work it out!
Finished up the back end of the course with a solid 2 on peg 30 (supported standing) and then a long walk round to lane 1. What I hadn’t realised before was how much different this end would be. We went from a relatively calm breeze with crazy elevations, to an open gusty field. A new challenge, and one I struggled with. The wind was doing some strange things here, with some of the strings blowing in ‘S’ shapes, making it much harder to predict how the shot would react. I find the best approach here is to go with my instincts and hope for the best. Didn’t really work out this time around but I still had fun trying.
I don’t have much to say about the middle section of the course. I did best here, only dropping 2 points from lane 11 to 20. One forced a hold on the ‘wrong’ side of the peg. The other was a supprted stander that I pulled to the right. Maybe a moment of forgetfulness on my trigger technique. This section really rescued my score and put me within reach of my self imposed target of 50. I even knocked over the Mickey Mouse target on lane 20, which seemed to have caught a lot of people out, possibly as it was, again, forcing people to hold up the peg a bit.
Final lane I just lost concentration. Under ranged it and dropped the pellet a good way south of where it needed to be. Final tally was 49 and I’m very happy with that. There may have been one or two shots that I should have done better on, but overall not too shabby. Especially as this got me 3rd place in the Oddball class. Couldn’t be happier.
I was even more pleased when it came to the trophy’s at the end. Instead of the open class being awarded last, the oddball class was. Turns out the joint highest score of the day was Steve Whiting with his springer! I think everyone agrees this was top shooting. Take that PCP’s!
Congratulations also to Ethan Pantling topping the Juniors with the joint top score of 56. Kathy Thompson heading up the Open class with 55 and Tom Morgans taking top honours in the Veterans with 50.
Full results from today, plus the championship standings can be seen on the DMHS page HERE Or today’s top 3 results in each class are just below.
Round 3 is at Furnace Mill on the 3rd December. Another course I haven’t shot before, but really looking forward to it as I’ve only heard good things.
Final thanks to everyone who makes these events possible, course setters and marshals. And Dave for shooting with us today and putting up with my constant chatter. Hope it didn’t distract you too much!
Top 3 for each class:
1st Kathy Thompson 55
2nd Chris Pantling 54
3rd Mark Thompson 54
1st Tom Morgans 50
2nd Ian Hunter 48
3rd Rob Shepperson 48
1st Ethan Pantling 56
2nd Ewan Pantling 52
3rd Megan Reed 45
1st Steve Whiting 56
2nd Kev Gaunt 51
3rd Dan Gordon 49