Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Spring Grand - Day 3

Breathing makes all the difference.

In case you didn't figure it out from the short post yesterday, I felt like crap. Up until today, it's been cold, windy, and cloudy all the time, so naturally I caught a cold. Monday night I went through an entire box of kleenex just trying to keep my sinuses clear enough to sleep. After dinner Tuesday night I gave up and went to town for some cold medicine. Two tablets of DayQuil washed down with three fingers of Jack Daniels put me to sleep just fine. This morning I felt a million percent better.

Today's events were doubles (two targets, not two shooters) in the morning and handicap in the afternoon. My starting bank for doubles was at the farthest point on the grounds from where I'm camped, so I wimped out and drove the truck. It was nice to drive instead of hike, but I could have done without knowing that it was 43 degrees outside. Sometimes the 'information center' gives you information you really don't want. Maybe I should get one of these:

The entire doubles event was a comedy of errors. There were quite a few cancellations, so squad 64 (my squad) was the third squad to shoot. Normally it would have been 90 minutes after the start of the event before we were up, but not today. The target thrower (or 'flinger' as SWMBO calls it) broke on the first pair of targets that it threw, so the first squad of the day moved to the next trap in line while the club mechanic fixed the broken machine. When our turn came up, we realized that we were short one person: our squad leader. We waited a few minutes and eventually he came hustling down the line. Everything went fine for the first 40 targets, and then we got out of synch. It was my turn to shoot and the person to my right shot at my targets, which made the person after him proceed to shoot. I called a cease fire and we started over again with my shots. Thank goodness I hit both of them.....

Our second doubles trap started out well, and then another (different) person on the squad shot out of turn. Most people don't watch the other shooters shoot.....they watch the targets and know that it's their turn by the voice of the person in front of them. All of our target calls sounded so similar that it really screwed everyone up. (Sidebar: very few people actually call for the target by saying "Pull" - any spoken word will trip the voice release, so everyone comes up with their own personal call. All of ours were close variations of "UP!")
After we got the shooting order sorted out again and were proceeding, a dog appeared on the firing line. It was a beautiful Golden Retriever, frantically looking for a bird to retrieve. The poor thing was desperately running up and down the firing line, obviously wanting someone to tell him to fetch. With all these guns going off, there MUST be a bird to fetch around here SOMEWHERE!! Everyone stopped while the embarassed owner got the dog's attention long enough to bring him to heel. As far as I know nobody was upset about it....we've all had dogs.

I ended up with a score of 96 out of 100, with all of the missed targets on the first trap.

In between events it was time to do some work on the trailer. The solar panels that charge the batteries were set up for a ground mount. This works fine camping in the boonies, but with trailers racked and stacked like they are here there just isn't enough sunshine at ground level to make everything work. I had maybe 1 hour of sunlight on the panels. They'll charge in any light, but a couple of cloudy days combined with the shadows resulted in very sub-standard charging. The batteries were only showing 11.9 volts this morning, so a new solar panel mount was in order. I re-wired everything from the charge controller on the panels to the battery connections using 4 gauge wire and moved the mount up to the top of the slide out by standing on the siderail of the truck bed and lifting everything into place. I would have liked to have the panels on the actual roof, but I couldn't reach that high. This increased the output of the panels considerably. Let there be light! More importantly, let there be an electric water pump so that I can bathe!
The afternoon handicap wasn't nearly as entertaining as the morning doubles. The usual Tucson afternoon wind came up just before we began to shoot. I managed to eke out a score of 91 and was very happy with it..........especially because I won $55. Not having to split the pot 20 ways would have made the payout over $1000, but once again: never bitch about a small pot.

It's time to cut this short. There's a beer calling my name............................

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Spring Grand - Day 2




Crappy light.

That pretty much sums up my day.

It actually went pretty well.......I broke 99/100 this morning in the singles event and 92/100 this afternoon in the handicap. The 99 was worth $14.50 in prize money after the 32 way split. As my Dad always said, "Never bitch about winning a small pot."

Monday, February 16, 2009

Spring Grand American - 2009

Hello all - It's February and that means it's time for the Spring Grand (or Spring Fling as my wife calls it) at the Tucson Trap & Skeet Club.

This is the largest trapshooting competition held in Arizona. I tried to reserve one of the 210 RV spaces in November of 2008 and couldn't.....they were all full. As a result, I'm camping in the "no electric" area with about 50 other people at the east end of the parking lot. There are water and sewer connections, but no power. I fell asleep to the soothing hum of generators last night.

My usual shooting partner was called away to Chatanooga on business, so I'll be alone until Friday when Greg and the kids come down from Phoenix. I drove the rig down Sunday afternoon and managed to get it backed in with the help of the gentleman in the RV parked behind me. The parking wasn't exactly graceful, but it wasn't too bad for my first time with a 5th wheel.

Here's home for the next week:

I thought I would be in good shape arriving on the Sunday before the competition began, but it was wall to wall RV's when I got here. As of Sunday afternoon, there were a total of 31 RV spaces empty out of the 210 improved and 50 kinda-improved spaces.

The view to the east:

The view to the west:

I thought that the F-350 was a pretty bitchin' tow rig until I ran into this guy:

But, like everything else, there's always someone with a bigger one:

There are usually 850 to 1000 competitors at this shoot, so of course there have to be vendors to cater to their shooting needs. Gunsmiths, stock makers, clothing, shooting "stuff", and, of course, guns for sale. All of the firearms dealers here are licensed dealers, which means that even though they are selling out of a tent you still have to fill out the 4473 form and pass the NICS check.

I don't shoot until tomorrow, so for the moment I'm roughing it in the lounge.

I'll put up more pictures and scores Tuesday evening. Until then, try to live like this guy:

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