Sunday, July 12, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Phoenix Tea Party

Pictures of the Phoenix Tea Party on April 15th, 2009 - text descriptions to follow when I have time.

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:

Sunday, March 09, 2008

New shooter retention - Class C and D

I'll flesh this post out more over the next few days, but I wanted to throw it out here as it sits. This is my response to a thread on about how to increase participation in trapshooting.

Gentlemen -

I also 'grew up' shooting 3-hole, 50 yard targets, and as someone who is struggling for that last .5 on my singles average to make AA I agree that today's targets are easier and that it is frustrating to know that singles have become a 'miss and out' contest. Having said that, I don't think changing the target presentations will help increase participation.

Those of you who know me will remember that I usually am accompanied by a small contigent of "new" shooters at most shoots. (not blowing my own horn, just stating the facts) Two of these shooters are my own kids who are competitive for the category trophies, two others are kids who will be competitive for category trophies in the next year or two, and two are adults who don't qualify for any special category. What these shooters all have in common is that NONE of them are competitive for class trophies....even in D class. Both of my kids have 90% singles averages (Class C) but have never once won a class D trophy. A review of the Class C and D winning scores from the Spring Grand (found here: reveals the following winning scores:

Event 1 preliminary singles
Class C 98 (4 way tie)
Class D 96 (2 way tie)
Event 3 Beaudry RV singles
Class C 99 (2 way tie)
Class D 98
Event 7 Tucson singles class championship
Class C 99 (3 way tie)
Class D 98
Event 11 Spring Grand American singles championship (150 targets)
Class C 149
Class C RU 147 (2 way tie)
Class D 147
Class D RU 146

As a class A shooter who wants to be AA, I would have been happy to post any of these C and D class scores. Quite frankly, I only broke a 145 in the championship so I wouldn't have even gotten the D runner-up trophy.

Other people has pointed out in earlier posts that it is disheartening for new shooters to see the long list of perfect scores in the top classes. In my experience, new shooters are interested in THEIR class, not the top classes. The top class scores are where they want to be. The disappointment comes from seeing D class won by a 98. This is what chases them away. They feel that they are not competitive in even the bottom class, and unless they are shooting just for the love of turning money into noise they'll walk away.

In my opinion, the handicap committees have become too dependant on the software used to pull a shooters average from the ATA database. This purely numeric average does not give any information as to known ability or the persons current level of shooting. I've seen it happen at every shoot I've been to......the shooter presents his plastic card and average card, the plastic card is swiped through the card reader or the number is typed in, and the class is assigned based on the year-to-date average without the actual average card ever being opened.

At this point in the argument someone is going to tell me to sit in the chair and do the work before I open my mouth. My response is that I will be happy to assist with the handicapping at any event I attend....but I guarantee that the shooters will not be happy with me.

If we are going to start applying the known ability rule tightly, such as once you have shot a score of 95 or better you simply cannot be put in D class again that year, that direction needs to come from the top. It can't just be one uptight, former D class shooter that doesn't like the way the current system works.

There have been suggestions to implement a 'Hunter' class below D class to welcome new shooters. I think that would be a great idea. I also think that the best thing we can do to bring in AND RETAIN new shooters is to "clean up" the C and D classes so that the newbies don't think they have to be perfect to win the lower classes. Leave the targets soft so that the scores are high....just get the high scoring shooters out of the low scoring classes.

Other ways to bring in new shooters would be to partner with local gun stores and give away (yes, give away) one free round of trap/skeet/sporting clays with the purchase of every new shotgun. Yes, it will cost the clubs 25 clays for each of these people. How many people do you know that drive all the way out to a club and then only shoot 25 targets? Get them out there...they'll come back if you have a decent club. We may only get one shooter out of every hundred to ever shoot registered targets, but that would be one more than we have today. Consider it an investment.

On that note, how many clubs advertise outside of shooting related publications? Get your name out....don't preach to the choir.

Start an SCTP program. Donate your old equipment to the kids. If your local state association isn't a 501C.3 non-profit, perhaps the ATA could arrange something using its’ non-profit status to provide a tax deduction for the donated equipment.

Have "tune-up" days before bird season. All of the rifle ranges around here offer sight in services before deer season. Do something similar before bird season but tune up the shooter instead of the guns. Put 10 of your experienced shooters on the line as coaches. Reserve a couple of traps for the tune up group so that they aren't embarassed by the "professional" shooters.

There are hundreds of ways that we can increase participation without opening the target presentation can of worms. This post has become a novel, so I'll shut up now. Anyone who wants to talk further about this is welcome to contact me by email at shotguncoachATyahooDOTcom.

Len in Phoenix
Lead Instructor, Buckeye Sportsman Club SCTP

Spring Grand results

Hello All

Team Buckeye went to the Spring Grand American in Tucson last month. There were no trophies, but we did have 4 shooters post their personal best scores while we were there. Our best finish as a team was when I tied for the AA class trophy in one of the preliminary doubles events (two targets....not two shooters) with a score of 99/100. I lost the shootoff, but I know precisely why I did so: it's difficult to shoot with your head up your butt.

Our next major competition is the AZ state championships at the end of March. See you there!


Saturday, January 19, 2008

It's for the children

Breaking the silence for a good cause. Go here, read and donate if you can. I don't know Chris and Mel personally but I've enjoyed their blog for quite a while and went through something similar (though not nearly to the extreme they have) when I was divorced. I won sole custody of my children. I pray that they can beat this and say the same thing soon.

Here's a quick sinopsis (courtesy of Gwa.45 and Kim DuToit:

The short story:---------------------

Cliff Notes: Mel’s ex-husband has been trying to get custody of the kids for years. Every argument he’s made has been tossed out on its ass. Now he’s appealed to the 9th Circuit in SanFran, asking for the case to be transferred to CANADA. The argument he’s using is that Chris and Mel have an “unsafe environment” for the kids because of their guns. Needless to say, the GFW argument has failed in AZ, but in Canada?

Chris and Mel need about $30K in the next couple of weeks to pay their lawyer to go to SF and argue their case. Please help them.---------------------

{Cliff's notes cribbed from Kim duToit}

Give these folks a hand, money is nice but prayers are welcome also.

LS --

Monday, May 21, 2007

I'm not dead yet

Good lord.....has it actually been six months since I posted here? Damn.

Ok - here's the short version: between work, family, coaching, and shooting I simply didn't have time to blog. I know it's a cop out, but something had to be dropped from the schedule and blogging was it.

What's happened in the meantime? The big news is that Team Sullivan traveled to the Arizona State Trapshooting Championship and brought home 10 trophies. Nathan got one, I got two, and Kathy won the other seven, including the Sub Junior state championship for singles and doubles trap and the Sub Junior High Over All.

The other big news is that after 17 years of two packs per day, I have quit smoking. I'm approaching the end of day 4 without a Marlboro. That's why I have the extra time to's amazing how much time I spent just smoking. Not smoking while I did something else, just smoking.

I promise I'll be back soon. In my newfound spare time I also need to replace the 20,000 shotgun shells we used this season (5,000 in one week!). Even at 300 per hour on the RCBS reloader, that's more than a few hours.

In the meantime, go to Eject! Eject! Eject! and read Bill's latest masterpiece, "You are not alone"


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Only my child

Most teenagers have their first experience with being carded and removed from a store for attempting to make an underage purchase at a liquor store, or perhaps at a convenience mart trying to buy cigarettes, or something of that nature.

Not my child. Kathy had her first experience while doing her Christmas shopping at a slightly different retail outlet: Sportsman's Warehouse.

You have no idea how happy I am about that. :-)



No....I haven't dropped off the face of the earth. I've just been terribly, terribly busy. We did make time last weekend to attend the first SCTP fun shoot of the season in Tucson. A few other people came as well:

Everyone had a good time, and the 5 kids from Buckeye that attended took home a combined total of 9 trophies, including a first place finish by James in the 5 stand event.

Good job crew!

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