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2017 AAFTA Nationals in Mesa Arizona, Days One and Two.

HAM specialist “springer” airgun tester Eric Brewer attended the 2017 AATFA Nationals in Mesa, Arizona. This is his personal view of the event. Oh yes, by the way, Eric won the Hunter Piston Category. Congratulations, Eric!

The 2017 AAFTA Nationals was hosted by the Phoenix Airgun Club at the Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club. This range had been the location for the 2017 Extreme Benchrest competition just two weeks earlier. There’s lots of airgunning happening in the Phoenix area…


Entering the 2017 AAFTA Nationals event was very welcoming.

I arrived early- I guess I was really excited and I wanted to know how to get around so I didn’t miss anything. There were only 2 people there before me and things were still getting set up. Well over 100 shooters were registered to attend the 2017 AAFTA Nationals.

2017 AAFTA Nationals in Mesa Arizona, Days One and Two.

Day one of the 2017 AAFTA Nationals started with an open sight-in range that was truly the best sight in-range I have ever seen. They opened early so people there could start to get sighted in and find out what has changed with their guns.

This is because thee shooter’s home elevation and that in Mesa Arizona may be different and the dry desert air could also have an effect on pellet placement down range.

2017 AAFTA Nationals in Mesa Arizona, Days One and Two.

There were about 30 lanes of sightiin targets with paper at 10, 11, 12, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50 and 55 yards. Target placement was outstanding so wherever you sat, you could always see all of the ranges to zero on. Imagine being here with these targets to sight-in at!

2017 AAFTA Nationals in Mesa Arizona, Days One and Two.

Directions as to where to go were well laid out.

2017 AAFTA Nationals in Mesa Arizona, Days One and Two.

This year at the 2017 AAFTA Nationals, a unique improvement was that you could use your cell phone to get the current standings.

That’s Bill Day and Nathan Thomas…

2017 AAFTA Nationals in Mesa Arizona, Days One and Two.


Day One at the 2017 AAFTA Nationals.

The club had set up a Desert Nature walk so the shooters could learn about the surroundings that they were so lucky to shoot in. You could choose to get sighted in with your pistol or go on the walk. Later in the morning we had the safety meeting and were on to the pistol match.

Yes, those are pistols in the photo below! They are Thomas pistols that these 2 particular shooters are using.

2017 AAFTA Nationals in Mesa Arizona, Days One and Two.

2017 AAFTA Nationals in Mesa Arizona, Days One and Two.

Below.Rizdale Marquez shooting pistol.

2017 AAFTA Nationals in Mesa Arizona, Days One and Two.

I had the pleasure to meet new shooters from all over the country and even the Venezuela team came to the USA to shoot with us at the 2017 AAFTA Nationals. During the pistol shoot I sat/ shot with Ben Spencer and Rizdale Marquez.

Below, Ben Spencer shooting pistol.

2017 AAFTA Nationals in Mesa Arizona, Days One and Two.

We all had a late lunch after the pistol match and were able to talk about the great layout of the course and our performance for the day. Some got done a little earlier than others and ate and left for their own adventures in the desert.

After lunch we had lunch and back out to the sight-in range for setting up the rifles. In the evening was the AAFTA Board of Governors meeting that was open to all shooters. They discussed new rules and procedures as well as where the next Nationals would be held.

The decision was that the 2018 Nationals will be in North Carolina again. It was there in 2015 and will be at a different club but still North Carolina.


Day 2 at the 2017 AAFTA Nationals.

Another early start at the sight-in range to confirm your numbers for distance and drop of your pellet. I don’t know if you could fit any more people on a sight in range! This was the first day of rifle shooting.

2017 AAFTA Nationals in Mesa Arizona, Days One and Two.

2017 AAFTA Nationals in Mesa Arizona, Days One and Two.

After sighting in there was a Shooter’s Meeting that was mandatory to attend so they could tell you about the rules of the range and procedures to follow. They informed us of the possibility of rattle snakes and scorpions that were on the range.

Where else can you shoot in these conditions? We got our score sheets and headed to our assigned lanes…

Below. Waiting for the shooters safety meeting.

2017 AAFTA Nationals in Mesa Arizona, Days One and Two.

I was paired with John Knapp and Mike Ashworth.

During the second day of shooting it was cloudy and overcast and that was a good thing. It kept the heat off of us from the direct sunlight. There was even an unusual very brief shower that happened for a total of about 2 minutes!

The shifting winds kept the shooters guessing what they should do for hold off and hold over. Winds came from left, right and front in gusts of around 8 or 10 MPH and were constantly changing.

Shooters from the area said that this was less shifting than usual. I was glad that it was less than usual!

2017 AAFTA Nationals in Mesa Arizona, Days One and Two.

Above, John Knapp shooting.

After the second day of shooting, people gathered for discussion of the course and good conversation before heading off to whatever they were going to do for dinner.


Eric will continue with his Day Three report from the 2017 AAFT Nationals tomorrow…