Greg’s Guide to Field Target Shooting – Part Four
This time around in my Guide to Field Target Shooting, I’m going to switch gears a little and give you a behind the scenes of what we do to get a field target match set up at BCSA (Broome County Sportsmen’s Association).
The first thing I do is determine a layout for the course. As Match Director, I try and make it fair for shooters of all skill levels. Nobody wants to go home without knocking down a single target!
There is usually a mixture of target difficulties ranging from easy to hard. This ensures that a novice will be able to score some knockdowns while still keeping it challenging for the veterans.
There are spreadsheets and loads of other information available on the AAFTA website in order to help with creating a course layout.
Here is an example of a partial spreadsheet used for course planning:
As you can see from the example above, there are difficulty factors applied based on the targets kill zone size and it’s distance from the firing line. The max T. Diff. (Troyer Difficulty) allowed for any single target is 60.
The AAFTA handbook and website contains all the required information as to the maximums allowed for Field Target shooting. There are maxima for the difficulty of the individual targets, the entire match difficulty, maximum yardages allowed based on kill zone size and shooting position, etc. It’s a balancing act to set up a fair but challenging match.
After I get the layout set to my liking, it’s now time to get the targets prepped for the match. It starts out with pulling the required targets off the shelf and getting them repainted. While I’m in the repainting phase, I perform any maintenance that is required. There is no greater disappointment than to have a target fail during a Field Target match!
Here is a picture of a few targets that were used in a previous match that need to be freshened up.
Here are all the targets laid out in order of color that will be cleaned up, inspected and used for the next match in our Field Target shooting season.
The first thing to do is get them spot sanded and prepped for paint. Once a year I strip the entire faceplate bare, but in between matches they just get the spot sand. After they are sanded, I inspect and test them to see if there are any issues and also test their function.
The 2 targets shown below were inspected and it was discovered that their paddles were caved in and they were starting to develop a few pinholes in them. This usually happens to the thinner factory paddles when the targets are placed at close distances. These paddles were replaced and now they are ready for service.
I’m lucky enough to have plenty of slightly thicker paddles on hand to keep the targets running for years! They just need a little heat, a little twist and some paint and they’ll be ready to be installed.
Here is a picture showing the spot sanded targets and my test pistol ready to do a function test. I perform the preliminary testing prior to repainting. That way, if there is an issue I can correct it and retest without having to repaint.
In order to ensure that the target is functioning properly, I will shoot the paddle at point blank range with the pistol shown above. I know how many pumps it takes to produce 3 Ft/Lbs of muzzle energy using the pellets shown.
If the target doesn’t fall when tested, they are investigated and any problems are corrected. I also shoot them at 10 yards with a 22 Ft/Lb (at the muzzle) .22 caliber rifle to make sure that they don’t fall down. After the knockdown tests have been completed it’s on to painting.
Targets tested, repaired, primed and ready for paint!
As you can see above, I’ve replaced a lot of the original face plates with aftermarket ones that are quite a bit thicker and more durable. The targets that retain the original faceplates are usually set at the longer distances to help alleviate damage.
After a repaint, I usually take a paint pen and add a little bit of detail to the targets. Below is the finished product ready for action.
Once the course layout has been determined and the targets have all been repaired and repainted we are ready to set up for match day!
We usually set out our targets for the match the day before. Targets are placed at their predetermined distances and leveled in order to ensure proper function.
This target is being placed at 51 yards from the firing line to the faceplate.
Here is a target being leveled in both directions. A target of this type that isn’t leveled (or close to level) has a higher chance of not working correctly come match time.
If there is a major threat of inclement weather for match day, I will cancel a match. But, if the weather happens during match setup, we soldier through. Field Target is a tough sport!
This time around it was raining pretty good while we were setting up the course. (This is Up-State New York, after all). All the targets were lubed, but I thought it was a good idea to cover them for the night to keep the rain off of them the best I could.
Come match day, we do the final odds and ends on the field target range. In the case shown above, it was unbagging targets and pulling all the reset strings. After the Field Target range was all set, it was on to setup the sight in range.
The sight in targets are placed and measured so that the competitors have an accurate distance in order to verify their equipment.
Early arrivals (like Art shown below) jump in and lend a helping hand in order to complete the setup for the day’s match.
What makes all this work worthwhile you ask?
The fact that after all this work, the outcome is people of all backgrounds and ages coming together for a day of fun and camaraderie on the Field Target range! All there to challenge themselves, better themselves and share the day and their knowledge with like minded shooters…