Eric Brewer Reports On the 2021 AAFTA Nationals – Part One

HAM specialist Piston Rifle Tester Eric Brewer brings us his personal account of the 2021 AAFTA Nationals. The 2021 AAFTA National Field Target Championships was held in San Luis Obispo, California from 15 – 17 October. Take it away Eric…

For me, the 2021 AAFTA Nationals started at the airport when we went down to claim our bags…

Those of you who fly with air rifles know that the cased guns are normally transported to a safety holding area. There you identify yourself with your baggage claim ticket. But apparently the airline didn’t care this time!

As I was waiting at the baggage came belt I see my gun come tumbling down the ramp and hit the wall of the belt system. Lovely 🙁

On Thursday – the day before the shoot – I went to the cold range and walked the rifle course. They had all the targets out.

There was just a road and off to one side was the East course and off to the other side was the West the other course.

The course didn’t look too tough but I really couldn’t see the size of the kill zones that well. This is lane 1 for the blue course and it is standing. I wasn’t sure where the pistol course was so I went back to the sight-in range to wait for it to open. Luckily it didn’t take too long.

The zeroing range was set up pretty well. I hate to get to a larger match and find there aren’t enough targets to get all your drops for distance.

Sometimes you get there to find that the targets are shot up too much to determine where your gun is hitting. That makes it tough to determine what holes are yours and which were already there!

Eric Brewer Reports On the 2021 AAFTA Nationals - Part One

The wind was low from right to left. I started to zero the TX 200 as – being a springer – I knew it would move, particularly with the airline’s “safe” handling (not so much).

Move? It most certainly did!

It could be the elevation (I dropped about 600 feet coming from upstate NY), the temperature or just the mechanics of it. But I was surprised to find out that my gun was actually about 10 Inches to the right and 5 Inches up at a 45 yard zero.

So after some clicking (which I really hate to do at a match) I was able to get on zero with my TX 200. I can only assume the travel from NY the case got hit enough to move it.

Next onto the 1720T pistol. The zero also required some clicking with it but nowhere the amount that the springer needed.

My aim was to shoot for most of the day. This would give me experience of different wind conditions, at different lighting and at different temperatures.

So I went out at particular times to shoot to make sure I knew what the gun was going to do through the heat change. I stayed until about 6PM when the light was getting low…

On arrival back at the range on Friday, I went straight to the zero range to see what the temperature would do to my rifle. The range wasn’t to full yet as it was only the pistol match on Friday. The rifle match started on Saturday.

Phew! Just some minor clicking on the scope.

Eric Brewer Reports On the 2021 AAFTA Nationals - Part One

As there was no wind first thing in the morning, I was able to get all my drops confirmed or changed on my drop card. The pistol was right where it was supposed to be so no changes there.

Around 11:00AM the wind picked up to around 12 mph right to left so I got some time in to see what the effects were. Both guns were all set for the match.

Eric Brewer Reports On the 2021 AAFTA Nationals - Part One

At 3:00PM the pistol match started off with the safety meeting.

I wasn’t really impressed with my shooting. Some shots just didn’t hit the kill zone. Some I could figure out while others are a mystery. We were in an area where the wind would move in strange ways.

Looking at the pictures you can see that it was essentially a bowl that we were in with the make shift buildings adding wind turbulence in the mix.

The targets are not the two black circles on the stands. They are behind them. This is the standing lane.

Eric Brewer Reports On the 2021 AAFTA Nationals - Part One

The match went through pretty smooth but one of the problems was that at the location for two of the lanes, there was a fairly active wasp nest in one of the buildings!

Eric Brewer Reports On the 2021 AAFTA Nationals - Part One

The range master told us to avoid those two lanes and substituted two other lanes that we had already shot. These new lanes were very similar to the ones skipped.

Of course this backed up everybody on those two substituted lanes that needed to be re-shot. It slowed us all down for about 45 minutes but the range master made the right call so no one get stung!

I only got a 34 out of 40 so I didn’t know where I sat for placement. But I wanted to shoot a few more shots with the rifle and head to the hotel.

This area is so beautiful!~ I used to be stationed about 200 miles north of here so I knew how pretty it is.

You can read more about the 2021 AAFTA Nationals in the second part of Eric’s story tomorrow.