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The 2018 AAFTA Nationals in North Carolina

HAM specialist piston air rifle tester Eric Brewer brings his very personal impression of the 2018 AAFTA Nationals. The competition was held at the Tar Heel Air Gun Club in Pleasant Hill, North Carolina.

Take it away Eric!


On Wednesday afternoon, Sean McDaniel and I headed out to the 2018 AAFTA Nationals. All all our gear was in his car and we had 6 hours of drive time ahead of us. We were driving down to Maryland to stay at our good friend Hector Medina’s house for the night on the way. Always great to see that guy!

It’s kind of funny that in other shooting sports you show up at a location to shoot in a league and there may not be anyone there for you to talk to. You just go shoot your target, collect it, place it in a box and go home.

If there is even anyone at the location to great you they seem to size you up and decide if you’re good enough to speak to. This type of environment has never appealed to me.

There isn’t any sense of involvement in something. You either can’t make friends because there is not anyone to connect with or friends you can make are initially based on what equipment you have.

OUR air gunning community is different! A lot different! And that’s how it was at the to the 2018 AAFTA Nationals!

The 2018 AAFTA Nationals in North Carolina

When I went to my first Field Target shoot – the annual Crosman event it – didn’t matter that I had a Wally mart special in my hand, I was welcomed into the crowd. I was offered a seat at the line to see if I could shoot and hear that lovely metal clink clink when the target falls.

It is nice when it falls and you hear “good shot” from the person you are squadded with. This happens often at Field Target matches…

Of course, you are really competing against yourself! Shooting to try to beat the course. I certainly appreciate that I am able to make good friends across the US and also from other countries.

After spending Wednesday night at Hector’s, Thursday was a leisurely morning. When Hector was packing I noticed that he had made a list of the items to bring with him so he remembered everything he needed for the 2018 AAFTA Nationals.

The 2018 AAFTA Nationals in North Carolina

I thought that this was a great idea! After he gathered all his items we packed his car and we all headed out for the 3 hour ride to the northern portion of North Carolina. Pleasant Hill N.C. to be exact.

One thing I haven’t seen in many years was growing cotton…

The 2018 AAFTA Nationals in North Carolina

On our way down we got a call from the guys Sean and I had met at the Cajun Classic in Louisiana earlier this year. So we made a plan to get some lunch when we arrived.

We met the Louisiana crew of Carry Hymel, Mike Dugas and Bobby McKee at the hotel and immediately went to lunch for some BBQ. During lunch we were told that they had registered for the shoot already so Sean, Hector and I were in the car and over to the range to register.

I was glad to do this on Thursday night instead of standing in line on Friday morning when I could be verifying my zero.

Inside registration there were all the items that were up for the auction at the to the 2018 AAFTA Nationals. There were lots of very nice items!

The 2018 AAFTA Nationals in North Carolina

Later we found out that one of our fellow air gunners, John Eroh had a house rented and were all invited over for a get together.

On Friday morning I got right on one of the two zeroing ranges. For the to the 2018 AAFTA Nationals, they had been set up with a lot of targets having many bulls on each target. There were some metal targets as well. This was a great zeroing range with multiple targets across the field.

The 2018 AAFTA Nationals in North Carolina

We all have adopted our own shooting styles. Here is Scott Hull in what has been called the pretzel position. The most unique position I have ever seen. If you look at the scores you can tell it works for him!

The 2018 AAFTA Nationals in North Carolina

Things were a little odd for me at the zeroing range. I verified my zero on the pistol and things were good there. Then I moved over to check my zero on the rifle and it was right on at my 45 yard zero.

I took about 20 shots at the 45 yard target to ensure that the springer got warmed up and it was all lining up to my range card. I moved on to check the rest of the numbers and at first things were great but my shots slowly moved higher at my usual point of aim for the distances I was shooting.

So, was I not shooting correctly?

Am I pulling the trigger instead of squeezing? Am I griping the stock to tight or putting tension into the gun when I brake the trigger?

I didn’t think so. Of course, it’s only the to the 2018 AAFTA Nationals, so there’s no pressure at all. Much!!!

So I started to make a new range card for my new drops because springers can change where they are shooting at different elevations. After approximately 40 shots and several marks on my new range card I decided to re-check my zero and it dropped.

I had to click 14 clicks up to bring me back to zero!

If you have ever tried to shoot a springer you know that they are fickle beasts with their own personality. I wasn’t sure what the problem was as the gun was doing great at home.

The 2018 AAFTA Nationals in North Carolina

I can only guess it was the heat changing the scope of the rifle. But the temperature had only increased about 10 degrees and my Sightron hadn’t shifted before. I had never experienced scope shift so I wasn’t sure that this could be the problem.

The 2018 AAFTA Nationals in North Carolina

After making the adjustment everything was back where it should be lining up with my original range card. I would see Saturday morning at sight in what the gun would do then…


Eric’s coverage of the 2018 AAFTA Nationals will be continued tomorrow in HAM.