Sunday, January 27, 2008

The CB in Action

We attended LAGSA's first Airgun MS and Bench Rest competition for the year in Laguna last Sunday and had a blast. Thanks to all the organizers for a great event and I hope there are many more to come.

The CB flanked by two Caiman Mk1's

I don't want to seem like I'm making excuses but I feel the need to give a bit of background on how we approach these events. At first, we (Noli and I) didn't really take them that seriously. Until yesterday's event, I saw them as a way to socialize, maybe market a bit, and support the local industry. I was never one to actively pursue a title, since I feel that the trophies should go to those who take the sport seriously and work towards a win diligently, which we don't. Noli feels the same way, having the same hunting background that I do. We hunt. That's our passion and it is apparent in the utilitarian way we design our guns. So with this match which I wasn't really aware of till last week, we did the usual: Figure out what we had in the shop that we could use (believe it or not, I don't have my own gun. Go figure.), in this case, whatever was completed and on the shelf, sight it in the day before the event, then go and have fun on the day of. A newly assembled CB, CB-A, and a couple of old Caiman Mk1's that we experiment on got tagged.

The matches consisted of the full range of silhouette courses (Rifle, open sight; Rifle, scoped; pistol categories; classed from B, A, AA, and AAA), and a new BR competition that was being debuted by this group as the potential standard for all the BR matches. They used the BR-50 target (50 shots, 100 pts per clean bull, with 50 pt deductions as you tag an outer circle., for a total of 5000 pts) but placed it at 25 yards. I still remember my comment when we approached the field, confidently telling Noli and everyone within embarassing earshot that 25 yards was too damn close. Heh. Shame on me.

We tackled the BR first. We realized that we should have brought at least one .177 caliber that would have been an advantage when shooting paper, but since we didn't have any, I chose to go with a Caiman BT that had a .22 cal walther barrel on it. It was doing 850fps on JSB's, and the walther barrel was giving me one hole groups all morning long. Noli went with a 10 inch brass barreled (don't ask me why), Bigboy tanked monster that he had set up as a "rat gun", so configured because we had been invited to go on an "urban rat hunt" by one of our customers. Not the best choices for BR, but what the hey. What seemed like an easy sweep for us became a mind-boggling, humbling, and self-doubt inducing shoot. Now, when we test guns at the shop, we normally shoot a pellet hole, then shoot at that hole to make groups. Shooting at the same 3/4 inch white circle 50 times near put me in a daze. It totally threw off my aim-small-shoot-small style because the white circle didn't give me a small black reference point I was used to aiming at (like a pellet hole). Since it was one shot per target, I couldn't make myself one either. To be honest, 25 yards has not challenged me so badly since I got my first BB gun. My point of aim wavered all over the white expanse and each shot that I threw off made me doubt myself and the gun even more. I think, in retrospect, that THIS is the challenge in BR. Being able to control yourself, adapt to the situation, and master the other forces that ARE in your control. The wind was being very kind, not to mention that the lanes where we were shooting seemed to have been built with airgunners in mind, having embankments on either side and giving us really great almost windless shooting conditions. Noli at this time was undergoing his own trials, his carbon fiber moderator's end cap having chosen this time to fail and attempt to fly into low earth orbit. He replaced it with a spare moderator (or one from another gun, I forget), but when he started shooting plate sized groups, he opted go without. So, here I was having doubts about how well I was shooting, and Noli was just sighting in the gun on the target sighters after time was called and the match officially started. Hehe, love that pressure. So, given 30 mins to complete the 50 shots, my over-confident self thought I was going to beat the clock by hours. As it turns out, between my bouts of self (and gun) doubt, and Noli's blasting away with a LOUD non-moderated burp gun, I finished with just 30 seconds to spare. Pat on the back for not pissing in my pants.

I did a bit better in the silhouette match. I'm not much of a freehand shooter, preferring to do most of my shooting off a rest. Even in hunting, I will try to find a proper rest, otherwise I might even let the quarry go. I chose to shoot a newly assembled CB with a .22 cal brass barrel because I wanted to put the new model through its paces. The only change we made to the gun was a concession to my left-handedness, so a sporter ambi stock was cobbled together to fit on it the day before. I felt a bit under prepared and undergunned, as most shooters there had gobs of practice and use guns that have been specially constructed for MS, with custom stocks, Walther or HW barrels, and other cool widgets. The MS match consisted of 2 relays of 40 shots, for a total of 80 shots. Once again, the venue proved itself a godsend to airgunners as I could feel a stiff breeze behind me, but the lanes themselves were almost still. I knew that I was getting about 35-40 shots per fill on the CB's regular reservoir. Right before the first relay, I stole over to the sight in area and tried my shots at the chicken, boar, turkey, and ram ranges, (belatedly) figuring out my holdovers and holdunders. Surprisingly, there was very little compensation needed at all 4 ranges, I was pretty surprised but I think I was a bit too hasty in my calculations. I took on the first match without refilling till the last set and did ok. On the 2nd relay, I didn't realized till too late on the 2nd set I was assigned that I was critically low on air, esp. to reach out to a 45 yard ram. I blew 4 shots before I figured out my pellets were impacting almost 2 mildots low. It was then that I also figured out that instead of filling to 3200psi, I was only doing 3000psi: our carbon fiber bottles were getting a lot of use from friends who were also filling from our bottle and was down to 3000psi. So I figure I lost a few high power shots there.

The whole crew: Competitors and organizers.

In any case, it seems I did good enough to garner a 1st in my division, Class A. I think our benchrest scores came in 4th and 5th, I tied 4th with several shooters at 3675 pts, while Noli tied 5th with one other at 3650 pts. Mr. Bonie Borces, an excellent shot, came away the clear winner at 4400 pts, followed by JBC's Mang Jun and Joseph Lacanlale in 2nd and 3rd. It was humbling to say the least, but we came out of it realizing a few things, and with somewhat of a plan on how to build dedicated BR and silhouette rigs.

In retrospect, I think we should start taking these competitions more seriously. It is a sign of respect to the fine people who toil selflessly to give us a well organized shoot and to the other competitors who take the sport seriously...and expect serious competition. The level of talent there was incredible, and deserved to be taken seriously. Yes, we do joke among ourselves about how we show up totally unprepared, under-practiced, and with whatever airguns we could pick off our shelves. But in the end, the scores don't reflect any of that, and the cold hard numbers tell only one story: Who won, and who lost. Also, I guess it would be much sweeter knowing we worked hard for something and deserved the win.

Class A scores

I'm also glad I was able to get the CB out in formal competition, and even getting it its first win. While it is meant to be our entry-level model, I had no doubts it would stand up to the rigors of MS competition, and it did, with flying colors. Not bad for a bone stock rifle. =)

The CB's First Win!

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