The 2-day Northeast Regional Field Target Championships ended on Saturday, July 10, and the response from participants and spectators alike was energetic. Crosman Corporation, long known for innovation and quality in the shooting sports, hosted the sanctioned event at Crosman’s field target ranges in Bloomfield, New York. More than 60 competitors competed in the event and for many of the spectators, it was their first look at a field target event.
Why compete in a field target shooting event? According to Crosman’s Shooting Services Manager, Mark DeBoard, “Field target shooting can be done no matter your age, gender or size. Since this is a sport of discipline, each shooter must use everything he or she has learned to knock down the target. Breath control, trigger squeeze, range estimation and follow through, are only a few tactics. But what makes this sport unique is that you can compete at an event like ours, right next to world class shooters. I can’t think of any other sport that offers such a great opportunity to compete next to the greats.”
From as far away as Alabama and Maine, competitors ranging in age from 10 to 75, including some National Field Champions, descended on Crosman’s target ranges, eager to try their hand at shooting the metal targets. The crow, turkey, squirrel and ram, shaped targets were placed on the field from 10 to 55 yards out. The small, outdoor target falls when the 1.5 inch hit zone is hit with an airgun pellet. “It sounds easy, but it’s a lot harder than it looks,” said DeBoard. “The trajectory of a pellet is much different than a rim fire or center fire rifle. You need to know your point of impact from 10 yards all the way out to 55 yards. Depending on wind conditions, you may also have to adjust your aim. You immediately realize it’s not as easy as it looks. When shooting an air rifle, the wind is not your friend, even more so than with powder-powered rifles,” he said. DeBoard noted that for more than half the competitors, it was their first experience shooting in an airgun field target match. “People walked away really surprised by how much they liked the challenge and camaraderie the event produced for shooters of all ages.”
For those who arrived on Friday, some extra shooting excitement was on tap. The legendary “Quigley Bucket Challenge,” a nearly impossible shot, was re-enacted.” The contest gave challengers a chance to test their skill by knocking over a 1.75” bucket-shaped target from 55 yards away. “That’s a tough shot on any day, but a real test of determination and skill with an air rifle,” said DeBoard. Four shooters emerged from a field of 41 taking on the challenge. Paul Bishop of North Stonington, Connecticut outlasted Michael Arroyo of Brightwaters, New York in the third overtime to take the win.
Ray Apelles, Match Director, began the formal competition by grouping shooters in teams or “squads”. This gave each shooter a partner to mark his or her score sheet and work the clock. According to Apelles, “We matched novices with veteran shooters to ease them into the sport of competitive airgun shooting.” The sanctioned championship followed AAFTA rules, allowing two shooting rounds of forty shots each, totaling eighty shots per shooter. Each firing lane had two animal shaped targets placed at unknown distances from the firing points. Shooters had two shots per target and were timed at four minutes per lane. “I’ve competed at a lot of matches and never seen as many new people come to the sport, excited about giving field target shooting a try,” said Apelles.
After the morning session, Bill Day led the Hunter Division with a 34. Just behind him was Chris Kline with a 32 and Brian Williams with 31. In the PCP Division, John Manarte had a 34 at the turn with Hans Apelles and Anthony Palminteri both at 27. Ray Apelles led all shooters with a 33 in the WFTF Division but current National Champion Harold Rushton of Alabama was keeping it interesting with a 32. Hector Medina was keeping it interesting with a 27.
Ray Apelles led all shooters with a 33 in the WFTF Division but current National Champion Harold Rushton of Alabama was keeping it interesting with a 32. Hector Medina was keeping it interesting with a 27.
In the Off-Hand (Standing) Class, Dave Carpenter notched a 29 in the morning session, ahead of Jim Wilcox with 19 and William L. Benson Jr. with 12. Tony Naracci led the Spring Gun Division at the turn with a score of 27. Jeff Paddock was within reach with a 25 and Michael Arroyo was in third with a 21.
Following a fantastic lunch of barbecue chicken, beans, slaw and bread, shooters gathered their gear and hit the course for the final round. Nearby, a live band could be heard playing James Taylor and other hits. The heat bore down on the upper course while the wind continued to wreak havoc on the lower ten lanes as shooters tried to maintain a steady aim.
When the dust settled, all but one division champion had been determined; Ray Apelles and Harold Rushton went into overtime with a sudden death shootoff in the WFTF Division. Apelles won the coin toss and would shoot first. He over-compensated for the wind and missed the target by less than an inch. Ashton took a deep breath and within seconds it was over.
For the PCP division, John Monarte won with 70 points using a Theoben MFR airgun and Crosman Premier Heavy pellets. The Piston division was taken by Jeff Paddock with his DDHW97 airgun and Crosman Premier Light pellets. He earned 55 points. Bill Day won the Hunter division using his AA MFR airgun with JSB Exact pellets earning 62 points. The World Field Target Federation (WFTF) division was won by Harold Rushton. He shot an EVZ airgun and cleared the field with 67 points using JSB Express pellets. Dave Carpenter won the Off-Hand division using a Benjamin Marauder with Crosman Premier Heavy pellets. He earned 51 points.
Tom Holland of Maspeth, New York summed up the weekend, “I have been involved in the shooting sports my entire life, of all various kinds. I have competed in 3 position rifle, international as well as NRA. I have also competed in rimfire, centerfire, and .45 pistol. I have competed in NAA (National Archery Association) Olympic style recurve shooting, and am cu…rrently involved in National and International field crossbow competitions, which I am current world Indoor champion for the past 4 years, as well as 16 time national Indoor Champion, which I hold at the moment as well. Of all of my shooting experiences, this past weekend at the NFTRC, was by far the best of all of my competitive disciplines I have shot over the years. Crosman went above and beyond all expectations that I had coming into this shoot. I have to say, anyone that missed this shoot, missed the most awesome experience this competitive shooter has EVER had. Crosman, you guys hit a home run. Keep it going!!!”
“The best thing about being a part of this event,” said DeBoard, “was the warm, family atmosphere. It’s not every sport where kids, parents, and grandparents can compete at the same level together and have fun.”
First Place: Harold Rushton, Tuscumbia, AL – 67 (won in sudden death)
Second: Ray Apelles, Wappingers Falls, NY – 67
Third: Paul Bishop, North Stonington, CT – 53
First Place: Bill Day, Hollis, ME – 62
Second: Brian Williams, Niantic, CT – 57
Third: Chris Kline, California – 51
First Place: John Manarte, Farmingville, NY – 70
Second: Mike Malinconico, Flushing, NY – 60
Third: Al Otter, Baltmore, MD – 59
Spring Gun Division
First Place: Jeff Paddock, Olmstead TWP, OH – 55
Second: Tony Narracci, Massapequa, NY – 50
Third: Michael Arroyo, Brightwaters, NY – 38
Off-Hand (Standing) Class
First Place: Dave Carpenter – 51
Second: Jim Wilcox, Willow Grove, PA – 37
Third: William L. Benson Jr., Oxford, MD – 27