Sergei Zubenko

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portugal-31Well, the World Field Target Championship match is over and in the books now.  Jack Harris won the PCP title, Aleksas Jaunius won the Piston title and once again, Ana Pereria won the Ladies title.   That’s the way thportugal-3ings shook out in the end, but getting there was oh so fun!

The World Championships were held this year in Lisbon, Portugal.   If you have never visited Portugal, I would highly recommend putting it on your list of places to see.  Lisbon is a port city in Portugal with beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean.  While in Lisbon, we visited sites such as the Belem Castle, Jeronimos Monastery, Sao Jorge Castle and the list goes on.

We also had the limited opportunity to taste the local Pasteis de Belem, which is a tasty treat that can only be enjoyed from the original ancient recipe from the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos.   These are pastries made with a very light and crunchy shell and an egg white custard center.  It’s a treat that has to be experienced as the taste, sound and flavor is simply amazing.

portugal-35portugal-36Now that you have a taste of Lisbon, so to speak, on to the match.  My wife and I arrived somewhat early.  That’s when we did most of our site seeing.  The match organizers started signing everyone in on Tuesday before the match started on Thursday.  This allowed competitors the opportunity to spend two days on the sight in range checking equipment, working out issues and generally testing equipment.

portugal-12The organizers did a great job securing the Jamor National Training Center to host the match.  This location allowed an area for sight in of rifles, a mobile food vendor with tables re-fueling competitors, a large tent for air refills, gun related vendors and general socializing.   The facility also included a large building which was utilized by the event organizers to sign in competitors and work as a base of operations for the match director and associates.  Overall, the facility was top notch with plenty of potential for the job at hand.

img_1375The courses were located away from the sight in area, behind the building housing the organizers.   The area was secure and only open during match hours.  It allowed the match director and marshals to set up a course that, in reality housed three courses.  In so doing, when a competitor started on the Black Course Lane 1, he was adjacent to Yellow Course Lane 1 and then Red Course Lane 1 and so on.    With this set up, the courses were interwoven and kept conditions between courses very equal.   The courses basically had three distinct areas.

In the first area, the undergrowth and foliage was cut away leaving a very wind prone area with wicked openings to funnel the wind in all directions.   The second area forced the competitors to shoot up a steep hill placing everyone in an uncomfortable position which cost many points during the match.  The last area was a steep downhill area.  This forced competitors to deal with challenges exactly the opposite of the uphill area.  It also fostered sneaky winds that unexpectedly cost points as well.  portugal-42

I thought the courses were expertly set to avoid having any two consecutive shots having the same wind effects.  For example, a competitor could sit down and locate the first target on a lane far to the left and at an extreme angle.  The second target would then be placed to the right at a differing angle creating a different wind effect which the shooter had to quickly figure out.   This made things very tricky and difficult from one shot to the other.  This was all compounded on day one and three because of heavy winds that moved into the area.   On day two we were both blessed and cursed with little to no wind.   It was a blessing from the perspective of having a break from the winds that so generously moved our pellets many inches before reaching the target.  However, it was a curse as the sun baked us and the heat was more intense throughout the day.

Once I arrived and signed in on Tuesday, I was eager to check out my rifle after our long trip from the USA to Portugal.  One never knows what treatment a rifle has endured at the hands of an airline, so I’m always apprehensive until I get air in my rifle and put a few shots down range.  This time was no exception.  I took my Steyr LG110 and Leupold Competition 35x combination to Portugal for the match.  Fortunately, once I filled her up with air, everything seemed good.  The rifle was holding air and nothing was visibly damaged from the trip over.   I found a location to take a few seated shots and bingo, she was on the money!  I found quickly that the winds on the sight in range were tricky and pushing my pellets several inches to one side or the other at 55 yards.  However, based on what I was seeing of the tree limbs blowing around, this was not unexpected.   I also knew this was a sign of things to come on the course during the match.  So, I spent some time trying to estimate what the winds would do with my pellets, just so I could get a feel of what to expect during the days to come on the course.img_1164

Although shooting is supposed to be the “main” purpose of attending the World Field Target Championship match, I think socializing is the real reason we are all so eager to attend these matches.   Portugal was no different than years past.  I was very happy to see old friends and catch up before, during and after sight in.   It’s really hard to describe just how much fun these matches are and especially the time we spend with friends after hours.  It’s really like a big family that extends around the world and we all get together for a yearly reunion at the WFTF match.  And, that’s a pretty cool experience!  (more to come, soon!)

This is the first segment of articles relating to the 2016 World Field Target Championship match in Lisbon, Portugal.  I’ll be adding more details about our trip in the coming days.  So, check in soon to read more about the match, the shooters, equipment and gadgets used this season.

Thanks for reading!

Harold Rushton
U.S. Field Target