Well folks, the 2018 Ohio ARBA State Championship Match is officially in the books and despite my best efforts I must regretfully report that I am not this years unlimited class champion for the great state of Ohio. Even so I had a very good day at the range with some great people and three of my six targets scored higher than my previous personal best. Unfortunately one of my other three targets was a real stinker which kept me from finishing in the top three for my class.
Weather was a concern early in the day as the forecast was calling for scattered thunderstorms to roll into our area at around 2pm – the start time for the match. Fortunately the weather held out, and other than the occasional cluster of clouds that would pass over it was sunny skies with the temperature in the mid 80’s. The wind was minimal with the occasional breeze of about 3-5mph kicking up out of the south – southwest. Other than the high humidity it was a perfect day for a rimfire match.
Turnout for the Ohio State Championship Match set a new range record for number of shooters in an ABRA match with twenty total – ten in each class. We had one shooter come down from Michigan and two others who drove up from Kentucky to take advantage of the double points offered in the state championship matches.
One change for this month’s match compared to last month was that this month I had sorted my Eley Club ammunition by rim thickness. I know there are many out there who say rim thickness doesn’t matter in a semi-auto, but I’m one of those who prefers to learn from first-hand experience rather than just relying on the opinions of others. My hope was that this tedious task would help cut down on the number of errant shots I get that venture out into the lower value scoring rings.
Another big change for this match was that I had upgraded the Project ABRA-cadabra rifle with a new polished bolt, guide rod and spring kit from Kidd Innovative Designs. As you may recall, last month I had a major issue with the Eley Club ammunition not fully cycling the bolt which resulted in numerous stovepipe-style jams. These upgraded parts were installed to remody that issue and have done so.
At the start of the match things got a little sketchy on my first target as it took me three or four shots on the sighter bull to get dialed in, then my first record shot just barely cut into the 8-ring. I really thought I was going to be in for a very long day at that point. From there on out though the rest of my shots for this first target flew true and predominately landed in the 9 and 10 rings. I only dropped two more into the 8-ring on this target, one of which just barely missed catching the 9-ring so overall I was very happy with the target. The target ultimately scored a 186 with eight 10’s and nine 9’s and is my new all time personal best target.
My confidence was high as I settled in to shoot my second target for the day, but apparently I used up all my good luck on the first target as I couldn’t seem to buy a 10-ring on this one. Instead it was all 8’s and 9’s with one shot that dropped clear out to a 6. It wasn’t until the very last bull on the target that I finally managed to just clip the edge of the 10-ring, but by that time the damage was done and my hopes of placing in the top three for the day was gone. Final score for my second target was a 169.
As per the ABRA rules, a bench rotation is required in state matches so I had to relocate from bench 7 to bench 11 for our next set of targets. Like on the first target my first few shots on the sighter were dancing all around the 10-ring but things settled down once I moved over to the record bulls. Conditions continued to play an issue for everyone, but opposite of what one would usually think because when the wind was blowing a little the shots fell close to home, but when it got calm they would go astray into the outer rings. In the end I managed to squeak out a final score of 184 for this target with eight 10’s, eight 9’s, and the remaining four falling in the 8-ring. Much better than my last target for sure, but I will note that one bull (#2) that was scored a 9 should have been scored an 8 so technically the target score should have been a 183. I didn’t catch the scoring error until after I had gotten home from the match.
Conditions for the fourth target were probably the most inconsistent for the day and many of us were playing ring around the 10-ring. Even so, this proved to be my second best target of the day with a final score of 185. Like the last target, I found another bull on this one (#3) that was scored a 9 when it should have been scored an 8 so my target score should have been 184. Again, I didn’t catch this until I had gotten home after the match.
For the final set of targets we again had to move down four benches which now put me on bench 15. Target five didn’t start off the best with four 8’s in the top row, but from there on out it was mostly 9’s and 10’s which garnered a total target score of 181.
Down to the sixth and final target of the day I was hoping for a hum-dinger to make up for the 169 I had shot earlier but it just wasn’t in the cards. I started to get some eye strain about the time I started on the second row which resulted in a rather blurry view through the scope. I stopped a few time to rest my eye but it didn’t seem to help any so I just pressed on and hoped for the best. While I only dropped four shots into the 8-ring, I had way more 9’s than I did 10’s which limited me to a score of 179.
Overall I ended up in 4th Place out of ten shooters in the Unlimited Class – just six points out of placing in the top three. I knew that second target was going to spoil my day as soon as I finished shooting it and sure enough it did. Congratulations to Steve DuVall, Dale Cook and Fred Moreo who placed 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively in the Unlimited Class, and also to Doug Depweg, Art Shaffer and Adam Williams who took 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the Factory Class.
All said and done I really can’t complain. My Project ABRA-cadabra rifle ran flawlessly with the new Kidd parts in place, and based on my improved target scores and the significant reduction in errant shots landing in the 5 to 7-ring I would say sorting my ammo by rim thickness was well worth the trouble. The only downside is now I’m going to have to dedicate an hour or two each month to measuring and sorting ammo.
Looking forward, I think I’m going to leave things as they are for now as far as the rifle goes. The Club Tournament is next month (September 9th) which will be another six target match with double points, and with money getting a little tight I’d rather play it safe than end up being sorry. I’ve started to look at and do some research on barrel tuners, but if I decide to crawl down that rabbit hole it won’t be until this season is over.