The Nighthawks Tuesday evening league started well last night at the Phoenix Rod and Gun Club, but then it got interesting.
We were shooting Conventional Pistol (alternates with International every other week) and had completed the first two slow fire targets. Focusing hard on my 45 and determined to give a good showing, I scored 74-1 and 74-0 and was very pleased since my last outing with this group saw my scores peaking in the 60s. I was off to a good start.
And then the monsoon storm hit.
At this time of year, the prevailing winds into Phoenix shift and instead of coming across from California and over the mountains that rake out the moisture, they come up from the Gulf of California across flat land. The clouds arrive full and the blazing temperatures all day just serve to stoke up their energy.
As we were scoring the second slow fire targets, the wind and dust hit. Brass catchers, lightly loaded gun boxes and tripod mounted scopes flopped over taking out other items. Inadequately fastened target repair centers took flight as the shooters split into two groups, one racing to secure bench equipment and the other to deal with the targets.
In a few minutes the dust had passed and the wind moderated a bit so we tried to carry on. Through the lessened gusts, I fired a 60-0 in the slow fire of the NMC. Again, we scored, repaired, chased cardboard backing blown loose and called in the heavy duty stapler to try and continue the meet.
But now the second set of winds arrived, those that preceed the rain. Shooting the timed fire NMC target, I kept one hand on my gun box and struggled to keep the gun pointed at my target. When scored, there were ten holes in the scoring rings on my target and, given the expertise of the shooters on either side, there was a good chance those holes were all mine! I was truly astonished to score a 64-0 under those conditions.
We repaired and immediately fired the rapid fire NMC target but before anyone could leave the line to score them, the wind doubled and rain arrived, several targets ripped loose and flew away and “Meet cancelled, grab your stuff!” was quickly announced. With 45 caliber drops of water splatting all around, the equipment, target frames and even loose brass were quickly collected and safely put away. Everyone was wet, many were soaked, and there were lots of grins.
The next morning the newspaper reported that as much as 2″ of rain fell in a three hour period with wind gusts of up to 60 MPH in some parts of the city.
One shooter, freshly back from Camp Perry grinned, “Good practice for the Nationals!”