Shooting

2020 Georgia State Steel Match

My first major match of the year is complete! I’m sure the weather reflected some people’s feelings about this match: uncertainty. This was the match that allowed people to know where their times changed since their last match. Like I said in my last post, some people changed setups and tried different tactics on the stages. During the first match of the season, shooters can determine how helpful their changes were. Plus, we are able to see friends for the first time in months! Some shooters may not have the opportunity to shoot all eight stages during the off-season; the first match of the season shows the shooter where/if they gained time. All in all, the first match of a new season is important and fun for everyone!

At this match, several exciting things happened: I received my Team Steel Target Paint jersey, met up with friends, made new friends, set personal bests, shot all eight stages in three centerfire divisions for the first time, and became the first lady to shoot all eight  stages with an iron-sighted rifle in under 70 seconds. This match was a blast!

On Thursday, I shot my first major match with PCCO, PCCI, and Production. My JP Enterprise PCC was shot a lot throughout the weekend and there were no problems! With Georgia being my first match with the Glock, I wasn’t too sure how it was going to turn out. In the end, I didn’t win anything, nor did I expect to, but I did gain confidence in my ability to shoot Production. Learning the ropes of centerfire pistol has been a learning experience for me. I’ve had literal blood, sweat, and tears at practice but it was well worth it!

On Friday, the weather was much better than on Thursday. I shot both rimfire rifles in the morning and both rimfire pistols in the afternoon. My squads were extremely enjoyable. Last year is a bit of a blur to me now (so much has happened), but I do remember the great food at this match! Before I even thought about packing for the trip, my dad was making remarks about the awesome peach cobbler. We were sure to grab a bowl before it was all gone!

My goal was to shoot in the sixties with my rimfire rifles. I made that goal with my iron-sighted rimfire rifle. My final time was 69.68 seconds! Now that I shot in the sixties once, I gained confidence in my ability to do it again and with both rifles. I am starting to realize that this match was a confidence boost for me. Not because I won a plaque or anything, but because I shot a fairly decent first match of the season. With my Glock and PCC, I shot my first full match. With my iron-sighted rimfire rifle, I shot in the sixties for the first time. Also, I shot my first full match with our new Volquartsen Scorpions. When I was preparing to start this season, I forgot to consider match anxiety. Now that I shot my first match for 2020, match anxiety can be conquered!

On Saturday, my sister, our dad, and I all RO’d on different squads. This meant that I had to rely on my own judgement for calls as an RO. Although nerve wracking at first, I got the hang of it and started to become more confident in my ability. Thanks to two awesome squads, I had several opportunities to learn more about prompt decision making.

I conclude my blog with this: thank you to everyone involved in the match. Many work hard in organizing the matches we all love and they need acknowledgement. However, the competitors are also important for Steel Challenge. Without competitors, there would be no reason for matches to happen.

Thank you for reading my blog!

This wouldn’t have been possible without my sponsors:

  • Rangestore.net
  • Steel Target Paint
  • Hunters HD Gold
  • Vortex Optics
  • JP Enterprises
  • GT Targets
Shooting

Starting Fresh

During the off-season, some competitive shooters try new equipment, new bullets, new setups, and some even use the whole off-season as a break. This last off-season, we tried several new things; we received our first PCC, started reloading, tried a different stock, and worked on our centerfire handguns. With trying new things, comes change. Some people may not like change, and that’s fine, but change is what makes us grow. It is essential to try new things and get out of our comfort zone. I know I did that several times during this last off-season! It is hard starting fresh with something new, but sometimes starting fresh is what we need.

At my first local match with Production, I was first and last place; first with Rimfire Rifle Irons and last with Production. This is what I mean by change can be hard. Sometimes I forget how difficult it was for me to get where I am with my Rimfires, but I was reminded at that match. Starting fresh with the Glocks has already helped me grow so much! Plus, trying new things can be beneficial for things you already do. Here’s an example: my Glock taught me to grip the gun. This has helped me with my Rimfire Pistols. In an effort to quit anticipating the recoil of the Glock, my trigger pulling has gotten better with the Rimfires too.

Here’s another idea with this topic: don’t focus on big goals when you first start something new. Focus on the small goals you meet. This is possible to do while maintaining high standards of yourself! If you go to practice and try to quicken transitions, be happy if you meet that goal even if you don’t do so great at something else. It is good to notice when you mess up so you can fix it, but don’t dwell on the mistakes. This can cause you to become discouraged and lose confidence in your abilities.

With this in mind, some people are going to be more naturally talented than you at some things. If you start a new hobby or division with someone, your friend may excel at a quicker rate than you. This is why it’s important to not focus on other people’s time, but on yours alone. I tell myself this with my Rimfires also. It isn’t about how much faster someone is than you, but its about how much you progressed since the last time you shot.

Hunting

Tagging Out at the VF Ranch!

As you can probably tell from the title, I tagged out! I am now done with Whitetail for the season! We were back at the VF Ranch in Sonora this past weekend. Some special moments happened at this hunt, and most took me by surprise.

The first special moment I want to discuss was when I had a face mask on with Emily and another girl hunter. Oh, and the huntmaster! That was a blast! It was about 22:30 and we were all very giddy. Giddy + face masks = laughing. Laughing + face masks = scary faces! We looked kind of creepy with only our teeth showing! That was one heck of a night to remember.

The next moment was when we were all helping a girl search for her doe. I was in a group with two other girls (one of them was the girl we did face masks with). All three of us found antler sheds and that was my very first shed! Usually, I love finding things. When I found the antler, I think I was more excited about finding something other than deer poop and cow patties! When we walked under a tree, I saw bones on the ground and some in the tree. I’m not too superstitious or anything but I was spooked. When we turned around and started walking out from beneath the tree, I saw antlers sticking up from beside a log. At this point, I’m practically shaking! I walked over to the log and saw it was a skull. I jumped up and thought, “heck naw!” When I decided to be brave, I used my antler shed to drag the skull towards me. Bam! I have my very own Axis skull! The skull and shed was not the only special thing about this tracking event. Not only did we learn about tracking but it was the perfect time for the hunters to become friends. I had a great time tracking with my crew!

The next special moment was when I tagged out. After every deer I harvest, I feel more like a successful hunter. Now we have 13 deer in our freezers!

I cannot forget to mention when I found a mesquite branch that made a perfect triple marshmallow stick! Marshmallows for everyone!

Now let’s talk about when I was in the blind. On Saturday morning, both my sister and our dad was with me. I had several bucks come out at the feeder, but we were hunting for does. I had several yearlings come out and finally a few does. I took the shot on a doe and she dropped where she stood. To add, she did not have a yearling with her. After she had died, a yearling came up and drank some of her milk! Later on, another small doe came and drank from her. I waited to see if I could get my last doe but I only had yearlings after that.

During the evening time, we were out at the blind at 15:30 After a buck and several does came out, I had to make the decision of which doe to get. Almost all of them were about the same size so I chose the one that looked older. I shot her and she ran about 10 yards. When the feeder went off at 16:30, we stayed and watched the buck. After a little while, we decided to check on the doe and head back to the truck. When we were walking to the truck, a herd of humongous Aoudad started running off! They were big enough and close enough that I wished I wasn’t on the ground! Although they weren’t right up on me, it was still scary seeing how big their horns are. By the way, Aoudad run like gorillas. Figured that out!

This hunt was a total blast! I wore my Hunters HD Gold Velocity glasses, and I used my Vortex Optics Viper scope. Like always, they were a great pair! 

Shooting

Florida State Steel Challenge Championship

We drove all the way from East Texas to Okeechobee, Florida for the State Championship! I used to think our Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee trips were far, but after this trip, nothing compares.

There is one thing about this match that I love: they had a practice tier 1 match on Friday. This allows competitors to shoot the whole match a day before the state match begins. Since we aren’t able to regularly practice all the stages, I was happy to warm-up before I shot two stages, in particular, for the first time in a while. The warm-up day is not only a good idea for preparation, but it leaves competitors feeling confident. At the warm-up match, I shot a 78.73 with my RFRO and a 74.85 with my RFRI.

My dad, sister, and I were ROs for the whole match. I shot in a separate squad from them, so the experience was different. During the first stage or two, I was nervous but then I settled. I had a great RO partner both days so that helped also.

I also witnessed my very first squib. Of course, I had no idea that it was a squib but I knew something was up. One of our shooters was about to shoot the stop plate in his first string when his gun made a popping sound. That is literally the best way to describe it. Pop. He shot again and both bullets came out! When he was getting ready to shoot his second string, I noticed the two hits on the stop plate. When he finished the stage, the other shooters said it was a squib. He checked to make sure his pistol was fine, and he finished the match. From stories I have heard, squibs seem dangerous and I am glad nothing bad happened.

I finished the match with a 76.72 in RFRO and a 74.90 in RFRI. I shot several personal bests at this match, and they will be included below:

RFRO-

  • Pendulum- 8.88
  • 5 To Go- 8.93

RFRI-

  • Pendulum- 9.51
  • Outer Limits- 11.92
  • Smoke & Hope- 7.21

I am glad we were finally able to travel to Florida. I had a great time talking to our Florida friends and seeing what the Sunshine State is all about! Considering how sunburnt I am after matches, one would think I could remember to bring sunscreen… Nope!

See y’all next time!

Sponsors:

Allchin Gun Parts

Hunters HD Gold

Vortex Optics

Hunting

TYHP Hunt: VF Ranch in Sonora, Texas

Well y’all, I finally did it! I shot a deer without blasting the shoulders off! You see, I tend to feel more comfortable taking heart shots, but I decided to make my dad happy by doing lung shots. As of now, I have harvested seven deer. Most of those were shoulder shots, and I have a good reason for loving shoulder shots. The first reason is because deer usually drop with heart shots. The second reason is because I know the shoulder is farther from the gut. It’s just a mental thing, really.

On Saturday morning, my dad and I went out to our blind. Before the sun was up, I saw something white just hopping around our view. I assumed it was a Blackbuck because I know Whitetail deer don’t have that much white on them. I guess Blackbuck does like jumping before sunrise…? Anyway, when the sun came up, we had several Whitetail bucks come out. I’m talking mature eight pointers to small spikes. We were loaded! Sadly, our job at this hunt was to shoot does. After watching the bucks act like bucks, I heard trampling. It sounded like a herd of tiny elephants were coming from behind us. Sure enough, several Aoudad came out. Because the bucks were chasing off does, I was glad that they gave the bucks a hard time. Imagine this scene: about 30 Aoudad under the feeder acting like hogs, an Axis spike being bullied by the Aoudad, and several big Whitetail bucks being scared of the Aoudad. It felt like I was watching National Geographic! After watching several does that never came into sight, I finally saw three Blackbuck does that were heading to a perfect spot. There was a big one, slightly smaller one, and one was the smallest. As I was aiming at the big doe, my dad told me to wait because he wasn’t sure they were grown. We’re used to Whitetail does and those Blackbuck does were tiny. He googled their size to make sure they were grown. By the time we were sure they were grown, the biggest and smallest Blackbuck doe had gone into the tree line and out of sight. I decided to go for the only one in view. We were elevated so I tried to take that into consideration while aiming at her. I took the shot and she dropped. I was happy to see the Aoudad stayed at the feeder! I also scared off the bucks. The shot was at 0830 and she was about 100 yards away. After calming down, I was back to business and ready for another. At 0925, I shot a Whitetail doe. She was around 120 yards out. This is the doe I shot perfectly!

At this hunt, I decided to try not blasting off the shoulders. I had two chances to prove I could do it and on the second deer, I did it. While I was shooting the first deer, I kind of forgot about my plan… At least I remembered for the second one! When I was aiming for the shot, I tried to aim about one inch from the shoulder. When I shot her, I swear she jumped up several feet and arched her back like a cat! I was scared that it was a bad shot, but my dad assured me it was a good one. He saw the exit and a lot of blood. When we went to find her, we had one heck of a blood trail. She spurted so much blood from the exit wound- blood was everywhere. I also saw pink foam which I knew meant a lung shot. This relieved me a little. We found her laying by a tree and I was worried. I legit asked my dad if she was for sure dead! I get spooked when my deer run off because my first four deer dropped on the spot. After learning that she was dead, I was thoroughly relieved.

Just like the other TYHP hunts I have gone on, this hunt was a blast. We were on the VF Ranch in Sutton County, Sonora, TX. I appreciate the owners for allowing us to hunt on their ranch!

I wore my Hunters HD Gold while hunting and I absolutely love them. Throughout our hunting time, I was looking at the deer with and without the glasses. Every single time I put them back on, I was amazed! The leaves were greener and the deer fur stood out more with the glasses on. Alongside Hunters HD Gold, I was hunting with my Vortex Viper. The Viper is clear and makes hunting easier. Both of the products paired together make a perfect team!

Now it’s time to debone the meat and grind it up; burgers, sausage, and jerky, here I come!!

Uncategorized

My Second Hunting Trip

A few weeks ago, I was in Junction, Texas at a Texas Youth Hunting Program hunt.  When we arrived on Friday, I was excited to meet the other hunters and guides. Also, we saw a herd of deer right after we drove into the location. Compared to last year, it was obvious the deer were healthier. This was very exciting!

During the two hunts I have been on, Fridays were for getting to know the hunters, guides, and for practicing. During practice time, the hunters shoot at a target and determine if they are ready to hunt. Usually, it is after this point when the hunters open up. At this hunt, Emily and I got along with the other girls instantly. We all cooked the first meal together and we were able to talk a lot during this time.

On Saturday morning, I was in a blind with my dad. Before daylight, we heard deer in the tree line. The feeder was about 100 yards in front of us, so we definitely couldn’t see them. As the sun was slowly making it’s way up, I definitely saw a rabbit. Now for the other “deer” I saw, they were just shadows… Anyhow, once the sun made it’s full grand entrance, the deer came out. We were surrounded by deer; soon, we had deer in front of us, behind us, and to both of our sides. I’ve never taken such slow deep breathes in my life! There were several spikes and other small bucks. I guess me killing Casanova (the 10 pointer from last year) must have allowed the other bucks to grow out and start their own dominances. We also saw a few Axis deer off to the side! They were not where I was comfortable shooting them, so I waited for them to come further out. They never did. I did find two eight pointers and I decided to go for the one with the largest body. It was also obvious that he was the dominant one of this herd. The feeder went off at 0800 and he just stood beneath it eating. He was constantly harassing the does that were trying to eat. This buck was an especially smart one. I assume he knew we were there as he always kept either his head or butt to us. When I had my perfect broadside view, I took the shot. He fell right under the feeder.

The other does came out fairly quick. They were very skeptical of us. They kept stomping at us waiting for a reaction. I gave them one… just not the reaction the doe wanted. But before I get ahead of myself, I am going to tell y’all what I accomplished at this hunt. This may not seem major, but I shot her while she was angled towards me. I had only ever shot deer while they were broadside. While I was aiming, I was wondering where I should hit. In my head, I tried to picture a doe with one line going through the heart at broadside then I added more angled lines for representation. This is hard to explain, but I think y’all understand that I tried to use angled lines made from the same entry point. I took the shot where I thought would be best. The shot entered just in front of the shoulder and it exited in the ribs. I about started panicking when she ran 20 yards. All my shots before this one were heart shots, so they instantly dropped. I was scared that I gut shot her, but I did have a little faith restored when she dropped. I took my binoculars and watched to see if she was still breathing. I felt a little better when I saw she died quickly.

Soon after, time was over and we checked on the deer. Everyone knows I beelined for the buck! I was not ready to see the doe yet. When we arrived to the feeder, I saw I had yet another heart shot. His body was just as big as Casanova’s from last year! I was having some major flashbacks. Next, we walked over to the doe. For some reason, I was scared she was still alive. That’s how terrified I was about her not dropping. As I saw earlier, she was dead.

That afternoon, I was in the blind where I shot Casanova last year. Also, I had the same guide that was with me. I was hoping maybe I could have the same luck I did last year. Sadly, I didn’t get that luck. I did see a herd of Axis, though! This was the second time I saw Axis during this trip. They never came into my view. However, two pairs of does came into my sight. I decided not to shoot them because they had yearlings with them. Also, I wasn’t too set on shooting another deer because I didn’t want to tag out. Then comes out a doe that looked different from the others. You could just look at her and be like, “Hm, something is different.” I had no idea what she was at the time, but I did notice that the whole one side of her tail was black. Also, she was more grey than whitetail. Another strange thing I noticed was she was alone. She was eating in front of us for over an hour. No other deer came with her. Two more things I noticed: her ears were more pointed and her belly was not white like a whitetail. I did some research and found that she looked like a blacktail deer! This is surprising and hard to believe because they are not in this area.

The next morning, I was hunting with my dad again. This is the last morning of the hunt. I decided early on that I was not shooting a deer unless it was an Axis. A few whitetail spikes and does came out. Just like what other people said about this blind, something was scaring them away. The deer kept looking off to the side where we can’t see. They soon ran off. We heard Axis barks and I was instantly excited. I waited for them until it was time for us to stop hunting. Earlier, we heard shots and I was sure at least one of them was Emily. We drove to pick up Emily and her guide hoping to see a deer or two. I was even hoping maybe she shot one of the Axis! Turns out the shots didn’t come from her.

Just like the last hunt, this hunt was very enjoyable. I had a great time talking to everyone and I appreciate all the hunting stories! I learned more about hunting and what the TYHP is for. The Texas Youth Hunting Program gives youths the opportunity to hunt and learn several things about hunting including wildlife conservation, harvesting, and tracking. So far, I have had a blast at every hunt!