Howard Delo

I attended my second “Bang ‘n Clang” shooting match this past Sunday. As I’ve mentioned before, the match consists of a total of forty shots, ten each at four different animal silhouettes set at four different distances. The chickens sit on a steel rail fifty meters away. The pigs are one hundred meters distant; the geese are 150 meters out and the rams are two hundred meters from the firing line. A hit is scored if the steel target is knocked totally off the rail. Anything else, even knocking down a target out of sequence, is scored as a miss.

The match is shot in relays where a shooter and a spotter for each silhouette target set compete in a ten-minute period. You can only have four shooters in each relay. When the time is up, the line is made safe, and folks go down to reset the silhouettes for the next relay.

Last Sunday’s match saw nineteen shooters, many being new shooters like myself. There are three classes of shooters. The first are those shooting rifles with iron sights offhand. The second is for those shooting scoped rifles offhand. The third is for shooters shooting off a tripod, cross sticks, or off a bench rest. Any caliber firearm in any action type is allowed, but the ammunition must only utilize a lead bullet with no gas check to minimize damage to the silhouette targets.

Shooters were using the full range of guns and calibers. Some shot Sharps and Remington Rolling Block rifles, while others shot British Lee-Enfield, Springfield, or Moisin-Nagant bolt-action military guns in their original military calibers. Still others used modern, long-range scoped target bolt-action rifles in 308-caliber. All the shooting is for fun. Competition only includes bragging rights for the day.

This sounds more complicated than it is once you understand how the match works. While you would think knocking all the targets down while shooting a high-powered rifle off a bench rest would be easy, it is harder than you might think. Things like weather, light conditions, temperature, how well the targets show up against the backstop berms, and other factors all have an influence on scoring.

My partner was Pat Reed, a long-time friend who is a national-class shooter in the muzzleloading venue. Pat was shooting a Sharps rifle in 30-30 caliber using iron sights. He was shooting offhand. I was shooting a Cadet Martini single-shot action in 357 Magnum caliber from a tripod support. I shot a 26 while Pat shot a 24. The light was dim and flat in the solid overcast conditions, making seeing the targets difficult against the similarly colored backstop berms. One ram at two hundred meters was almost invisible in these conditions.

After the regular match, a turkey shoot was held involving nine shooters. The iron sight competitors shot at a chicken silhouette at 150 meters while the scoped shooters shot at their chicken at two hundred meters. Everybody fired one shot. If somebody had hit their target while everyone else missed during that round, the match would have been over, and the successful shooter would have won the turkey.

Everybody missed the first round. The second round saw me hit my chicken while everybody else missed. The turkey weights 17 ½ pounds and is a welcome addition for our Thanksgiving dinner. In all fairness, the turkey shoot was held in failing light and the only reason I hit my target was the bright orange spot painted on it. I could only see the orange and nothing else.

Going a different direction, this past Wednesday, Nov. 10, saw the opening of the general trapping season across Alaska. We discussed in an earlier column about non-trappers being aware of what is happening in areas and on trails they tend to frequent while hiking with their pets. We also mentioned how responsible trappers would avoid the more frequently used recreational areas folks used.

Trapping is a lawful activity necessary to help in managing certain populations of wild animals, but it needs to be conducted in a manner to minimize conflicts with other outdoor user groups.

This new cold snap should help the quality of fur being caught, but I’m not sure furs will be all that great for a while after the warm fall we have been experiencing. I sold most of my trapping gear to a friend interested in learning about trapping. He’s been looking for someone to show him what to do. I hope he gets good instruction.

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