column By: Steve Garbe | June, 21
I find myself having just returned from another great series of matches in Phoenix, Arizona. This being the “Year of COVID-19,” there were some challenges in just traveling back and forth to Phoenix. Closed restaurants and restricted motel accommodations. But for the most part, once a person was at Ben Avery it was business as usual – lots of BPTR shooting! While my interests lie mostly in the long-range events, there was plenty of shooting for anyone in our sport. An 80-shot BPCR Silhouette match. A 60-shot, 800- to 900-yard match. A three-day, 80-shot, 1,000-yard match. A .22 Creedmoor 30-shot match. And last but not least, a two-day, 60-shot, midrange match. It was all taken care of by the AZWINS organization, which from my view consists of Bill Loughrige, Zack Taylor, Skip Burke, Greg Burri, Steve Farringer and multiple other people who share a real passion for this sport. Not to mention all the sponsors who donate the prizes, food and drinks!
This year found yet another national organization pulling out of Phoenix and the big Black Powder Target Rifle matches. But this time when the USIMLT left, they were kind enough to sell their target trailer with a complete set of 30 targets to the AZWINS group at a very reasonable price! This made the shooting on targets of the very best quality much simpler and easier for Skip. The trailer will also provide a much-needed storage container, so things will be ready to go next March. Thank you, USIMLT.
I find both the AZWINS organization and the BPTRA to be personally very encouraging to me in regard to our sport. Both groups have stepped up to the plate and continue moving forward with matches that are professionally run and of high quality. They did it after, for one reason or another, the NRA, the NMLRA and now the USIMLT have not found our groups significant enough. And, they do it with genuine enthusiasm for the sport. We need to remember to support those who support us.
Twin Valley, Minnesota
AZWINS is a “Win-Win” for Black Powder Shooters
A few years back when the NMLRA pulled out at the last minute from Ben Avery range and the Western Black Powder Nationals, a small group of U.S. and international shooters pulled together, pooled their money and efforts, and said, “We love our sport, we love Ben Avery range and we will continue to come to Phoenix in the spring. Long-range competitors, Cees Kalfsvel of the Netherlands, Mike and Gill Alexandre from the Isle of Jersey, Zack Taylor, Skip Burks, Ray Hanson and myself from the U.S., worked on the long-range program, while Bill Loughrige headed up the short-range program with the help of several short-range shooters. And AZWINS was reborn; an independent group of volunteers with no boards, no dues, no chairman, and who held a successful shoot the very first year. Ray Hanson and I brought the USIMLT Nationals to Ben Avery and helped make the long-range competition a Triple Crown event with three separate long-range matches back-to-back, making it the most days of long-range shooting anywhere in the world. Competitors from New Zealand, Isle of Jersey, the Netherlands and Norway came and said, “This is the best match ever.”
After several years of great attendance and success, the USIMLT decided to change leadership and pull out of Phoenix, but that didn’t stop these dedicated long-range shooters from coming. Even though the numbers were down slightly this year because of COVID-19, there was still good attendance and AZWINS is here to stay. If black-powder shooters come from all over the U.S. and foreign countries, travelling sometimes as much as four days and thousands of miles, AZWINS must be doing something right.
AZWINS has only one requirement – come to have fun and allow fellow shooters to do the same.
Roan Mountain, Tennessee
(We were glad to hear of the success of the recent BPC rifle extravaganza at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Arizona, and the favorable reviews by many veteran black-powder riflemen such as Ray Hanson and Ed Decker. It would seem that determined competitors have decided to preserve and encourage BPC rifle shooting in the face of adversity, much of it unnecessary and hard to fathom. Our hat is off to those who have shown the initiative to start the new organizations that will keep black-powder cartridge rifle shooting alive and well. – Steve Garbe)