Perhaps some of you have driven by the Pistol & Smallbore range at Willow River on a Saturday or Sunday when a match is in progress. You may have seen dozens of multi colored flags, daisy wheels, streamers and a lot of serious looking people with some pretty nice rifles. Our very own Willow River Rod & Gun club is one of the top venues in the nation for rimfire benchrest competition. The colorful flags you see in the range during a match are a rimfire shooters best friend, wind flags.
Wind flags you ask? On a 50 yard range? Well as it turns out the average 22 match bullet leaves the barrel around 1060fps, subsonic. A 10mph perpendicular crosswind can move that bullet sideways 1 inch at 50 yards. An inch may not seem like a lot, but the competitors are shooting at a 1 millimeter dot (0.040”) that represents the X on an IR50/50 target. An inch sideways means scoring a 4 or 5 out of 10 on that bullseye rather than a 10 or 10X. Understanding the wind and its implications is entirely different than shooting well in it yet we have several regional shooters that do both extremely well.
With an understanding of the wind, good shooters, and good equipment, you have a recipe for excellence. Of over 700 national competitors at various ranges around the country we have 12-15 regulars attending the events here. Now and then we’ll get a shooter from Illinois, Iowa, Arkansas, and elsewhere out traveling and looking for national points. The competition is tough. In IR50, 10 of the regular competitors at Willow River finished the 2013 national season in the top 100. At one time 8 of them were in the top 25. In ARA, 5 of our regulars finished in the top 10 nationally. It’s not all about competition though. I can say with certainty that I have made some great friends through the sport and the camaraderie is second to none. I have learned more about shooting and accuracy from shooting with this crowd than I ever could have hoped to through trial and error or reading endless articles and web pages. I have also had a lot of fun, getting out and getting some trigger therapy with good people.
So how does this work? At Willow River we shoot matches under 2 sanctioning bodies. The USRA – IR50/50 and ARA. The targets and how they are scored