Black Powder rifles rise with the sun in New Mexico
Raton, New Mexico - As the sun was barely peeking over the horizon at the NRA Whittington Center, a crowd gathered for the opening meeting of this year's Black Powder Target Rifle Championships. There were a couple new faces in the crowd as shooters rubbed the sleep from their eyes and greeted friends they see only a few times each year.
"I heard I'm squadded next to you this year. I'm sorry," one competitor joked to another. "Do you like me new hat?" another asked. "Not at all," his buddy replied with a hint of a smile.
"I want to thank you all for coming out," Match Director Jonathan Leighton began. "We've got a great match coming up this week and a $35,000 prize table when it's all over."
Featuring Pelican cases, Leupold scopes, black powder and so much more, every one of this year's competitors will likely walk away with items valued higher than their entry fees thanks to the championship's generous sponsors.
"We have a few new shooters this year so I want you to please help each other out with any rules issues when we're on the line," Leighton continued. "I want everyone to have a good match and to want to come back next year."
Unfortunately one of last year's competitors couldn't make it. Judge O'Bannon, who was one of the matches' colorful characters, passed away earlier this year. Before competitors moved down to the 200-yard line for the year's first shots, a moment of silence was held for their friend.
For the next four days competitors will be shooting the Midrange Championship, seeing targets at distances of 200, 300 and 600 yards. This weekend the Creedmoor Championship will push everyone back for some long range shooting at 800, 900 and 1,000 yards.
Good luck shooters and stay hydrated.