Exmore American Legion

So here’s the predicament. Windy and rainy, unseasonably warm, and lack of hunting rights at my normal spots for spring turkey. Also, there was a fundraiser for The Freedom Hunters the same day. So, I made the decision to take a day off from hunting and scouting and join my colleague and brother (in the combat arms manner) to repeat my attendance at the now yearly outdoor shoot hosted by the Exmore American Legion.

This year was a little different. They added a pistol event, which greatly changed the scope of the entire shoot. This was also a great addition, which also made the teams finishing placement significantly different. Either you were on it, or you weren’t basically.

Here’s how it went down. It was a .22LR shoot. This separates the men from the boys (and we had women shooters too, so I use that term figuratively). First target was at 30 yards, 3 inches in size. Next 40 yards, at 4 inches. Next 60 yards, at 6 inches. Next 80 yards, at 8 inches. Then 100 yards, at 8 inches. And finally, 120 yards at 10 inches. Oh, it’s outdoor, standing off hand, with open sights. When I left the Virginia Beach area, it was windy and rainy. As I moved north, the weather subsided (so I thought). As my partner and I shot, the weather moved in.

The pistol side of the course was 10 yards, whatever you chose to shoot. 20 rounds total, 10 at a 10 inch target, and 10 at a 6 inch target. All the targets (rifle and pistol) were hanging by chains. This also adds a degree of difficulty. Any wind gust, you are battling it to hit the target. Also, rapid firing is not a good idea at the pistol course. You have to wait for the target to quit moving or you will miss. The pistol course was “the great equalizer” because it wasn’t complicated or difficult. So that made the points difference up against the weather issues you could have with the rifle.

As the weather moved in, it made it increasingly difficult to hit the longer targets. The ambient air temperature dropped, the rain moved in, and the air density increased significantly which made the ballistic coefficients of the bullet change enough to make a noticeable difference. So, round one went well, round two went okay for all of us.

One of the American Legion members happens to be a military collector, and also a gun enthusiast. He also likes to combine the two more frequently than his wife would prefer (so she says). He happened to have a numbers matching, original, museum quality M1 Garand. Beautiful weapon. After the shoot finished, he allowed some of us to shoot her, and man it was impressive! Personally, I’ve only shot the look-alikes, or the “well used” versions of this. I must say this was like walking into a piece of history. From the beautiful and amazing finish of this one, to the distinct sound of a 7.62mm round going off, and the timeless sound of the clip shooting out of the breach saying “feed me”, numbers all matching, even down to the Lubri-Plate lithium grease on the bolt, absolutely incredible. And we all thanked him very much for letting us shoot her. That was just one of the many we shot that day.

All of us did well! All of us had a great and safe time! It’s times like these that I’m glad to be a part of The Freedom Hunters. We got to raise a good chunk of money to get the guys out in the field, and we had a good time doing it! A bit of a drive, but WELL worth it!

-Bill Vahle, Fall Obsession Field Staff

Samuel Thrash