Central Pennsylvania

I absolutely love central Pennsylvania, from the southern border with Maryland all the way up to New York state. Every bit of it is gorgeous and the people are warm and friendly.

Years ago, I spent a lot of time in and around State College up in the north central part of the state. On weekends, I hiked small segments of the Appalachian Trail that passes through the area. It was there one fall I came across a very large, mature buck who had frozen at my approach but, when my unseeing footsteps came within a dozen yards, it bolted and gave me one of the most severe starts I’ve ever experienced. That was one large animal!

Recently, I shot the Dutchman 2700 at the Palmyra Sportsmen’s Association outside of Harrisburg. Depending on local road and bridge construction, this can be an interesting club to find but, once there, there’s no need to go elsewhere.

Jeff Lutz runs the show from registrations to running the statistics during the match to having the final scores posted just a few minutes after the final shot has been fired. And I must say that was one of the best run matches I’ve ever attended. (Wish I could say my Slow Fire targets turned out that good but, oh well.)

One of the small but convenient touches was having a menu from a local sandwich shop available at the beginning of the 2700, taking lunch orders from all the shooters, and then having the sandwiches back at the range when it was time to eat. It gave everyone more time to visit, more time to relax, and more time to just enjoy the whole experience.

Nicely done, Jeff. Very nice indeed!

Since I’m travelling on business and by air to most of these events, I travel light. My “kit” includes a S&W Model 41 (22 automatic) and a custom Essex 1911 (45 ACP), both with iron sights. The 22 is exactly as it came from Smith & Wesson and, other than the factory replacing the extractor after it disappeared while shooting, I’ve done nothing except keep it reasonably clean and lubricated.

The Essex 1911 is another story. I purchased it from another shooter who said it had been custom built for Air Force shooters in the 1960s. By the time it reached me forty years later, the gun was well worn. Indeed, if I shook my hand while holding it, automobiles would stop at nearby railroad crossings and look for the on-coming train. So, I sent the gun to Dave Salyer for an overhaul. Today, although you can see the mileage it’s been through, it’s a straight-shooter. (I value the same attributes in people.)

Also on this trip, I finally got to meet Tony Brong whose blog I’ve read, enjoyed and learned from on many occasions. I’ve left Tony a comment or two over time, he has left me a lot of encouraging comments and suggestions, and we’ve slowly built a long-distance friendship without ever meeting.

But finally, the timing of a business trip perfectly fit that of this annual match at Tony’s home club and, when I told Tony I’d be there, he generously invited me to stay at his home. And on Saturday morning before we left for the match, Laura fixed us a pair of perfectly balanced, high protein breakfasts. (And from my scores, I can see I should’ve asked her to make something as a pick-me-up before my center fire.)

In the match’s final standings, Tony almost won the 22 competition coming in a very close second (878 versus 874) with the 22. For perspective, over the nine targets in that aggregate, promoting a couple of 8s to 10s would’ve tied him in first. That’s some very fine work!

And in the overall rankings for the 2700, Tony took 4th place.

Even better, in the EIC match, Tony won! In so doing, he also earned more of those extremely difficult to get “leg points.” Both a Master ranking and a Distinguished Pistol award are fast approaching for Tony.

Also shooting at this match was another individual I’ve come to know but never met, Neil Kravits, of NSK Sales. (Neil’s business is just over the line in Maryland.) Before I began reloading my own ammunition, I was a very happy customer of Neil’s for quite some time. He makes a top quality product at a very reasonable cost. My local postal carrier asked more than once, “What the hell is in this damn heavy box, 2000 rounds of ammunition or something?”

I would smile as I answered, “Yes.”

Since then, I’ve invested the money and the time to do my own reloading, and not a little of either. Making a top quality reload is, I have discovered, no small feat. Regardless of my move to making my own ammunition, however, Neil has continued to be a participant by recommending loads and measurements and sharing his considerable expertise, all without pay.

And ending the day was a wonderful home-cooked meal at Tony and Laura’s, one that I really appreciated with a week of teaching still ahead of me.

Sunday was another travel day as I drove west toward my work near Pittsburg.

I don’t know what the state of Pennsylvania considers to be its “central” portion but I’d have to say that, based on my many experiences there over many years, the “center” of which they can be proud is very, very wide.

Thanks Tony, and thanks to Palmyra and all of central Pennsylvania!


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