US AIRGUNS

The Pyra­myd Air Cup

Airgun World - - Contents -

Deep in the heart of the lush, rolling Ohio coun­try­side lies the small town of New Philadel­phia, and here, at the Tusco Ri­fle Club, we are at the fourth an­nual Pyra­myd Air Cup, al­ready one of the sta­ple events in the US field tar­get shoot­ing cal­en­dar.

PYRA­MYD AIR – A GEN­UINE GI­ANT

The Pyra­myd Air Cup is spon­sored and run by Pyra­myd Air. If you haven’t heard of Pyra­myd, a lit­tle back­ground may be in or­der: You see, Pyra­myd Air is the world’s largest, ded­i­cated air­gun re­tailer. Based in rel­a­tively nearby Cleve­land, Pyra­myd has around 70 em­ploy­ees, a vast ware­house and an equally vast web­site of­fer­ing no less than 5,000 – yes FIVE THOU­SAND – in­di­vid­ual air­gun prod­ucts.

Like many great Amer­i­can busi­nesses, Pyra­myd Air started with one man and a vi­sion in his garage. That man, Josh Ungier, built up the com­pany to where it is to­day, start­ing 20 years ago from his base­ment, and just last year he took a well-earned re­tire­ment. It’s a tra­di­tional Amer­i­can suc­cess story.

As you can imag­ine, ev­ery­one in the US air­gun world has heard of Pyra­myd, so when they hold their an­nual Pyra­myd Air Cup, peo­ple come from far and wide to at­tend.

350 MILES AWAY AND I WAS CLOSE

I trav­elled 350 miles, a nearly six-hour car trip, to be at this shoot and I was one of the closer at­ten­dees. There are shoot­ers here from Cal­i­for­nia to Canada to Puerto Rico; in fact, there are around 100 field tar­get shoot­ers reg­is­tered, mak­ing this one of the largest FT gath­er­ings in the US, and cer­tainly the best at­tended of the 2017 sea­son, so far.

Be­cause of Pyra­myd Air’s im­por­tance, man­u­fac­tur­ers also come here to sup­port the event. There are rep­re­sen­ta­tives from scope man­u­fac­tur­ers, Leapers and Hawke Op­tics; air­gun man­u­fac­tur­ers Air Force and Diana are here, with To­bias Sch­midt who has trav­elled all the way from Ger­many to at­tend.

Pel­let-wise, JSB is rep­re­sented by its US dis­trib­u­tor, Preda­tor In­ter­na­tional, whilst the Gen­eral Man­ager of H&N, Flo­rian

“a great time, but don’t get me wrong, the com­pe­ti­tion is deadly se­ri­ous”

Schwartz, is an­other to come over from Ger­many for the shoot.

A VERY AMER­I­CAN SHOOT

The ar­ray of prizes on of­fer is glit­ter­ing, too. In ad­di­tion to many cups for the win­ners, there’s a to­tal of $15,000 – that’s about 12,000 quid in real money – to be won as prizes, mainly as airguns and scopes, but also some as cash, and Pyra­myd Air also was selling a large range of prod­ucts at 20% off. Many at­ten­dees found that they just had to buy them­selves a new air ri­fle, as you can imag­ine.

Not only this, but Pyra­myd Air also makes avail­able a se­lec­tion of airguns avail­able for at­ten­dees to try out, and they’re not cheap mod­els ei­ther. There are air ri­fles from Ata­man, Air Force (the Amer­i­can ver­sion of Gun­power), Kral, Air Arms, Diana, and more. Many peo­ple took the op­por­tu­nity to check out the new $300 Umarex Gaunt­let, reg­u­lated PCP air ri­fle, and the new Diana Storm­rider, a multi-shot PCP air ri­fle that’s about to be sold for un­der $200, although un­reg­u­lated.

So the Pyra­myd Air Cup is part shoot – ac­tu­ally the most part – but also re­tail shop and some­thing of a cir­cus. This is a very Amer­i­can way of hold­ing a field tar­get shoot and ev­ery­one has a great time, but don’t get me wrong, the com­pe­ti­tion is deadly se­ri­ous and you’ll see sev­eral mem­bers of the US Field Tar­get Team here com­pet­ing hard to win.

THREE DAYS OF FT FUN

The Pyra­myd Air Cup is a three-day event, run­ning from Fri­day to Sun­day one week­end in late Au­gust. Day One sees ev­ery­one gather, re­con­nect with old friends and meet new ones. The prac­tice ranges are open as all the shoot­ers check their guns for the fi­nal time. Al­most ev­ery­one is shoot­ing .177 cal­i­bre, of course, and PCPs far out­num­ber springers.

The power limit for FT com­pe­ti­tion in the USA is 20 ft.lbs. That’s in def­er­ence to the tar­gets, rather than for any other rea­son, although there are some 12 ft.lbs. guns here too, and they’re mainly fielded by real spe­cial­ists who want to keep close to the ori­gins of FT shoot­ing.

There are high-end FT rigs from Daystate, Steyr, Air Arms, FX, Weihrauch and Thomas.

You name it, it’s here. Many se­ri­ous com­peti­tors also use Ben­jamin Ma­raud­ers, which are a very popular prod­uct this side of the pond. Of course, they’re all in .177 cal­i­bre, or at least al­most all.

One of the rare .22 cal­i­bre guns is be­ing used by Rossi Mor­reale, the host of the ‘Amer­i­can Airgunner’ tele­vi­sion pro­gramme. Yes, in the US there’s a prime-time show on broad­cast TV ded­i­cated to airguns! Rossi’s shoot­ing a pre-pro­duc­tion ver­sion of the new Umarex Gaunt­let, the new sub-$300 reg­u­lated PCP that has ev­ery­one talk­ing over here right now.

IT’S FIELD TAR­GET, JIM - BUT NOT AS WE KNOW IT

It’s fair to say that there are a lot of sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween field tar­get com­pe­ti­tion as shot in the UK com­pared to that shot here in the USA.

Firstly, this is field tar­get in its var­i­ous classes: Hunter, Open, WFTC etc., and there are sep­a­rate di­vi­sions for springers and PCPs, of course, but there is no Hunter Field Tar­get class. This dis­ci­pline is al­most com­pletely un­known in the USA, although I be­lieve it has gained ground just north of the bor­der in Canada. When I asked some com­peti­tors at the Pyra­myd Air Cup – ded­i­cated field tar­get shoot­ers, all – none had never heard of HFT!

You’ll no­tice that there’s no grov­el­ing about in the mud ei­ther. Al­most no one shoots field tar­get prone. The nor­mal ‘non-stand­ing, non-kneel­ing’ shoot­ing pos­ture is for the Amer­i­can field tar­get shooter to sit on a low stool; empty five-gal­lon paint buck­ets are also popular. The fore end of the ri­fle is sup­ported on a bi­pod, or ‘sticks’ as they’re called here, and a few shoot from the seated po­si­tion on a ‘bum bag’, as an al­ter­na­tive.

Round One of the field tar­get com­pe­ti­tion be­gins on Satur­day morn­ing and runs un­til a late lunch. Round Two takes place on Sun­day with sim­i­lar tim­ing.

SPEED SIL­HOU­ETTE, ANY­ONE?

Although field tar­get shoot­ing is the main event, ‘The Cup’ also fea­tures the Pyra­myd Air Gun­slyn­ger (ouch!) com­pe­ti­tion. This is a speed sil­hou­ette shoot with tiny, one-inch high, an­i­mal tar­gets set out in lines at ranges be­tween 10 and 55 yards from the shooter. It pro­vides a lot of fast-fir­ing fun for both the par­tic­i­pants and spec­ta­tors.

This is a ‘sud­den death’ event. Two com­peti­tors shoot against the clock to knock down the sil­hou­ettes, and the win­ner goes through to the next round.

In­ter­est­ingly, this speed sil­hou­ette com­pe­ti­tion is one where break-bar­rel springers are the favoured type of gun – they’re faster to cock and load than multi-shot PCPs. There’s a sep­a­rate class for PCPs, be­cause the need to load the magazine al­ways makes these times slower.

WALES HERE WE COME

The Pyra­myd Air Cup shoot is run by Tyler Pat­ner, a mem­ber of the US Field Tar­get Team. He, Ray Apelles, Greg Suave and other well-known US Field Tar­get Team mem­bers are present and com­pet­ing at the event. This is one of the last shoots be­fore they head off across the Pond to Wales for the World Field Tar­get Cham­pi­onships. They’ll see you there!

Rossi Mor­reale is the host of the ‘Amer­i­can Airgunner’ TV show. He takes the min­i­mal­ist ap­proach with his Umarex Gaunt­let, but brought a TV crew with him.

There are many choices for how to sight-in your air ri­fle.

En­trance to the Tusco Ri­fle Club.

Springers are in fash­ion for the Gun­slyn­ger speed sil­hou­ette shoot.

Thomas air ri­fles are mak­ing an im­pact among se­ri­ous com­peti­tors. With no si­lencer, they are LOUD! The cart to carry the gear is op­tional – it could be four-wheel drive, you never know!

This com­peti­tor demon­strates the sim­ple ap­proach with his Daystate Air­wolf.

A US Field Tar­get Team mem­ber com­petes in the Springer class.

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