Extreme Benchrest (EBR), Extreme Heat!
Early October 2023, and it's time again for one of the great events in the airgunner’s calendar – EBR in Arizona.
My first one was 12 years ago, when the inaugural EBR was held in the ample grounds of a retirement complex for the over 50s in Tucson! Some time ago, it moved to the Rio Salado Sportsman's Club in the hills just to the northwest of Phoenix. Over these years, I’ve watched the event grow to a truly international gathering, with competitors from all over the world - Australia, Russia, Germany, Sweden, Patagonia, South Africa, the UK of course, and many, many other countries. So what was going on this year?
I was headed for the BA direct flight to Phoenix. I was expecting an aircraft but, in an apparent cost cutting exercise, we were going by bus.
We did eventually board a larger bus, with wings, and 11 hours later I found myself chatting to a super friendly immigration officer… “so you’re here to attend an airgun competition? My brother’s into airguns, you’ll probably see him there. Welcome to Phoenix, sir.”
BA289, from LHR, arriving in Phoenix
Leaving the terminal, I was faced with a wall of heat. Even though it was 6.30pm, the temperature was around 39C. I was to learn that between 5 & 6pm in Phoenix is when it's hottest. It was to be the story of the week.
I was fortunate to be staying in a huge 9 bedroom house with some very interesting people. My old chum Stephen Archer of Hard Air Magazine was there; also the renowned hunter and writer, Jim Chapman; Jessica from @iguanaSnipers, and various other media personalities. We were joined by Alan and Debbie Scoles from Australia – the last time we met up at EBR, Alan (solo photo) had shot fabulously well using an Aztec scope to win the One Gun Challenge (4 disciplines using only 1 gun/scope).
Being at EBR is always an education. Despite many years travelling the world, I’ve never sampled the joys of vegemite. Debbie told me the secret – “don’t lather it on, just a smear across some toast and you’ll be fine.” I’m neither a Bovril or a Marmite man, so I didn’t hold out much hope for a successful savoury. Debbie was right, of course, the Vegemite went down a total treat. I am a convert.