Friday, April 27, 2012

Chamberlin Ranch Review

The long awaited Chamberlin Ranch shoot has come and gone.
With a couple of weeks passed I can finally take a few minutes to sit back and talk about it.

This shoot is held on a large private ranch just a couple miles outside Los Olivos, CA.
There are no facilities on the ranch other than a couple water spigots and the road into the area used for the shoot is graded dirt.
Everything works fine... until something unplanned for happens.

We pulled up to the gate into the ranch on Wednesday afternoon. I'd hoped to get there Tuesday but getting everything together took a day longer than I expected.
The little section of dirt between the paved road and the iron gate was extremely muddy. That's when I first began thinking that this could be interesting.
As I opened up the gate a fellow wandered over from a tractor parked inside the gate and asked me if I had 4wd on my truck or 2wd. When I allowed that I had two wheel drive he said, "well, you're not going to make it. Go as far as you can and when you get stuck I'll hook up the tractor and pull you the rest of the way."

I got all of ten feet inside the gate before I was spinning the wheels.
He backed up and we hooked up for the ride.

Once at the top of the hill he unhooked us and went back to the gate to await the next arrival, leaving us to slip and slide down the road into the little valley where the shoot is held. We scooted right past the small practice course alongside the road and two groups of archers stopped to watch and wave encourgement. I hollered out the window to one group and asked if anyone remembers an "E" ticket?

The rest of the day went about as normal, we found the spot we wanted to set up in and got the truck unloaded. Gary and Diane came over to greet us. They'd gotten in on Tuesday before the rain and hadn't had any issue with their motorhome on the road in.
Thursday and Friday had some rather poor weather with plenty of rain, some wind, and more than a little thunder and lightening. I saw a couple canopies get loose and at least one motorhome awning was flipped over the top of the rig. I was pretty glad that we'd lined out our canopies well and staked the tent tightly.
As had been predicted, Saturday and Sunday had great weather. The road quickly began to dry out and was completely useable by the time we left Sunday afternoon.

The road condition was very unfortunate. The tractor wasn't available the whole time and a number of people ended up camping at the front gate so they could walk into the shoot area. A few lucky folks were able to have their gear ferried in by 4wd pickup and just parked their cars at the gate.
Most unfortunate were the people who decided the conditions weren't right for them and turned around to go home. I could hardly blame them, camping at the road and then walking in wasn't what most folks were prepared to do... and the rain Friday really was pretty heavy at times, not everyone is prepared to spend time in weather like that.
The folks who run the shoot have said that they will not be caught unprepared like that again and the road will be well graveled to ward off any mud issues next year.

It was a good shoot for me. I sold some arrows, sold out (again!) on beef jerky, and got some great compliments on my work. We got wet, we dried out, we slept poorly, and then slept some more.
I didn't get to shoot any of the courses but I got to meet and speak with a number of great folks so that made up for the personal lack of archery.
I can hardly wait for next year!

This is a very fun shoot and is much closer to home for most of us. I'll be getting there Friday afternoon to set up the booth and establish camp at the adjacent county park.
I'll be a great weekend!

Happy Archery!