Note: Kyle Wright was announced as the winner of Blaser’s and Sporting Classics’ “Why hunting has a future” Short Story Contest in December 2015. Last month he traveled to Isny, Germany, for a special tour of the Blaser, Mauser, and J.P. Sauer factories. To read his winning submission, click here.
Waidmannsheil! In the German language it means something like “hunter’s luck,” and though I can’t pronounce it, I’m apparently full of it.
At my in-laws’ house for the 2015 holidays, I was thumbing through Facebook when I saw that a winner had been named in Sporting Classics’ and Blaser’s Short Story Contest. I’d entered the contest, but almost as an afterthought. I’d actually spent hours working on another contest entry and had only seen this one a day or two before its deadline.
Reading the announcement more out of curiosity than anticipation, I spotted my name and immediately turned to my wife for confirmation that I was really reading what I thought I was reading. After all, a premium rifle and a trip to Isny, Germany, hadn’t been on my Christmas list.
Wanting further confirmation, I shot off a couple of emails, but as it was December 23, everyone would be out of the office till January. I finally got hold of Blaser-USA’s CFO, Janet McDougall, and began the process of choosing a caliber for my new R8 Professional S. It was a decision I agonized in ecstasy over, making my mind up one day only to change it the next. I initially thought I’d opt for something exotic, but after a conversation with my father, I eventually settled on the tried-and-true .30-06.
I had the rifle shipped to Mike Engster, the only Blaser dealer in Oklahoma and, ironically, a native of Germany. After attaching Blaser’s unique scope mount and a new Zeiss scope, I took the rifle to the field. Shots six, seven, and eight through the .30-06’s barrel fit inside a dime.
After consulting schedules and bouncing dates back and forth with Blaser-USA CEO Christian Socher and outdoor writer and television host Ron Spomer, we planned a trip for early July that ultimately and unfortunately didn’t work out. So we set our sights on September. I was disappointed to learn that Ron Spomer wouldn’t be able to make those dates work with his schedule, but I was also somewhat relieved, as I’d just returned from another trip out of the country.
A Blaser representative was waiting as I stepped off the plane, and together we made the drive southwest from Munich to Isny. Tobias Fehr, who works in Blaser’s International Marketing department, picked me up late the next morning and ferried me to the factory, where we met Mathias Psotta, Regional Sales Manager, and Bernhard Knöbel, CEO, for lunch on the factory’s campus.
After lunch we made our way to the factory’s shooting cinema, where I pulled the trigger on a variety of R8s, all chambered in .308. We shot freehand at moving targets, in this case video-projected boar, and I was reminded of the reason I brace on a steady rest and stop an animal before I shoot.
Tobias then led us on a tour of the factory, where I was more impressed than enlightened. Honestly, much of what the factory revealed was beyond my scope. What I did understand was that the world-renowned German engineering and attention to detail is alive and well in the Blaser factory.
Of particular note were the use of the “Toyota Way” in production and the independent testing of all rifles.
A visit to the custom shop opened the door to possibility, if not probability, and the tour finished with cold drinks and conversation with Alexandra Baur, Blaser’s Head of PR.
The following day found us shooting sporting clays at Dornsberg with faithful Tobias and Jess Moore, a Blaser sponsored shooter. Most of my trigger pulls with a shotgun in hand end with a turkey flopping, and I don’t often have to lead a target, so the instruction I received at Dornsberg was elementary but immensely helpful.
Others have written more authoritatively than I about the product Blaser produces, but what makes the Blaser R8 unique in my experience is not only the combination of so many premium features—the versatility of modular barrels, the safety of a decocker and a removable trigger assembly, the speed of a straight-pull bolt action—but also the innovation and passion with which Blaser operates. In a world where you don’t always get what you pay for, Blaser swings the pendulum back to plumb.
Many thanks, Blaser and Sporting Classics Daily. Let’s do it again sometime.