Puddle ducks, also known as dabblers, are in a group that tips up the tail when feeding.
They also have large, powerful wings for vertical take-off, and their legs are positioned near the center of the body for easier movement on land. A colored wing patch, usually iridescent and called a speculum, is also unique to the puddle duck.
An area referred to as the Prairie Pothole region is a prime breeding area for ducks. The region is 1,000 miles long and about 300 miles wide extending from South Dakota northward to Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Regardless of whether you decide to join the American Rimfire Association or the United States Rimfire Association [see feature article, “Benchresting The .22 Rimfire], the first piece of hardware you must acquire is a rimfire firearm. The decision on which weapon to acquire will be driven by the organization you join and the events in which you want to participate. We'll do the easy one first: the American Rimfire Association.
Bench target rifles, like this lightweight .22, are almost always custom hybrids composed of various stock, barrel, action and optics options.
With the A.R.A., anything goes. You can show up at their meets with your grandfather's old Mossberg single shot, a throw pillow for a rest, and a box of .22 Shorts. You probably won't be in the winner's circle at the end of the day, but your score will be calculated and your point totals will begin to accumulate. As your interest grows, you'll probably want to move up the line to a heavier barreled rifle, with a custom stock, a custom trigger and a custom bolt action. You can equip your rifle with anything from open iron sights up to and including the biggest, baddest, most powerful telescopic sight you can fit on your rifle (and into your budget). It quickly becomes a question of affordability. Just how much money are those high scores worth to you? Most people work their way up the equipment chain slowly, so they can learn what works best for them and can spread the expense of the sport out over several years. Besides, buying, selling, trading and upgrading is all part of the sport!
If you join USRA-IR50/50, you first need to decide which of the three classes you want
This beauty, with a variegated stock and stainless steel scope, is a "typical" heavy bench rifle.
to compete in. Many folks decide that the Sporter Class is a good place to begin, and I tend to agree with them. This class allows a person to take his or her straight-shooting plinking or hunting rifle, mount a good scope on it, and at least have the equipment to turn in a credible performance on the first trip out to the range. Just remember as you put these two items together that you have a weight limit issue with which to deal. Take your scale along with you to the gun shop to make sure that the addition of that brand new scope doesn't put you out of the Sporter Class. As you move up from class to class, the potential for spending a great deal of money increases dramatically.
What kind of rifle should you purchase for the best accuracy? Conventional wisdom and years of experience indicate that, year after year, the top 100 winners in each organization shoot bolt actions, though the difference in accuracy between bolt actions and some of the better-made semi-automatics continues to close each year. Among the top scorers, actions built by Sako, Anschutz and Remington are favored.
Customizing rifles like this Sako Finnfire Sportser add to the fun (and expense) of serious rimfire shooting.
Now how about that scope to top off the shootin' iron? The good news is that there are a lot of excellent scopes from which to choose. The bad news is that they're expensive. Some of the top names in the benchrest optics world are Leupold and Weaver. You'll have to decide between several reticle choices and power ranges, experimenting to find out what the best configuration is for you.
Then there are gun rests, spotting scopes, wind flags, and on and on and on. It's great fun, but it's hardware-intensive and can get quite expensive.