Hunter Field Target - 10 Recommended HFT Accessories
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- Last updated: 26/01/2017
As Hunter Field Target becomes increasingly popular, so more and more dedicated accessories are becoming available. My selection here is a mixture of the obvious but vital items that any competitor needs to carry with them, alongside a few of the specialist products now emerging. It serves as a general pointer as to some of the basics required and things to consider, in order enjoying this fast growing sport. I should like to point out that I have not mentioned pellet pouches as I covered them last month in my look at the top Field Target equipment, but it goes without saying that they are equally essential to HFT too. Prices quoted in most cases are a recommended retail.
I never did quite see the attraction in throwing yourself on the floor, into mud or hard ground, like some of the hardened hunters on the circuit. Slowly but surely all are seeing sense, and the once rare sight of a shooting mat at competitions, is now becoming commonplace. Rangesports’ mat design is simply one of the best I’ve seen, irrespective of price. Measuring 672 x 30” when extended, and 30x18x3” when folded, it’s four part design is just spot-on and features two carry handles. Constructed from heavy duty waterproof Cordura, with extra strong nylon edging. Padding comes in the form of 10mm closed-cell foam, and is really up to the job! Mats are available with or without a large zipped pocket, and in eight different colours: black, green, navy, red, cherry, orange, DPM camo, and grey; so there’s plenty of choice. Other makes are out there, but these are a real investment
Living in Britain means rain! So what’s needed, to stop our treasured kit getting unnecessarily soaked, is a lightweight water-resistant hard or soft case to carry through the course of fire. Few cases are actually waterproof, but it can help in light rain and In the peak of summer, it can also make sense to protect the rifle/ scope combo from intense sunlight, as this can, in extreme circumstances, cause a zero shift. All sound a bit fussy? Maybe, but if top results are your aim, then attention to detail wins the day. A plethora of cases exist, and for the purposes here, if they are large enough, they’ll probably do. Straight forward hard plastic varieties such as any from the Plano range seem very popular, so they are listed here, but many generally available gun slips will do the job.
Out on a competition target course, the cold can really set in, but with some dedicated shooting gloves, you can keep warm, and still be able to deal with fiddly loading procedures.
Jack Pyke’s Hunter’s Mittens are an incredibly cosy option, which, not only cosset the hands but also offer an array of impressive features. They are breathable, waterproof, and silent in use. Not a bad start, but add in a Polar fleece cuff and lining, that sits high up the wrist, and you begin to see their value in harsh conditions. The main flap of the mitten folds right back, and is secured by a small magnet. Similarly, the thumb section also folds backwards, and with both flaps up, individual digits are free, and thumb and forefinger, importantly, are exposed. This applies to both gloves, and all importantly, allows for total sensitivity with regards to pellet handling, and trigger pull. Cosy, and highly versatile; so they deserve the full thumbs up. Just make sure any alternative is at least waterproof!
Stating that a good pair of waterproof boots makes sense for HFT may seem obvious, but it’s a point worth hammering home. Many types will be suitable, but with the chief provisos of being strong, durable and waterproof, it makes sense to purchase from brands with pedigree in this area. I’ve shot for the last few seasons, in ‘Hunter Boots’, from Jack Pyke, and they offer solid comfort, and dependable design. As such, they come highly recommended as a sound investment.
As HFT has evolved, with ever more challenging targets, we have sought to up our game where possible. Tweaks and modifications to the hardware along the way, are all part of the enjoyment for many - and in a bid to improve down range performance, many competitors now fit muzzle brakes and air strippers to their guns.
Air strippers strip out unstable turbulent air from behind the pellet, via the fine cone configuration, as the pellet exits the barrel momentarily, then enters the cone. The muzzle brake vents spent air upwards and, helps deflect the barrel down - counteracting muzzle flip. Various accessories exist, offering either an air stripper, muzzle brake, or the two combined, and several custom outlets now supply these precision made add-ons, to fit a variety of models. Whilst the improvement in performance may be minimal, they certainly look the part! Rowan Engineering and Airmasters 88 are two names to consider!
A clean barrel should shoot to its best ability and though many airgunners feel cleaning is not essential I’m here to tell you it is! Springers are fairly self-lubricating, as the piston throws a tiny amount of lubricant forwards of the piston head on each shot; which finds its way into the barrel, keeping it largely corrosion-free. However, PCPs have different considerations, including some barrel-related issues. With dry air the main diet of the PCP system, barrels can corrode after a while, unless some TLC comes their way.
As far as cleaning kit goes, I would only really recommend a soft pull-through type product and not rigid metal rods. Here I have shown two proven products that offers the pull-through with patches and cleaning fluids etc in compact packages. Cleaning the barrel can tighten up groups considerably, and is always worth doing when performance wanes for any reason, as one of a number of basic checks. Just remember that a shift in zero may occur as a result, with a number of shots possibly being required to resettle the barrel.
Whether setting up the mounts for a new scope, or altering part of the stock, it can be so much easier having the rifle sitting in a purpose-made cradle. The one I rate is the Shooting Range Box, from MTM. It provides an easy way to store and transport a wealth of accessories, as well as the neat addition of a ‘Shooting Centre’, where rifles can be worked on in an organized and stream-lined manner.
The box is moulded from tough plastic compounds, with the top half of the main accessory storage area, and the bottom half the workstation. Unclip the two side catches and the entire top half can be lifted clear to reveal the workstation. Two gun supports are flat-packed, and are simply pushed home, into their respective slots. Once in place it’s all very sturdy and practical! The padded supports should easily accommodate most rifles, and with a choice of slots at one end, particular guns can be set at different heights, which is a nice touch.
My opinion on stock risers, or Hamsters, something to shout about! has completely changed and once you shoot through an HFT course, you’ll soon learn to appreciate their worth. For what a stock riser does is make a section of the rifle’s forend much deeper, and for certain shots, this means the sightline can be significantly raised- getting over obstacles for example.
The problem stems because in HFT, many shooters compete with guns which have slim, sporter-style stocks. An increasing number of full blown match rifles are creeping onto the circuit, which show them as standard. But for those who wish to avoid the expense of such machines, yet still be able to transform the handling of their existing ‘sporters’, the addition of a hamster can make a difference! Specialist items are available, with Rowan Engineering and Airmasters are at the forefront. Rowan now advertise an adjustable mechanism and palm shelf for £259 and £79 respectively, so it’s all out there if you want it!
Pellet lubrication is another fascinating area, which has been explored by ultra competitive HFT buffs and of course FT shooters. By coating each pellet with a fine film of special lubricant, it should seal better and ride on a film of lubricant, effectively reducing friction. An undoubted added bonus, is that the barrel should remain permanently lubricated and thus protected from corrosion. However, care needs to be taken to evenly coat each pellet without leaving excess lube anywhere.
Napier of London produce a comprehensive range of dedicated oils, greases and gun care products, and their Power Pellet Lube has been a big hit; finding favour with a host of airgun enthusiasts. One side effect can be an increase in velocity, so testing in conjunction with a chronograph is always advisable.
With many top shooters from the FT and HFT worlds prepared to put their name to the product, there’s clearly something to shout about!
Shooters need to be able to cover the scope’s lenses when rain is about, in between target lanes, and the best solution is a pair of flip-up caps. Arguably the most famous name in this area, and probably the most robust, is Butler Creek. They offer individual push fit cups, or two piece sets. The design includes spring loaded covers that flip up when a small button is pressed to open. The Blizzard option has clear or yellow tinted Perspex (sorry- optical grade polymers), obviously allowing for shots to be taken whilst the caps are down. They will keep out grit and dirt as well as rainwater..
Alternatives exist with Deben’s Hawke range offering further value for money flip-up designs. Bushwhacker are similar, offering yellow tinted see-through lens, and feel well made.