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Top 10 FT Accessories

Top 10 FT Accessories

Navigating a Field Target course requires a high level of concentration, and a pin accurate rifle, if silverware is to be secured these days. But before any competition can be attempted, there’s plenty of homework and study to do.

Part of the basic preparation is getting the right kit and accessories in place, to make the whole operation more organized and enjoyable. With that in mind, I’ve put together a list here, of some of the essentials required by any serious FT shooter. Some are indeed applicable across disciplines, although next month will cover Hunter Field Target shooting.

PELLET POUCH

Having pellets to hand and stored in a convenient container is a prerequisite at a competition as you don’t want to be loading from a tin as accidents happen! Something that allows quick acquisition, whilst providing safe carriage is the order of the day, and several pellet pouches are now available, to keep everything organized. Many cheap vinyl types are out their, but some particularly fine specimens are also available. I favour the Rangesports design, constructed of highly durable Cordura and fitted with an all-important magnetic front fastener. This enables the pouch to be closed one-handed- more useful than you may think, especially in the heat of competition against the clock!

* Rangesports 01202 854634 www.rangesports.com Plain £10.95 (+£2.50 shipping) Embroidered personal design £14.95 (+£2.50 shipping)

* Wilkins Pouches www.wilkinspouches.com £12.95-£19.95 + post

PARALLAX RING/ WHEEL YARDAGE STICKERS

As the highly competitive sport of FT continues to grow in popularity, so the equipment used becomes more technical. Parallax-adjustable, range-finding scopes are pretty much a necessity, and these require the shooter to do their homework on the range, long before any competition is attempted. Many scopes come pre-marked of course, with ranges etched onto either the objective bell or a sidewheel on the saddle. However, it’s extremely common for these range markings to be imprecise, so taking time to carefully adjust the scope for clarity at each target distance, then add new markings, will pay off in the long run.

Rangesports have the answer here with their very reasonably priced, dedicated Sidewheel/Turret Label set, and they are clearly fit for purpose. Printed on exterior-grade, heat-laminated adhesive vinyl, the stickers are all- importantly waterproof and hardwearing. The pack includes two sets which allows for range markings to be added to the scopes turret, as well as the parallax adjuster. With many shooters opting for customized ultra large side wheels, in a bid to increase the gap, as it shows on the scope, between £7.45 longer 50 and 55yd targets, the necessity for range markers has never been greater. Of course crude tape or paint can be applied to do the job, but these ultra clear and precise stickers just make the whole operation slick and professional, for a very small outlay.

* Parallax Sidewheel/Turret Label Pack, £7.45

* Rangesports, 01202 854634, www.rangesports.com

SCALES

As FT becomes ever more competitive, the serious shooter needs an edge and weighing pellets can be the answer. OK, it’s a tedious task but for peace of mind, it makes sense. Pocket digital scales are available, normally intended for the diamond industry, or shooters who utilize reloading products. Either way, since these neat devices are normally accurate to within a tenth of a grain, they are perfectly suited to the task. Sort pellets to within two tenths of a grain, and you won’t go far wrong.

* MTM Mini Digital Reloading Scales www.henrykrank.com, £38.50

BEAN BAG

HFT shoots outlaw the sitting position, unlike FT, but do allow the use of bean bags for kneeling shots, so their inclusion in any kit list makes sense. In my early days of FT, I used to compete with a piece of foam stuffed in a sports bag, but once the comfort of a specialized bean bag was experienced, the outlay was easily justified. The neat little bags actually offer support as well, so those awkward kneeling shots can be aided a little.

In FT with the majority of freestyle shots taken from the sitting position, the bean bag really is an essential part of the kit list. Some designs even come complete with a pouch for pellets and scorecard, which is a nice touch.

* www.rangesports.com, Embroidered £35, plain £27, + £3.50 p&p

* www.customsportingmatsandhides.co.uk, £27-£40

WIND INDICATOR

Unlike HFT, FT does allow a simple wind indicator on the gun. Air Arms EV2 and FT900 actually make provision for this, with a swing out bar, onto which a piece of string, cotton or such like can be suspended. Being able to keep an eye on wind direction can be a huge advantage, and top competitors are forever experimenting. One popular material is Chenille, used by fisherman for fly tying; since it is light, and incredibly bright. However, this is one area where cost is insignificant and personal taste rules. DIY is OK, but For some properly machined front fitting clips, Rowan Engineering is a great place to start!

* Windictors www.rowanengineering.com, £33.95-£34.95

CHRONOGRAPH

To my mind, one vital piece of equipment in any shooter’s armoury should be a chronograph. In these days of the rabid antis constantly trying to wipe out our marvellous sport, it’s never been more important to keep a check on your rifle, and ensure that it’s power output stays within the legal limit. Avoiding elimination from a top competition is of course further incentive!

Keeping an eye on consistency brings peace of mind too; whilst the opportunity to experiment with different ammunition, to see how performance is affected, can also be fascinating. PCPs bring their own demands; with experimentation with charge pressures often paying dividends - all to be done in conjunction with a chrono - so the case for ownership is strong.

Many models exist on the market, and the choice largely depends on what you want to spend.

* Combro, 01323 899950 www.combro.co.uk, £53

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* Skanar, 0114 2889424 www.skanar.co.uk, Various models and price levels

* Shooting Chrony / Blackpool Air Rifles, 01253 627720 www.airgunbuyer.com £95-£115 guide

TARGET GLOVE

Target’ gloves made an appearance in FT shortly after its inception. Yet with the meteoric rise of HFT they are proving more popular than ever! They can offer several benefits in the heat of competition; and whilst they may not suit everyone, they are well worth consideration.

Heavy padding inside means that twitching or aching muscles are cushioned from the stresses of supporting the rifle. Try one on for size, and it soon becomes clear that comfort is significantly enhanced in most scenarios. Most positions suddenly seem a little more stable, as the glove can help to lock the body together, aiding support significantly.

Standing shots are of course the hardest to deal with, and here, the glove can provide support in most situations. Some targets are deliberately placed as high rise standers, and these have to be taken with a free hand approach, when the angle of elevation passes a certain point. In this situation, a glove is of little use; yet once a supported stance can be adopted, where the elbow is tucked into the hip and the rifle sits upon the elevated hand, the glove comes into its own.

* Bedford Target Supplies, 01234 217838 sales@bedfordtargetsupplies.co.uk £28-£64 approx

* Blackpool Air Rifles, 01253 627720 www.airgunbuyer.com

SCOPE LENS ENHANCER

In addition to the glove, another key accessory that can be worth its weight in gold has to be the scope enhancer or lens shroud. This takes the form of a flexible rubber shroud which fits over the rear ocular lens of the scope. The shroud is set to give the correct eye relief by just gently pushing it back further onto the scopes body. By restricting or ideally eliminating all excessive back light, the resultant image is enhanced, being much sharper and brighter. Whilst this can be essential for FT shooting, a more general approach is possible in HFT. However, in the interests of pushing performance to the limits, a shroud can make sense. An improved, clearer image means better shooting in general, along with faster target acquisition and more accurate range-finding.

Personal taste and requirements play a part though, and the slightly claustrophobic, forced head position that a shroud can require, will not suit everyone. Undoubtedly one of the best available was the DG Designs shroud, which mysteriously, has been discontinued. Other alternatives are available however. Again, just try one and see if the benefits outweigh any perceived drawbacks.

* Scope Maximizer, £14.95

* John Rothery Wholesale Ltd www.bisley-uk.com

PELLET SIZER

Sizing pellets is a science and works for some shooters, but not others. The situation exists where a quality batch of a particular pellet may suit a particular gun, and no amount of experimentation will dramatically improve performance. With other rifle/pellet combinations, tiny alterations can make all the difference.

The principle behind pellet sizing is as follows: a machined, tapered tube has a stopper that effectively stops pellets from moving through it past a certain point. The stopper is adjustable, thereby allowing the pellet to be ‘sized’ to a greater or lesser degree, as it conforms to the size of the tube at the point where it stops. It can be used experimentally whereby pellets are forced to become a different size, or just used to grade them in theory tightening consistency.

At the top level in any sport, peace of mind can play a huge part in generating confidence, and if sizing achieves this, then it’s worth its weight in gold.

* Airmasters88 Pellet sizer, 01442 266831, P.O.A

* T.R.Robb sizer, 01268 752888 www.trrobb.com £23-£26

SPIRIT LEVEL

I was first persuaded of the merits of a spirit level at one particular FT competition, in the late ‘80’s. The targets were all set an extreme angles and as a fellow competitor handed me their rifle to observe the little gismo, I just couldn’t believe that they’d bothered to go as far as to fit one, and secondly, the incredible amount of correction that I had to make in order to bring the bubble/rifle back into line. OK; on level ground, it’s not automatically a problem, but many FT clubs are up hill and down dale, and canting the rifle is a common source of shot misplacement- with the error magnified at long range.

Two quality producers of these vital FT accessories are listed below, and are built to a similar standard. Sportsmatch offer either the swing out variety or levels that sit atop the scope mounts.

Airmasters can produce high quality levels that clamp to the scope body itself, offering great versatility and of course, peace of mind. Remember that levels are outlawed in HFT.

* Sportsmatch SP1, SP2 and SP3, £24 to 25.99

* Sportsmatch, 01525 381638 www.sportsmatch-uk.com, Airmasters88 Mounted level from around £30

* Airmasters88 (Dave Welham) 01442 266831

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