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FT Blog: Bad Practice!

Now I admit I am not one for taking my own advice all the time, but when I do listen to myself, it generally makes for a more successful days shooting! One of the benefits of joining a club is that you can learn from much better shooters, until you’re the best of course! So take advantage of what your club has to offer. It always amazes me when you see someone turn up at a shoot, be it an FT competition, or just a plinking day at the club, having not properly prepared for the day!

Sometimes, they’re straight out of the car and onto the range, blatting away and wondering why they are not hitting much! This is particularly the case on very cold or warm days, when your equipment can be stressed from its normal settings. This time of year, we all enjoy a nice warm car journey to the shoot and so has our gun / scope etc. So if it is below 10°, I like to give the gun about 15 to 20 minutes cooling down once it is out of the car and its Storm case. The Storm is a particularly robust, flight carrier standard gun case, so the gun is kept ultra snug. Same applies if you have just filled the gun. Having heated things up a touch, by forcing high pressure air into it, you now need to let it cool down for a few minutes more. It’s the perfect opportunity for another cup of tea of course!

Zero time

Onto the zero range. Your gun should be zeroed and set up, so it is only a few basic checks I make while getting my ‘eye in’; a period of about 15 minutes should be enough. Starting at 10m, I pick a pellet mark and aim at it, making sure my spirit level bubble is level! Check impact coincides with your 10metre clicks here. Now set the turret click for about 15 metres (or yards) and gently let a shot off. If it lands in a straight vertical line above or below the aim point, happy days! Windage should need no adjustment

Onto the zero board at about 30m. For most, a similar distance will be the top of the trajectory curve and all other dialling clicks will be up from here. I.e., 40m is “1” on my top turret or 8 clicks up/higher. 30m is short enough to be able to put in a good tight group, all being well. This time, it’s aiming left or right of a pellet mark or something similar. We are now only looking for the pellet to strike the target at the right height, as even at 30m on a windy day it can drift slightly. Once I am happy the pellets are going straight and height is good, it’s usually on to the longer ranges of 45 or 50m. A couple of sets of 10-shot groups will help settle everything down and all in all it should take about 20 minutes to check and prepare the gun, scope and shooter!

Get to know your equipment

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Sound advice, but how do you do it? Well, spend time familiarising yourself with your kit, and this time of year, when there are fewer competitions to go to, is the perfect time to run tests down the club. OK; a chronograph string will tell you all is well with the gun, though care needs to be taken to ensure all things are consistent when doing a chronograph check, and that’s another month’s article!

The scope on the other hand is a different matter. Its main job is to rangefind, but once you have had a twiddle of the knobs, set the cross hair at the correct height; perform a consistency check. We all take it that if you dial up 20- clicks from your zero then the pellet should go that distance higher! A good way of checking the consistency is to do this on the 30m board. Start at 0 then go 20-clicks higher, then 20, then back up 20, down/up repeat until happy or the kettle has boiled, whichever comes first!

What you are looking for, is pellets hitting two spots, one above the other. If occasionally they are only making half the height, it could be a sign that the scope is not tracking up and down correctly, i.e. the cross hair is not moving the right distance for the given twiddling.

Be precise!

To check if your scope is rangefinding correctly, you have to know the exact distance of the target you are pointing at? It’s one reason on all my club practice course targets, I measure and record the distances accurately either with a new (not stretched) tape measure or precise Bosch Digital range finder. Whilst digital laser range finders are banned from FT, you can use one in practise down the club range, just to set up your kit! This has reassured me that my 45X Leupold Competition scope is normally very accurate in range finding, and that only below 5° does it start to under range! Without being 100% sure of the target ranges, you obviously can’t be sure how accurate your scope is!

So, ‘Fail to prepare and prepare to fail!’, as they say!

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