FT Blog: Choosing the right equipment
- By James Osborne
- 1 Comments
- Last updated: 01/12/2016
Hypocrisy surrounds us, it is certainly something I have been guilty of in the past and no doubt will be in the future too. In fact I am going to be a hypocrite right now!
When it comes to many sports it seems that some people have a natural talent while others work hard to achieve what seems effortless to those lucky enough to have that natural gift. Others still will work just as hard and still never achieve the success they perhaps deserve. This is certainly apparent in FT, there are many shooters who I know put time and effort into their sport but rarely are they rewarded with a score befitting the expenditure.
FT has changed in many ways since I first shot an airgun and one thing you certainly cannot now do is turn up at shoot, having never shot Field Target, with any old kit and win a competition at the first time of asking. To be fair this was unlikely to happen even back in the early days of the sport; but certainly possible if you had that natural flair I mentioned earlier. However, we are at a point now where many shooters prepare well for competitions, take their shooting very seriously and consequently this is reflected in the general standard of shooting seen at the top level.
One of the pieces of advice I offer shooters on a fairly regular basis (whether they ask or not) relates to the equipment they choose to use. And if they wish to give themselves the best chance of some competition glory one important thing to do is stick with one rifle and scope set up and get to know it inside out. This is something that can take years to do properly especially as different temperature conditions can have a huge influence on the performance of our equipment. As the seasons change (sometimes during the course of a competition thanks to our great weather) you will know how your equipment reacts from experience and you can then choose to adjust your rifle and scope accordingly.
The more you shoot a particular set up the more comfortable you will feel using it too. Everything will become second nature, you’ll not notice the trigger, the rifle will shoulder automatically and targets will appear in the scope without having to hunt around.
That combination of comfort and familiarity will lead to the most important thing of all about your relationship with your kit, confidence. There can be no room for doubt when you pull the trigger in competition! You are happy with your wind and range estimation, your aim is steady on the target and the shot will break cleanly when your subconscious dictates. But if your mind starts to wonder about anything unknown to you, such as a temperature effect, you’ll lose that confidence that is vital on any shot, it will upset that vital routine.
The above isn’t anything sensational or revolutionary, every FT shooter knows it makes perfect sense! If you still need convincing take a look at the equipment used by the top competitors this country has to offer. You will find an odd looking selection of rifles and scopes all with many miles on the clock. It often takes a great deal of persuading to get them to try something new, no matter what the brochure promises. The rifles and scopes used aren’t likely to be ‘standard’ equipment, but don’t think that they are special in any particular way, modifications will have been made after much thought and over a period of years not because of a particular fashion. This is an approach to use as part of your FT roadmap to success!
All well and good but it might be like taking advice on your health from an alcoholic, chain smoking Doctor. It might make sense, but it’s a bit rich. Looking at my own recent equipment history I certainly haven’t followed my own advice! I have used (and this is just in FT competition) three different rifles and two different scopes in the last three years although in my defence my boots are about five years old. The thing is too, had I been given the opportunity I would have probably used more.
So now I am starting to think, why not? If the fancy takes you and the opportunity presents itself why not have a change? Here is some justification (I can generally convince myself of anything) and why it might just help your shooting.
Firstly and most importantly there is ‘new toy syndrome’, this medically recognised condition has a wonderful effect on one’s performance. Any shiny new piece of kit on its first outing will turn you into the best in the world. The problem with this approach is it only works on the first outing for the aforementioned ‘toy’ so a continual supply of new equipment is required and funding is likely to become a problem after a short while.
On a slightly more serious note the regular changing of kit may be better than using the comfortable old rig as the unfamiliar makes you concentrate harder. It can be all too easy to pick up old faithful and assume all will be well, it takes a quite singular mind to ensure bad habits don’t start to creep into your technique over time. Seasonal variation in performance can also be ignored as you are likely to be zeroing your rifle in similar weather conditions to those you will be shooting in. The use of different equipment also keeps things interesting and fresh so you don’t get stale.
I daresay for most shooters it isn’t about winning competitions anyway and a huge part of the pleasure to be gained from FT is that of trying out something new or just different when we get the chance and I for one don’t think there is anything wrong in that!