Greg’s Guide to Field Target Shooting – Part 7

In this latest part of Greg’s Guide to Field Target Shooting, HAM’s Field Target Editor Greg Shirhall explains to us how he decides which pellet to use for competition. Take it away Greg…

Round Nose pellets, Pointed pellets, Wadcutter pellets!!!!! Which one do I use for Field Target?? OK, this time around I’m going to show you how I determine which pellet to use.

Can I tell you which one you should use? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Just as everyone has different tastes in food, music, etc., your rifle will tell you what it likes!

I was in the process of setting up a scope on my Rapid Air Weapons TM 1000 and thought it would be a good way to show you the steps I go through. First off, your best choice for Field Target would be a domed pellet.

A domed pellet usually has a higher BC (Ballistic Coefficient) than the other 2 options. This means it has a greater ability to overcome the air resistance it encounters as it travels towards the target.

While Pointed and Wadcutter pellets may be OK for short distances, they may not be the best choice for long range accuracy. BUT don’t be afraid to try them and see what kind of results you get!

Here is the rifle I’m setting up today. It is a 0.177 caliber rifle and it’s regulated. It is shooting at 880 feet per second with 10.3 grain pellet The scope is a Mueller Tactical 8-32×44 with side focus and a mil dot reticle.

Greg’s Guide to Field Target Shooting - Part 7

I have narrowed my pellet choices down to the following:
– Crosman Premier Ultra Magnum 0.177 caliber, 10.5 grain, domed
– Air Arms Field Heavy 0.177 caliber, 10.34 grain, domed
– Crosman Premier Heavy 0.177 caliber 10.5 grain, domed
– JSB Diabolo Exact Heavy 0.177 caliber, 10.34 grain, domed

There are many different brands available for you to choose, so try as many as you can in order to determine which one your rifle likes. Here is a picture of the ones I chose for today’s testing:

Greg’s Guide to Field Target Shooting - Part 7

I want to see how the pellets group at distance before making my choice as to which pellet to choose, so I usually shoot my groups at 45 yards. This gives me a clear indication of which one will be the most accurate for Field Target competition.

Now, if you’re using a PCP that isn’t regulated, be sure to keep an eye on your fill pressure in order to keep your velocity in it’s sweet spot. You will definitely start to see a POI (point of impact) change at distance when you’re velocity is 30+ FPS lower than your rifle’s maximum velocity.

Spring guns and regulated PCPs won’t notice this unless your regulated PCP drops below it’s regulator set point.

I start out by setting a target with 3/4-inch dots at 45 yards. The target is set using a tape measure and is measured from the front of my scope. I then shoot 5 – 10 shot groups with each of my chosen pellets.

Due to the fact that the composition of each pellet varies, I clean the barrel between shooting each brand.

Obviously you can use your own preferred cleaning method to accomplish this. But here’s how I do it…

For cleaning in between my shooting of groups, I use a pull through method. I pull through a couple of damp patches soaked in Goo Gone using a piece of modified string trimmer line. I then pull through several dry patches till I am happy with how clean they come out.

Now there is a BUNCH of different ways and solvents that may produce the same results for you! Use whatever method you are accustomed to. The point of this exercise is to get it as clean as possible so as to not affect the next group you shoot.

When shooting my Field Target test groups, I make sure that I’m doing it on a calm or nearly calm day so that the wind doesn’t skew my results.

I also pay special attention to the individual pellet I choose each time. I visually make sure that there are no deformities or imperfections. One bad pellet can affect the outcome of the group!

Both Crosman pellets were shot as they come from the tin. The Air Arms and JSB pellet were lubed with my lube of choice. But that’s another story for another time…

Here is a view to my target:

Greg’s Guide to Field Target Shooting - Part 7

The first pellet up is the Crosman Ultra Magnums. The barrel has been cleaned and 5 shots are taken. I shoot the groups using my chosen Field Target position. I have found that my groups will vary sometimes depending on how the rifles are held, so to get a true reading I shoot them as they’ll be shot.

There’s no worry about adjusting the scope at this point. All we need is a rough zero Just hold to the center of the colored dot and shoot.

Here is the 5 shot group at 45 yards from the Ultra Magnums:

Greg’s Guide to Field Target Shooting - Part 7

Next up are the Air Arms Diabolo Field Heavies. Again, the barrel was cleaned prior to shooting and the fill pressure was verified.

Here is the 5 shot group at 45 yards from the Air Arms pellets:

Greg’s Guide to Field Target Shooting - Part 7

Next up are the Crosman Premiers. Again all the pre-group barrel cleaning was done and the fill pressure was verified. I can’t stress this enough. I don’t want any of my results to be skewed, so I make sure everything is the same before proceeding to shoot the next group.

Here is the 5 shot group at 45 yards from the Crosman Premiers:

Greg’s Guide to Field Target Shooting - Part 7

Last but not least are the JSB Exact Heavies. I know this has been said before, but all prep work was done before shooting the group.

Here is the 5 shot group at 45 yards from the Ultra Magnums:

Greg’s Guide to Field Target Shooting - Part 7

Well, I think there’s a clear winner. Don’t you? It looks like for now, that the Air Arms pellets are going to be the choice for my next Field Target competition. The JSBs would be a second choice for my rifle and could be used in a pinch.

Now, I must say that once I find a pellet that the rifle likes, I usually order a bunch of tins to have on hand!

There have been numerous times that a manufacturer has changed their pellet dies or lot numbers and my rifle doesn’t like the latest and greatest. By having a bunch of tins on hand with the same lot/die number, at least I can feel confident knowing I can trust (well for the most part) that they’ll be consistent.

The next time around, I’ll go through my steps on setting up the scope for a Field Target match by getting all my marks on the scope, all my hold marks and setting up my range card.

Have a great Christmas, everyone!

Read the previous part of Greg’s Guide to Field Target shooting.

Read the next part of Greg’s Guide to Field Target shooting.