Cameron Kerndt – The World’s Top Piston FT Shooter

Just back from the 2023 WFTF World Championships in South Africa, Cameron Kerndt – or Cam as he’s happy to be called – spoke to HAM about his outstanding shooting in that competition.

Cam finished as the WFTF Piston World Champion with a total score of 123. That made him the top-scoring shooter in the USA team. It also put him into eighth place overall – including all the PCP shooters. WOW!!!!!

How does he do it? Hard Air Magazine spoke to Cam to find out…

Hard Air Magazine: You are a long-time member of the USA Team shooting WFTF Field Target, always with great success. But this recent win really took the cake. Congratulations!

Cameron Kerndt: Thanks! Actually my score should have been even better except that I missed six shots out of the last 11 in the final day. That made my scores: Day 1 – 44; Day 2 – 40; Day 3 – 39 for that 123 total.

On the final day the wind came from a different direction. On Days 1 and 2 it came over the mountain. On Day 3, it came from across the lake. It was stronger and more variable, too.

Cameron Kerndt - The World’s Top Piston FT Shooter

[Two photos above courtesy of WFTF].

Hard Air Magazine: What’s the secret to your success in Field Target competition?

Cameron Kerndt: Well there’s three main things. Lots of practice, knowing your gun and attitude.

Hard Air Magazine: So, Cam, tell us about how you practice…

Cameron Kerndt: I can’t over-emphasize the benefits of practice. Practice really helps me try and make ever shot perfect. I shoot for 30 or 40 minutes four times a week before breakfast. It helps having my own range in the backyard, of course!

Also I practice on my own course with many targets set to illegal Troyer values. Typically, I’ll go to a Troyer level of 42 as my course average. That’s illegal for competition because it’s considered waaaay too tough.

In particular I practice standing and kneeling positions at these illegal Troyer levels. One has to challenge themselves! My approach is that if I’m not being challenged I’m not learning.

With this approach, targets set to legal Troyer values seem easier to hit in competition!

Hard Air Magazine: Do you practice alone, or with others?

Cameron Kerndt: I often shoot with my buddies at Grand Prix matches and at the local club Sacramento Valley FT.

For the entire season I’ve been practicing in the mornings with my 84 year old neighbor Walter Hoppe (we call him Bud) starting around 6 to 6:15am. Practicing/ competing with great local PCP shooters is a huge way for me to be competitive in my class on an international level.

For example, I adopted my friend Scott Hull’s “deadman” position (photo below) and it’s worked very well for me. Scott and another good friend Scott Schneider constantly are setting the bar higher at the semi-local Grand Prix matches making me work harder to do well.

Cameron Kerndt - The World’s Top Piston FT Shooter

[Photo above courtesy of WFTF].

Hard Air Magazine: Tell us what you mean by knowing your gun?

Cameron Kerndt: I believe in knowing my gun inside out. Although I own six TX200s (don’t tell my wife!), I only shoot one in competition.

I take it apart very often.

In fact, I’m in the gun before EVERY major match, approximately 5-7 times a year checking everything and making sure it’s perfect. Then I shoot the gun enough to make sure it’s consistent well before the match starts.

My aim is to make both the gun and myself as consistent as possible. That’s been my goal for a long time.

Hard Air Magazine: And attitude?

Cameron Kerndt: I pretend that every shot could be the winning shot. It’s that simple, but it’s tough to do…

I also find it is easier to do well when I treat it just like practice, enjoy the course and omit self imposed pressure to perform. (Better said than done!)

Cameron Kerndt - The World’s Top Piston FT Shooter

[Photo above courtesy of WFTF].

Hard Air Magazine: You use a highly-customized Air Arms TX 200 as your Field Target gun. Can you tell us something about it?

Cameron Kerndt: Well it is a TX200HC, still has the original Lothar Walther barrel – although I’ve lapped that to my own preferences.

Inside, I installed an original Tony Leach 22mm Skirtless Conversion Kit. This reduces the diameter of the piston and compression chamber. The result is a shorter stroke and faster shot cycle, yet with a lighter spring and reduced recoil.

Also, I bring with me four different top hats for various velocity changes that may be required at different venues. In addition I have made multiple transfer ports in various diameters and will swap these if needed to account for the gun’s changing performance at different altitudes, for example.

The gun’s stock was made by GINB. It fit’s me so well, I just love it. Sadly the company is no longer in business, but I have several of their stocks for different airguns and am always looking to find more.

Hard Air Magazine: What pellets do you use? Do you sort them?

Cameron Kerndt: I use Air Arms 8.44 Grain pellets. I don’t know what’s different to the JSB-branded versions, but I prefer these.

And no, I don’t sort my pellets. I just use them straight from the tin!

Hard Air Magazine (after recovering from shock at the last answer): And how about scopes?

Cameron Kerndt: Yeah, the scope’s important too. I’m always looking for reasonably-priced scopes and have plenty of them. I started WFTF with a Hawke Sidewinder 6-24×56 and moved quickly to a Vector Sentinel 10-40×50 which is a great scope for under $200.

The Delta Stryker 5-50 x 56 I used in South Africa was recommended to me by a fellow shooter – John Farbrother (Poland WFTC World Champion) – it has a MOA reticle and is mounted using Burris Signature XTR rings. There’s also a modified UTG cantilevered dovetail-to-Picatinny adapter in there, too.

[Photo above courtesy of WFTF].

Hard Air Magazine: So you really have extensively customized your shooting equipment! That sounds like it could become a business for you…

Cameron Kerndt: Yes I do make custom tunes and conversions for friends, some local and some across the country. All mainly Field Target equipment, PCPs and Piston rifles. But I have too much other stuff going-on to make it a full-time business.

Below. Cam shoots big bore, too – and pistol. But that’s another story…

Hard Air Magazine: Cam, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much for talking to HAM. I know that many of our readers will be inspired by your win, and the insights into how you achieved it!

Cameron Kerndt: Thanks Steve, I’ve enjoyed it, too!