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It Can Be Tough Shooting Springers In Field Target Competition!

HAM Tester Eric Brewer recently competed in the First Annual Baystate Challenge in Woburn MA. Here’s his personal view of the event, together with some of the challenges shooting springers in Field Target competition.

Eric’s brutally honest about the challenges. Some days things just don’t go right! We can all relate to that and learn from his experience…


Gas prices of $5.00 a gallon really focus the mind about traveling a long distance to a shoot! So Rick Vaeth and I decided to travel together. In fact, it worked-out great.

Having another person drive with you really makes a difference in your overall trip and how you’re going to shoot the following day. The drive is easier and not having to rebound the next day to have a good shoot is even better.

We wound up get into the range around 1:15 on Friday, then went down to the range to get our zeros. That’s where the problems started.

Shooting Springers In Field Target

My springer seemed to be fairly on zero for the first 15 or so shots and then all the sudden made a drop of about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch at 45 yards.

This really perplexed me. The temperature was around 80 degrees.

Some scopes have temperature shift but I really didn’t think that that was the problem. So I had to go up about 5 clicks.

Now I was back-on at 45 and continued to shoot the other yardages. I had to get new numbers for my range card as that seemed to have been a problem as well.

Unfortunately this TX200/Hawk scope combo seems to have perplexing issues that were not getting me good shots. My scores have only been around 30 the last two times I’ve used it and I had to struggle to try to keep up with the leaders.

On the range, it’s tough trying to figure out where the pellet is landing at different distances. Then holding over/under, left /right to try to get things to land where they’re supposed to when you can’t see the impact is very frustrating, as we all know…

In my experience, most PCPs don’t change very much at different elevations, temperatures or humidity levels. Shooting springers in Field Target competition is a completely different game!


Saturday

Surprisingly enough the gun didn’t change from Friday’s zero. I figured I’ll have to see today how much it changes or if it changes at all. I was praying that it’s not going to change.

First, our guns were checked over a chronograph. I knew my gun is at 825 FPS. That makes it below the 20 Ft/Lb limit in my Hunter Division class.

So it was a surprise when the chronograph came up 782 FPS. Wow, I really was much lower than what I thought!

Typically that means that the main spring in the gun is at the end of its life cycle and ready to be changed out or has already broken inside the gun.

I went back to the range to make sure it was hitting where it should be. Luckily it was.

Back at the chronograph, I got readings from 805 FPS to 754 FPS. So I hoped there was something wrong with the chronograph!

When the starting lanes were given, I was paired up with Paul Manketlow. I know Paul from my own range and he is a great guy and a great shooter all too often beating me…

The match started around 10:00 and everyone was ready to shoot.

I quickly found out that I had a mess on my hands of trying to get this gun to work correctly. I was getting 2s for the first 3 lanes and then a 1, then zeroed the standing lane.

So I tried to figure out what I was doing wrong or if it was the gun. I took a breath and went through several things.
– Was I gripping the gun too tightly?
– Was I putting the gun on the sticks in the same place every time?
– Was I holding level? How was my breathing? Was I pulling the trigger at the bottom of my breath?
– Was I not in my natural shooting position?
– Was I jerking the trigger?
– Was I pushing left or right on the trigger when pulling back?

Really, I didn’t know what was going on. So my best guess was the trigger pull.

I knew to try to trust that the springer was going to do the same action/reaction every time unless there was something broke inside. Alternatively the scope could be the problem. Could it not be zero?

But I decided the best thing was to look at myself. (That, of course, is the toughest choice to make – Editor).

Thinking that the trigger pull could be the problem, on the next lane I really concentrated on that and got a 4 out of 4. Nice, maybe I figured something out!

Then another 4, then a 2 then another 4. I thought I was having a comeback… But then failure.

The remaining lanes were OK but not great. I ended the day with a lowly 36 out of 68 possible points.

Among the springer shooters, I was in 3rd and the leader was Paul Manketlow 10 points ahead with 46. I had Jim Wheeler 1 point ahead of me and Greg Shirhall 1 point behind.

I knew there must have been something wrong with Greg’s gun because he is usually well ahead of me. He had figured-out that his breach seal went bad and his shots were hitting low.

When a breach seal is bad a portion of the air ends up bypassing the seal instead of all of it going down the barrel pushing the pellet. This makes the pellet come out at a lower velocity. Hence the low shots.

The first day’s match ended and – trust me – I was glad for the bleeding to be over!

After lunch was over there were door prizes and a raffle for items that were given to the club by several vendors, including Sightron, RX Target systems, UTG, Patch Worm, Pellet Gauge, Crosman, Target Forge, Pyramyd Air and North East Airguns.

Unfortunately then the zero range was closed so I couldn’t find out what my problem was. But there was another day…


Sunday

Sunday morning started out again at 6:30. I went right over to the sight in range to find out what the heck happened yesterday.

Why was it that I had to fight so hard to only get a 36 out of a possible 68 shots?

First, I shot off 2 shots into the ground to warm the gun up.

The first shot down range was at my 45 yard zero and I hit smack dab in the middle of the target. I was surprised but I took a few more shots to confirm that it was on and it was. Great, on to confirm the remaining distances and make sure everything else is correct…

I changed only 2 locations on my score card, 30 and 35 just a little. Everything else was fine.

We had to chronograph our guns again and a different chronograph was used. This one was stated to be reading about 10 FPS higher and it read 837 FPS. At least this one was within reason.

This time I was partnered with Greg Shirhall and I knew it would be a fight to keep up with him.

Shooting Springers In Field Target

Hot line was given so we could start and right off the bat Greg was hitting 4 after 4 after4. Meanwhile, this nut got a total of 13 points over the next 7 lanes!

I just couldn’t understand how I could be so dead on at the zero range and just crap out when I hit the lanes…

Over and over I tried to see where the pellet was landing so I could adjust where I was shooting to hit the paddle.

If I was hitting high and right I could put my sights where the pellet was supposed to hit and then move to the lower left the amount that the pellet was hitting to the upper right. That way I would hit the paddle.

But it’s tough to see where the pellet landing when the faceplate is all shot up!

By the 14th lane out of 17 I finally had seen where my pellet was hitting. It was about 5/8 inch below the kill zone on a far target. Knowing this I decided to subtract about 5 yards from the long shots and maybe 3 yards from the closer shots.

It was on the 15th lane I got a 4, then another 4, then another 4 to end the game finishing with a 37. One point more than the previous day!
Greg on the other hand was doing great for the first 7 lanes and then it was obvious that something went wrong with his gun because he stopped getting 4s. It was like a switch that turned off and suddenly he couldn’t hit anything.

It can be tough shooting springers in Field Target!

The match was over and finished around 12:45. We all went back to the clubhouse and had some good food waiting for us.

Here is a great picture of all the shooters of the Grand Prix.

Oh, and the results.

Shooting Springers In Field Target

Although I had a terrible shooting experience I still really enjoyed the entire weekend. It’s the people that really make shooting fun!

John, Leo, Matt B. and Matt S. did a great job running the match. The food was great and the people were great. I will be back next year.