I’ve been waiting to write an HFT post for a few weeks now but I keep forgetting to take my camera to get some good photo’s. Luckily I’ve been given some I can use.
This is the club where I first tried an actual HFT competition, and I’ve been back 3 times since. This is a brief look at the club, and how my last comp went.
Once you are near the club (see directions at the end of this post), you will see cars lined up down the side of the road. The course runs parallel to the road in the trees. Wander down to the end of the road and you will see the entrance/people milling around. At this end of the course there is the lean to for signing/tea and coffee, and a zero range. Peg #1 is also right here.
For your first visit I would recommend heading straight for the lean to and getting signed in. You will probably speak to Ian or Neil, and just let them know it is your first time. If you have shot HFT before, they will just check you have a shooting partner. If you are completely new to the sport, they will pair you up with someone experienced who can explain the rules and go round the course with you.
Before you start
Make sure you take the time to check your zero! I didn’t do this the first time and my first few targets where all over the place. The range has paper targets out at all the usual distances and there is room for 4 people at a time.
There will be a 5 minute warning for the safety briefing which you need to attend before the shooting starts. If you’ve read my post on safety (See here) it will sound familiar. Once the briefing is done, all the groups spread out up the course (start wherever you can find a free peg). Then wait for 2 whistles to start. Simple.
Shooting the course
A.K.A the fun bit! Each time out it’s a 30 target course to UKAHFT rules. The course layout is always different and for me is a good mix of challenging targets and some easier ones to help get your eye in. I’m not sure how often the course gets cleared but I’ve seen some 59’s….
For me its great practice. It’s casual enough to be fun for beginners, but still gives a sense of what competition shooting is like.
For the beginners, expect it to take a little over 3 hours to get round. This might sound like a lot, but it goes very quickly!
My last attempt
My previous three visits I had been quite consistent with my scoring. I was hoping to improve on that this weekend (13th August):
- 11th June = 41/60
- 9th July = 40/60
- 30th July = 42/60
I had set myself a target of 45 with no complete misses. This means knocking over 15 of the targets, and plating the rest. The big improvement for me would be not getting any misses as I had never managed a scorecard without a big 0 on it before.
The main thing I changed going into this round was the gun I was using (quite a big change really!) For the first three rounds I had used my Air Arms Prosport. Great gun, but I hadn’t really clicked with it as well as I’d hoped. Picking up a TX200 again, I realised it was the fit of the stock. The flat bottom on the Prosport didn’t really fit that well with my natural grip when I was shooting prone. The rounded bottom of the TX200 naturally fits me much better.
I’ve started recording what my set-up each round is, to make sure I am consistent, or to track any changes I’ve made. This time it was:
- Air Arms TX200HC 0.177
- Air Arms Diabolo Field 8.44 grain pellets
- Power (averaged over 10 shots) of 757 fps (10.74 ft-lb)
- Hawke Vantage Max 4-12×40. Indicated 10x zoom and 20y Parallax
My shooting partner is a work friend who is also a beginner to HFT, and this was his 3rd event. He was hoping to get into the 40’s for the first time, so we had put a bit of pressure on ourselves. We got to the club fairly early so had plenty of time to check our zero (I had to adjust several clicks to the left so glad I checked). After the safety briefing we walked all the way down to peg 21 to start. To be honest we had been looking for a close range target to start on. Neither of us fancied trying to hit something at 45 yards before we had got our eye in.
We ranged our starting target at somewhere between 15 and 20 yards, which is enough info for me to just aim bob on. I had to take a few deep breaths (I get first target nerves) but I got steadied and when I pulled the trigger, the target fell over. Getting a ‘2’ on the first peg is a great feeling and immediately I felt more confident. The second target didn’t go so well and I plated it low. Not to worry, still 28 to go.
Actually the first 10 pegs went very well for me. I plated two of them, and managed to knock over the rest. 18/20 so far. From peg 30 there is a long walk all the way back to the start for peg 1. I think it’s best to take a small breather before starting again. It’s only a slow walk, but when you are carrying all your kit, it can get the heart rate slightly elevated which won’t help. It must have helped me because I knocked over #1 and #2 as well.
Then it went a bit wrong on target #3. I don’t think it was a particularly challenging shot, and maybe I had just got a bit over confident. The shot landed just to the right of the kill zone (about the 4 o’clock position). I instantly knew what I had done wrong. Concentration had dropped off and I had pulled the shot. This usually happens when I rush the shot with poor technique, or have the wrong grip.
Targets #4 and #5 went the same way. With another pulled to the right, and one to the left. I wonder if the one to the left was wind, but it was a very still day so I’m not sure. I took a few minutes here to take some breaths and go over my technique in my head. For the next few shots I made a checklist of technique before taking the shot. Was my mat at a good angle, was I in a comfortable position and were my fingers all where they were supposed to be? It seemed to work and the next 3 targets fell. Then 2 more plates to round out the first 20 pegs. I was now 33/40. This meant that I just had to plate the next 10 and I would have 43, beating my previous best by a single point!
In the end I knocked over 5 of the 10, and plated the rest. There were a couple here that I think I was capable of getting, but a combination of fatigue and concentration dropping off resulted in some unforced errors.
So my final score was 48/60! I smashed my previous best by 6 points and not a single miss. I was the only one shooting a springer this time so no comparison there, but the top score was 57 (congratulations Theresa Reed) with an average over everyone of 50.
Although there was the potential for more, I am over the moon with this. Improving on a score is usually a long slog over many weeks and months, and lots of practice, so a jump like this probably isn’t going to happen too often. I don’t know where my next shoot will be just yet, and who knows what the weather will do. With this in mind, my goals for the next shoot will be to stay consistent:
- No misses
- Score 46-50
I’ve also tried to think of some lessons I can learn. The main thing from this round is that I can’t remember which targets I got or missed. So now thinking back on it I can’t link any of them together. For example all my plated shots might have been over 30 yards. So I would need to concentrate more on longer distance. At my next round I will try to make a note of all the targets so I can write a more thorough account of what went right or wrong. And then how I will try to overcome any problems.
(Quick disclaimer. I’ve mostly written about the shoot on the 13 August, but the photos are from 9th July. The photos are also not mine but I have been given permission to use them.)