I’d been hoping to get to Zone HFT for a while, but various other commitments kept clashing with their shoots. This weekend I was finally free, but gun troubles almost stopped me going. However I decided to go anyway for the experience and I’m very glad I did!
Firstly my gun troubles that almost stopped me turning up at all. I thought I would do a power test and a zero check in the garden on Friday afternoon. The first 20 ish shots were fine but I didn’t get very good grouping. So I thought I would try a few more. In he next set of shots, there was now a strange noise coming from the gun when I coked it. It sounded like something was rubbing or catching inside the mechanism.
When something like this happens I always do a power test first to see if anything is obviously wrong. With 8,44 grain pellets I usually have the TX set to around 750 fps (around 10.5 ft-lb muzzle energy). However it was now showing only 700 fps (9.2 ft-lb)
So the gun came apart, and as soon as the trigger block came off I could see the problem. The delrin spring guide had snapped into two pieces. I went through my spares box and dug out the original Air Arms guide, however this didn’t fit into the spring from the drop in tuning kit I’ve got. Some more digging and I found the original spring. However I couldn’t find the steel top hat to go with it. This meant power would be low, as the OEM set-up relies on some weight in the piston to make power with the relatively soft spring.
I managed to find a few washers to get the pre-load up a bit which helped, but the end result on Friday was 720 fps (9.7 ft-lb) and a twangy gun. At this point I almost threw my toys out the pram. Luckily I didn’t, because I knew a day’s shooting at a new course would still be good experience and practice. And in reality I think only the longer shots would actually be affected that much.
The nearest post code is LE7 9DP. This takes you to Tilton on The Hill, and then there are yellow flags with ‘HFT’ written on to point you to the club. Very easy to find, and plenty of parking when you get there. Once you are there, it’s easy to spot the signing in hut. As always head here first to get signed in. Especially if you are new to HFT, as they will make sure you get to go round with an experienced shooter who will show you the ropes.
There is also food and drink available here, and plenty of chairs and tables. The safety brief happens in this area so don’t stray too far if the shoot is close to starting.
Before you start
If you go behind the hut there is a roped off path leading upwards. Just up here is the zero range. This consists of some knock down targets in a small field. They all seemed to be freshly painted so were quite easy to zero on. I know some people prefer paper targets but it doesn’t bother me. I forgot to count, but there were about 8 spaces and there was no queue whilst I was there.
The safety brief will be familiar to most shooters. They don’t vary much between clubs but all the rules are there for a reason so new shooters should always pay attention.
Shooting the course
I started on Peg 3 which is in the main parking/hut/safety brief area, so didn’t have to walk anywhere to start. I always get nervous on the first target of the day, and this usually means my heart rate is going a bit faster, and its harder to keep the crosshairs on target. There had been a small breeze, but this had dropped whilst I was loading. I guessed the range at about 30 yards, so just shot straight down the middle. Something must have worked because the target fell over. A 2 on the first shot is a good start for me.
Unfortunately the very next target I only managed to plate. A supported standing shot, with the target up a pole at a fairly decent angle. This is probably my least practiced position, which showed with how unsteady I was. Something to work on in the future!
The next 8 pegs carried on this way, with 50% falling over and plating the remainder. Then it went a bit wrong. We had worked round to a more open section of the course where you shoot across a small valley, to targets on the upslope on the other side. The breeze had picked up a bit here, possibly because it was a bit more open. This could be seen on some of the targets, with some clear history giving a good idea of where to aim. However I must have been too focused on the wind to range find properly. Some of the targets appeared very clearly through my scope, and I under-ranged them, hitting low on few. And on some others I did get caught out by the wind. On the scorecard this ended up being ten ‘1’s in a row.
At this point the weather had caught up with us and the rain was coming down. I just had time for one more target before we had a quick break to let the rain ease off a bit. The rain seemed to have stopped the breeze, so I concentrated more on finding the range. Using my eyes only, I guessed at about 30 yards, which would be about 0.25 mil dot hold over. Looking through the scope, the target was just starting to blur which puts it at about 35 yards, or 0.5 mil dot hold over. I went for 0.5 hold over, which also puts 0.25 mil dot on the target. So as long as I didn’t pull the shot it should be good. It was good! And over it went.
After a quick break we carried on. The rest of the course went much better than the middle section, with more kills then plates (just). And I ended up with a 42 overall. Considering the issues I’d had the day before, and it being my first competition in heavy rain, I’m fairly happy with this result, although I think I could have got 45 here in other conditions. When I come back again, I should have a fully working gun and be in a much better mindset.
I was so impressed with the course, and the people that were shooting. This is the first competition I have been to on my own. It wasn’t a problem at all though, they couldn’t have been more helpful and made sure I felt welcome and not left out. I will definitely be back to beat that score!