Today was my second visit to Zone HFT and like the last time, it didn’t disappoint. However unlike the last time, my gun was working fine and I made a promise with myself to not mess with it the night before!
I wrote a bit about the first time I went to Zone (see link below). I struggled a bit with the wind that day but managed a 42. I thought I could have got 45, so that was my target for this time. Also the keen eyed might notice the score card says ‘Misfits HFTC’. Ignore that though, we were definitely at the right place.
The weather forecast was wind around 15mph with gusts of over 20mph. There was the usual wind related banter on the Zone Facebook page which definitely adds to the atmosphere. Sometimes it seems like its the shooters vs the weather, instead of shooters against each other.
Actually here’s a good note for any beginners reading this. Even though it is a competition, most people want to see you shoot well and are very quick to congratulate you on a good day. It almost doesn’t feel like a competition.
I was assigned peg 18 to start at, and immediately had a chance to test out my new range finding technique. I’m now using a combination of three methods. Starting off with eye-balling the target before I approach the peg. Then when I’m all set up, checking how clear the target is through my scope. I now have it set so it is roughly:
- 8 yards = Very blurry. Relying on eye balling to tell them apart
- 15 yards = Still blurry but some detail, like the edge of the kill zone is a bit clearer
- 18 yards = Getting clearer. Edges are still not quite defined, for example edge of kill zone or previous missed shots
- 20-30 yards = Very clear. Target and reticle in perfect focus
- 35 yards = Same as 18 yards
- 40 yards = Same as 15 yards
- 45 yards = A bit worse than 40 yards, but not as bad as 8 or 10. Still need to work on this one a bit.
I was also making use of previous targets that I was confident about the range, of, and seeing how the current target compared. For example if there is a 25 yard target with a 15mm kill zone and you knock it over, you can be fairly sure you ranged it properly. If the next target is only a little bit further away, I’d be happy to assume 30 yards without much hesitation.
These are all well known techniques for most shooters, but for beginners like me its well worth experimenting with these (and others) to see what works best for you.
Back to peg 18. I eye-balled it and guessed about 35 yards. However looking through the scope I appeared quite out of focus. So I gave it 40 yards, half a mil dot of wind and a slow squeeze of the trigger. Hearing that unmistakable clatter of the target falling over is a great felling, especially on the first shot of the day!
The very next peg seemed closer to the naked eye, and looking through the scope there was less bluriness. It still wasn’t crystal clear so I guessed 35 yards. Again half a dot of wind and another successful shot.
Lane 20 was up on the railway bank and was a supported stander. Through the scope it looked crystal clear and the wind seemed to stop for a few moments. I took advantage of this sudden calm and put the pellet straight down the middle. 3 down!
I won’t go through all the targets, partly because I can’t remember them all, and partly because it would take too long to write them all out. But the other ones worth mentioning are the positionals, specifically the kneeling shots and the unsupported stander.
I plated them all, but wasn’t able to knock them over despite feeling very confident about them. I have been working on my technique recently, and the result was much less ‘wobble’ on all of them. So in this respect it has been a success. However they didn’t fall over! Peg 1 in particular. A nice big kill zone with no hold over or any wind (when I shot it). Should have been an easy 2 points.
My current theory is that my new positional technique has changed my pellets point of impact slightly (because I am holding the stock differently). However this wasn’t enough to be obvious on my limited back garden range. We know springers can be very fickle so I’ll need to work on this.
Despite the missed opportunities, I came away with a 46. To be honest I’m chuffed with this. I’ve been working on my range finding more and I could see where the practice was paying off. Like any skill, there is a steep learning curve to start with, that tails off as your skill improves. At the moment I definitely feel like I’m on that steep learning curve. My aim is to keep learning as much as I can over winter, and next year try to work my way up that score board a bit more.
They say the best way to learn is by doing, so I’ll be back out tomorrow at Kingsley. Two days shooting sounds good to me!