Bragging rights – a reader participation story

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hang around airgunners for long, and pretty soon you’ll discover they all have stories – stories about spectacularly improbable shots that worked, shots that failed in strange and unusual ways, and times when they were in the zone and everything seemed to work just right.

In the Spirit of Quigley – Part II,” I related how I twice dropped a field target at 54 yards with a Beeman R1 fitted with a globe front sight and a peep rear sight. I was fortunate to have a fast air rifle and some very good ballistic information from Steve Woodward, AKA “Steve from NC.”

A Tale of Desperate Measures, Whistling Lead, and a Sneering Bird,” tells how, with the help of an FX Typhoon loaned to me by Airguns of Arizona, I won the New York State Hunter Class Field Target Championship, but the real story for me that day was trying to knock down a target with a 3/8” kill zone at 22 yards. Here again I was fortunate – darned fortunate – because it turns out that I had zeroed the Typhoon at almost the same distance as the #@$% bird target.

But the most spectacular shot – a real “God likes me” moment – was one I have never related before in print or on the web (as far as I can remember). The scene was a field target match at Westfield, Massachusetts, a couple of years ago. I was shooting my Beeman R1 fitted with front globe sight and rear peep sight in the Hunter Class. It was a warm, comfortable day, and my brother-in-law Kyle and I were having a good time. On this day at Westfield, we were shooting two or three targets per lane, over ten lanes, with two shots for each target, for a grand total of 40 or 50 shots for the match.

Things were going pretty well . . . I was knocking down more targets than I was missing. While I certainly wasn’t “cleaning” the course, I was feeling pretty good. We worked our way from lane to lane until about halfway or perhaps two-thirds of the way through the match we arrived at this one particular lane . . .

Now, to really get a feel for what happened next, you need to understand a couple of things. First, when I am shooting my R1 with the globe sight and peep sight on it, I scan each lane with binoculars so I can locate the targets and determine the size and location of the kill zone on each of them. The second thing you need to know is that the folks at Westfield neaten up and repaint targets as needed before each match. That way, the kill zones, painted in a bright, contrasting color, are clearly visible against the bodies of the targets. But once you get halfway through match, the kill zones are splattered with lead from pellets and so is the face of the target immediately around the kill zone. After a while, it becomes increasingly difficult to figure out where the kill zone is, even through a scope.

So I start scanning for the targets, and after a while I find one up in a tree around 30 yards away. The entire center portion of the target is gray with splattered lead, and I really have to work to find the kill zone. When I finally identify it, I can’t believe it: it’s only about the diameter of my little finger. (I later found out the target was 32 yards and the kill zone was a half-inch.)

Just as I was thinking “I’ll never be able to find the kill zone without a scope,” I noticed that the target had a reducer plate. The reducer plate bolts to the face of the target and makes the kill zone smaller, and while the target was smeared with lead, I could see clearly two bolt heads that were used to hold the reducer plate in place. If I could triangulate on the kill zone from the two bolt heads, that might work.

So I cocked the R1, loaded a pellet, and walked the front sight to the right of the left hand bolt head and down a bit from the right hand bolt head. I squeezed the trigger, the R1 went “SNAP!” and the target dropped. I pulled the reset string, popped the target upright, and tried again. I missed, so maybe I just got lucky with the first shot.

Frankly, I don’t remember the rest of the shots that I took that day. But I do remember dropping that half-inch target at over 30 yards with metallic sights. Even if I missed the second time, it still felt pretty good.

So now it’s your turn – you are cordially invited to share the shots over which you have bragging rights or your other strange and unusual airgunning stories.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

- Jock Elliott

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