Talking with a Champion: Paul Cray – Part II

Monday, February 8, 2010

JE: Any other practice routines?

PC: Especially when shooting at 12 fp, I spent a lot of time practicing for the wind. I bought a wind gauge, got a piece of thread, put it on the muzzle, and tried to correlate the movement of the thread to the speed of the wind. With 12 fp, the wind becomes a serious consideration for almost every shot. I also focus on having a positive attitude when I’m about to take a shot and fine-tuning my natural point of aim.

JE: What’s the most difficult thing about field target?

PC: I think it’s shooting sitting for 10 lanes and then having to shoot offhand with no warm-up.

JE: Does the Anschutz butthook help?

PC: Yeah, it does. It helps me mount the gun the same way each time.

JE: What about your shooting routine? Do you intentionally trigger shots or are you surprised when they go off?

PC: Well, when I’m shooting offhand, I intentionally trigger the shot. I pull the trigger as fast as I can as soon as I see that sight picture I want, but when I’m shooting from a sitting position I try to go for the surprise. But when you’re shooting 12 fp in the wind and you’re also against the lane timer, sometimes you don’t have the luxury of waiting, so when you get an opening, you take it.

JE: Is there one thing that’s a key to your success?

PC: Consistency, that’s it. You have to practice until everything you do is consistent, shot after shot.

JE: How much do you practice?

PC: I shoot 10,000 to 12,000 pellets a year.

JE: What advice would you give newbies?

PC: Pick a rifle that you like and fits your shooting position and learn how to shoot it. Spend a lot of time with it, get into position, test for the pellets, get your scope set up and shoot a whole season before you change anything. Realize that you will have bad days, and when that happens, it doesn’t mean you need a new rifle.

JE: Anything else?

PC: Realize that what you do in your back yard, while it really helps, doesn’t necessarily translate into a match. In a match, you have the pressure of competition, and that is going to mess with you. That’s why new shooters need to shoot a season or two before they can make informed decisions about making changes. They should learn to read the wind by shooting on windy days. The more you shoot, the more you recognize the nuances of what’s going on. There’s no substitute for trigger time, and no substitute for competition experience.

JE: Is there anything more new shooters need to do?

PC: Yes. Mental preparation is extremely important. There’s lots of good material out there. Read what the Olympic champions have written about proper trigger technique and breathing. You also need to take a Blood Oath: no desperation shots. Don’t pull the trigger because you think you’re running out of time or air or steadiness. Pull the trigger when you know it’s right. Concentrate on the center of the kill zone, not the size of the kill zone. That’s where the focus of your attention should be. If a small kill zone is going to freak you out, you’re concentrating on the wrong thing.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott


  1. Jerry says:

    Thanks Paul Cray for the advice.
    Just got bitten by the airgun bug.
    Bought an FT_Rig, an older model
    Daystate X2_R_FT.177 on the Yellow Forum. Previous owned by a few of the well know guys on the FT_Forum.
    Infact,first bought at A.O.A.
    By the famous, who's goes by the name Tony Trogan 1994.So thanks
    Paul for the advice. Need all I can get.And Thank you Jock for
    Talking with a campion.

  2. Jock Elliott says:


    I need all the help I can get as well!

    Paul obviously has the credentials. He's been there, done that, and has the trophies to prove it. Paul's advice is a great place to start. The hard part is consistently putting it into practice . . .

  3. Tim Elliott says:

    I would love for you to talk with Paul Cray again and record his techniques for sighting in his field target scope. He did a couple of episodes on American Airgunner TV but I didn’t get them recorded. I think it would make for a very informative blog or two.

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      Good idea! Maybe I’ll see if I can reach Paul to talk about that.

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