Posts Tagged ‘Field Target’

Recently, as research for a story in ShootingSports USA, I had the opportunity to interview several of the shooters who won their classes at the Northeast Regional Field Target Championship held at Crosman Corporation, July 10, 11 and 12.

There were several unusual stories, and one that certainly caught my attention was that of John Tyler of Yardley, PA. He won the Hunter PCP class, which the most hotly contested with some 44 registered shooters.

A couple of things really struck me about John’s effort. The first is that he was shooting a somewhat unusual air rifle. He was shooting a Benjamin Marauder in .177 equipped with a hammer de-bounce device and with a forestock that has been shortened by several inches. The underside of the buttstock has been removed which took off about a pound of wood. Because he is shooting in the hunter class, which allows the use of shooting sticks, the stock has a notch at the end of the forestock to fit the shooting sticks.

In the photo below are two of John’s Marauders. He won with the one on the bottom.


What really sets John’s Marauder apart is that, having been tuned by Chris Helm, it shoots hot, sending 8.44 grain Air Arms pellets downrange at 1,010 feet per second, for around 19.8 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. Now, if you have been reading this blog for a while or paying attention to various on-line forums, you know that conventional wisdom has it that you really don’t want your air rifle launching pellets at more than 930-950 fps, because higher than that will likely produce inaccuracy. Tyler’s Marauder apparently has not gotten the news. It shoots very accurately at that power level and delivers about 50 shots at that power level per fill.

John tells me that his M-rod shoots flat from 22-45 yards and that additional power really helped him to punch through high winds and torrential rain on the second day of the Northeast Regional Field Target Championship. While most shooters shot significantly worse on the second day, John shot the same score both days, although he feels he should have done better on the first day.


The second unusual aspect of Tyler’s effort was his use of a radio-controlled truck to help him confirm his “scope dope” on the sight-in day. Walking a target holder out yard-by-yard to make sure that his scope is set up properly could be very interruptive to other shooters, since the rangemaster would have to call a cold line each time John wanted to move his target. So he mounted a sign holder on the back of his radio control truck and uses that the move the target as needed without interrupting the other shooters. At the Northeast Regional, he positioned himself at the far end of the sight in range and inched the truck out yard by yard as he sighted in and made sure that all was well with his scope.

John tells me that there is a very small printed sign on the back of the radio controlled truck that says, “If you shoot me, you’ll have to deal with my owner.”

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

— Jock Elliott

FZ200 Daystate target 001

To ready the Daystate Mk4 iS Target for shooting, remove the cap at the end of the air reservoir and fill the reservoir to 230 BAR with a SCUBA tank or high-pressure pump. Next, load the rifle.

Because this is a target rifle, I didn’t mess with the 10-shot rotary magazine, since my preference would be to load single shots if I were shooting field target with this rifle. Initially I tried loading the Daystate Mk4 iS Target without the benefit of the single-shot tray, but I found this to be enormously fussy and difficult. Fortunately, single shot tray is included with the Daystate Mk4 iS Target. It drops readily into place, is held there by magnets, and makes loading single shots absolutely straightforward. You rotate the bolt up and pull full back, place a pellet headfirst on the tray, and slide the bolt back to its original position.

FZ200 Daystate target 006

It’s at this point that I encountered some of the weirdness that is associated with an electronically controlled rifle. The bolt, it turns out, doesn’t cock anything, so it operates super smoothly and very easily. The electronics do all the cocking of the action within the receiver. As a result, it is possible to trigger shot after shot, without moving the bolt, simply by pulling the trigger if the safety is set on FIRE. Now obviously, if you are not moving the bolt and loading any pellets, you will not be sending pellets downrange with those repeated trigger pulls, but you will be sending compressed air down the barrel, compressed air that could cause damage if in too close proximity to another object. (A fellow on one of the forums, using a different precharged pneumatic rifle, put his finger over the muzzle and pulled the trigger to see if there was any air left in the reservoir. The resulting pellet-less discharged wreaked havoc with his finger, and his next stop was the emergency room.)

When the electronics are turned off, the trigger has a small amount of play and feels as inert as if it were attached to a brick wall. Turn the electronics on, though, and it becomes a thing of wonder. There is a very light, but solid and unmistakable , first stage (which I found impossible to measure with the electronic trigger gauge), and at 7.3 ounces, the very crisp second stage trips, and the shot goes off


On high power, the Daystate Mk4 iS Target launches 10.34 grain JSB .177 pellets at 917 fps average for 19.4 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. On Power 2, it sends the same pellets downrange at 797 fps average for 14.7 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. Accuracy was excellent, as you can see from the target below shot at 32 yards, and the report, thanks to the very efficient valve and control system (which will deliver more than 100 shots per fill on Power 2), was to my ear no louder than an average high-power springer.

FZ200 Daystate target 013-001

In addition, the electronic of the Daystate Mk4 iS Target offer a wide variety of control options for the shooter, including: magazine counter, shot counter, active display pressure, power, lighting, turning magazine counter on and off, single shot mode, and low pressure warning.

To be honest, I didn’t mess with any of these electronic settings. Instead, I contented myself with the pleasure of shooting an astonishingly accurate air rifle.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

FZ200 Daystate target 009-001

I have to get this off my chest right up front: I am not accustomed to air rifles that light up when you switch off the safety. Yet that is precisely what the Daystate Mk4 iS Target does. When you move the rotary safety to the FIRE position, a cheerful little screen just forward of the safety on the left side illuminates with messages such as “115.0BAR” (the pressure within the air reservoir), “Pwr 2” (the power level), “S69” (the number of shots that have been taken; it’s resettable), “73%” (the state of the battery charge), and so on.

FZ200 Daystate target 011

The Daystate Mk4 iS Target, you see, is a target rifle with an electronically controlled heart. It features the Harper patent Mapped Compensated Technology (MCT) electronic firing system, the Harper sling-valve valve, and an air-stripper out at the muzzle end of the barrel. We’ll talk about what all that means in terms of the shooting experience in a bit (probably in Part II), but let me cut to the chase: the Daystate Mk4 iS Target is a bona fide tackdriver and, it is a little unusual to shoot because of the electronics.

FZ200 Daystate target 005

First, let’s take a guided tour of the Daystate Mk4 iS Target. At the extreme aft end of the thumbhole stock, which is covered with a soft rubbery material for better gripping, you’ll find a soft rubber butt pad that can be adjusted vertically. Forward of that, on the right side of the buttstock is a large silver knob that, when loosened, allows the shooter to adjust the height of the cheek piece.

The pistol grip is almost vertical and has finger indentations and textured surfaces on either side. Above that on either side is a shelf for resting your thumb while shooting. Forward of that, the stock material surrounds an adjustable electronic trigger that has an adjustable trigger shoe. Underneath the trigger assembly is a slot where there is a lock that can lock the entire rifle as well as a bolt for attaching the receiver to the stock. The stock can be fitted with a rail underneath and a knee riser for field target.

FZ200 Daystate target 002

Above the extreme forward end of the forestock is the 144 cc air reservoir. There is a black cap on the end that can be removed to reveal a male foster fitting for filling the reservoir with a SCUBA tank or a high pressure pump. A barrel band connects the reservoir to the barrel, and at the muzzle end of the barrel you’ll find an air stripper that strips turbulence from the pellet as it exits the barrel to increase accuracy. The stripper is tune-able to your pellet. By loosening the screw and sliding the unit forward or back you can tune the harmonics and actually improve accuracy for your pellet/power combo.

Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find the black metal receiver, which incorporates a generous breech that can be fitted with a 10-shot rotary magazine or a single-shot tray. On the left side of the receiver is the digital display, and at the extreme aft end of the receiver is a large silver colored bolt handle.

The Daystate Mk4 iS Target stretches just 36.5 inches from end to end and weight 9.5 pounds before a scope is fitted. It is available in .177 or .22 caliber. sent me the .177 version to test.

Next time, we’ll take a look at how the Daystate Mk4 iS Target performs.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

A typical field target attached to a tree in the woods.

A typical field target attached to a tree in the woods.

Targets that react when hit by an air rifle pellet are just plain more fun than those that don’t. That’s why I enjoy air rifle field target.

This is what it looks like before the shooter puts his eye to the scope.

This is what it looks like before the shooter puts his eye to the scope.

At first glance, it’s a pretty simple game. It involves shooting metallic silhouettes of birds and small game Each silhouette has a hole – or kill zone – in it, and behind the hole is a paddle. If you put a pellet cleanly through the hole and hit the paddle, the target falls down – with a gratifying clang – and you get a point. If the pellet hits the faceplate of the target or splits on the edge of the hole, the target does not fall down, and you don’t get a point.

As they say in the infomercials, but wait, there’s more: the distance to the target can vary from 10 to 55 yards, and the size of the kill zone, or hole in the target, can vary from 3/8 inch to 1 7/8 inch. Depending on the whim of the match director, you may face any size kill zone at any distance. Trust me: that one-inch kill zone that appears dead easy at 10 yards looks downright microscopic at 50 yards.

Hector Medina shooting a custom tuned RWS 54 springer.

Hector Medina shooting a custom tuned RWS 54 springer.

In addition, air rifles used in field target competition generally shoot at sub-sonic velocities,. As a result, you will need to compensate for the trajectory of the pellet at various ranges. On top of that, the wind will also tend to deflect your pellet as it moves from muzzle to target.

Mix all of these factors together, and you get a sport that requires (1) figuring out the distance to the target, (2) compensating for your gun’s trajectory at that distance, (3) doping the wind, and (4) executing the shot with enough precision to put the pellet cleanly through the hole. What makes it fun, beyond the clang and bang of the targets when they fall, is that field target is never the same twice. Each match is a little different, depending upon the layout of the course and the environmental conditions on any given day.

Hans Apelles of Team Crosman shooting a precharged pneumatic rifle of bullpup configuration.

Hans Apelles of Team Crosman shooting a precharged pneumatic rifle of bullpup configuration.

A typical match may consist of 2 or 3 targets per lane, two shots per target, and 10 shooting lanes, resulting in a 40-60 shot match. Most shots are taken from a sitting position, although some match directors will mix in some standing and kneeling shots as well. Most field target competitions take place outdoors, although some clubs host offhand-only matches in the winter in which shooters stand in a heated building and shoot at outside targets.

At present, there are dozens of field target clubs spread across the United States and more around the world. At most U.S. matches, you’ll find two classes: PCP and Piston. Some clubs also have classes for Junior shooters, Offhand shooters, WFTF (World Field Target Federation, limited to 12 foot-pounds) shooters, and Hunter Class, which limits scopes to 12X and allows the use of shooting sticks and seats. A typical entry fee for a match is $10 or less.

So what do you need to compete in field target? First, an air rifle. You can enter with almost any .177, .20 or .22 air rifle that generates less than 20 foot pounds at the muzzle, but to be competitive, you’ll want a rifle capable of shooting one-hole groups at 10 yards and holding a half-inch 5-shot group at 30-35 yards.

There are two basic classes of gun used in field target. PCP class guns are “pre-charged” pneumatic air rifles. They are powered by compressed air stored in a cylinder usually located below the barrel of the gun and charged using a SCUBA tank or a high-pressure hand pump. PCP field target guns can run from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, depending the level of sophistication.

Piston Class rifles rely on a spring or a gas ram that is cocked, usually by a lever under the barrel, to supply the energy to drive the pellet. When the trigger is pulled, the spring or ram is released, driving the piston forward and the pellet down the barrel. Because a lot of machinery is moving inside the gun before the pellet leaves the muzzle, piston air rifles are more difficult to shoot accurately. Highly accurate piston air rifles suitable for field target can be purchased for $500-600.

Second, you’ll need high quality optics. Many field target shooters favor very high power scopes – a minimum of 24X – because they use them to range-find on the targets. They use the adjustable objective to get the target clearly in focus, and then read the distance off the front bell or side wheel of the scope. In Hunter Class, however, shooters are limited to 12X optics.

Third, you’ll need some good ammunition. You’ll have to test to see with which pellet your gun groups the best. Group size can shrink dramatically simply by choosing the right pellet.

The final thing you will need is something to sit on, since the majority of field target shooting lanes are designed for the sitting position. I use a field target “bum bag,” but whatever gets your rump off the dirt and is comfortable ought to work just fine.

You’ll also need a place to shoot, the American Airgun Field Target Association website AAFTA has a list of field target clubs in the United States as well as a resource page of suppliers of field target air rifles, scopes, ammunition, etc.

Field target offers fun, great camaraderie, and the challenge of a high-accuracy sport at a reasonable price. I recommend it highly.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The FX Royale 400 Field Target with benchrest plate shown below.

My experience to date with FX air rifles is that they are wickedly accurate. I cannot remember shooting one that was of merely average accuracy. As a general rule of thumb, you can figure that virtually any FX rifle with the right pellet under decent condition will put 5 shots in a one-inch group at 50 yards. In my mind, it has gotten to the point where I sometimes wonder if I really need to test an FX rifle for accuracy because they are so darn consistent.

Yet, despite FX’s richly deserved reputation for producing accurate air rifles, there have been those of you in the airgunning community who have requested that FX produce a full-out competition air rifle.

The flip side of the FX FT.

The FX Royale Field Target series of rifles is the answer to that request. The FX FT series is designed for bench rest and field target competition and is available in three variations: the Royale 200, available in .177 and .22; the Royale 400, also available in .177 and .22; and the Royale 500, available only in .25. The number after “Royale” tells you the capacity, in CCs, of the air reservoir. All models weigh right around 10 lbs. (some a bit heavier, some a bit less) before a scope and mounts are added. The overall length of an FX FT ranges from a bit over 41 inches to around 48 inches, depending upon the model, the caliber, and how the stock has been adjusted.

The butt stock and cheek piece of the FX FT are readily adjustable.

All of the FX FT models have a number of common features. Chief among these is a fully adjustable alloy stock with adjustable grip, cheek piece, length of pull, and butt pad. Basically, these guns are designed so that you can tweak the ergonomics so that you can feel completely comfortable, whether you are shooting field target or bench rest. In addition, each of these air rifles includes a precision air regulator that keeps the velocity of the pellets extremely consistent from shot to shot. Each Royale FT also features a multi-shot magazine that is self-indexing, a three-position power wheel, a pressure gauge and highly effective sound moderator. Finally, each FX FT includes a match trigger that can be highly adjusted to the shooter’s preference, all the way down to a few ounces.

The model that I tested was the FX Royale 400 Field Target in .22 caliber and was fresh from the Extreme Benchrest competition. It was fitted with a Hawke 8.5-25 sidewheel scope, and the entire rig was impressive. I don’t think the fit and finish could be improved upon, and the whole thing felt incredibly solid, as if it had been machined out of a solid block of metal.

The moderator is highly effective.

It launched 15.9 gr. JSB pellets at an average of 928.5 fps, and the report was remarkably subdued for an air rifle that was making slightly over 30 foot-pounds of energy. It makes a kind of “fap” noise that doesn’t sound at all like a shot and should not annoy the neighbors.

Included with the rifle was a machine rectangle of metal that could be attached to the front rail for benchrest shooting, but I didn’t mess with that. Instead, I laid the forestock in the crease of my Caldwell Tackdriver bag and started launching some pellets. At 13 yards, the results were predicable: a tiny group, but what really surprised me was that, at 33 yards, the FX FT would usually put three out of five 18-grain JSB pellets through the same hole! I tried a couple of times to pull off a 33-yard, 5-shot, one-hole group, but I couldn’t quite manage it. Either I would yank a shot ever so slightly or the wind would kick up (I was shooting in early December), and the group was “ruined.”

I really enjoyed shooting the FX FT. I think it would be a lot of fun to shoot in competition, and I also think it would be a delight to shoot as a long-range varminter.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The Falcon T50 10-50×60 Field Target is a large, impressive scope.

When I first became interested in adult precision airguns over a decade ago, one of the first things I encountered was the fine sport of field target. I noticed that a lot of the competitors shot with really large high magnification scopes on top of their rifles. I thought it looked cool, and I would later find out that there was a very good reason for those really big high-mag scopes.

We’ll get to that in a little while, but first some background. Field target involves shooting at metallic silhouettes of birds and animals. Each target has a hole in it – a kill zone – behind which is a paddle. Put a pellet cleanly through the kill zone, hit the paddle, and the target falls down. If you miss the kill zone and hit the face plate of the target or clip the edge of the kill zone with the pellet, the target locks in the upright position. It’s simple, neat, and a potload of fun.

What makes field target really challenging is that the range to the target may vary from 10 to 55 yards, and the size of the kill zone may vary from 3/8 inch to 1-7/8 inch. Further, there is no correlation between the range to the target and the size of the kill zone. A one-inch kill zone at 10 yards is pretty much dead easy, but that same one-inch kill zone at 50 yards starts to get, ah, “interesting.” In addition, a really fiendish FT course designer might stick a half-inch kill zone out beyond 30 yards, which will have many of the shooter muttering dark threats under their breath.

If that was not enough trouble for the field target competitor, there is one other factor to consider: compared to powder burning varmint rifles – which send bullets downrange at 2,000, 3,000 or even 4,000 feet per second – the airguns used in field target competition shoot slowly – usually well under 1,000 fps. Consequently, the field target competitor is going to want to know – with as much precision as possible – the exact range to the target. Why? So he (or she) can accurately compensate for the arc-like trajectory of the pellet.

And that’s where big, high-magnification scopes like the Falcon T50 10-50×60 Field Target come in. With a high magnification scope, the shooter focuses precisely on the target and then reads the range to the target off the side wheel (or the objective bell of the scope in the case of a non-side-focus scope). The higher the magnification, the easier it is to focus precisely, particularly at long distance.

The T50 is specifically designed for competitive shooting at less than 100 yards. It is 17.32 inches long, weighs 35.1 oz., features a mil-dot reticle, 1/8” MOA per click, and has been designed to provide range finding that is accurate within 1.5 yards at 50 yards, according to the factory specifications. The turrets are large, well-marked and can be reset to zero.

That hole allows a hex wrench to be inserted for tightening the side wheel on the side focus knob.

The T50 comes with a sheet of stick-on numbers so the shooter can set up the side wheel according to his or her preference.

The T50 comes with a large side wheel that clamps to the side focusing knob and aids in precise focusing and range finding. The side wheel is accompanied by a sheet of self-adhesive numbers that can be placed on the side wheel so that the competitor can do his own setup according to preference. Also included in the package are front and rear flip-up lens covers, a lens cleaning cloth, hex keys for the windage and elevation turrets and side wheel, an objective thread protector, and a threaded sunshade.

The knobs on the T50 are large and well marked.

I mounted the T50 on my Marauder using SportsMatch extra high 30mm scope rings, and found that scope delivers amazing magnification and sharp focusing at distance and also, surprisingly, sharp focus at 50X at just a bit less than 10 yards. Impressive.

Now, to be perfectly candid, the highest magnification scope I had used previously was a 32X. So when I tried the T50 at the highest magnification, I found it a little disconcerting how much movement (of myself) I was observing. But one of the nice things about the T50 is that you can turn the collar near the eyepiece and enjoy crisp clear views at slightly less magnification.

If you are looking for a 50X scope to aid your field target competition, the Falcon T50 10-50×60 Field Target may be just what you need.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The Crosman 1720T is the only air pistol that I am aware of that was purpose built for Pistol Field Target. It can be used for unlimited class air pistol silhouette as well.

One of the cool things about being an airgun writer is that occasionally you get to hear some background on a product that you probably might not have known about otherwise.

The Crosman 1720T Target PCP Pistol is a case in point. Russ Page, Crosman product design engineer, was sitting at his desk one day when he gets a call from Ray Apelles. Ray and his father Hans are enthusiastic field target competitors and represent Crosman Corporation at various FT events as “Team Crosman.” Crosman, in turn, supports Ray and Hans with parts, guns, and so forth.

“Pistol field target is growing in popularity,” Ray says, “and we would like a PCP pistol specifically designed for pistol FT. Ideally, it would have a little longer barrel  and more air capacity than the Crosman 1701 silhouette pistol and would shooter faster too – over 700 fps with light pellets and over 600 fps with Crosman Premier Heavies.”

According to Page, “So we built a couple of prototypes using most of the lower from the Marauder and some parts from the silhouette pistol. We had to get a special barrel, a 12-inch choked Lothar Walther barrel, and the result, after some tweaks, is the 1720T.”

The 1720T is quite some air pistol. A single-shot, .177 caliber, precharged pneumatic, it stretches nearly 18 inches from end to end and weighs 2.8 pounds. It is the first pistol that I am aware of that is purpose built for pistol field target.

The 1720T can be set up with the bolt on the left or right hand side.

At the extreme aft end of the 1720T is the black metal bolt which can be set up for right or left hand usage. Below that is the pistol grip which is ambidextrous. Forward of the pistol grip is a push-button safety and a black metal trigger guard which surrounds a gold-colored metal trigger that is fully adjustable. Forward of that is a polymer forestock which has a circular pressure gauge set into the bottom.

The cap at the end of the air reservoir slips off to reveal a male foster fitting for filling the reservoir. The barrel above the reservoir is shrouded for a very neighbor-friendly report.

Above the forestock is air reservoir. At the end is a black plastic cap which slips off to reveal a male foster fitting for charging the 1720T. Above the air reservoir is a shrouded, choked Walther Lothar barrel. Moving back along the barrel, there is a band that connects the air reservoir with the barrel shroud. Moving back again, you’ll find the receiver, which has a dovetail in front of and behind the breech for mounting a scope. There are no sights on the 1720T, so you have to mount a scope or red dot for aiming.

To get the 1720T ready for shooting, charge it to 3,000 psi with a high pressure pump or SCUBA tank. Pull the bolt back, insert a pellet into the breech, and return the bolt to its original position. Click the safety off and squeeze the first stage out of the trigger. This took 1 lb 2.1 oz of effort on the sample I tested. At 2 lbs., 0.3 oz., the shot goes down range. With the shrouded barrel, the report is extremely muted – not dead quiet, but certainly quiet enough for suburban use.

In factory trim, the 1720T launches 7.9 grain pellets at 715-720 fps and will get about 30 shots per fill. It will send 10.5 grain pellets down range at 630-640 fps for the same number of shots. Page says, “You can play with the tuning to get 750 fps with light pellets, but you won’t get as many shots or as flat a shot string.”

The 1720T also comes with an additional transfer port that can be installed by an airgunsmith to lower the velocity to 550 fps with 7.9 grain pellets and about 70 shots per fill.

I shot this 5-shot group at 25 meters (27 yards) off a very casual rest with the 1720T.

In stock factory trim, shooting off a rest, I got a 5 shot group at 27 meters that measured 0.6 inches center to center, and Crosman claims they typically shoot 5 shot groups at 10 meters that measure .375 inches. Clearly, the 1720T has the accuracy necessary for field target and silhouette.

The plastic shoulder stock normally used on the Crosman 1377 pistol turns the 1720T into a very neat and handy ultracarbine. I used this rig to test the 1720T for accuracy.

To test the 1720T for accuracy, I mounted the shoulder stock that is often used on the 1377 pistol (it is not included with the pistol and is available at additional cost from Crosman), and I “discovered” that the 1720T makes a really cool ultracarbine, perfectly suited for defending the birdfeeder.

In short, I think Crosman has come up with a real winner in the 1720T – a pistol suitable for field target, unlimited class silhouette, plinking, or even close range small game hunting. What’s not to like?

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

Dan Brown shooting in the Quigley Bucket Challenge at the Northeast Regional Field Target Championship.

Before we get to our conversation with Dan Brown and Dan Finney, a brief reminder from the good folks who make this blog possible:

Don’t’ forget: the 2nd Annual EXTREME BENCHREST competition , being hosted by Quail Creek Gun Club in Green Valley, AZ (25 miles South of Tucson) and sponsored by will be held on the weekend of Nov. 10-11, 2012.

What makes it extreme benchrest? Well, here’s a quick summary of the rules:

  • All targets will be placed at 75 yards
  • There are 20 targets to be shot and scored
  • 20 minute time limit for all 20 shots and all sighters
  • Targets will be scored from 0 to 10x per target
  • If a shot breaks the outline of a ring then the shot is scored up
  • Highest shot per target is scored
  • Any shots over 20 will have a 10 point penalty per shot
  • There are 4 targets that are on the bottom of the target board designated for sighters only
  • Shooters are allowed as many sighters as needed
  • Any shot above the sighter line will be counted as a competitive shot
  • Shooting the wrong target is an automatic disqualification

Registration will be limited to 120 shooters, and there will be prizes, lot of prizes, amounting to over $10,000 worth of merchandise to be given to match and raffle winners. For more information, and to register, click here:

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming: At the Northeast Regional Field Target Championship, Dan Brown took third in the WFTF Division and won the Hunter Pistol match. His son, Dan Finney, won the Hunter PCP rifle match. I interviewed Dan Brown about what made him and his son so successful at field target.

JE: How did you get started in field target?

DB: When I was a kid, I was really big into airguns. I used to read about Rodney Boyce and American Airgun magazine. When I was in high school, I used to skip school and take off in the woods all day with an airgun. About two years ago, I bought an FX Independence and went to some field target shoots. That’s how I got involved.

JE: What’s your current competition rig?

DB: This year, I’m using an EV2, and I’m shooting in the World Field Target Federation (WFTF) Division, which is 12 foot-pounds. I have a Sightron 10-60 scope and I use it all the time at 50x, even shooting offhand. I’m shooting 7.9 grain JSB pellets.

Dan Finney shooting his highly modified Marauder on the B course at the Northeast Regional Field Target Championship.

JE: What about your son’s rig for PCP Hunter?

DB: That’s a Marauder. I’m an amateur machinist, and we heavily modified my son’s gun. It has a Lothar barrel with a 1/15 twist, a thimble on the end so we can index the barrel, a custom hammer with a debounce device that improves shot count by 25%, a custom regulator that delivers 1.5% consistency, and a special bolt lug that tightens the actions. It gets a lot of shots per fill and is shooting at 910 fps right now.

JE: What about the pistol rig that you won with?

DB: That’s a Crosman 1720T that we bought the day before the pistol match.

JE: The day before?!! You mean you had less than a day to practice?

DB: Yes, and I had to borrow a scope from Ray Apelles for the pistol match.

(An aside: at this point, Your Humble Blogger is sitting mute on the phone, shaking his head in disbelief.)

JE: How do you practice?

DB: Me and my kid are big into bench rest. We get the guns shooting as accurately as possible. We shoot indoor leagues in the winter and attend weekly silhouette shoots for our offhand skills. We also practice in the backyard. We can go out to 100 yards. So one of us will put out a target, and whoever it’s it first gets to put out the next target at whatever distance he chooses. We do a lot of long range shooting, measuring ballistic coefficients, and we have even done high speed video of pellets in flight. We experiment a lot with different barrels with custom rifling to try to maximize accuracy. I find shooting from a bench very valuable as well.

JE: What about your son’s practice routine?

DB: Well, he follows a very highly regimented discipline. He plays video games about 95% of the time when he isn’t working, and he usually sights in his gun the night before a match.

JE: Any advice for newbies?

DB: One of the best practice aids is to get involved with benchrest match shooting. You’ll learn how much the wind affects the flight of the pellet. At the last match, I was holding off two inches to make the shot. It’s especially important with a 12 foot-pound gun. I think benchrest helped my kid quite a bit. Benchrest is a different mindset. It’s more technical and it will help you to get your gun accurate in a hurry. The bottom line: you need an accurate gun, need to understand the wind, and need to get your positions down pat.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The windicator stands out to one side while Kevin Yee takes a shot at the Northeast Regional Field Target Championship.

At the Northeast Regional Field Target Championship, Kevin Yee flew in from California and won the Open Piston Division with a score of 100, beating the highest score posted by an Open PCP shooter. Not only is that a very impressive achievement, but Yee was one of the few shooters to demonstrate remarkable consistency, shooting the same score (a 50) on each day. I interviewed Kevin by telephone to find out what makes him so successful as a field target competitor.

JE: How did you get started in field target?

KY: When I was a kid, I went to Boy Scout camp. We shot .22s, and I liked it! When I got home, I begged my parents for a .22, I wound up with a Red Ryder BB gun. I got hooked into the Beeman airguns stuff, and eventually ended up with an FWB124. I practiced with that gun till I wore out the seal in it. I’ve shot airguns ever since then. Fast forward a few years . . . when I got a new home, we had a lot of pigeons around and that rekindled my interest in airguns. Eventually I got an Air Force Condor – a .22 shooting 50 foot-pounds – which I modified heavily and started to shoot field target with it. I noticed though that my technique was messing up some shots, so I started to shoot spring guns to improve my technique. I think PCPs are rather sterile and boring. A springer has a lot more personality and life.

JE: What’s your current competition rig?

KY: The gun I shot at NERFTC is actually my backup rig. It’s an HW97 with Maccari internals and a Maccari stock that was tuned by Jan Kraner. It shoots JSB RS pellets at 840 fps, close to 11 foot-pounds. It has a straight bar that comes out of the butt pad that functions as a butt hook, an old Premier-Leupold Mark IV scope, and a custom scope focusing knob that is about five inches in length. I like it because I can move it with my thumb when I am shooting offhand. I also have a windicator that is a piece of Mylar. That’s pretty much it.

JE: What’s your practice routine?

KY: (He laughs.) I’m actually a casual shooter. I shot the Oregon match just before I flew to New York for the NERFTC, but I hadn’t shot for 2-3 months before that. I actually don’t spend a lot of time practicing. I live in the city, and it’s impossible to shoot at my house. When I make it to the range, I’ll sit there for eight hours and shoot targets and take Vicodin later for my back. I only shoot from a sitting position at targets anywhere from 65 yards to ten yards.

JE: If you don’t practice, how come you were so consistent? Most of the shooters were telling me that reading the wind on the B course at NERFTC was really difficult.

KY: In a sense, I got lucky. The B course is very similar to where I normally shoot – with gusty, variable winds, but you tend to have a quartering tail wind, and that’s what I was seeing and feeling on the B course. Most of the time, I was sitting there trying to find a predictable wind to shoot. I rarely held on the kill zone.

JE: Do you have any advice for newbies?

KY: You don’t need a full-blown race rig; you don’t have to have all the expensive stuff. I think the springer class is the most reasonable class that a person can get into and shoot without spending high dollars. You need to practice enough so that you know your gun and how it will behave and so that getting into a good, stable field target position becomes second nature to you.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott


At the Northeast Regional Field Target Championship ( NERFTC), Greg Sauve won the WFTF Division after a shoot-off with Ray Apelles. Sauve also won the 2011 WFTF PCP National Championship. I interviewed Greg by phone to try to get an idea what makes him so successful at field target.

JE: How did you get started in field target?

GS: Well, to really understand, you have to go way back. When I was 11, my Dad gave me a break barrel air rifle. I had been on him to get me a BB gun, and he said, “I got you a gun you can hit something with.” So I’ve been target shooting for over 50 years! Around 2000 I inherited a Crosman air pistol from my Uncle, that lead me to an Izzy pistol. I started looking for matches, and I got involved with the Badgerland Airgun Association (BAGA). I shot my first field target match there with a TX, and I hit seven targets. That was the beginning. My first serious FT rifle was a 20 foot-pound Steyr prepared by Allan Zasadny.

JE: What’s your competition rig now?

GS: A Steyr FT modified and setup for 12 foot-pounds by Alan Zasadny. It’s fully tricked out by him with a knee rest, thigh rest, butt hook, adjustable weight, trigger job, and changed porting. On top is a March 8-80 scope, and I’m shooting JSB 7.9 grain pellets. I shoot in a Creedmore shooting jacket – I actually have three of them – and a David Tubb highpower hat that I can fold the sides down to keep the light out. I also have one of those rubberized eye cups on the eyepiece of my scope.

JE: What’s your practice routine?

GS: I can shoot 20 yards in my basement. Once a day, I practice for standing shots. I have a target with 25 bulls, and I start at the lower left and slowly track the crosshairs along the line of targets, trying to hold as steady as I can. I understand the 10 meter guys to do that, and I try to make sure I do it once a day.

JE: What about sitting?

GS: Mostly I just shoot. All winter I shoot International Field Position at BAGA. You’re shooting at half-inch kill zones at 30 yards, and it’s worst-edge scoring. IFP really keeps the juices sharp. It was ten years at BAGA before anyone cleaned the course. I shoot a reduced IFP target in my basement at 20 yards, and I try to shoot two of those targets a day – that’s 50 shots. Sometimes I’ll shoot three of those targets in a day. In all, I shoot 15,000 to 20,000 pellets a year in practice.

JE: Do you do anything to keep yourself fit for shooting?

GS: I do some jogging, biking, and elliptical machine for cardio. I have a multi-position weight machine for strength, and I do yoga about three times a week for flexibility.

JE: Are you doing anything special to get ready for the World’s Championship?

GS: I notice they have a lot of uphill and downhill shots, so I am practicing those. I made arrangement with an archery club to shoot from a treestand. The outdoor range that I practice is wide open and very windy. I kind of like it now. You have to go out there and shoot when it is windy. Start by shooting everything dead center to see where the shots are going and then try to make them hit on target by compensating for the wind. I have a windicator I made from fly fishing feathers from Gandor Mountain. If you see that feather moving at all, you have to honor it, particularly if you are shooting in the 12 foot-pound World Field Target Federation (WFTF) division.

JE: Do you have any advice for newbies?

GS: Sure. Get some decent equipment to start with . . . probably a PCP because it’s easier. You have to practice to learn a consistent and balanced hold. You need to work on your natural point of aim. Sit down, point your scope at the target, close your eyes, open them, and see if you are still pointed at the center of the target. If not, wiggle around until you are. Then repeat the process – close your eyes, relax, open your eyes, and check to see if you are pointed where you need to be. If not, adjust accordingly. If you shoot with tension in your body, you will tend to yank the shot off line when you pull the trigger.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott