Posts Tagged ‘Field Target’

JE: How should you prepare if you are a serious sport shooter of field target?

HM: If you are a serious sport shooter – really dedicated to the sport – you have to differentiate between the mind and body, and you have to get them both fit. You can be physically fit and not mentally fit. Shooting is 70-80% brain, and 20-30% physical.

JE: How do you get physically fit for shooting?

HM: If you are going to cock a spring gun 180 times over three days, you need to build up stamina. Of course, you have to cock and shoot your gun, but one of the best ways to build stamina is to take long, brisk walks. No running, jumping, just long brisk walks. They are excellent to build stamina for long days of shooting.

JE: What’s next?

HM: Once you start your physical fitness program, you need to attend to your brain. That means keeping it busy, nimble, and fast; making sure your brain and your eyes are geared toward detecting things in the outside world. Excellent exercises for the brain are those puzzles where you have two pictures and you have to detect the differences between them. That helps to train the mind to see the sight picture, the wind, the difference in light, and will help get your brain geared towards not only looking but actually seeing things.

JE: What else?

HM: Once you get your body and brain fit, you have to feed them properly, so a good diet is very important: one-third protein, one-third vegetables, and one-third grains, all as unprocessed as possible. You also have to take care of your eyes. They are the main data-gathering instruments. Make sure your glasses have the right prescription; wear sunglasses in bright sunlight, and protect your eyes with goggles in a shop.

JE: What about actual shooting practice?

HM: Practice 30-50 shots dry fire every day. Practice 10-20 one-handed pistol shots two or three times a week, that builds your trigger control. Finally, at least 20 times a week, practice a complete shot cycle. By that, I mean: plump the bum bag, sit down on it, mount your rifle, close your eyes, wiggle around a little, then, open your eyes and see if you are naturally aligned to the target. If not, correct your position, close your eyes, wiggle, and open your eyes to check your position again, repeat if necessary. Range the target, take the shot, and get up again. Repeat that over and over until getting into the proper position, perfectly aligned to the target, is a matter of muscle memory. A lot of shooters have no clue whether they are naturally aligned to the target or not.

JE: Do you do anything to prepare your pellets?

HM: Yes, I wash and lube them. I use Krytech often for PCP pellets and Pledge for springers . . . I bake the pellets for three minutes in a toaster oven dedicated for the purpose. You have to experiment with lubes to see what works best for a particular barrel.

JE: Anything else?

HM: Yes, you have to go to a lot of matches. That’s because if you are serious about being competitive, you can’t train for the mind game aspect of what goes on in the background of matches, and the psychological aspect of matches plays a heavy role in the outcome; if you are a hobby shooter you will have a very good time, experience some fine sportsmanship, very high levels of camaraderie and, I am sure, lifelong friendships will be established.

Till next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The excellent experience I had at the Northeast Regional Field Target Championship (NERFTC) rekindled my interest in field target competition. Field target is, in my view, one of the toughest, most challenging, and most fun shooting disciplines available anywhere.

Air rifle field target involves shooting at metallic silhouettes of birds and animals. Each silhouette has a hole – a kill zone – somewhere on its face. Behind the hole is a paddle. Put a pellet cleanly through the hole, hit the paddle, the target falls down, and the shooter gets a point. If the target doesn’t fall, no point is given to the shooter. The ranges to the targets can be anywhere, from ten to 55 yards; and the size of the kill zone can vary from 3/8 inch to 1 7/8 inches.  Further, any size kill zone may be placed at any range.

To be successful, the field target shooter must figure out the range to the target, compensate for pellet drop and wind at that range, and then shoot with sufficient precision to drop the target.

At NERFTC, Hector Medina won the Hunter Piston class by dropping 83 targets, beating the second place finisher by 19 points. Recently, I interviewed Medina by telephone to see if I could discover what made him so successful.

JE: How did you get started in field target competition?

HM: About 11 years ago, I was living in Mexico and started the Mexican Pneumatic Shooting Club. Nothing was organized for airgun shooting at that time, and we became the first club for airgun shooting that was recognized by the Mexican authorities. We interfaced with the Commerce Department to relax import restrictions, the Mexican military because they have authority over firearms and we needed to educate them, and Environmental Protection because we were able to help with some serious pest control problems involving feral dogs, goats, and even burros. We became the interface between airgunners and the government, now there are roughly 25 airgun clubs in Mexico.

The Mexicans are very keen on silhouette because Pancho Villa and his men invented it, but silhouette allows a target to drop if you hit anywhere on the face of the silhouette. So we started promoting field target as a discipline that is a more precise form of silhouette – you have to put the pellet through the kill zone – and closely related to hunting. People in Mexico took to it very naturally and began holding matches. About six months ago, the Mexican Field Target Association was born.  That’s a long way of saying I’ve been involved with field target for over a decade.

JE: What rig do you use for FT competition?

HM: I shoot a World Field Target Federation Diana 54. It generates 12 foot-pounds on a short stroke, using a full power spring on double guides. It is equipped with a piston of my own design, and launches JSB 7.9 grain .177 pellets at 810 fps, plus or minus 2 fps.  For scope, I use a Horus Vision 4-16 x 50  that has quarter miliradian marks for elevation and windage. While the reticle looks really complicated, it helps me to deal with elevation and wind, and that’s particularly important at the lower WFTF power level. I wanted a gun that was heavier at the nose, so I added a Diana 56 muzzle weight. WFTF is a challenging division because of the low power, and because you don’t use shooting sticks or harnesses.

JE: What advice would you give to shooters who are interested in field target?

HM: The first thing is to decide whether you want to take up field target as a casual recreational hobby or as a serious shooting discipline to which you will dedicate yourself and try to excel.  If you regard it as a hobby, you’ll take one path; if you see it as a sport, you’ll take another.

JE: Okay, what if you’re going to do it as a hobby?

HM: People who want to shoot field target as a hobby would be better served by shooting in the Open or Hunter divisions. Those classes have higher power, which makes the shooting easier, and allow the use of shooting sticks or shooting harnesses, which also make shooting easier. To get ready for shooting FT as a hobby, you need to shoot a lot, and that is basically the only requirement. You need to learn the equipment, the trajectory, and become comfortable. You need to shoot under the conditions that you are likely to find in a match. Most spring-piston air rifles do not shoot the same uphill, downhill, or level. If you are going to shoot a course where there are a lot of uphill shoots, you should practice those. But for the hobbyist, if you shoot a lot, eventually you are likely to find yourself doing reasonably well.

Next time, Hector talks about the preparations of a serious sport shooter.

Till then, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

On July 6, 7, and 8, I spent three days in Bloomfield, NY, at the Crosman facilities attending the Northeast Regional Field Target Championship, and I thought I share some of my thoughts, photos, and impressions of the experience. (If you simply want to see the results, you can check them out here: )

The shooter’s meeting under the large tent.

To start, the match was incredibly well run and organized. It was as if Crosman were conducting a clinic on how to host a field target match. Red shirts, worn by Crosman folks, were in evidence everywhere, helping out, making sure things went well. And they did. The Regional Field Target Match was scheduled to start at 9 am Saturday morning, and by 8:50 am, everything was in place and ready to go.

By the time I arrived shortly after noon on Friday, a number of shooters were already on the sight-in range. It was very warm and humid, and the Crosman folks had large coolers filled with ice and bottled water available next to the sight-in range and also under a large tent where shooters could escape from the sun. By the end of the day on Friday, there was a 55-gallon drum filled with empty water bottles.

The two field target courses were about 1/3 of a mile apart. Many shooters drove from one to another, but Crosman also had an ATV and trailer for transportation between the two courses.

Almost every type of field target rig imaginable was in evidence, from Remington Nitro-Piston break barrel rifles being shot off shooting sticks to multi-kilobuck full race match rifles.

Hans Apelles’ rig featured a very tall scope mount.

Hans Apelles was shooting in Hunter Division with a very tall scope mount. When I asked about it, he pointed to his son, Ray. Ray explained, “Dad’s shooting in Hunter. Scopes are limited to 12x. That makes it hard to range-find beyond 35 yards. With this setup, everything from 33 to 55 yards is basically the same mil-dot.”

Here’s what Hans’ mil-dot chart looked like.

When I spoke to Kevin Yee, who had flown in from California to shoot in the Open Division, Piston Class, he complained that he wasn’t doing so well, but he posted a 50 out of a possible 60 on both days and beat the highest score in Open PCP.

Kevin Yee has, easily, the world’s funkiest sidewheel scope knob. It’s built that was so he can adjust it with his trigger hand while shooting offhand.


Larry Bowne shot the entire match offhand.

The match on Saturday was interrupted by a spectacular but short-lived storm.

Dan Finney shot prone most of the time in Hunter PCP.

Ray Apelles designed the championship courses with 1.5 inch killzones throughout, but no one cleaned the course.

In the middle of the WFTF shoot-off for first place, Greg Sauve grins for the camera while Ray Apelles focuses on a shot.

The pistol match featured almost every imaginable style of pistol shooter.

The B course (lanes 16-30) was cooler under the trees, but all shooters agreed that it was harder to dope the wind there.

Hector Medina (white hat with neck cloth) won Hunter Piston by nearly 20 points. That’s Art Deuel shooting an HW98 in the foreground.

Richard Bassett (tan hat) is congratulated by Hans Apelles for winning the Quigley Bucket Challenge. Over 40 shooters took a crack at the 1.75 inch bucket at 55 yards with non-glass sights.

Dan Brown not only took third in WFTF and won Hunter Pistol, but gets the “Nice Guy of the Year” award for providing much needed navigational help to Your Humble Blogger.

In all it was a wonderful match!

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

If you have never tried field target competition, you really owe it to yourself, as an airgun enthusiast, to give it a go. It’s a lot of fun.

On May 1, 2011, I attended and competed in a field target match put on by the Eastern Field Target Competitors Club (EFTCC) at the Dutchess County Pistol Association in Wappingers Falls, NY.

Field target is the fine art of shooting at metallic silhouettes of squirrels, rabbits, birds, and the like. These silhouettes are generally 4-12 inches high. There is a hole, called the kill zone, in the silhouette, and behind the hole is a paddle. If you put a pellet cleanly through the hole, it hits the paddle, and the target falls down. If you hit the face plate of the target or split a pellet on the edge of the kill zone, the target stays upright. What makes field target challenging is that the range to the target can vary from 7 to 55 yards, and the size of the kill zone can range from .25 inches to 1.875 inches. Further – and this is key – 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 fairly easy to hit, but a one-inch kill zone at 50 yards can be downright challenging.

Normally, you score one point for each target you knock down (and no points if you fail to drop the target), but the May 1 EFTCC match was scored on a risk/reward system: you got one point if you knocked the target down from a sitting, prone, or kneeling position, but you scored two points if you dropped the target from a standing position. 

The catch in all this is that it is harder to shoot from a standing – or offhand – position. Most lanes had two targets, and you could take two shots at each, four shots in all in each lane. If you were successful with all four shots from, say, a sitting position, you would get four points for that lane, but if you were successful with all four shots from a standing position, you would get eight points. So, is it worth the risk to attempt the more difficult by higher scoring standing shots? That was the question facing the competitors.

Six classes were available for competition at EFTCC: Hunter, WFTF (World Field Target Federation), Pistol, PCP, Spring Gun, and Junior. There were entrants in all classes but Pistol.

Below is my attempt to capture the day in pictures.

The day was gorgeous: mid-70s and low wind. It started with signing up for a class to compete in.

The shooting lanes are along the left edge of the photo, the check-in table on the right.

A couple of typical field targets. Hit the yellow kill zone, and the target goes down.

Can you spot the field target on the tree?

Here it is up close.

 You could spot just about any type of air rifle in the competition.

Tom Holland took first in the WFTF class with this Steyr LG110FT.

Michael Arroyo finished second in Hunter with this Beeman R11.

Glenn Thomas campaigned a Gamo CFX.

Hector Medina took second in Spring Gun Division with a Diana 54.

Veronica Ruf competed with an HW95.

Brian Williams goes prone in Hunter class with his .20 caliber Daystate Air Wolf.

In Hunter class, Greg Shirhall reloads his custom-stocked Marauder.

Robert Bidwell shot a QB78PCP in Junior Class.

Paul Bishop won Spring Gun Division with this custom-stocked HW98.

Jerry LaRocca won Hunter class with his .22 caliber Diana 56TH.

Ron Zeman shot an Air Arms S300 in PCP Division.

Art Deuel finished second in the PCP Division with this customized Marauder.

Nathan Thomas sights in a Marauder. He won the PCP Division with it.

Your Humble Correspondent with his trusty FWB150.

Match Director and Team Crosman member Ray Apelles shot a Marauder Hybrid bullpup that was specially built for ease of transportation to the FT World Champsionship in Italy.

Ray's father Hans is co-Match Director and the other half of Team Crosman. Here he is shooting his lefthanded Marauder Hybrid Bullpup.

And a good time was had by all!

The FT match was a lot of fun. You get to meet a lot of nice people, enjoy shooting for half a day, and see some interesting equipment. What’s not to like?

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

If you want to get rock-solid steady when you are shooting your air rifle or air pistol, here’s a piece of gear that you ought to know about. Called the Steady Aim Harness, the patent-pending device consists of a comfortable shoulder harness with a wide padded back support and a pair of padded non-slip knee straps. The shooter wears the harness over his clothes, and whenever he needs to make a high-precision shot, he simply sits down, slips the knee straps into place, and leans back. The Steady Aim Harness uses the body’s own weight in tension against the legs to create an amazingly stable and comfortable shooting platform that deploys in just seconds in the field.

Tom Price, inventor of the harness, says, “The military has known for a long time that the sitting position is one of the most stable for precision shooting, but it isn’t always consistently comfortable or stable. The Steady Aim Harness is as comfortable to wear as a fanny pack and nearly as stable to shoot from as a benchrest.”

The Steady Aim Harness is assembled from ballistic nylon straps and engineering grade plastic adjusters and quick release buckles that are fully adjustable to fit a wide range of sizes. An optional waterproof seat cushion, which is part of the Steady Aim Harness system, is available to increase comfort for extended sitting. The Steady Aim Harness and small cushion together weigh just two pounds.

This picture shows your humble correspondent wearing the Steady Aim Harness. The knee loops dangle in front of my thighs.

To get ready to shoot, sit down and drop the knee loops over your knees. It’s as comfortable as sitting in an easy chair. Here I am shooting the Diana LP8 two-handed with my elbows resting on my knees.

This shows me shooting a rifle-scoped pistol Crosman 2300S silhouette air pistol rested in the crook of my arm. The Steady Aim Harness is also useful when you need to do long-term observation of a game area from a seated position.

A number of field target shooters that I know use the Steady Aim Harness to help them shoot their rifles in competition more accurately. My brother-in-law and I both use Steady Aim Harnesses in competition whenever the rules allow. Above is a picture of me shooting an FX Typhoon in field target competition using the Steady Aim Harness.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott