Posts Tagged ‘shooter profile’

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 www.airgunsofarizona.com 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: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/ExtremeBenchrest.html

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

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