When it comes to shooting, accuracy matters
PUBLISHED: 11:20 20 September 2017 | UPDATED: 11:20 20 September 2017
Mark Camoccio brings us the first in his upcoming series on what it takes to hit the target
We all have landmarks in life, and for me, 1979 was a key year. OK, it’s a much repeated story, (you really don’t want to get stuck with me in a lift) but the arrival of my first air rifle had a significant affect on my life. The arrival of field target shooting just a year later, was another stroke of good fortune, and it was this perfect timing that set in motion a lifetime’s passion for all things airgun.
Qualifying to shoot for one of the earliest England teams in FT was a proud moment, but then helping the renowned Markyate club, based near Luton, to win the national Clubs Cup tournament multiple times back in the good old ‘80s (organised by Air Gunner, incidentally), was immensely satisfying, too. Right place at the right time again, brought me into contact with Dave Welham from Airmasters, and of course, using his superbly crafted Mastersport custom creations – fully tuned, fully rebuilt spring guns, initially based on the glorious Feinwerkbau Sport 124, and latterly the Weihrauch HW77 – we secured a haul of silverware up and down the country. Field target was the obsession in the early days, and latterly, it’s been Hunter Field Target – or HFT – a sport I now thoroughly enjoy, still shooting alongside Dave Welham who remains a great friend to this day.
Forgive my self-indulgence, but the point of all this is that many years of competition shooting in both FT and HFT, has given me so much. Yes, of course I have an unrivalled box of Allen keys, accumulated from over 35 years in the business, but more importantly, I’ve soaked up a wealth of knowledge on which to draw; knowledge hard won, in at the sharp end of top-level competition, gleaned over many seasons.
It’s this hard-won experience that I hope to share over the coming months. Let’s face it; shooting successfully is all about hitting the target, and that simple rule applies right across the board, whether we shoot serious competition, or just enjoy plinking in the back garden for the hell of it. If you hunt, then don’t be told there’s any reduced requirement for accurate shot placement. Indeed, it’s arguably higher, since wounding live quarry unnecessarily is totally unacceptable at any point.
So honing our skills has to be the way forward to enhancing our performance, and also enjoyment of our sport. Successful shooting is the result of many aspects of our approach coming together at the right time. Think of them as elements, and many are interlinked. We’ll cover a wide variety of subjects along the way, all with the same result in mind; to improve our shooting and hit that target more consistently.
Topics such as fitness will be discussed, and there’s no doubt that this can have a big influence on how well we shoot. Admittedly, youth has the edge as the trump card, and I remember being 18, fearless, naturally supple and honed. You’re a natural athlete at that age, and it’s no surprise that a steady stream of youngsters on the competition circuit break through the ranks periodically, but there are things we can do to improve our well-being at any age, and with it, our chances – so we’ll cover those.
Shooting a spring-powered airgun is a science in itself, and deserves its own series, so I’ll be covering that for sure, in due course. All my early FT work was done with springers, albeit mainly specially prepared ones, but the key principles remain the same. Shooting a pre-charged pneumatic (PCP), is far easier, given the recoilless or near recoilless nature of the action, and many of us get spoilt with the relative ease of the point-and-shoot pneumatic. Pick up a springer, and the way it reacts and responds to our handling can be quite remarkable. Look at how some top shots shoot them in current HFT and FT competitions – they demand respect – but do it regularly and adopt the correct approach, and you’ll be amazed at the difference that’s possible in performance. Shooting any airgun well takes skill, but the springer undoubtedly takes the most.
If you are considering competition shooting, then several aspects apply. Top-quality kit is an obvious prerequisite, along with a modicum of skill, but once all this is in place, securing silverware on the day largely comes down to the individual’s mental approach. Fear not, for this will be the topic of discussion at some point, along with a multitude of others, I’ve no doubt.
One final point: If you’re a hunter, and consider these aspects a bit specialised and unconnected to your branch of the airgun sports, I’m afraid you’re wrong. As mentioned, any elements that help a streamlined approach, and hone our skills, may seem aimed toward the target sports, but are just as relevant to shooting live quarry. Tweak the gun and ammo until you have a super-reliable tack driver; hone your positional shooting, until you can silkily slip into an assumed position in the field, free from muscle strain, and safe in the knowledge that all feels solid and well drilled, and you’ll have a much better chance of placing an accurate shot, whether on an HFT course, or out stalking a bunny. After all, that is what it’s all about. Accuracy Matters! I look forward to seeing you soon.