Tim Finley’s 10 golden rules of shooting
PUBLISHED: 10:59 31 May 2018 | UPDATED: 10:59 31 May 2018
Tim’s a highly experienced shooter and he’d like to share some ‘golden rules’
I’ve been shooting airguns for 40-odd years, with a fair amount of success in one way or another, and I’d like to share with you ten things I learned along the way. Looking back, I know that, had I been as aware of this advice when I started out, my progress would definitely have been faster and more hassle-free. Here goes, then.
1. Buy a basic gun to start
Your basic spring-powered, break-barrelled rifle is both cheap to buy and run, and it’s the ideal rifle with which to begin shooting. It teaches you all of the basics and it is fun to shoot, too. Start with open sights then add a scope.
2. Join a club
It was not until I actually joined a club in 1987 that I began to develop as an airgun shooter. Clubs are fantastic places not only to have somewhere to shoot, but also to learn from other shooters.
3. Don’t get discouraged
I scored a whopping 7 ex 20 when I shot my first real FT course in 1987, but I carried on, undeterred by such a poor score. Roll forward to 1994 and I missed all six standing shots on the last day of the World FT Championships, but came second by just two shots. There will always be good days AND bad days. Learn from your mistakes and relish the good days when they come.
4. Don’t get hung up on power
I ran my FT rig at 11.2 ft.lbs. This gave me the most consistent chronograph readings and the 7.9 grain Crosman pellets operated well, windage wise, at these speeds. Running close to the edge only brings you stress, and you will find yourself constantly at the chronograph on hot days, in fear of being disqualified from a competition. It’s just not worth the distraction Get the gun running at 11.2 ft.lbs. and enjoy learning to shoot it well. It worked for me and the vast majority of top shooters I know, including our esteemed editor.
5. Never sell a good scope
Rifles develop and change, but a good scope is ALWAYS a good scope. Good glass will be good glass for years and years. I still have scopes I got 30 years ago. The Tasco scopes made in Japan in the 1980s are still scopes worth using today.
6. If you want to improve, put the time in
A bit corny I know, but if you want to be the best you can be, you have to put in the time, and effort. Oh, and don’t just dedicate that time and effort to the stuff you’re already good at, either. Work hardest on your weaknesses!
7. Pass on what you have learned
It is beholden to all shooters to give help and advice to the new shooters coming into the sport. Remember the help and advice you got. Airgun World played a massive part in my shooting journey and now I hope I am passing it on, too.
8. Good pellets are worth their weight in gold
Once you find a pellet that works in your gun and works well, don’t be afraid to stock up on it. It’s cheaper in the long run and you will never have the excuse that when you miss it’s the pellet’s fault, when it’s really you.
9. Never forget the fundamentals
As well as starting out with a recoiling break-barrelled spring rifle, you also need to keep one in the gun cabinet and go back to it often. My current favourite springer is a 1983 vintage Webley Vulcan. To shoot a springer you need to master many aspects of successful shooting. From consistent hold, consistent head position, correct breathing techniques, trigger control to the last piece in the puzzle and the key one you need for a springer, but can lose only shooting a PCP – follow-through.
Shooting only PCPs makes you lazy because they are all too easy to shoot, too forgiving of a bad day at the office. When you start missing with them, that’s the time to go back to the springer and retrain your brain. Better still, get it out BEFORE you start missing. It doesn’t need much to hone your subconscious mind – shooting a springer for half an hour is enough. Also, you might find that you enjoy the challenge, I know I do.
10. Enjoy your shooting, but do it safely
We all have a duty to the sport to shoot safely. Have fun, but check backstops and wear eye protection at all times when plinking. Get the family involved, too. A bit of competitive back garden shooting is fantastic.