The New GL43 General Licence
As the record breaking wet and windy abysmal summer weather drives us off our land and permissions, my son and I look for something else to do, something shooting related, and an activity that will keep us dry yet allow us to enjoy the outdoors comfortably.
We’ve been regular attendees at our local sheltered indoor and outdoor shooting ranges for a few years now, and whilst there we find shooting the same old spinners time and time again quite tedious and boring, we enjoy the opportunity all the same. When we think club however, we also think something else, something a little more interesting. I’m not saying the spinners aren't fun or challenging but there's more to shooting than this, and every other club has spinners.
I regularly meet up with likeminded airgun enthusiast at the clubs, and one particular morning a group of us began discussing the possibility of GUNSTAR - GUNSTAR sponsoring an annually run casual bench rest shooting competition. Our local clubs do not cater for this kind of thing, and it felt as though we had access to the perfect venues for this kind of event so we began planning a competition.
After many weeks of continuous brainstorming GUNSTAR and I came up with a number of A4 sized printed shooting targets, which I passed out to my friends and family and a few other select club members to shoot for testing and feedback purposes. I compiled the feedback over the following few weekends and finally settled on a particular card design, and AirMADgeddon was born.
Some of the airgun enthusiasts I spoke with insisted we make the competition available to both .177 and .22 airgun shooters and our sponsors quickly agreed to not exclude anyone, so we adopted our .177 competition card for .22 shooters. The final card designs can be seen above for .177 and below for .22. We also agreed to open up the competition to any interested airgunner who has access to a 30-yard range, also turning AirMADgeddon into a national postal competition and not limiting it exclusively to one particular venue. We formerly invite all airgun clubs and individuals to take part.
What is Benchrest Shooting?
Benchrest Shooting is a shooting discipline in which match precision rifles are used to shoot at paper targets. This is a sport predominantly practiced by live firing gun owners, where a rifle nestles into a front and rear rest. In some competitions, rifles are designed around a bench rest rig that slides backwards and forwards with the rifle's recoil. The rifles along with the rests or purposely made rigs sit on a bench, hence the name “Benchrest”. The shooter simply sits behind the rifle at the bench and shoots at a paper target set out at a known distance.
Benchrest shooters are meticulous and perfectionist in nature as they experiment with new ammo, techniques and optics to further the accuracy of a shot.
There are two major types of competition. The goal of the original benchrest shooting was to shoot 5 or 10 bullets into the smallest group possible (all in one hole). Winning placement in competition is determined by how well each competitor achieves this goal or in other words, how closely the shots are grouped. This is termed "Group Shooting".
The other is a more recent development, "Score Shooting". The difference is that the traditional bulls eye type targets with scoring rings are used. Winning placement is determined by each shooter's score results. This is termed "Score Shooting".
AirMADgeddon - The Rules
Over the past few weeks I've continued discussing the finer points with other airgun enthusiasts, the rules and how and when we will run the competition. GUNSTAR have decided to open the competition up to all airgun clubs and airgun shooters nationwide, all competitors are required to sign up to the GUNSTAR email newsletter to register for the competition. Competition cards can be purchased by contacting Ray Hussain on the AirMADgeddon facebook page or by emailing Ray Hussain on [email protected].
A set of Shooting cards that consist of two A4 Practice Cards and two Competition Cards, can be purchased for the price of £2.50 per set through Ray Hussain who can be contacted through Facebook at AirMADgeddon or by email on [email protected]. There is no maximum or minimum limit to the number of cards that can be purchased and shot, all shooters can then personally select the card they would like to submit for scoring, and this must be posted back in the return envelope provided. Cards will be scored by Ray Hussain and then vetted by a representative of GUNSTAR. Winners will be announced on the GUNSTAR website and AirMADgeddon facebook page on Christmas Eve 2020.
All cards have been designed to allow an individual shooter to achieve a maximum score of 250 points.
There are 25 targets on the card and each target must be shot once, the score available per target is clearly marked on the card, a complete miss of any target is a negative 10 (-10).
Any holes shot or punched otherwise outside of the targets will be deemed as missed shots and will be scored as a negative 10.
If a shooter fails or forgets to shoot at a target and then proceeds to remove the card from the firing line, this target on the card will be scored as a negative 10.
Any card removed from the firing line cannot be replaced once removed and must either be submitted for scoring or discarded.
Cards must be securely fixed, and manually placed or hung at the 30-yard shooting line, safety rules for entering your own specific range must be followed.
Shooters are requested they do not shoot other competitors' cards, deliberately or unintentionally. Repeat offenders will be disqualified from the competition.
Please do not pre-punch or shoot your cards outside of your chosen range, cheating is un-sportsman like conduct and repeat offenders will be banned from the competition.
There is no restriction on scope magnification.
Video recording equipment designed for shooting, I.e. shooting cams, sports cameras and or night vision equipment is not permitted for shooting the competition cards.
All competition cards will be marked with the name of the registered competitor, stamped, dated and signed by Ray Hussain before they are made available or posted out.
Competitors are requested to avoid cross lane shooting at all times.
If the range bell sounds or if there is a range closure, competitors are reminded to safely shoot out any projectile/pellet loaded into the breach of the air gun, remove magazines, break open barrels and or pull the coking lever/bolt into the open position. Whenever possible air gun safety catches/buttons must be engaged. Please observe your own club’s safety rules.
All shooters are reminded the muzzle end of the airgun must be pointed toward the shooting range targets at all time, and to the ground when and air gun is removed from the bench.
The competition is open to PCP, Spring powered, Gas Ram and Single Stroke Pneumatic airguns.
All shooters are reminded the VCR ACT limits non FAC air weapons so under 12ft/lbs, it is the responsibility of you the airgun owner/shooter to ensure your air gun is within the remits if the VCR ACT.
Shooters are remined this is a sub 12ft/lbs limited airgun competition. It is the individual shooters responsibility to ensure you are within the legal power limit.
Member and visitor range fees will apply to your chosen range, please speak to your club committee and secretary before choosing a venue, and for up to date information of club opening times, operating rules and procedures and daily up to date bulletins.
There is no time limit on how quick or how long an individual shooter can take to shoot a competition card, I would however stress you pre-plan shooting times, as individual clubs have differing time restrictions, please discuss this with your club secretary.
Any joint score holders will be required to carry out a shoot off on Christmas Eve 2020, the day the annual competition comes to an end. The shoot off will take place on a private outdoor range in the Northwest of England, and will be held on an invite only basis, the event will be recorded and published
1st Prize is a cash sum and an Air Rifle.
2nd Prize is a cash sum.
3rd Prize is a cash sum.
There will also be GUNSTAR sponsored baseball caps and T-Shirts for the runners up of the competition shoot.
Gearing Up For The Shoot
I’m not a very competitive person, yet I’ll spend my time encouraging others, so whilst my son patiently waits to receive his GCSE exam results, I’ve begun to occupy his time with some target shooting practice, but what’s good practice if he doesn’t have the tools to get the job done?
Here he is pictured with his air gun of choice - the Osler regulated Air Arms EV2 MK4, capable of putting pellet on pellet at 30 yards, but will it be enough to get him in one of the top ten places of the leaderboard?
Watching him shoot, it was obvious the rifle out shot him and he was in need of some practice. I’ve regularly continued to monitor his shooting over the past few weeks, giving him pointers and talking to him about eye position, pellet trajectory, consistency, hold sensitivity and various other shooting techniques. I Watch him improve on a daily basis as I nurture him with the vast amount of knowledge I have, and then see him progress day by day as he soaks up the advice I give him like a sponge.
Anyone who says shooting is easy, or ‘you just point and pull the trigger’ and the pellet will land on wherever the crosshair lands or pointed is sadly mistaken. Shooting takes patience and discipline and in time, one realises that shooting a sub 12ft/lbs air rifle outdoors is an art form.
The EV2 MK4 he’s chosen to run the competition with is now discontinued, but not obsolete. This former AIR ARMS flagship air rifle, was setting the benchmark standard for competitors and competitions the like worldwide, until it was replaced with the new AIR ARMS FTP900.
The EV2 - still an eye-catching and noticeable piece of equipment - is fitted with a match grade barrel and effective air stripper, and comes complete with a windicator and spirit level. The ergonomically designed laminate stock is fitted with a multi-adjustable palm rest, multi-adjustable cheek piece and multi-adjustable shoulder/butt plate. All of which are fitted with stainless steel ball joints, that provide infinitely adjustable options, allowing the user to tailor the rifle to their own needs and requirements.
The EV2 was only available in the .177 calibre and the rifle offers around 60 good full power shots before the large air tube needs filling again. The air pressure can also be monitored via the manometer, fitted to the underside of the action.
This air rifle was designed for the FT/HFT circuits, but it's found further suitability and reliability in the benchrest scene, and I'm sure my son will do it justice.
The Air Arms EV2 MK4 will be supported by the ZOS 10-40x50 extreme side focus illuminated rifle scope. These reasonably priced high magnification rifle scopes from China have been a hit and miss product over the past decade. I purchased one many moons ago and it’s served its purpose with clear optics, easy adjustable lockable turrets, mildot (red and green illuminated) reticule and a removable sunshade. These are becoming harder to come by, if anyone manages to acquire one, I’d avoid using them on a spring or recoiling rifle of any kind. My son however favours this scope for accuracy and long-range shooting.
Airgun snobbery aside, personally, I like the idea of using a state-of-the-art air weapon for this competition, so I’ve opted to shoot my competition cards with an Air Arms FTP900. The FTP900 is Air Arms current flag ship air rifle and again designed for the field target shooter in mind. Air Arms state they have combined three essential elements in creating this air rifle, these elements are ‘Performance, Precision and Control.
The rifle comes complete with a shrouded fully floating match grade barrel, air stripper, windicator, spirit level, a completely redesigned action and valving system, with a new beautifully coloured laminate target stock. Like its predecessor the stock allows an infinite level of adjustments, via the palm rest, cheek piece and butt pad. The match grade trigger is also fully adjustable and the onboard regulator ensures shot per shot consistency and reliability
The Air Arms FTP900 will be supported by my trusty BSA 8-32-44. This reasonably priced high magnification rifles scope from BSA, is well built and performs well on both PCP and spring power air rifles.
Some Competition Pointers
First a foremost as the sponsors on the competition we at GUNSTAR want every competitor who takes part to have fun, in the safest way possible, hence we urge all competitors to be safe at all times and conduct themselves in a sportsmanlike manner.
To help our competitors along here are my top ten tips to get on the scoreboard:
Ensure your rifle is shooting below the legal limit of 12 ft/lbs, remember we are shooting out to 30 yards not 100 yards. Speak to the club operators about testing your rifle over the club chronograph.
Maintain your equipment – Ensure all sights, scopes, rails etc, are fitted/mounted correctly. Lead in or clean the barrel of the rifle with a pull through patch and chord.
Check your parallax, zoom and eye bell adjustments to ensure visibility through the scope is at its optimum. If you get stuck or think your sights are off just ask the person sat next to you for assistance, we are all on hand to help you zero your rifle if you think something is amiss.
Select the correct ammunition for your air rifle. I would advise competitors purchase some sample test pellets and find the one that best suits the barrel of the air rifle.
Take your time, concentrate on your eye position to avoid parallax error.
Pull, squeeze, press, slap or manipulate the trigger in any fashion you like, my tip however is to practice and work out what is best for you.
Shoot with both eyes open, and then try shooting with your dominant eye. I've found I’m right-handed but I shoot better looking down the scope with my left eye, hence I've adopted. left hand shooting position. Work out what works best for you and stick to it.
For all rifles regulated and unregulated, work out what is your maximum good consistent shot count and then work out where the sweet spot of the rifle is, you will need access to a chronograph to do this, but it will pay off. All you springer shooters shouldn’t have to worry about this, but if your rifle is shooting inconsistently then I would recommend you speak to TINBUM for one of his tuning kits and tuning guides. TINBUM kits can also be bought here at GUNSTAR.
Find a comfortable shooting position, the right holding technique for your air rifle. I find if I sit in a 45 degree angle to the rifle and then rotate my upper body so my shoulders almost align perfectly with the rifle, then I place my left hand on my right shoulder and my right hand on the rifle stock with my right thumb in the up position, this works best for me. Give it a go.
Try not to be too competitive, this will only get your adrenaline going and then your heart rate will increase and accuracy will suffer. Instead relax, and practice breathing between every shot. A great marksman shoots at the end of an exhaled breath and between heart beats, try it.
So here it is; the biggest event in the Northwest since the fracking protests, this is what air gunning is all about. I hope I’ve inspired you all to have a go at this, come along from wherever you are and enjoy a good day's shoot with like minded individuals, at a club where there's no gun snobbery and a Chinese Springer is as good as a Daystate Red Wolf. Join in at your leisure with the no pressure fun activity for all, and you can drink as much tea and coffee as you like in a fantastic outdoor shooting venue, you might even catch a glimpse of an air gunning celebrity or two.
As always, I hope you’ve enjoyed this article, shoot straight and shoot safe. See you soon, Ray Hussain.