Air­gun Stu­dent

Nay­lor Ball takes on some ‘tweak and clean’ ther­apy to clear his head and re­duce stress

Airgun World - - Contents -

As I write, I’m on a rest pe­riod fol­low­ing my sec­ond pro­fes­sional box­ing match. I’m happy to re­port that I man­aged to win a con­vinc­ing points vic­tory over an in­cred­i­bly re­silient op­po­nent who had been in with some tal­ented box­ers, in­clud­ing the for­mer World Cham­pion, Tyson Fury. Th­ese rest pe­ri­ods are ab­so­lutely vi­tal to al­low the body to re­pair and to get my mind in the right shape for the next fight in a cou­ple of months, but I’m not one for sit­ting around do­ing noth­ing, so I thought I’d give my ri­fle and scope a good clean. This turned out to be an in­ter­est­ing ex­er­cise, but not for the rea­sons you’d think.

I no­ticed some muck un­der the scope mounts as I was clean­ing the ri­fle and de­cided to re­move the scope to give ev­ery­thing a proper go­ing over. I know it’s gen­er­ally frowned upon to re­move a per­fectly ze­roed scope, but I couldn’t stand the idea of that grit and dirt be­ing un­der those mounts, and giv­ing that area a good wipe eased my mind. So, be­fore I got busy with the hex wrench, I marked off the dis­tance be­tween the rear mount and the end of the ac­tion block so I’d know ex­actly where to re­fit the scope.


When it came to putting the scope back on, I de­cided that, rather than just clamp­ing it back in its for­mer po­si­tion, I’d go through the whole scope-fit­ting pro­ce­dure just

as I had when I first set up my ri­fle. I’m not sure why I did this, rather than take the easy way and just bolt on the scope where it had served me so well, but I’m glad I did and I think there’s a valu­able les­son to be learned be­cause of it.

When I first set up my scope, I did what the edi­tor told me and put on my shoot­ing jacket – be­cause that’s what I’d be wear­ing when I used the ri­fle – and kept mount­ing the ri­fle with the scope set in dif­fer­ent po­si­tions, un­til ev­ery­thing lined up per­fectly. The test is, when you mount the ri­fle with your eyes closed, the scope is in ex­actly the right po­si­tion when you open your eyes. If it isn’t, you’ll find your­self adapt­ing your head po­si­tion to the scope, not the other way round.


When I went through that pro­ce­dure again, re­ally tak­ing my time to get ev­ery­thing ab­so­lutely spot-on, I found that my scope needed to be 12mm fur­ther for­ward to give me a ‘nat­u­ral’ head po­si­tion. I haven’t a clue whether this 12mm ad­just­ment will have much ef­fect on my shoot­ing, but in my mind, I’m happy that my scope is set pre­cisely where it should be, so that’s a plus be­fore a sin­gle shot is fired.

The fact is, our tech­niques and stances change over time and now I know it’s im­por­tant to check if the way we set up our hard­ware needs to change, too. Those changes can come about through per­sonal de­vel­op­ment – ba­si­cally find­ing bet­ter ways to do things – or when we change ri­fles, scopes and even jack­ets, and I’m told that age, changes in body size and re­duced mo­bil­ity can do it, too. What­ever the cause, it now makes sense to me that when my tech­nique changes, my ri­fle set-up may well need to change with it. From now on, I’ll be check­ing this at least ev­ery six months or so.


Once I’d ac­cepted that my hard­ware set­tings were not set in stone, I thought about my trig­ger and how I got on with it. Af­ter ten shots or so, I de­cided that it was set a frac­tion too light for me, and that I was tens­ing my hand just a lit­tle to avoid re­leas­ing the shot too soon. A tense trig­ger hand is not ideal, so I tweaked the ad­justers a tiny bit at a time un­til the ten­sion in my hand went away and I was no longer ‘afraid’ of the trig­ger.

Then I no­ticed that the re­duc­tion in ten­sion in my hand had pro­duced a more re­laxed arm and with it an even more re­laxed stance. This, cou­pled with my ‘new’ scope/ head po­si­tion, has def­i­nitely had a ben­e­fi­cial ef­fect on the way I shoot, and whilst some of it may well be psy­cho­log­i­cal, the ben­e­fit is there and I’ll take it as a win.


I think the les­son that comes with th­ese small but worth­while changes is ob­vi­ous; don’t just ac­cept that the way your set-up has been work­ing for years is au­to­mat­i­cally the best it can be. If you re-set your scope po­si­tion and you dis­cover that it was al­ready per­fect, then know­ing that is a ben­e­fit in it­self, so it’s still worth do­ing. The same goes for ev­ery area of the way we in­ter­act with our gear, and it may be a bit of a pain to re-zero, but it shouldn’t be that much of a has­sle – and it can make a real dif­fer­ence!

Above: A mi­nor tweak on the trig­ger had a ma­jor ef­fect on re­lax­ation.

Above: Re­mov­ing the scope and re­fit­ting it could bring a gen­uine ben­e­fit.

Mark­ing the orig­i­nal scope po­si­tion ...

... showed me how much I’d been ‘adapt­ing’.

Above: I went through the whole scope-fitting pre­ce­dure again - and I’m glad I did.

Above: Since my re-fit and trig­ger tweak, things just feel bet­ter.

Above: Clean­ing the ri­fle proved to be more pro­duc­tive than I thought.

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