Umarex Boys Club

Mike Tay­lor’s shoot­ing in the dark, with his DIY night-vi­sion set-up

Airgun World - - Contents -

Ilove tar­get shoot­ing, ei­ther punch­ing pa­per or spin­ning metal, and I’m lucky enough to have a 35-yard gar­den at the back of the house and a tall back­stop where I’ve made a cov­ered area to put my swing­ing tar­gets. Dur­ing the sum­mer, I can come home from work and have a plink –pro­vid­ing the neigh­bours are not en­joy­ing the sun, as well. What about the win­ter time, though? By the time I’m home from work at 5 o’clock, it’s al­ready dark and too late to drive to the club, which would be closed any­way by the time I got there. The only time left is at the week­end, but short days and house­work eat away at the chances to shoot.

So how about shoot­ing in the dark? I read an ar­ti­cle in a shoot­ing magazine about af­ford­able DIY night vi­sion, and although I don’t hunt, I was to­tally en­thralled with the idea of NV and thought, ‘I could do that’. The chap who wrote the ar­ti­cle, Nathan Reade, said that any­one who dropped him an email would re­ceive the in­struc­tions on how to build the scope add-on, free of charge, and I duly re­ceived the in­struc­tions and list of com­po­nents needed. I al­ready had a 12v power source and some con­nec­tors/ switches, so my to­tal out­lay was about £45 for the rest.

IN FO­CUS

Putting it all to­gether wasn’t too dif­fi­cult be­cause I am tech­ni­cally minded and able to sol­der with­out burn­ing my­self too many times. I won’t go into the ac­tual build, but it is im­por­tant to get the CCTV cam­era cen­tral in the tube that at­taches to the scope, and in fo­cus. This is what took me the long­est be­cause it was trial and er­ror, slid­ing the cam­era on and off to ad­just it. On­line fo­rums like nightvi­sion­fo­ru­muk.com have a wealth of knowl­edge, and plans for mak­ing them.

Once it’s on and you have a clear im­age in the viewer – a car reversing mon­i­tor – you might have to ad­just the eye­piece to get the cross hairs in fo­cus – I have to un­screw the quick ad­juster com­pletely. Some peo­ple place the mon­i­tor on the top of the scope and shoot from a head-up po­si­tion, but I have placed mine at the side of the scope and with a padded pouch on the butt, so I can get al­most the same shoot­ing po­si­tion as I use with just the scope.

Be­cause the im­age on the screen is taken through your own scope, you don’t have to ad­just your zero. You just need a lit­tle fo­cus, so an AO is es­sen­tial to get the most out of your set-up. The cam­era you use is a small, dig­i­tal CCTV-type and needs il­lu­mi­na­tion to work in the dark. I pur­chased a T38 in­frared torch from eBay, and it’s just the job for my needs, il­lu­mi­nat­ing the tar­gets quite nicely at 35 yards.

FUM­BLE FIN­GERS

Although I have won­der­ful neigh­bours, I limit my shoot­ing to the early evenings, and shoot

from my con­ser­va­tory to re­duce the noise. Dur­ing the win­ter, most peo­ple have their win­dows closed and the cur­tains drawn, so the sounds of my pel­lets hit­ting the tar­gets are mostly un­heard, and with­out a bright light shin­ing down the gar­den there’s noth­ing to make them con­cerned.

Shoot­ing in the dark has its own prob­lems; I use an Air Arms S400 and plac­ing a pel­let on the feed groove is sec­ond na­ture, but try it in the dark and its ‘fum­ble fin­gers’ time, and quite easy to get the pel­let in back­wards. I end up us­ing a fin­ger on each side to guide the pel­let, en­sur­ing that it goes in the right way.

The glare from the screen can be an­noy­ing af­ter a while, but a piece of coloured film placed over it can sort it out – I use green. Also, be sure of the path to the tar­get be­cause your vi­sion is con­cen­trated on the mon­i­tor and so pe­riph­eral view is neg­li­gi­ble. I also se­cure the door to the con­ser­va­tory be­cause I can’t see if it closes.

I have a six-piece swing­ing tar­get that flips to hor­i­zon­tal when hit, and falls down when the re­set is hit. It`s quite weird hit­ting the tar­gets and look­ing up from the scope/viewer into com­plete dark­ness. I tried stick­ing tabs of re­flect­ing tape to the swingers, but the glare was so great that it drowned out the whole disc.

I also have a stake with a cou­ple of mag­netic hold­ers screwed on to it, for the Fire­bird ex­plod­ing tar­gets – quite im­pres­sive when you hit one in the dark. Only use the flash ones, though, if you want to stay friendly with the neigh­bours.

COM­PE­TI­TION

I have a home­made shoot­ing ta­ble (cut-down from IKEA) and shoot off a bean­bag. The night-vi­sion de­vice does add some weight, es­pe­cially if you put the bat­tery pack on the stock, but I’ve since pur­chased a 12v recharge­able bat­tery and this is both smaller and lighter than the 8AA bat­tery pack I started with, and fits well in the

“I can now shoot all year round at home. I just need to wear more clothes”

stock pouch.

This helps a lot be­cause I have en­tered the UBC ri­fle com­pe­ti­tion. You can ei­ther use plink­ers or pre­ci­sion ri­fles, open sights or op­tics, 6 yard or 10 me­tre. I de­cided to en­ter the 10-me­tre op­tics com­pe­ti­tion, but in­stead of just us­ing the op­tics, I added the NV and shot in the dark.

Why? Well, it’s some­thing dif­fer­ent, a greater chal­lenge. There are 11 small bullseyes on the tar­get; the mid­dle one for ze­ro­ing, and then one shot at the oth­ers. I use a tri­pod to rest the ri­fle on be­cause it’s far too heavy to hold on tar­get free­stand­ing (al­lowed by our rules), and even so, it’s not that easy to take a steady aim on the small tar­gets, or that might just be me.

I like us­ing mod­ern tech­nol­ogy. Cou­ple this with my love for shoot­ing, and I have a whole new av­enue open to me. So, as a non-hunt­ing back gar­den and in­door tar­get shooter, I no longer have to wait for sum­mer to come around again. I can now shoot all year round at home. I just need to wear more clothes and furry boots when shoot­ing out­doors; slip­pers will do in­doors, you’ve got to shoot in com­fort, you know!

PADDY SAYS:

Mike kindly brought his set-up to our meet back in June, where he let any­one have a go. I took up his of­fer and sat down with it, and Mike had to read­just the cam­era due to me be­ing a leftie.

It felt great look­ing through the cam­era screen, find­ing the tar­get, and shoot­ing at it, and then me be­ing me, I thought of ideas for what else could be done with it and form a sort of com­pe­ti­tion. Peo­ple around me were say­ing, ‘Oh dear! What’s he think­ing? He’s got that look on his face again’. I told Mike my idea, which we are now cur­rently work­ing on ready for our next meet. I’m not go­ing to dis­close it, though. Well, not yet any­way. I

S400 NV set-up.

Day view of my NV screen.

To il­lu­mi­nate the tar­get I used a T38 in­frared torch.

I made sure that my door was open and se­cured! Green film re­duces the glare off the screen.

Paddy and Mike dis­cussing fu­ture ideas.

Tar­gets in clear view in to­tal dark­ness.

The UBC ri­fle tar­get through NV.

NV pump­kin af­ter its nose was shot off.

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