A Dad and his Lad 3

PART 3 Tim and his son, Ge­orge, study the back­yard ba­sics

Airgun World - - Contents -

Tim Fin­ley and Ge­orge have fun – safely – in the back gar­den, with home-made back­stops

Ge­orge was itch­ing to shoot the HW30S, and we had the safety pro­to­cols down pat; he knew how to cock and load the gun, where the safety catch was, and how to line up the open sights, – all this done in our back gar­den, but can you ac­tu­ally shoot in your own back gar­den? Well, the an­swer is yes, if you have a safe back­stop and fol­low a few very sim­ple rules. A ‘safe’ back­stop cap­tures ALL of your shots, both BB, lead or steel, and all of your pel­lets, be they lead or non-lead. That’s com­mon sense – cap­tur­ing them all also keeps pets safe – and ev­ery­one else, for that mat­ter. You must block or partition off ac­cess to the shoot­ing area to pre­vent any­one stray­ing into your shot path, or be­hind the back­stop ac­ci­den­tally. You must keep all the shoot­ers and spec­ta­tors safe as well, so al­ways wear shoot­ing glasses to EN-166 stan­dard, and don’t for­get that ev­ery­one will need them, shoot­ing or not. I know all the shots are meant to stay within the back­stop, but if you are also shoot­ing metal tar­gets at short ranges there is al­ways a po­ten­tial for a re­bound. Your eye­sight is pre­cious – trust me, al­ways wear shoot­ing glasses when plink­ing at short range.


There are many types of back­stop you can use. I made a sim­ple, per­ma­nent one out of four 400mm square paving slabs and a bag of play-pit sand. I also went on to make a move­able one out of a dis­carded drainage pipe cut-off, and this works very well in­deed. The back is lined with wood, topped with 3mm steel plate, then cov­ered in thick car­pet off-cuts, which dead­ens the sound – not as well as the sand, but well enough. You need to think of things like this be­cause it is a very good idea not to an­noy the neigh­bours. If you are friendly with them, let them know you will be shoot­ing in your back gar­den, and even in­vite them round for a shoot­ing ses­sion if they are in­ter­ested. The key is that your pel­lets or BBs stay on your prop­erty.


Ge­orge is not a com­plete novice to shoot­ing, but he hasn’t re­ally shot a lot of re­coil­ing spring ri­fles. All the ‘have a go’ air­guns I have ever seen at game fairs or shoot­ing shows have all been pre-charged pneu­matic or CO2-pow­ered, so that’s all he has ever shot there. They’re great as a taster for new or

novice shoot­ers, but they will not teach you how to shoot or give you any chance to mas­ter the fun­da­men­tals, such as the cor­rect trig­ger tech­nique or fol­low-through. Ge­orge has al­ways been lack­ing in fol­low-through. Now and again, he for­gets and his head pops up, meerkat-style, be­fore the pel­let has reached the tar­get, or even some­times left the bar­rel.

Ge­orge got into shoot­ing the HW30 S, but don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t an in­stant hit be­cause his love of PCPs from all of his pre­vi­ous shoot­ing, tainted his ini­tial per­cep­tion of shoot­ing a spring ri­fle. Com­pared to a PCP it’s not easy to break the bar­rel; it’s not easy to load, and it’s not easy to com­press the spring to cock the gun – even on a ju­nior ri­fle, which is nor­mally down-rated to 6-7 ft.lbs – nei­ther is it sim­ple to shut the bar­rel.


The HW30 S is not a tiny, ju­nior air ri­fle, it’s big­ger than most, and you have to work to shoot any spring ri­fle, but the re­wards are much greater be­cause you learn how to shoot prop­erly. Open sights are the most ba­sic form of sight­ing de­vice – it’s what I started with – and they are very easy to use; they don’t re­quire bat­ter­ies and they very rarely lose their zero. The trick is to ad­just them to have the pel­let strike just above the front post when the sights are aligned cor­rectly. Have the sights set too near the tra­jec­tory and you might strug­gle on the aim be­cause the sights could mask what you want to hit. That’s the only down­fall with open sights – oh, and apart from re­ly­ing on your eyes to see the tar­get. There’s no zoom on a MKI eye­ball. Thank­fully, Ge­orge has fan­tas­tic young eyes, and he made short work of the plas­tic sol­diers sit­ting in the sand of the back­stop – even with open sights. That’s an­other trick when teach­ing new shoot­ers; get them to zero the gun, five-shot groups and all that, then switch it up and make it fun. Re­ac­tive tar­gets, such as chalk discs, or cheap plas­tic sol­diers can­not be beaten as a means to keep a young shooter in­ter­ested, and when it stops be­ing fun, then stop. As par­ent, you’ll all know the signs of kids switch­ing off.


It was now time to take Ge­orge to a proper shoot­ing club where we could test out the HW 30S in more con­trolled con­di­tions, and maybe see what an op­ti­cal sight, like a red dot, did for his shoot­ing. Luck­ily, we have a fan­tas­tic shoot­ing club on our doorstep. The South York­shire Shoot­ing Club is a bril­liant in­door air­gun shoot­ing fa­cil­ity, and it caters for all ages and skill abil­i­ties – there’s even a shop and a café. What’s not to like! So off to the SYSC we go … and I’ll tell you how we got on, next month.


It’s a mid-size ju­nior ri­fle, for sure, a qual­ity and re­ally ac­cu­rate ri­fle, to boot.I

A happy Ge­orge.

It doesn’t cost much to make a very sim­ple back­stop – four paving slabs and a bag of sand is all you need.

My move­able back­stop works very well in­deed.

Cor­rect align­ment of the open sights is the key to suc­cess.

Plas­tic toy sol­diers make the ideal re­ac­tive tar­get, even with open sights.

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