Gary Chillingworth takes us through all he has learned in his new world
Gary Chillingworth on his 12 months as a springer shooter.
Well, here we are. I’ve now had a full year with my trusty springer and I have learned so much. My Air Arms TX200 HC has been my faithful shooting companion and, to be honest, I could not have been happier. This rifle has revitalised my love of airguns, and turning to the dark side was the best thing I have done in ages. This month, we are going to have a brief look back at what I got right and what I got wrong, and also talk about what the next 12 months might have to offer.
The first thing that I learned when shooting springers was that there is a wonderful camaraderie amongst the competitors. I have had so much help from everyone and without this there is no way I could have achieved the standard that I reached so quickly. The other thing I learned – and this is one of the most important things – is not to listen to everything you are told.
As many of you know, I am a competition shooter at heart and my main love is HFT. In the past, I have shot well with a PCP and this is because you can rest the butt of the rifle on the ground, but almost every highlevel, spring- gun guru told me that this was not advisable, and I should shoot the rifle from the shoulder and let the gun recoil. The thing is, though, this is not 100% true and there are certain guns that can shoot from the deck, with a bit of modification.
For a spring gun to shoot rested on the floor, you need either to reduce or absorb the recoil, and the secret to this is lubrication and weight. Now, some spring guns use super-lightweight pistons and this is something that I am researching at the moment, but until I have a better understanding of it, I’m holding off on writing that article.
The way it was explained to me is to imagine the piston and spring flying around the inside of your rifle. This will make the gun want to jump about, and so cause inaccuracy. The analogy was, ‘ Take a shoe box, place a cricket ball inside it and swing the box about. The weight of the ball will make the box move in your hands. So, you now have two choices, reduce the weight of the ball, or increase the weight of the box – or preferably, do both. If you have a big heavy box (stock), the ball (piston and spring), will have less effect on it and if your box is standard, make the ball as light as possible.
One of the best things I did was to get a CS1000 custom stock, which is perfect for me. It’s heavy enough to help to absorb the recoil, and light enough to make it usable on a daily basis. The other thing
“there are certain guns that can shoot from the deck, with a bit of modification”
“I now have a decision to make. Do I continue with all things boinger or go back to the world of PCP?”
that helped me learn how to tame the recoil of a springer was a laser pointer and a smartphone.
For those of you who did not read that article, I repeat; simply attach a laser pointer to the front of your rifle with some tape and set up a smartphone or camcorder that can film in slow motion, to film a piece of card, with a backstop, about 20 yards away. Shoot the card and when you watch the footage back, you will see the way the laser point moves on the card. I found that by adding a silencer and a few strips of selfadhesive wheel weights to the front of my TX, I could reduce the muzzle flip by 70%.
The next thing that I learned was not to be afraid of the internals of a spring gun. The TX200 is one of the simplest rifles out there to work on, and for those of you who are getting into the world of springers, it really should be your first port of call. To take a TX apart is simplicity itself. Take the stock off – four bolts – then remove the single bolt that holds everything in place, and that is it.
THE PERFECT RIFLE
I can strip my TX in three minutes and it’s the perfect rifle for a beginner. Once it’s apart, the thing to learn is ‘ less is more’. When you get a new TX, the internals will be very well lubricated and there is nothing wrong with this. When a spring gun comes from the factory, it is set up to keep the gun in tip-top condition, no matter how it’s treated. Some spring guns will never be taken apart and will be left in a cupboard and only shot now and then, and for this, heavy amounts of lubrication is perfect, but if you want to start tuning the gun and getting the very best from it, there is a multitude of products on the market, from greases like Krytox, all the way to the old reliable Moly.
No matter what you use, I have found that less is always better than more. If you have a new gun, take it apart – there are some great videos on how to do this on YouTube – give the internals a good clean and de-grease, then re-lubricate with the product of your choice. If you are unsure how to do this, speak to a qualified gunsmith.
The main advantage of reducing the amount of internal lubrication is consistency. I have found that if a rifle is heavily lubricated, this can affect power, depending on temperature. As we all know, in cold weather lubricants thicken and
when they are hot they thin out. If you reduce the amount of lubrication you have, it will have less effect on the rifle’s power, but remember, if you reduce the lube, you will need to re-apply it more often and if you don’t keep on top of it, you could damage your rifle.
KEEP IT SLIPPERY
For me, lubrication has been the hardest thing to get right. I moved away from Moly grease and moved over to Krytox and it has been a revelation. Earlier in the year, I sung its praises and I am still a fan, but I did make a few mistakes.
Moly will last a long time and it seems to remain slippery no matter how many times you use your rifle, but Krytox seems to have a definite shelf life in the gun, and this is between 500 and 1000 shots. I have found that after this, the power starts to go up and down a little, and the gun feels harsh and will jump about.
The main thing was to learn how to shoot a springer and this was the largest learning curve. Many people have told me that new shooters should start with a springer because it teaches good technique, and I can see where they are coming from, but I disagree. I have jumped into the spring- gun world and from day one I have been able to compete with the big boys. Shooters like Perry Broad, Nigel Wood and Rex Bennet are at the top of the heap and I have stayed with them because I learned on a PCP. I learned my craft with an easy gun and now that I am using something that is much harder to shoot, it’s easier for me to modify my style than it would be for a new shooter to pick up a springer and compete.
A GOOD YEAR
Basically, I have loved my year of shooting springers and I now have a decision to make; do I continue with all things boinger or go back to the world of PCP? Well, I think we all know the answer to that. For many years, I said that springers were evil and the spawn of Satan, but I have been captivated. I probably know 10% of what there is to learn, and it’s going to take me another 10 years to learn half of the next 90%, but as I do, and with the help of you, the readers, I will pass on the information.
I am going to give the spring gun articles a rest for a bit, though. As I said, my knowledge is in its infancy and I need to study before writing about the next stage, so for 2018 I shall go back to a series that I started in 2014 – ‘ Beginners to Winners’, which looked at everything a new shooter would need to do and practise to improve their knowledge and skills. Every year in the UK, the airgun family gets bigger and bigger and there are people reading this magazine who had never even looked at an airgun in 2014. Also, I have learned so much since then, and I think it’s time to take a second look. So, just like Brideshead, it’s going to be ‘revisited’.
Winner at the Essex Open
The perfect 60 with my TX, I never did it with a PCP
Me and my AA TX: a winning combination
Krytox has worked for me, it’s consistent, but use sparingly Springers can be very accurate Two of the best lubricants for spring guns
A good gun is important; learning how to hold it is essential
A camera set up to record the laser point