PART 2 Mark Camoccio is helping us choose the right rifle for HFT -
Mark Camoccio’s advisory series: Part Two of how to choose the perfect rifle for your own HFT.
When I started FT shooting back in the ‘80s, I was always told to look at which makes of gun were winning in competition and to stick with them, and that old adage still rings true. Many guns are obviously, and understandably built down to a price, and as a beginner or budget model, they can do the job nicely.
Look to an HFT target course, though, and the requirements are somewhat different. Top- class accuracy is what we need and this does slightly limit the short list for potential candidates, capable of incredible groupings downrange. Barrel quality stands for a lot, and this can be an area where the higher grade brands have the edge. Weihrauch are ever-popular in HFT, whether one of their quality spring- gun range, or the evergreen HW100 series, which continues to offer effortless performance, in slim-line, hunting-style packages – equally at home on the HFT course. Walther’s LGV and LGU spring-powered rifles are great performers, and of course, the ubiquitous Air Arms TX200 series regularly feature in the spring- gun prizes.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Rules and regulations do need to be considered, and with most shots in HFT being taken from the prone position, when the shooter is lying low on the ground, the stated rule that the gun’s pistol grip cannot make contact with the ground is significant, given how proud this area can be on certain models.
Inevitably, the trend for a deeper fore end on the stock, is the result of an evolution of the shooters approach, given the demands of a typical HFT course; although here, the rules again keep things in check, with a stipulation that the distance from the centre of the barrel to the bottom of the deepest section of stock, cannot exceed 150mm. Likewise, the rule that allows the butt to touch the ground – a bit daft in my view, since this detracts from proper gun control – has seen the rise in superdeep butt hooks to take advantage. Rules do dictate how extensive the hook can be, yet overall, at the moment, they seem to be about right. Human nature means that shooters will try to push rules to the limit, and in the interests of keeping the spirit of the sport, rules do occasionally need to be
implemented in order to keep things fair, but by and large, it seems to work well at present.
Dedicated HFT models have now filtered through, such as the BSA Goldstar, and Air Arms HFT500. The BSA Goldstar (£ 899), offers a super- compact format; fully adjustable stock, with front hamster, cheek piece and butt section, all positionable to suit the user, at the twist of an Allen key. With the stock available in either beech, walnut or laminate, there’s plenty of choice, too. The Air Arms HFT500 (£ 991), again offers a slick design, with a fully adjustable laminate semi-match stock, and the option for the company’s add- on stock fore end, raiser block. Both these models have tasted success on the circuit, and are serious options for any competitor.
Increased emphasis is now being placed on adjustable stock elements, and the fact that the cheek can be moved to allow for perfect eye scope alignment is a feature appreciated by a growing army of enthusiasts. Adaptability and flexibility are the names of the game, though, given that hunter field target prohibits the shooter from adjusting either the rifle or scope, once the competition has started. At a stroke, this means that the gun needs to be set up to a usable mid-point of adjustment, which won’t prove awkward when adopting a different stance – all done prior to the event – and then left alone. With shooters required to move from a prone shot to a standing shot, and then possibly to a kneeler, all without making adjustments, a sleeker, more streamlined approach is preferable, and whichever stock you use, it needs to suit you and adapt with you.
As always, personal taste can play a big part in the final decision, and this guide is intended as a general overview only of what to expect. With the airgun market awash with options, choosing a model that is right for the individual has arguably never been more confusing. Yet, with careful consideration and a process of elimination, not to mention input from your local club members, the task gets easier. Remember, just because a particular model is very popular, doesn’t mean it has to suit you. We are all different shapes and sizes, and there is an element of personal taste, and just what feels right at the end of the day.
Buying the most expensive kit will not necessarily translate into silverware, either. Familiarity, practice, and all-importantly enjoying the process, will more likely prove favourable in the long run. So, time to get down to that club ground, and test the water, get to use a variety of rifles, and listen to some serious advice. You won’t regret it!
“remember, just because a particular model is very popular, doesn’t mean it has to suit you”
The HFT500 is another dedicated HFT model, bristling with features
Fancy the ‘ Recoiling’ class? the Walther LGU is an ideal candidate
The BSA Goldstar SE is a super- compact, HFT- dedicated model, with full adjustment
HFT attracts all ages and sexes, and a great challenge awaits
Air Arms’ HFT500 has already taken a good share of silverware