Gary Chilling­worth demon­strates how to set up your scope for HFT

Gary Chilling­worth shares a few tips and tricks from hunter field tar­get com­pe­ti­tion

Air Gunner - - Contents -

I have been shoot­ing air­guns for about 13 years now. I have been lucky to spend time with some of the top shoot­ers in the world, and writ­ing for this won­der­ful magazine has also given me ac­cess to peo­ple like editor Phill, and Jim Tyler, but I have to say, it’s not of­ten I get shown a trick that is so sim­ple and so use­ful that it knocks me for six.

My mate, Danny Roff, has been kick­ing my back­side re­cently in the springer world and was talk­ing about how he sets up his scope. He has found a way to make sure the scope is 100% straight all the time, ev­ery time. To use this trick you will need a sheet of pa­per, a ruler, a felt- tip pen, some sticky back plas­tic – not re­ally, but say­ing this just makes me think of Va­lerie Sin­gle­ton. If you’re young, ask your dad – a plumb line, a builder’s bub­ble (level) and a pow­er­ful torch.

The first thing you will need to do is draw a straight line down the cen­tre of the piece of pa­per, then set up the plumb line and line up the pa­per, with the line mark­ing in line with the plumb line.

Then, se­cure your ri­fle on a stand, or use some­thing like a Work­mate, and make sure that the scope rail is ab­so­lutely level – this is when you use the bub­ble. Now loosen off the mounts so that you can ro­tate the scope left and right and – this is the clever part – wind your par­al­lax in to its min­i­mum set­ting, place the torch al­most touch­ing the oc­u­lar lens and switch it on. You will now see the scope’s ret­i­cle pro­jected onto the piece of pa­per – you will need to place the gun about 10 yards from the pa­per.

You can now ro­tate the scope un­til the ret­i­cle lines up with the line on the pa­per, and once it does, nip up the scope mounts and your ret­i­cle in now cor­rectly ver­ti­cal. This is a sim­ple trick, but it works re­ally well.

I have used this trick to set my scope and I was amazed to find that for the last two years my scope has been slightly out of align­ment. So, big thanks to Danny – and please stop beat­ing me.


The other thing that I would like to talk about this month is zero and how to use a scope’s ret­i­cle to help you in HFT. Last week­end, I had the plea­sure of shoot­ing with Dave Twist at the RSN10 Air Arms shoot. Dave is fairly new to com­pet­i­tive HFT and we got talk­ing about zero dis­tances and whether or not it can help.

Now, there are many dif­fer­ent the­o­ries on what you should use as a zero; some peo­ple use 25 yards, this is so all of your aim points are un­der the cross hairs; some oth­ers use 35 and some 40. I am go­ing to look at 25 and 40 be­cause these are what I am most used to, and leave you to de­cide which is best for you.

First of all, let’s look at 25 yards or to be more pre­cise, at the high­est point of the pel­let’s tra­jec­tory. To use this form of zero, the first thing you will need is a range and some pa­per tar­gets. Place your tar­gets out from 15 to 35 yards and on each tar­get draw a hor­i­zon­tal line. Zero the ri­fle on 25 yards and make sure that each shot cuts the line at this dis­tance.

Once you have done this, shoot the 20- and 30- yard tar­gets. If the pel­let holes cut the line on both, this is per­fect, but if the pel­let hits above the line, then you will need to give the scope tur­rets the nec­es­sary num­ber clicks down un­til the hits are on the line. If ev­ery­thing cuts the line OK, move the 20- yard tar­get to 22 yards and the 30- yard tar­get to 27 and re­peat. What you are try­ing to do, is find the point where your pel­let reaches the very top of its arc.

The rea­son for this is sim­ple, when you use a top of arc aim point, if you are shoot­ing a 15mm or 20mm as long as you put your crosshair in the top of the kill, they should all fall over down to about 17 yards. How­ever this can be af­fected by scope height, but that’s a con­ver­sa­tion for an­other day. A gen­eral rule of thumb is us­ing medium mounts and 8.44grainn pel­let at about 777fps you should be able to cover 15 and 20mm tar­gets from 17 to 33 yards. What a lot of shoot­ers do, is set their par­al­lax to about 30yards and this will give a

scope a grad­u­ated blur from 8 to 16 yards. So, if you walk up to a peg and the tar­get is clear in the scope, place your cross hairs at the top of the kill zone. If the tar­get is blurry, then raise cross hairs out of the top.

A 40- yard zero is very sim­i­lar, but to be hon­est, only works if you have a half mil- dot ret­i­cle or some­thing like the MTC SCB ret­i­cle. With a 40- yard zero, the half mil- dot mark above the cross hairs be­comes the mark for the top of your tra­jec­tory. To be hon­est, my zero isn’t 40 yards, it’s 39 and us­ing this means I just put the half mil- dot dash at the top of all my 15s and 20s and most of them flop over. I also, use the half dot line be­low the cross hair and place this at the base of all my long tar­gets be­cause my 45- yard im­pact point is .4 of a mil- dot be­low the cross hair. If you look at the two range cards, you can see the pros and cons of them and to be hon­est, you need to try them both and use what is best for you.


The next tip is a sim­ple one and I feel a bit funny about bring­ing it up, but I have men­tioned it to a few peo­ple and they have said it never oc­curred to them.

Some shoot­ers like to have a scope with it’s par­al­lax ad­juster set so that the im­age is blurry at 45 yards be­cause this helps them to judge the range of a long tar­get, but per­son­ally, I would rather use pel­let strike splat­ter to help. When you look through a scope at a tar­get, read the hits of the shoot­ers who came be­fore you. Be­fore you lie down, make sure you have come to a de­ci­sion about how far you think the tar­get is – short, medium or long.

If it’s a long tar­get, lie down and take good look, if ev­ery­one who has missed has dropped out the bot­tom, there is a good chance it’s 45 yards. Look at the pad­dle ( kill zone). If all the marks on the pad­dle are low, then it’s prob­a­bly about 45, in the mid­dle, 42, 43, and high in the pad­dle nearer to 40 yards. Most shoot­ers try to hedge their bets.

It’s the same with short range tar­gets; if the marks on an 8- yarder are all high, then it’s 9 or 10. At long range the wind has a big ef­fect on the pel­let’s flight so if all the misses are on one side, then give ex­tra al­lowance for the wind’s ef­fect.

Fi­nally, on the mid- range tar­gets, if you are un­sure if a tar­get is medium or long range, find a sin­gle pel­let mark and place your cross hairs over the top of it. For me, if my crosshairs com­pletely ob­scure the pel­let strike, it’s 40- plus yards; if I can see the mark on each side, then it’s near 30 to 35 – un­less the hit was from a .22 pel­let.

These are a few tips and tricks for you to play with, have fun and learn your scope. This will give you more points in HFT than buy­ing the best ri­fle on the mar­ket. If you have any tips, drop me a line at garychilling­worth36@

The MTC SCB ret­i­cle has a lot to of­fer the HFT com­peti­tor

TOP RIGHT: Use a ‘bub­ble’ to make sure your ri­fle is level

RIGHT: My old Work­mate is per­fect for hold­ing the ri­fle

ABOVE RIGHT: You can see that chang­ing your zero will make a huge dif­fer­ence to your aim points

BE­LOW LEFT: This 15mm has been missed low; peo­ple think it’s fur­ther than it re­ally is be­cause the pel­let is still climb­ing when it meets the tar­get

ABOVE LEFT: If the pel­let reaches the top of its arc at 26 yards, ad­just by 2 clicks to bring it on to the line

BE­LOW RIGHT: Back in 2006, when I knew less than noth­ing. I still don’t know much, but at least I know that

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