Gary Chillingworth demonstrates how to set up your scope for HFT
Gary Chillingworth shares a few tips and tricks from hunter field target competition
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.
TOP OF THE ARC
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.
HEDGE YOUR BETS
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@ gmail.com
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