Using a Stock Raiser (Hamster) Part1 ‘Elevate to Accumulate’
Mark Camoccio explains the function and advantages of a hamster
Whilst the airgun market is now awash with elaborately styled rifles, bristling with features and accessories, supposedly to enhance our shooting, there is something to be said for a slimline, no- nonsense rifle that’s relatively lightweight and just does what you want it to, without complication.
A simple approach, with correspondingly streamlined kit can be refreshing, and I took this route for a while, using an Air Arms S400, in the factory walnut stock, using it for just about everything, but there’s no doubt that for certain applications, dedicated features have a part to play. Deciding upon the gun’s primary duties is perhaps the starting point, but if a demanding discipline such as Hunter Field Target shooting ( HFT) is to be tackled, then some additions can be a big help.
HFT is a classic example, and I’ve been taking part for some years now, but I don’t mind admitting that in the early stages, I considered the addition of a stock raiser or hamster, at the fore end, to be something of a gimmick, and not worth the hassle. Yet, after navigating ever more challenging HFT target courses, I soon began to see that my blinkered simplistic approach was holding me back.
Firstly, why the silly name ‘hamster’? This originated from field target; in the early days, some custom stocks were supplied with a detachable raiser block which sat just forward of the trigger. This device, normally made from walnut, would often be kept in the shooters pocket, and
brought out mainly for the standing shots, snapped into place, the shot taken, and then it would be squeezed back into the pocket. The jokey name stuck, and the value of a raised, deeper fore end has grown ever since.
They’re far more likely to stay fixed to the gun these days, too, because the benefit of a much deeper section of fore end stock has been appreciated by shooters across the board. A trend for FT shooters to set an extremely high sight line and cheek piece necessitates a deep stock in general, and many top exponents have custom stocks built that have an ultra- deep fore end as part of the overall design from the outset. A deep stock and high sight line means that the shooter can be far less strained and crouched when in the aim, which all aids a more relaxed approach. The high sight line is often tied in with the trajectory, but that’s an article in itself!
In the HFT world, whilst many match rifles are in use, there are far more slim- line sporting guns on the course, and here, the addition of a stock raiser of some sort can pay dividends. Rules stipulate that the deepest section of the fore end must not exceed 150mm, but that is quite accommodating. What it really comes down to is the fact that we need extra height just forward of the trigger, so that when we encounter elevated targets, high up a tree for example, we have the support where we need it. An overly shallow stock makes that prospect a real strain, and yet take the same shot with a properly deep stock or hamster fitted, and the dice rolls back in our favour.
Some shooters are more gifted than the rest of us, and are clever enough to be able to make their own custom woodwork, and can incorporate the↘
The Rise of the Hamster! Mark Camoccio looks at the benefits of this curiously named accessory
special, deep fore end section that is needed. Other individuals on the FT scene have devised their own adjustable mechanisms, but again, HFT rules dictate that we aren’t allowed to adjust any part of the gun for the duration of a tournament. Specialist companies such as Rowan Engineering, make a fully adjustable mechanism that can be supplied with or without the hamster block, but whilst this is perfect for FT, it could be overkill for HFT, given the rule restrictions as mentioned. However, it is a marvel of engineering and still one to consider for those prepared to set it up, then leave it alone.
A simpler, yet equally well- made add- on comes from Air Arms, in the form of their ‘Palm Shelf Kit’ sold simply to bolt straight onto the accessory rail of their HFT500, as well as any other gun that has a standard rail. This accessory can be effectively height adjusted using a series of small blocks, and again, offers a professional look and feel.
Next month, I’ll look at some relatively simple DIY to make your own stock raiser, for those prepared to take a drill to their prized rifle, that is! ■
“Other individuals on the FT scene have devised their own adjustable mechanisms”
ABOVE: One of my Air Arms hybrids with a custom-made hamster
LEFT: For those skilled enough, a custom stock is the answer
ABOVE INSET: A custom stock can be just how you want it to be
ABOVE: The Palm Shelf Kit from Air Arms – an off- the- shelf solution
ABOVE: HFT shooter has minimised weight with a hollowed hamster section
BELOW: Some clever FT shooters have built their own adjustable stock mechanisms