by B.B. Pelletier
Update on Tom/B.B.: On Sunday morning, Tom’s white cell count skyrocketed and two more pancreatic cysts were discovered. He’s been transferred to a regional trauma center to receive care from doctors and nurses who specialize in his type of medical situation. We were very relieved once he was situated in the new hospital. They immediately made changes to his protocols, medication, etc. An interesting discovery…the gallons and gallons of fluid in his abdomen is pure bile! I have no idea how long it would have taken the other hospital to discover this. This is progress, and both Tom and I are grateful for the change of venue.
Now, on to today’s blog!
by Edith Gaylord
I originally wrote my air rifle BRV (benchrest) experiences for The Airgun Letter. Tom was already shooting field target matches, and our gun club wanted to hold air rifle benchrest. So, I decided to do the shooting this time to give Tom a break since he was also going to be the BRV match director.
Although I’m not a good shot, I discovered that I actually enjoyed the matches because I wasn’t depending on my skills to hold the gun. Instead, I could concentrate on doping the wind, remembering to squeeze the trigger instead of pulling it, concentrating on shooting my targets instead of my neighbor’s and balancing my gun the same way every time.
First, let’s have a test match
Our club had to qualify to hold benchrest matches, so we had to hold a test match with at least three competitors. Two of the club’s field target shooters volunteered to participate in the test match. I was the third. Match day was icy, rainy, even sleeting at times. Nevertheless, all three competitors stuck with it and finished the match…with blue lips and fingertips!
One of the things that I find most frustrating is being righthanded and left-eye dominant. I can shoot with my left hand, but not with any semblance of accuracy. We originally discovered that I was left-eye dominant when Tom handed me a camera (pre-digital), and I automatically put the view finder up to my left eye.
To make it easier for me to shoot benchrest without having to train to use my right eye for scoping, we needed to locate a suitable scope mount that would accommodate my cross-eyed dominance.
I tried everything to find a suitable offset mount, but nothing off the shelf worked for me. Dan Bechtel, who owned B-Square at the time, said he’d send us some mounts that might work. Those mounts moved the scope about an inch to the left, and I needed a shift of 2-5/8 inches. Gary Barnes, who made the Barnes Ranger I was using as my match rifle, agreed to make some custom mounts for the gun. Finally, I was set to go.
Early lessons learned
Here are some of the things I learned from my practice and the first match.
You can cant your rifle if you do it right
I had a level for my gun, which was more of a distraction than an aid. The Airgun Letter had run an article about canting guns, and it said that those who always shoot at the same distance can cant their gun the same way every time and not suffer accuracy problems. Since benchrest is always at the same distance (30 yards for the class I was shooting), I opted for a slight cant. I had to repeat that hold with each shot. But it was natural enough for me to be able to repeat it, and it was easier than trying to always find the exact same spot on the level, which was not a comfortable position for me. Tom always said I was half a bubble off plumb–and I guess this proves it.
Don’t rest your reservoir on anything
Never lay a PCP gun’s reservoir on a rest. You can put the gun’s stock on a rest, but the changes in the reservoir’s pressure will cause variations in point of impact if the reservoir is supporting the gun on a rest. At our first real match, airgunner Earl Brooks was shooting a Daystate CR 97, and he mentioned that where he rested the forearm of his gun also mattered noticeably. That’s probably why Ray Apelles found that his free-floated Career 707 achieved even greater accuracy. The reservoir’s pressure changes really have an effect when you’re shooting at a point that is no larger than an aspirin. That’s the size of the center “mothball” in airgun benchrest.
White bullseyes are much harder to shoot than black ones
It is MUCH easier to hit a traditional black bullseye than the white mothball centers on a BRV target. This was mentally confusing to me. When I mentioned this to BRV founder Larry Brown, he said it was deliberately designed that way. Devious!
Don’t shoot when it’s windy near the shooter
When the wind ruffled my hair, my shots would be off. However, when the wind was blowing only downrange, nearer the target and not around my bench, I shot closer to where I had aimed. Larry confirmed that my assessment was correct–when the pellet comes out of the barrel and is pushed off course immediately, it keeps going further and further off course. But when it leaves the barrel without a breeze, then it’s going downrange on course and will be closer to the point of aim. Seasoned shooters already know this, but I was just learning when I took up benchrest.
Sometimes, harder is easier
Lastly, I found that Shakespeare can be applied to benchrest–“Sweet are the uses of adversity.” I realized that I could estimate the wind downrange and hold a bit to the left or right of the mothball. In fact, I got a higher score than when I shot during a dead-calm moment and aimed directly at the mothball. How could this be? What I had learned was that it was easier for me to hold against something. Some people seem to find it easier to NOT shoot at precisely the perfect time, but at a time when things seem to be working somewhat against them. Maybe I’m just a person who enjoys overcoming obstacles rather than just doing things the easy way.
I shot three matches on my first day (the matches were held on two consecutive days). I tend be observant and was interested to see how minute changes affected my score. By the time I’d shot the third match, my score had tripled. Yes!