Introduction to field target – Part 6The precharged guns

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1 – How it all began
Part 2 – Targets
Part 3 – Targets – Part 2
Part 4 – Squads
Part 5 – The spring guns

Before we begin, I was told yesterday from a reliable source that Daystate bullets for the AirRanger rifle are sourced from CCI. Apparently, the deal to buy them from Eley fell through. Airguns of Arizona, the U.S. Daystate inporter, provided that information. Our reader, who made the mistake of buying the bullets for his Condor, lives in the United Kingdom, and he says he bought them directly from Daystate, so someone there should have advised him of the one and only purpose for these bullets.

Let’s now look at the precharged guns used for field target. There are fewer U.S. shooters shooting PCPs than spring guns in field target, but those who do usually place higher in the matches. The precharged guns are so easy to shoot accurately that they take you to a new level of competition, which is why they only compete among themselves.

Back in the early 1980s, spring guns still ruled the sport, but by the middle of the decade the handwriting was on the wall. PCPs were here to stay, and they could not be beaten by springers, not even by the fabulous Whiscombes that almost act like PCPs. Daystate was an early leader, with the Huntsman and then the CR94 dominating many matches. I have covered these rifles already in my blog posting about Daystate. Air Arms was their chief rival in numbers, with their NJR 100 being the top competition rifle in the line.

By the middle 1990s, Daystate was being challenged on all sides by newer makers such as Falcon (reborn from the ashes of Titan). I shot both brands of rifles, including their tricked-out field target models, and both shot so much better than I that I could not judge which one was superior, if either really was. It’s like Ford and Chevy – both camps have a large following and everyone thinks their brand is best.

By the end of the ’90s, specialized airguns started coming from workshops around America like the one run by Alan Zasadny. Alan has worked on many different makes and models, but he’s well-known for his conversions of FWB P70s and P70 Juniors – turning them from 6-foot-pound 10-meter target rifles into 19-foot-pound fire-breathing field target rifles. Alan also converted other makes of rifles to field target use. Within five years, airgun makers were finally alerted to the fact that field target was a legitimate sport, and they could profit by building guns for it. Today, the market is bursting with factory-made field target rifles from companies such as FWB and Steyr.

Steyr’s HP field target rifle is an adaptation of their 10-meter technology.

That brings us up to date, in general, except for a special rifle I will share with you at the end of this post. Right now, let’s look at what elements make a field target rifle different than an off-the-shelf sporting PCP.

A field target rifle is built for the sport. For example, a rifle with a flat forearm is made that way to rest either on the knee or arm of a seated shooter. More advanced rifles have a knee rest that descends from the forearm. It can be adjusted to allow the shooter to hold a very heavy rifle perfectly still. The pistol grip is more vertical than those found on sporting rifles. Many rifles have thumbhole stocks, and those that have them offer either the thumb through the stock or aligned vertically. The cheekpiece adjusts, as does the buttplate. The sum of the adjustments brings the shooter’s eye into perfect alignment with the exit pupil of the scope, making the rifle feel like it was custom-made for that person.

This shooter holds his PCP rifle in the classic AAFTA seated position. All the adjustments mentioned in the text can be seen here.

A field target competitor doesn’t worry about the height of his scope above the bore of the gun. Before competition, the gun is sighted-in for every possible range and situation so there can be no surprises in a match. Accuracy is above everything, so a competitor keeps his gun’s velocity around 900 f.p.s.

The triggers of PCP field target rifles are usually very light, though not as light as 10-meter rifles. Is is not uncommon to encounter trigger-pulls in the one- and two-ounce range, though I personally like a pull weight to be a little heavier – maybe eight ounces. I also like a positive second-stage stop.

Finally, you’ll encounter a host of bizarre homegrown accessories on PCP rifles. The most common is a small feather, piece of yarn or a ribbon tethered to the stock to indicate which way the wind is blowing at the shooter’s location. The second most common thing is a super-large parallax adjustment wheel on the left side of the scope. The bigger the better! The shooter wraps white tape around the rim of the wheel and inscribes the ranges that his scope actually measures when correcting for parallax.

USFT is a comer!
The USFT rifle from Mac-1 Airgun is purpose-built for field target competition. I will be turning this blog over to Tom Gaylord tomorrow to tell you about this fine rifle, but I’m going to steal a little of his thunder and give you a peek at it now. Held by 2007 National Field Target Champion Paul Cray in the picture below, the huge circle on Paul’s rifle is the parallax adjustment wheel for his scope. The black INSIDE RING is as large as the enlarged wheels on most shooter’s scopes.

Four of the top five shooters in the U.S. used USFT rifles this year, including the 2007 National Champion, Paul Cray.

Now I know I glossed over a lot of PCP rifles in this report, but I’m going to hit it harder in the Daystate series, so don’t worry.

15 thoughts on “Introduction to field target – Part 6The precharged guns”

  1. So I gave the rifles mentioned in yesterdays comments section a better thought and narrowed it to the CFX, a used R9, or a RWS panther. I’ve read your posts on all, and each has some strong points. Their accuracy all seems similar, with the r9 being a little more accurate but needs more technique. Of these rifles, which would you recommend?
    With the BAM and Cheaper Beemans, the likelihood of a lemon goes up.


  2. hb,

    The R9 has the most going for it because of the Rekord trigger and the Weihrauch powerplant. I’m not certain that it is more accurate than the RWS Diana 34 Panther, but the trigger will always be better.

    You seem to want to get an R9, and I would second that.


  3. Hey B.B.,

    I’m the guy with the Viper. And I discovered that this gun doesn’t seem to like a loose hold, but more like a conventional firearm hold. Isn’t that strange? (and I was doing some fun shooting at 10 yards, and I got a ten shot group that looked like three right next to each other.)


  4. BB,
    I’ve thought of starting an AAFTA chapter locally, but after reading up on their handbook, not only am I under-equipped, but there’s a lot of “by-law” stuff in there. Maybe I could start just a local club that’s focus is mainly on basic rifle safety and targeting. Do you know of any organizations that do small time stuff like that? Perhaps checking with the local conservation office for programs? JP

  5. B.B.
    Sorry but I’m a day late. I just read your post from the 20th. I agree that consumers need to educate themselves better and need to use the proper terms and such, especially if they want a hobby not just a “BB” gun. I would point out however that retailers do nothing to help and in many cases appear to avoid any real information flow. Pyramyd does better and to its credit hosts this blog. But does Pyramyd tell buyers what the bore dimensions of the guns are? I remember sending several emails asking what the bore dimensions were for the DragonSlayer. I even asked you and was promised an answer that never came. Several months after getting the DS I finally got a response with half the information I had asked for. Clearly, getting, having and delivering pertinent data to the customer who wants to do more than shoot the recommended ammo out of blister packs is not a priority! Not everyone is going to waste as much time and money having molds and sizing dies made as I have. Most folks are going to try and find some useful information wherever they can and that’s the internet. If retailers like Pyramyd actually published something besides the brochure and ad claims, we’d all be better informed.

  6. Jerry,

    So you’re the guy? Well, the Dragon Slayer wasn’t in stock when you asked the question so I had to wait for it to arrive. It comes from Korea and they often don’t send one model when another has been ordered but not produced, so a wait can be six months from some suppliers. Shin Sung is like that.

    By the way – does it work for what you wanted?


  7. JP,

    Starting an AAFTA-sanctioned club isn’t hard at all. Forget all the rigamarole about bylaws. What you need is people who want to shoot and a place to shoot.

    A couple of organizations to investigate:

    Izaak Walton League of America
    Veterans of Foreign Wars
    Local private shooting ranges and clubs
    The American Legion

    Most of these organizations own a plot of land and use it to benefit their members and the community. At the Izaak Walton League where I started a club, there were three other men who were interested in shooting field target. No one but me owned an airgun when we started. I owned a single field target (just one) but we were able to borrow the old targets from a club that was located about 100 miles away. They had better ones and weren’t using the old ones. We used those targets for a year and bought our own as things progressed. Each of the three of us bought a few targets, plus we charged $10 to shoot in our matches ($5 to members of the IWLA and nothing to those who helped run the field target match). By the end of year one we had about 12-15 shooters participating in every match and we owned 20 targets of our own. That includes the targets the members bought and still owned.

    I will explain all of this when I do that segment in the field target report.

    My FT club petitioned AAFTA the first year and we became a sanctioned club right away, but even if we hadn’t, we were such an active club that shooters came from two states away to shoot with us in the second year. Reporting the match results on the internet was what drove that. A club can really use a website.

    Just find a place to shoot and maybe a couple of guys to help you and the club will take care of itself.


  8. B.B.,
    The DS does what I expected and is very accurate with the .495 ball ammo. Unfortunately, the fill valve is really terrible and the quality is pretty poor overall. I also bought a Career Infinity from Pyramyd and that gun is so bad I’d feel guilty giving it away. I detailed all the issues I have with these guns in an email to Pyramyd several months ago. I should add that I was not asking for any refunds or consideration of any sort, just passing along some feedback. That email was also never acknowledged. The DS gets shot from time to time and the Infinity sits and waits for me to throw it away I guess. My experience with the ShinSung products has convinced me that I will probably never again so much as consider a ShinSung product. I have a Monsoon that handles the .22 repeater chores exceptionally well and has been an absolute joy to own. I also have a Barnes Woodsman that far surpasses (more than double) the DS for power and is plenty accurate. The Woodsman with the .32 insert is extraordinarily accurate and still very powerful.
    Even though I made a comparison between the Korean guns and far more expensive models, don’t think I don’t understand price point engineering. The Korean guns are not worth the money and are not of the quality of other guns in the appropriate price range.
    I wasn’t trying to pick on you. I just wanted to make the point that retailers do little to allow us to educate ourselves or respond to questions beyond price and availability. Naturally, once the gun is in hand anyone can slug the bore or find the proper fill etc. That does nothing to help with a purchase decision though.

  9. Jerry,

    You obviously have powerful feelings about your two rifles. Have you thought about leaving comments on the website, so others may benefit from your experience? Your strong feelings about the quality of these two rifles is a worthy read for others.

    As for the Infinity, it already has a review, but it’s a very good one. I don’t have any experience with it, so I can’t comment.


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