by B.B. Pelletier
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There’s been a LOT of interest in this series. I would judge that fully one-third of our readers are interested in 10-meter rifles, and we get a lot of new readers who find us through queries on 10-meter rifles. Today, I’d like to discuss what it’s like to shoot a modern 10-meter target rifle – one of the $3000 rifles we looked at in the last post.
What’s in the box?
The first thing you will notice is that a lot more stuff comes with your airgun than would come with a typical sporter. There are tools like Allen wrenches and an adapter to fill the removable air tanks. Typically, each new rifle comes with one or two air tanks. Except for Walther rifles, these tanks accept a fill to 200 bar. Walthers go to 300 bar.
Besides the fill adapter, there will be inserts for the front sight. Some modern rifles, like the FWB 70 and 700, have a front sight with an adjustable front diopter and don’t need inserts. Additionally, there may be adjustment blocks and accessories for the buttplate.
You will notice the weight when you lift the rifle. It will be in the neighborhood of 10.5 lbs. Also, when you lift the rifle to your shoulder, it should not fit. There are many adjustments to be made before you can call the gun your own. All of these are done in the standing position, not off a bench.
- Length of pull
- Height of cheekpiece – to locate sighting eye with rear aperture
- Location of cheekpiece (indented or out from the stock line) – to locate sighting eye with rear aperture
- Angle of cheekpiece (front in, rear out or vice versa) – to locate sighting eye with rear aperture
- Height of buttplate – to locate sighting eye with rear aperture
- Angle of buttplate (in toward shoulder or out & away from shoulder)
- Angle of pistol grip
- Location of pistol grip
- Location of trigger
- Angle of trigger
- Location of rear aperture sight
- Height of the forearm for aiming assistance
- Location of weights for balance
Once the rifle has been adjusted, it’ll fit like a glove. The weight you noticed at first will have diminished, but the forearm will still feel heavy. You’ll learn to hold your off hand close to your chest to make a platform to support the rifle’s weight. This is how you’ll adjust the height of the forearm – to the point that when the rifle is aiming directly at the target, you feel as though your skeleton and not your muscles are supporting the rifle.
The trigger is the first thing most airgunners want to adjust, but until the rifle is adjusted to fit you, the trigger adjustment is meaningless. A typical trigger-pull range is 30-60 grams, or about 1 to 2 oz. After adjusting the rifle to fit, you may want to adjust the trigger heavier – not lighter. The triggers of modern 10-meter rifles are two-stage with no weight in the first stage. The second stage breaks without the hint of creep, and an overtravel adjustment stops all trigger movement immediately after the break. At the lightest setting, about half the shooters cannot even feel the second stage engage and will fire the rifle unexpectedly.
The trigger also has a training function, or what we call a dry-fire feature. It can be cocked and fired with no effect on the rifle. I don’t know how much rifle shooters practice their triggers, but pistol shooters shoot about 5 practice shots for each live shot they shoot, and a good competitor will shoot a full match (60 shots for men, 40 for women) every day. This builds strength in the shooting arm as well as a feeling for when the trigger will break. Eventually, your subconscious mind will take control and start to break the trigger when the sight picture is ideal, which is the whole point of practice training.
The sights deserve a blog posting of their own, but some time back I promised to show what it looks like looking through these sights. There isn’t a camera I know of that can take that picture, so I’m showing you what the front sight looks like so you can make sense of the graphic that follows.