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Education / Training BRV – Part 2

BRV – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Update on Tom/B.B.: Some time today, doctors will drain Tom’s abdomen and the small amount of fluid that’s seeped into his right lung. He’ll get general anesthesia, so we may be in for some more funny stories if he goes through Sundowner’s Syndrome again.

Now, on to today’s blog which is a continuation of my experience with air rifle benchrest. This is an edited version of the article that appeared in the January 2000 Airgun Letter.

by Edith Gaylord

By the time our two-day benchrest tournament came around in September, I’d already shot a number of matches and was ready to compete against all comers. I didn’t expect to win, but I didn’t expect to be at the bottom of the heap, either.

Thinking about all the things I’d learned along the way, one of the greatest learning experiences was watching the top shooters perform. My scores increased, and I got the highest score I’d every made in BRV.

The equipment race…sort of
BRV is for .177 caliber only, and most people shoot Olympic 10-meter rifles. The distance for that class of rifle is 22 yards. Since my Barnes Ranger was not a stock Olympic 10-meter gun, I had to shoot at 30 yards. Only 8 yards difference, but it sure seemed a lot bigger at the time. When the wind’s blowing and won’t stop in time for you to get off all your shots during the allotted time, you have to shoot through the wind. And it’s infinitely easier to shoot better at 22 yards than at 30.

Watch the winners and do what they do
A technique that I believe helped me increase my scores in the final matches in September is the same one that I used to acquire a higher level of skills in both tennis and racquetball: watch the winners.

When I was a sophomore in college, I took a tennis course. If you showed unusual talent, the teacher would spend more time with you to hone your skills. She spent no time at all with me!

One day, I was in a doubles match. I was with a student on one side of the net, and my teacher and another student were on the other side. In the middle of a volley between me and the teacher, she was surprised by my sudden skill and asked what had happened. I told her I’d been watching professional tennis players on TV and in live events in town. This was probably the first time in my life that I performed well under stress. It was a good day to pick because that match was the final exam for my course. My doubles team defeated the teacher and her teammate, and I got an A. Six months later, I transferred to the University of Florida in Gainesville, and more than one person thought I was part of the school’s tennis team based on my skill on the court.

Back to benchrest. I knew who the best shooters were because I made it a point to find out who won previous tournaments and matches. The habits and manners of good shooters are the best textbook. So, I mimicked the moves, body position and actions of Dave Horner, who was the reigning BRV World Champion. Watching him was instrumental in increasing my scores. The way he held his gun, the direction of his body, feet, arms, head…everything. While I may have creeped him out, I was determined to extract every nuance that I thought would help me improve.

A final note…to field target shooters
While I’ve never seriously shot in field target matches, I’ve seen a lot of people who have. I observed that the best shooters have something in common. They’re always interested in getting better. They observe other shooters and pick up habits that will improve their scores. Shooters who are always near the bottom of the pack and rarely improve aren’t necessarily people who have the worst equipment. I knew a shooter who had some of the top guns, but he just didn’t seem to do all that well. He was intent on blaming his equipment. If he’d just watch the winners and mimic them, he might have done well with the first gun instead of buying dozens of others to try to gain a winning score.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

47 thoughts on “BRV – Part 2”

  1. All our best to Tom this morning. Hopefully, this is the start of some rapid improvement.

    Speaking of using the equipment as a crutch, years ago, I had a guy call the shop out of the blue and order up a $6000 top-of-the-line Litespeed titanium bicycle. He wanted to race triathlon and could afford the best. I don't recall having much–if any–input. He seemed to know everything he wanted right down to the $300 Carnac Italian made carbon fiber road racing shoes.

    A day after he takes delivery, he calls the shop almost screaming at me–how did I expect him to get off the bike and run 26.2 miles in a pair of shoes like that??????!!!!

    As far as I know, he never did actually enter a race and the bike is probably hanging in the garage.

  2. Derrick38,

    my bicycle shop told me the story of twin sisters who also wanted to do triathelon and ordered top of the line bicycles from him. They also complained after their first race that they had enormous difficulties with the bikes on the hills, that the gearing was too high. Pete asked what gear they used to climb the hill and they just stared at him. Gears? You mean you can change gears?

    It's a true story and the moral is, better know your equipment and what it's capable of.

    Edith, tell Tom we're all rooting for him!!!!

    Fred PRoNJ

    Hah – WV – dophis -yep, lot of dopes around.

  3. Mr. B.,

    I don't recall if there was a limit on power, but there were different classes depending on the gun you shot. It's possible that there was an open class, where guns over a certain power level would duke it out amongst themselves.


  4. Hi Edith,
    Tell Tom I will miss him at Little Rock. I enjoy talking to him. I will take my Belgium Hyscore 801 since Tom had told people he was bringing one to the show.

    Getting worse may have been what it took to get Tom to the best doctors and the best facilities to treat his problems. Hopefully this will lead to a complete recovery.

    Edith, I always enjoy your blogs. Some of my favorite articles from the Airgun Letter were ones you wrote. You are a good writer and tell a good story.

    David Enoch

  5. Kyle,

    It looks like they'll be available in two quantities, with the first one expected to arrive the beginning of May and the other the beginning of June.


  6. Edith……
    Some of the best examples of stubborness and stupidity that I have seen have been in the sport of muzzle loading.
    Some guys have all kinds of self inflicted problems caused by poor maintenance and loading procedures. They don't ask for help, and don't want help when it's offered. They continue to have problems and come in with the lowest scores. They blame the rifle instead of themselves, and will continue to do so until they get discouraged enough to give up on the sport.
    You just can't help someone who is determined not to learn.


  7. In the original film 'Dawn of the dead' the lead actor offers up a scoped sporting rifle to his eye and says,
    "The only guy who could miss with this rifle,is the guy who could afford to buy it"
    I may have got the wording wrong though.

    Hopefully BB is on the lap home now and the peaks will outweigh the troughs.
    Bless you both.

  8. Tom, Edith

    Sorry for being offline for so long, I went hunting. I hoped that Tom will get completely OK by the time I return, but it seems things got complicated. Anyway, I wish him and you, his guardian angel, best of luck and tons of health.

    Thank you for touching that sensitive topic of equipment vs skill.
    I've seen it many times – one thinks that "steel" can do everything that one's too lazy to do. They buy expensive airguns, top-quality scopes, tripods etc. but then they do nothing – and they are upset: why doesn't this marvelous equipment make me an instant Vasily Zaitsev or Carlos Hathcock?
    Much to their chagrin (and to other's fun) it's typical when next to them sits a guy with an old battered Gamo or MP and just makes a hole after hole in bullseyes, like he's standing there with a drill.
    Sometimes "polished" skill means more than polished steel 🙂

    I don't know why, but some people just forget that there are no fast ways, nor straight ways to high results. One must train and think, and train and think again – no result is for free. You can train watching how the best do this job, but it's also possible to learn by yourself, albeit it's harder and longer way, as analyzing and trying is harder than mimicking.

    I don't know why, but after many failures some still can not get rid of that stupid concept "I can buy better than you" instead of "I can do better than you" – and their air arms race continiues (as fruitless as before 🙂 )

    Of course I don't mean that hands of master can make anything as precise as a CNC laser. Skill needs a good frame to work at full power, but skill IS the core and the only thing to rely upon.


  9. Edith,

    I pray this day is better than the last and each day gets better for Tom and yourself.

    You're both towers of strength. Bless you both. May you be healthy and happy! Soon!

    May God guide the minds and hands of the people at the Hospital, to know just what Tom needs to be healthy again.

    I too, enjoy your writing a lot. And I agree totally with you that it's best to pick a gun that is accurate, and learn to shoot it.

    There is so many fine points that can only be passed on from the top shooters if you ask them!

    I bought many fine rifles for the guys to use in our club. I had trouble deciding which one I would use. I was shooting lots of them back and forth… Finally Rick Knowles, the NW Air Rifle Clubs director, who was helping me start our club, said, PICK A GUN AND LEARN TO SHOOT IT!

    I knew the USFT was the most accurate, but I had no idea how to "fit into it".

    So I search about and found some pictures of top shooters and tried to learn that sitting position. I adjusted it to fit me, and started practicing every night in the pool room. I learned trigger timing and how to sit there in comfort for an hour at a time. It helped a lot.. but..

    Only after I went to other matches and watched & talked with the top shooters, did I really start to improve. And the great thing about field target is, that the top shooters want to help you!

    At LDs shoot two weeks ago, I shot with Kevin Yee, one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. I learned two important things from shooting with Kevin.

    One was to use the string to see how much the wind will effect the pellet. Just hold the string up off the ground for a few seconds and see how it bends and moves sideways. After some time, one can gauge pretty closely how many inches of hold off necessary for the shot.

    The other was to breath more. I tend to hold my breath through the shot. Tim McMurray also reminded me about it, but I was back holding my breath again, and Kevin mentioned it to me.

    I focused on it the second day, and was better at using the string to gauge the wind too.

    I went from 17/37 on Saturday, to 24/37 on Sunday. I think I was one of only a few that had a higher score on Sunday, cause the wind was worst… so that was a big improvement for me.

    Not only will your scores improve by meeting and talking with the top shooters, you'll make some great friends too!

    Wacky Wayne,
    Match Director,
    Ashland Air Rifle Range

  10. Wacky Wayne

    Re: "Pick a gun and learn to shoot it!"

    That shooter was very, very right!

    My instructor in the Corps did exactly the same with me and the M-14 Natl. Match rifle. I kept searching around thew armory for the gun that would shoot "best" only to realize that mechanically, the guns were all set-up identically and, that the minute difference between weapons was FAR outweighed by shooter issues or capabilities.

    Anyway, as Drill Instructors go, he was fairly calm about it or as he often said.."I'm a patient man in short bursts".

    Needless to say, I picked a Serial Number form the rack and stuck with it.
    Qualified Expert twice at Perris Island (back when I could still see through open sights!)

    Brian in Idaho

  11. I am always encourged by others, because I know nothing.

    When I was playing basketball etc… we were often told to watch others, visualize your actions and then practice a lot.

    Maybe that's what Tom needs to do…watch all the healhty people and visualize getting better.

  12. Brian,

    Hey, Idaho is not that far, how about you coming over for our Memorial weekend shoot out. Three days of shooting, trading and good eats..

    Ashland Or. on I-5 exit 11

    come on down, your the next contestant….

    Wacky Wayne MD
    Ashland Air Rifle Range

  13. duskwight,

    At a field target match many years ago, a guy who was a pretty good field target shooter was just passing through the area and stopped by to observe…he didn't bring a gun because he wasn't going to stay. As it happened, one of the shooters offered to let the visitor share his rifle, which was a quality gun but nothing outstanding. The visitor had never shot that gun but took him up on the offer…and proceeded to beat the pants off the gun's owner.

    While this is probably an exception to the rule, it demonstrates that good shooters aren't just good because they have the best gear. If you weren't born with talent, you can acquire an awful lot of it with perseverance, training and help from experts. A great gun is nice, but even the most expensive one can't make a silk purse out of sow's ear.


  14. Edith,
    You make it sound like fun. "Blame the equipment" is universal. I don't have anything against buying the best (whatever it is that month), but if merely decent equipment is holding a shooter back in the first year or so of his try at an event, he is either really good or really bad — I have a guess which is more common:).

  15. Fred,
    I spent my teenage years hoping to meet twin sisters of that caliber:).

    You should have told the dude that those shoes keep the Achilles tendons extended when running:). Bikes and equipment (even Campy and esp. Shimano and SunTour) were fairly cheap when I last had any interest in it (long ago), but even then it seemed like shaving the last 3 oz's off cost the most:).

  16. I'm playing catchup again this week.

    Volvo,Matt61, You mentioned the 10/22 as a machine gun. I shot one last year at the Knob Creek Kentucky machine gun shoot south of Louisville. A full automatic 10/22 is a real hoot to shoot. I was laughing out loud when I was done shooting it.

  17. On the subject of ordering. I had a recent order where one of the items was on back order. The original order exceeded $150 so the shipping was free anyway. PA split the shipment and sent me both with free shipping even though the back-ordered item was only about $20. It was even more complicated than that. The back ordered item was due to be in-stock while I was out of town for a month but PA held the back-order for me and shipped it when I got back home. That's service!

    The last order I placed I placed on a Saturday. It was shipped on Monday and arrived at my house on Wednesday. All on standard ground UPS. That's service!


  18. Edith,

    Using the best only gives one an edge after they've mastered the fundamentals. Our team would not allow us to move up in equipment until we proved that we had mastered the basics. For instance, we could not move up to an Anschutz until we could clean prone in competition using a lower-end Remington.

    A lot can be established with more basic equipment. Sometimes the really good gun can make it more difficult to master the fundamentals. That's why I still like to shoot guns that present a certain amount of challenge, like a heavier trigger.

    On the other hand, you don't want to work with junk, because that could cause you to learn bad habbits.


  19. Edith,

    How about a blog on shooting techniques you've observed that work?

    I suspect that there are gun dealers akin to undertakers who use people's passions to extract money that will not benefit them in a significant way. My old rifle team coach was one of them.

    Regarding the bike chain, I believe I have insight into how mine was worn out. In hopes of getting a bit of conditioning, I would ride up a short, very steep hill which required me to stand the pedals, and because of the grade, I would often change gears in the midst of the hill. That probably had something to do with my recent overhaul of equipment. I'm avoiding that hill now.

    Brian in Idaho, surely the regular Marine recruits did not have access to NM M-14s. Were you on some kind of team?

    Regarding the survivalist discussion, I think that I'll change my recommendation from a survival knife to a machete. Even a super expensive custom knife cannot do what a very cheap machete can do by reason of its extra length and power. The Cold Steel machete that I bought for $5 has cut down many trees and is still in great shape.


  20. Not sure if everyone saw the video on the brawl in the Ukraine parliament complete with egg-throwing. At least that hasn't happened here yet. The video showed a very large person shaking hands with Putin; I believe this fellow is the current pro-Russian president of the country. You certainly wouldn't want to mess with him in a brawl.


  21. Matt,
    No need to avoid hills. I think the principal in climbing hills is just like riding flats, keep your pedal spin rate higher rather than lower, and shift sooner rather than later (maintaining momeentum). You guys are making me feel like I need to get some exercise, but it will have to wait until I finish building fence — the much needed rain looks like it might be over for a day or two:).

  22. Wayne:

    Re "C'mon Down to Ashland"

    I was actually going to give you a shout last month as I had business down to Klamath Falls but… time ran short as always.

    Anyway, can I find your Range on Google? Does the club have a website?

    Give me a shout at saade@clearwire.net

    Brian in Idaho

  23. Brian,

    Our club doesn't have a website yet. I tried a canned program, but it didn't work well for me, so I'm waiting until my son, our webmaster for the raised garden beds, can get time to make one for me.

    Meanwhile, I set up a google blog to post match results and pics I can link to.


    I posted the results from last Saturday's match, (my first terrible post), but at least its a start, and a place I can link pictures.

    Google maps has our address backwards. We have a road called "south 99", and one called "hwy 99 south". We live on the latter, but google leads people to the former, out by the lake… close but no cigar!

    So, it's best to call before you try and find it. I'll email the directions and phone numbers.

    I really look forward to meeting and shooting with you soon.

    Wacky Wayne,
    Match Director
    Ashland Air Rifle Range

  24. Hey Wayne,

    I'll bet Edith can whip up a website for you with one hand tied behind her back. The price will be quite reasonable – only one USFT rifle and killer scope 🙂

    Fred PRoNJ

    wv: susioly – seriously?

  25. SL,
    You wrote:
    "Many of the folks whom people believe to be friends will abandon them in their time of need."

    I do volunteer work with stroke survivors. Your statement is 100% true for them. They all have had very close friends until they had their stroke and then have not seen them since. Stroke survivors are difficult to communicate with and have physical disabilities as well. Apparently even the best of friends cannot cope with this.

    If anyone on this blog has had a friend who suffered a stroke please go see them today. Don't call them because they may not be able to speak. Go see them so they can see you and know that someone cares. Your caring is essential to their ability to recover or even to just get better. They need and crave to be normal again.


  26. hello evey body i am looking for a bb gun that is made by or looks like a mossberg shotgun.I thinking mossberg 500. If any can find it please comment on here.

  27. Chuck –
    more off topic

    So true are your words. As a young adult I could not stand my dad's friend . A very boisteroius B-17 pilot, Retired bird colonel and retired school principle in the foothills of Northern California. Due to a robbery gone wrong you could say he was similar to a stroke survivor. He went from being extremely talktative and telling long stories to a shell of a voice where the simple hello was a supreme struggle. The words are there but the brin to voice highway was severed and only a dirt trail was left.

    I met up with him some 15 years later as he needed help with his yard and dad volunteered my services. A very close friendship was gained. Although there was this chasm of verbal communication we made it though. I learned how to rob bee hives, trim bonsai, sweat pipe, fit into a B-17 sheepskin flight suit from boots to head including the requisite 1911. He took me to far off journeys in search of the perfect wine – I could drive and his wife loved that he would be out of the house all day. For over a year I made it my Saturday special day some days it was for an hour other day it was a marathon.

    God closed the door on Vertnor's voice but for me he opened up a big panaorama window that I would have never looked through.


  28. Chuck,

    I don't know about where they got their eggs. Given the amount, I think that what the U.S. Marines calls "advance stockpiling" is likely. Or maybe they just sneaked them all in. As Huck Finn says about a similar event: "If I know the signs of a dead cat, and I bet I do, there was 64 of 'em went in there." The Ukraine story is here:


    As to the need to visit the elderly and infirm, you're exactly right. I worked with nursing home residents for awhile and to see the difference between those who had visitors and those who did not (the vast majority), you would think that companionship is essential to life.

    I believe it's official that there is a run on revolvers throughout the country. Anyone heard theories about this? Is Wayne buying them all?


  29. I've known a few people who had strokes. The doctor's encouraged everyone to visit the stroke victims because it could help them regain memories and possibly recover more quickly. Even though it seems like the stoke victims don't always look that responsive….they will often feel the comfort of your visit. Even a phone call can do wonders.

    I'm sure anyone who is sick would feel better if they knew people cared about them…..

    So BB, if they put you under again, remember to stay away from the white light or any lights and come home soon!!!!!!


  30. Matt61

    "Brian in Idaho, surely the regular Marine recruits did not have access to NM M-14s. Were you on some kind of team?"

    No,not a special "team", just competition between MCRD San Diego Rifle Squads and Camp Lejeune squads.

    BTW, when I was at boot camp, there were many squads that still had regular issue M-14 rifles. M-16s were in short supply after the Tet offensive. I also had a 14 as a regular carry in Vietnam, and a couple of 16's too.

    Brian in Idaho

  31. Chuck
    Thank you for helping stoke survivors they really need it. I myself have only had one relative that suffered from a stoke, and it is hard. I have even lost some people that I thought were friends since I started having seizures and now have been told that I have "Tardive dyskinesia" people just don't come around much anymore.

    Thanks again for your volunteer work. No good work goes unnoticed.


  32. Chuck,


    Thanks to all who give of themselves! You do Gods work spreading love… and you be blessed for it!


    I'm sorry to hear your dealing with seizures. I'll send you some prayers too.


    Thank you for your service to our country!

    Wacky Wayne

  33. found another snake skin in the backyard this evening. Guess I'll have to find the $'s for a snake gun as this is two skins within two months in the yard and one small snake inside.


  34. Anonymous Mossberg,

    the only thing I can come up with in a pump or slide action BB rifle by Daisy. They made a Model 25 and a model 107 that kinda sorta look like the Mossberg 500. They're no longer made and if you find one in 95% condition, we're talking anywhere from $200 to $2,000, depending on model, year and if it was made for Sears by the Daisy Manufacturing Company. Were you looking for a collectible or just a BB gun that resembles the shotgun?

    Fred PRoNJ

  35. Fred,

    The Daisy Model 25 is once again being made, though in all probability in China and surely not quality-wise the same as before. See it here.

    Anon. Mossberg 500 bb-gun lookalike:

    See a lot of different bb guns here.


  36. Well, think I'll call it an early night. No quotes, just too tired today.

    Just wondering if they ever tried Tom on "Creon" for his pancreas before all this happened. I've been on it for several years as my pancreas does not function properly. I hate having to take it every time I eat anything but it has kept me out of the hospital.


  37. Matt,

    About that Ukrainian president – he's not pro-Russian, he's just anti-his stupid predecessor and mark my words, he'll play his own game 🙂
    The guy had 2 terms in jail back in '70 (however later those charges were dropped – first was for taking part in robbery in a teenage gang and second – for beating some guy harassing his girlfriend). So I think he's a skilled brawler indeed 🙂

    I'm not sure about Ukraininan Parlament, but as far as I remember Russian (I've been there a few times) – the only way to get eggs is to sneak them in somehow, there's no place to make a stockpile.
    However Russians are more like to use the things that are already there – e.g. mineral water – Duma's best brawler's choice. Fill the glass, then throw the water onto your opponents. Bare fists are OK too 🙂


  38. I could write a whole book on fighting. It was an unofficial after school sport when I grew up. Every guy knew their ranking and it usually changed quite often.

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