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Education / Training It’s personal

It’s personal

This report covers:

  • Start
  • Field Target
  • And the point
  • Bow Bully
  • Crosman Fire
  • Turned it aroun
  • Taking the time
  • Reasonable expectations
  • Summary

I was all set to test the Crosman Fire breakbarrel rifle in a special way for you today when I read several of the comments to Hank’s guest blog yesterday. I just had to comment on what I read. I’ll do the Fire tomorrow


Let’s start with the guy Hank got his new FX Crown rifle from — the guy who wanted to shoot pigeons at 150 yards after seeing it on You Tube. Why do that? I suppose that in some way it seemed cool to the guy. We all understand that. I see Glenn Campbell playing the William Tell Overture on You Tube and it makes me wish I could play guitar that well. Heck, I wish I could do anything that well!

Field Target

I remember when I competed in Field Target I was always at the three quarter mark. In a 60-shot match (that I set up) I would get 43-46 points. It didn’t matter whether I shot a TX 200 Mark II or a PCP, I always finished in that range. And there was a guy who only shot the course offhand, and he shot a tired old HW 77. He always finished in the top two or three shooters with a 54-56. 

One of our targets was a turkey at 50 yards. It had a one-inch kill zone and was the tallest target we had. When you dropped him he took over a second to fall. We called him, “Long Tom.” That was the toughest target we had, except for a 10-yard target with a quarter-inch kill zone that was close to impossible to drop.

Well, the guy shooting offhand dropped Long Tom almost every time while yours truly probably got him one third of the time. The shootoffs for tying scores at the end of the match were invariably at Long Tom and this guy would just keep on dropping him from the standing position until he missed. And sometimes he didn’t miss and won the match.

And the point?

The point is — that guy knew his rifle. We had another guy who spent a fortune on new rifles, scopes and even scope mounts! Yep, I saw a $500 scope mount back in the 1990s. And $2,000 scopes were common. And most of the time the guy with the HW77 would beat him — forcing him to go out and buy another new “can’t miss” rifle. The funny thing was, that guy was also a good shooter. But he never shot the same rifle long enough to get used to it. 

Bow Bully

The Bow Bully wrote a recent blog titled Does your Bow need a Back Bar Stabilizer? To that report reader CBS responded, “You’re kidding, right? No? Gadjetry anyone? What, …no electric motor to handle the draw weight?
Oh for the good ol’ days of aesthetically pleasing, satisfyingly effective, longbows/recurves, etc.
Look at your photo, …how is that machine even a “bow”? Where is the “bow” part? Does it come with a psychiatrist to help you determine what ELSE you probably need to make you a real archer? I will buy the latest iteration when someone designs an arrow-launching something that will go hunting for me while I sit home watching tv, and will bring back its (my) prey all cleaned and packaged ready for the freezer or cooked ready for the table! The something will of course have selected only a wall-mount worthy trophy victim, and will have mounted and placed the head over my (gas) fireplace. Then, when my friends see it, just let them try to say I’m anything but a mighty hunter!
This reminds me of the sportsman-like method of hunting deer employed by some of my fellow firefighters in my home state of Florida – pull up to a hammock in the everglades, set the dogs loose to chase out the deer, and shoot them from the elevated bed of your swamp buggy with your semi-auto as they struggle through waist deep water and sawgrass.
I think I’m gonna get a taller soapbox so I can be a little closer to God when I ask Him why He made me so much better than everyone else. ( …and modest, too!)”

So, a lot of people get it. It’s not the equipment — it’s the person. Whether playing guitars or shooting air rifles, it all comes down to the person doing it and not to the equipment. Yes — good equipment does play a part, but the person using it has to know what they are doing.

Build a Custom Airgun

Crosman Fire

As I mentioned I was about to shoot the Crosman Fire for accuracy this morning. But I made a change to the rifle and I felt very sure it would have a positive impact on the results. How much of an impact? Well, the Fire is already accurate, so we have to start from there. When you start from a good place the amount of increase, if any, is small. On the other hand if you sit on the couch and watch Glenn Campbell and then take up the guitar there will probably be a guitar for sale cheap in the future. Of course you bought a good guitar because nobody can play a cheap one that well.

Well, maybe. But how about this cigar box guitar?

Not too bad for a homemade instrument!

Turned it around

So, Hank saved that FX Crown by turning it back into the 30 foot-pound PCP it was meant to be. And BB intends showing the Crosman Fire off tomorrow in all its glory. It’s a $140 rifle (and scope combo) that’s worth the price IF the owner takes the time to become good with it. 

Taking the time

“Taking the time” may mean doing what has to be done to get the rifle/pistol shooting its best. That’s what we are doing with the Crosman Fire.  Or it may even include the shooter taking the time to learn how to shoot better so he can take advantage of all the capability of the airgun in question. 

Reasonable expectations

Now, on its best day the Crosman Fire will never be as accurate as the TX 200 Mark III with the Tony Leach tune that I applied — not even on that rifle’s worst day. Still the Fire is far more accurate than we have come to expect from Chinese-made breakbarrels. I chose to write about it the way that I am because I wanted to show everyone how much potential is hidden away in seemingly inexpensive air rifles. But, in order to see that the shooter has to do his or her job and the rifle has to do its job. Both things have to perform to their best to get a good result. None of this opening the box and then shooting pigeons at 150 yards.


It isn’t the equipment; it’s the shooter. So if you’re on a budget, the cheapest thing to work on is you.

28 thoughts on “It’s personal”

  1. B.B.

    I racing they say, if you want fractions of a second improvement work on the car. If you want full seconds of improvement work on the driver.
    Yes, cheap airguns can be fun IF they have a decent trigger. More important than accuracy for the fun factor at this price point.


  2. BB,
    Many years ago, I used to ride bicycles, and a couple of times on RAGBRAI (the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa). While on the ride, I remember hearing some riders going on and on about their bicycles. “It has a fully double-butted chrome moly frame” (the frame is made from thinned wall chromium molybdenum alloy steel) “It has a full Campy groupo” (meaning many of the parts on the bike are lightweight, expensive, and made by the Italian firm Campagnolo). A very lightweight bike, for sure, but ridden quite often by what might be described as a gentleman who is carrying a few too many steak dinners under his belt (think ~200 pounds on a 155 pound frame). Was the bike fast? Not with him riding it. Would it have been fast if he had the training regimen all year to ride it that way? Maybe.
    I heard a shooting coach say, “If you have good equipment, the only thing that you can blame bad scores on is you!” (At the same time, I am quite certain that he could have probably beat me, shooting a rack-grade M14 to my National Match rifle, in a Service Rifle Match, when I was a new shooter.)
    The equipment doesn’t necessarily help, but it sure can’t hurt. Buy the best you can afford and enjoy yourself.

    • Bill, your story reminded me of my old boss who was also into cycling. He used to do a 100 mile ride once a year that was the highlight of his summer. One year he splurged and got a new bike and he was going on about how light it was and how he couldn’t wait to ride it in his training for the big ride. I suggested that for his daily training rides, he should ride the old, “heavy” bike and while he was at it, wear a backpack with a few heavy books in it, so that when the race came he would really feel the lightness of the bike. If he trained with the light bike he would just get used to it and he wouldn’t enjoy it as much. That burst his bubble like a CO2 gun with a bad seal, but I think I was on the right track.

      If a 1″ target at 50 yards is tough, try a 1/2″ target and eventually the 1″ targets will fall like Long Tom.

  3. B.B.

    At my last FT match there were two 3/8inch(9mm) kill zones. I thought that was cruel! Name an animal that would be game with a 12 fpe rifle with a 9mm kill zone?
    I would have “killed” the match director who had a 1/4 inch kill zone target. DEAD!! lol


    • Yogi,

      I don’t think 1/4-inch kill zones are allowed anymore. I was the match director and I just didn’t want anyone getting all 60 targets. No one ever did. 😉


  4. Man…that Cigar box guitar…all that music from three little strings. My dad was a Pentecostal preacher, and an honest one, so he was always working two jobs. 4 kids, and not a lot of money. He found a 192o’s era Martin tenor guitar cheap in a second hand store and played that for the next 60 years. I asked him once why he didn’t play a six string like all the cool players did, and he held up his left hand and said, only got four fingers for the strings and a thumb to hang on to the neck. I was an adult before I realized the magic he and God made playing that same guitar.

  5. Patience, patience, patience… Well, the truth is I do better with good equipment that I do with poor equipment. I guess that the thing that I can’t buy is patience. Sadly that element seems to be in short supply in my character. Sometimes I think that I was born with the attention span of a squirrel.

    The upshot is that I have acquired a number of airguns and associated equipment, none of which has improved my marksmanship. Most recently, I’ve been looking longingly at the AA TX200 MkIII. Pare down the accessories, just one airgun, cock, shoot, repeat. Sounds good, right? I’m told by a Pro-hopeful golfer that on any day, his mind can give him a win or a defeat. I think. that I have some attitude tuning to accomplish before I gather yet another piece of “magic” gun/equipment that will bring me to shooting Nirvana.

    After reading Hank’s blog, I realize that there’s so very much that I don’t know.

    Blessings, all

  6. Here in the UK we have a phrase “all the gear, no idea”. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve outshot people with eyewateringly expensive equipment using my modest gear. People just don’t seem to understand the principle of working on fundamental skills these days.

  7. BB,

    I see some of the same things in bowling. Guys with a 150 average buying $250 bowling balls – and they bowl the same. I still use the same $40 plastic ball I bought 20 years ago. I can bowl a 130 or a 230 – the only difference is me, and how much I mess up each game. Just like shooting, good follow through is really important.


  8. >>> shoot pigeons at 150 yards after seeing it on You Tube <<<


    I've watched some of the videos and these guys are extremely skilled – they know their equipment and are very good at compensating for the wind. Mind that they use finely tuned airguns specifically setup for long range shooting… that and they only show the pigeons they hit 🙂

    In defense of the guy I got my FX Crown from, he doesn't know what he doesn't know- he was never taught to shoot a rifle. At a young age, he was given a .22 rimfire and a bunch of tins at 20 yards to shoot at. Fast forward forty years and he still can't hit a gallon paint can at 50 yards with a deer rifle and a rest. Yeah, to hit a pigeons at 150 yards would really be impressive.

    The light went on though… I started his archery lessons with the importance of consistency in stance, draw, release and follow through. He was very surprised that I had him start shooting at 10 feet and increase the distance gradually. Now, at 20 yards, he is getting minute-of-a-popcan accuracy with his arrows. Last visit he commented that "I'm more accurate with a bow than a gun, this is the way to learn to shoot rifles isn't it" and asked what airgun I would recommend. Think he would do well with a Weihrauch break barrel 🙂


    • Hank that’s awesome. Reminds me of my dear uncle from Greece who taught me how to shoot with my first air rifle, a Crosman 760. He nailed a thin metal one-cup measuring cup to a tree and started me out at a certain distance. Every time I hit that cup it would ring like a bell. Ting! Hit the cup, take a step back. Miss the cup, take a step forward. Got pretty far back as I recall.

  9. Words of wisdom. My perspective is that expensive equipment can’t make poor skills better, but people with great skills can make the most of great equipment. In my reintroduction to airguns, I started out with a little Umarex Embark, and I shot it….a lot. I eventually could observe the gun breaking in, and I could observe my body relaxing and my shooting improving. Then I invested in a piece of expensive equipment…an Air Venturi (refurbished) rear peep sight. ;o) Groups improved again, but I doubt they would be as good had I not shot the gun as much beforehand. “It isn’t the equipment; it’s the shooter. So if you’re on a budget, the cheapest thing to work on is you.” Sage advice indeed. JUST KEEP SHOOTING!

  10. “Yes — good equipment does play a part, but the person using it has to know what they are doing.”
    Yep, truer words were never spoken!
    Also, I apologize for yesterday.
    *hangs his head in shame*
    I didn’t even wish you a “Happy Birthday” on your actual day.
    I hope you had a good one! 🙂
    Take care & God bless,

  11. I do feel sorry for the guy that sold the Crown. It is easy to believe the bragging you see on forums and in videos. There used to be a guy that boasted of using a low powered springer for long range pest hunting. At first reading, he made it sound so simple. Many people tried to follow his example and failed miserably at it. A lot of them called him a liar. Was he stretching the truth or was he that successful?

    I have been on both sides of the fence. I have bought guns that others couldn’t get to shoot, and I was able to shoot well. There were guns I sold without ever unlocking their accuracy potential but that the person that bought it from me found.

    I think the guy that sold the Crown just went back to something he could understand, shoot well, and be happy with. The now owner of the Crown had enough knowledge to work the puzzle box that the Crown is with so many different possible adjustments. In the end I think everyone was happy.

    Oh, I saw it may be your birthday, if so, Happy Birthday!

  12. B.B. and Readership,
    “…if you’re on a budget, the cheapest thing to work on is you.”
    But what exactly gets you the quickest return on your time and effort at improving your shooter self?
    My educated guess is to work on your shooter fitness.
    You can learn to control your breath by doing something/anything that gets you winded right before you shoot. I do 10 push-ups or 10 BOSU Ball Burpies; unless i have the luxury of skiing into the range. You will learn to control it quickly just don’t go overboard and make it impossible.
    Shoot offhand more often: prone, kneeling, or standing if you are able.
    Lift free weights/stretch bands and stay away from machines! You want to work the small muscles that will improve your balance and endurance.
    Walk/hike more on uneven ground, Scree or in sand at the beach.


    • As my cardio doc/friend recommends, “if you can’t or won’t do anything else, walk as much as possible, preferably daily.” Says this does more good for brain and neurological function than working crossword puzzles. We have to stay mentally and physically fit to break open those barrels, pump up the PCPs and hone our shooting skills.

      Patience and perseverance pay off, which is why FM is still working at getting passable with the HW95. Working on the patience too.

  13. About ten years back, I had received a small bonus from my employer, and I had been remembering my high school garage band days in the late 60’s. Stopped in a Guitar Center. Spent an hour or so, strummed Martins, Epiphone, Seagull – all guitars being introduced at half what the original models had been (made far away). I finally played a Mexican made Taylor dreadnought. It was a beaut, and it played great, sounded good (like picking up a good looking rifle with a hardwood stock, smooth action, and a really nice trigger). So, I bought the Taylor, a hardshell case, a nice strap, extra strings, and some picks, about $6-700 (not a whole lot of money comparatively, a good value. The sales lady was very helpful, and as she was ringing it up, she asked if there was anything else I needed. I thought for a second, and said “yes, give me about $500 worth of talent”. She burst out laughing. I’m still just a very limited player, but I can easily tell the difference between the guitars, and the Taylor still sounds great – especially when one of my more skilled buddies plays it. It’s worth it to me just to have it on the stand where I see it often.

  14. Guitar enthusiasts are often disappointed when $$$$ are spent acquiring gear in their quest to sound like their hero only to find the the truth is as they have heard, “tone is in the fingers “. A great player will tend to always have his/her signature sound regardless of the gear/rig they are playing. Maybe there is a corollary within the shooting sports. Expensive gear is however, a delight to look at and use.

  15. JerryC and Remarq,
    Your comments dredged up some really old memories! Many years ago, a neighbor moved to Florida and didn’t want to pay to move their piano; they said, if we could get it out of their house, we could have it; we got a crew to move it to the living room, and my little brother, John, and I both started taking lessons; I quickly learned there is such a thing as “God-given talent;'” my little bro had it, and I did not. Lessons honed it, but he has some talent that can’t be learned. He can hear anything, then just play it (although learning to read music expanded his capabilities) on the piano. Our middle brother, Jim, was struggling with a song on his guitar, and my little bro was like, “No, no, no! Let me see that thing; I don’t have the finger strength, but it should be like this”…then he played the song as it should be, and asked, “Hey, let me borrow this thing for awhile.” In a month, he was so much better than Jim that Jim gave him the guitar. Then John moved on to a professional guitar teacher to expand his talents. A few months later (he was 14 at the time), he wanted to be in a talent show at high school, and asked if I could lend him $1200 to buy a “BC Rich Bich” guitar. I was 23, and had just gotten my tax refund, but that was a lot of cash 40 years ago; so, before I gave it to him, I asked his guitar teacher if it would really make a difference for him; he said, “In most cases, it would not; but in your brother’s case, he has so much natural talent that the guitar upgrade actually WILL make a difference.” Hence, I gave him the money, he got the guitar, and he was a huge hit in the show. He went on to be in several small bands, but the best thing he got out of that was that it attracted the attention of his soon-to-be wife. To satisfy his future father-in-law that he was “serious” and “I can take care of your daughter,” he got a job as a carpenter’s apprentice. That worked out well; he’s got his own company, and he’s still married to Christine. But music is still a big part of his life; and he plays out at local venues, friend’s restaurants and the like. I remember once when my Dad, a classical music lover, gave him a hard time about being a rocker (like as if he lacked real talent in my Dad’s book); so he sat down at the piano and went through Petite Etude and also the Moonlight Sonata…that pretty much shut the Dad man down. 🙂
    Thanks for the memories,

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