2020 SHOT Show Day Four

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Range Days at the 2020 SHOT Show
2020 Shot Show Day One
2020 Shot Show Day Two
2020 Shot Show Day Three


This report covers:

  • Here we go again
  • Crosman
  • Ravin R29Xcrossbow
  • 1077 FreeStyle
  • Air Arms
  • Diana’s modular platform
  • Gamo
  • New JSB Knock Out
  • Elsewhere at the show
  • Summary

Here we go again

I said I would return to finish reporting on the 2020 SHOT Show and today is the day. The 2020 SHOT Show was the best one I have ever seen for good reasons. From my perspective, most airgun companies brought out a whole boatload of new products. I talked to several vendors in booths who told me they thought there were fewer people in the aisles, but each of them had more money they were willing to spend. I’m talking about placing orders for the whole year’s worth of goods, because that is what this commercial trade show is about. It’s not for the public, though they do attend. It’s for the stores that want to tie down their business for the coming year and also for vendors who are always looking for new customers. read more


Airline Travel with your Airguns: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Today’s report is the second and final part of a guest blog from Pyramyd Air’s own Tyler Patner. Readers know Tyler from his experiences shooting field target, plus a recent guest blog he wrote about an Air Arms S510 Ultimate Sporter.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me. Now, take it away, Tyler.

This report covers:

  • Attitude is everything
  • Weapons and checked bag fees– airline policies vary
  • Big airports versus small airports
  • Here’s how it works
  • You’ve reached your destination — now what?
  • It pays to insure it!
  • See you in the friendly skies!
  • Wish us luck!

In Part 1, we covered some best practices for protecting your gun and the basics of what you need to get through a TSA check. Today we will discuss the process of checking a gun step by step.

Attitude is everything
This goes for more than just flying, obviously, but it’s very applicable here. When you go to the counter to check in, the calmer you are, the better. It’s best to remember that these people work for the airline and are going to do what they can to get you and your gun processed properly and get you onto your flight. They don’t want any trouble and typically are very friendly and helpful. Now, the TSA agents are typically not as nice but simple cooperation is all they ask. If you cooperate with them, they will make sure your gun (and you) get to where you need to be.

Weapon and checked bag fees – airline policies vary
Most airlines will charge you the typical $25 fee for a checked bag when traveling domestically with a case that is not considered oversized. Internationally, the fees change far more from airline to airline. Southwest is pretty easy going. I have had instances where the gun was my only checked item and they waived the fee. American and United both have never given me an issue either.

I am traveling to the field target world championship match on SAS, which is part of the Star Alliance (United here in the states), so we will see how that goes. I know the weapon fee they charge is a bit higher, at $75. And they do consider the gun as a checked item so any other baggage is an additional fee on top of that.  My advice — call the airline you are looking to book with ahead of time and ask these questions. Once you book, it also helps to call and let them know what you are traveling with, so they can note your ticket. That way, when you show up, they shouldn’t hassle you too much more than normal.

=&0=&We often don’t have many choices for the airport from which where we fly. Most people think that big airports, in places that are not gun friendly, will cause them more issues. Typically this is the exact opposite of what actually occurs. When flying out of large airports, you must remember that the person helping you has likely seen hundreds of people flying with guns in their career. I’ve flown out of some of the harshest places (when it comes to gun friendliness) like O’Hare airport in Chicago or Cleveland, where I fly regularly. At these larger airports, it’s just another day for the folks behind the counter.

It’s at the smaller, regional airports (like Baton Rouge) where I have seen issues.  At smaller airports, you may be the first person they’ve seen checking a gun in weeks. Sometimes these employees will make a bigger deal of it because it’s not a common occurrence and there is not a huge line of people waiting. It can pay to be just another face and ticket number versus a “special case.”

Often times the TSA checks the case behind the scenes at the smaller airports, where they will actually do it in front of you at larger ones. This is just a swabbing of the exterior of the case for hazardous materials. Most of the time, this swabbing results in nothing but if it does flag something for some reason the TSA may investigate further. I have many friends that have had their locks switched around, or zip ties broken off when they get their cases on arrival at their destination. This is because the TSA folks check the case without the owners eyes on the case. Often they will not open the case, but from time to time, they will. Trust me, that can be a very gut-wrenching feeling. I have never had this happen at an international-sized airport. They always walk me over to the TSA counter and the TSA agent will swab the case and check my locks/latches right in front of me. I’ve never been asked to open the case for a TSA agent.

Here’s how it works 

  • For departure, try to arrive a little earlier than you normally would. If it is suggested that you get there two hours before a flight, add an extra half hour just to be safe. You and your gun (in case and locked, of course) will need to head inside to your airline’s check in counter. Do not try to check your baggage outside at a baggage check kiosk, or at the automated check-in stations inside. 
  • When checking in at the counter, tell them you are flying with a gun (when flying domestically, it helps to just say a generic term like gun or rifle).
  • They will pull out the proper paperwork and ask for your identification, and will ask you to open the case.  
  • Sometimes they will give it a good look, other times they will just make sure there is actually a gun in the case and give you the go ahead. That all depends on the person behind the counter. Typically, FT guns get the obligatory “WOW, that’s a huge scope!”
  • You will sign their firearm certificate and you will put it in the case with your gun.  
  • Close the case, lock it, and they will put your label on the case just like they do with other checked baggage.
  • You will pay the fee, get your receipt and then they will typically take you and your case over to the TSA inspection booth. Not all airports operate this way though, some will actually send the gun back on the conveyor belt and have you wait while TSA inspects it behind the scenes. The TSA is simply making sure your case cannot be pried open, is locked and does not have any hazardous materials present on the outside of the case.
  • Assuming your case passes inspection, you will be free to go through your security screening and head to your gate.  
  • read more


    Field Target Team USA’s test of the JSB FT Premium pellets: Part 2

    by Tom Gaylord
    Writing as B.B. Pelletier

    Part 1

    Before we start, here is an update on Edith. Sunday was the last application of the medicine for Guillain Barre Syndrome. She was still in pain and only able to move her legs a very little, plus she had not eaten much in the past 5 days, so she’s weak. I got her to eat some fruit, which she enjoyed.  I hope they have diagnosed her condition correctly and that she responds to the cure. I guess we now have to wait and see.

    Apparently you readers let me miss a day of the blog last week. It was written, but just not published, because I am so new to doing the admin stuff. Therefore, I have an extra blog for this week, which I really needed.

    I have not commented on my social websites about this because frankly I am too busy with other things. This blog is about all I can keep up with at this time. That will hold until there is progress in Edith’s condition. Now, on to today’s report.

    Today’s report is the completion of the JSB FT Premium pellet guest blog from 4 authors: Ray Apelles, Hector Medina, Paul Plauche and Greg Sauve. They are all members of Field Target Team USA.

    If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.

    Over to you, gentlemen.

    This report covers:

    • Introduction
    • Accuracy Tests
    • Ray Apelles
    • Paul Plauche
    • Greg Suave
    • Hector Medina
    • Conclusions
    • Future work
    • Acknowledgements

    Accuracy Tests

    It is worthwhile to note from the outset that all the rigs tested performed better with the pellet they had been tuned for. While this may sound obvious, we would say it was not a foregone conclusion. The tests provided useful information.

    Ray Apelles

    Ray Apelles sent these groups, on top are the JSB Exact Premiums. Below them, his usual, weight-sorted, Air Arms 8.44-grain domes.

    Apelles target
    JSB Exact Premium dome on top and Air Arms 8.44-grain domes below.

    Ray took 15 shots without correcting for wind or elevation at 47 yards from the field target position, sitting on a bumbag. No jacket, sling, nor any other steadying devices were used. The wind was blowing right to left, and he was aiming at the right-hand bullseye. He called the lower flyer (arrow) of the AA group.

    Ray then superimposed a 40mm circle (to simulate a field target kill zone) and simply counted how many hits he would have registered at this distance with both types of pellets. You can see that there are 12 hits on the JSB Premium pellet group, while you can count 13/14 (with the one pulled flyer discounted) hits in the weight-sorted Air Arms pellet group.

    One thing that is notable is that the JSB Premium group is noticeably lower than the Air Arms group. This would seem to validate the other findings of a lower BC. Ray also pointed out that the feel of the JSB pellet was slightly loose on insertion, which agrees with the smaller-than-normal head size we found by air-gauging.

    Paul Plauche

    Paul Plauche sent these 5 shots groups he shot at 25 yards. All this shooting was from a bench rest.

    Plauche target
    Top row of bulls are seasoning shots with Air Arms 8.44-grain domes. Middle row were shot with lubed JSB Premium pellets, except for the last bull on the right. The last bull on the right in the middle row and the bull on the bottom were shot with JSB Premium pellets that were not lubed.

    And now the usual for Paul’s Steyr LG110 Field Target rifle — the lubed Air Arms 8.44-grain domes.

    Plauche target 2
    In this photo, Paul Plauche averaged 0.66 inches for Air Arms 8.44-grain domes at 25 yards.

    Of course, being Paul, he used software to analyze the groups’ size and distribution! It is notable that, for him, the JSB Exact Premiums (top photo) shot an average of 0.095 inches between centers, while the vs. the Air Arms 8.44-grain domes averaged 0.066 inches (Bottom photo). And the max spread for the JSB Exact Premiums is 0.292 inches versus the Air Arms 0.196 inches.

    Greg Suave

    Greg Sauve sent these groups from his Steyr LG100, tuned by Alan Zasadny. He shot the JSB Premiums and his regular pellet — the JSB Exact Express.

    Suave target
    Greg’s first 50-yard target. Ten JSB Exact Premiums on top and 10 JSB Exact Express pellets below.

    Suave target 2
    Greg’s second 50-yard target. Ten JSB Premiums on top and 10 JSB Express pellets below. read more


    2014 Pyramyd Air Cup: Part 2

    by Tom Gaylord
    Writing as B.B. Pelletier

    Part 1

    This report covers:

    • More new toys!
    • More on field target
    • Shooting opportunities galore!
    • And the winner is…
    • Same time next year!

    Today, we’ll return to the Pyramyd Air Cup for a last look at the event. Some of you have also visited my social network pages and may have seen some of these pictures already, but they’ll be new to everyone else.

    More new toys!
    People bring their new ideas to me at these events, and the Pyramyd Air Cup was no exception. This is how I learn about many of the new things that are happening.

    Someone mentioned in the comments wanting to see what a KalibrGun airgun looks like (the Cricket and the Hummingbird), so I’ll show them here. Both guns are bullpups (guns whose actions extend back to the butt of the gun to reduce overall length). The Hummingbird is longer, but it’s still quite compact.

    I shot the Hummingbird. While it’s unquestionably accurate and has a fine trigger, the hold feels odd to me because my cheek rests on top of the metal action. The full-sized rifle felt more conventional to me and was a nice-shooting gun.

    KaliburGuns
    KalibrGun Cricket (top) and Hummingbird.

    I’ve already mentioned meeting Greg Lundy of Ballistic Enterprises, and he was shooting his exotic-looking Benjamin 392. Greg’s invention is a scope base called the INTEGRABASE, which attaches to the top of a Benjamin 397/392 to give the rifle a more stable scope base that accepts both 11mm and Weaver rings. Greg gave me a base to test for you, and I plan to mount it on my custom 392 with the Pump-Assist modification.

    INTEGRABASE
    Greg Lundy’s INTEGRABASE for Benjamin multi-pumps.

    Rich Shear also approached me with a new tuning application he’s created for spring rifles that have excessive recoil and vibration. He asked me if I’d ever tested the Hatsan 135 and I told him I decided not to after measuring the cocking effort at 75 lbs!. I feel the gun is too violent and extreme for most shooters to use. So, he asked me if I would like to see one he had tuned. I was eager to see what he had, so he fetched 2 Gamo Hunter Extremes (obsolete model names, but the powerplants are still being made for Gamo guns with other names) and a Hatsan135.

    His 135 is smoother than the factory gun, but the cocking effort is still too high in my opinion. But one of the two Hunter Extremes he had was interesting. It’s a .22 that I found to be very smooth — not at all like the way it comes from the factory. To make a long story short, Rich is shipping that Gamo to me for testing, and I plan to report my findings to you. It’s a more powerful spring gun than I enjoy shooting, but Rich has tamed the firing cycle quite a lot. I think it’ll be a treat to test for you.

    More on field target
    Many of those who attended the event had never seen field target before. The course was set up on two rifle ranges, so the lanes were parallel and close to each other. I lost at least 2 points by shooting at (and hitting) the wrong target — in the lane next to me.

    I wasn’t trying to win anything. I just wanted to compete in something at the event, and field target seemed logical. Pyramyd Air loaned me a beautiful walnut-stocked TX200 Mark III and a box of Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets at my request, and Tyler Patner had sighted-in the 4-12x UTG scope for me. The sight-in was perfect! I never had to touch the adjustments — just confirm the zero at several distances and record the sight picture holdover information.

    I requested the rifle be sighted-in for 20 yards, which gave me a flat trajectory from 20 to 40 yards. At all other distances I used the mil-dots to gauge the holdover. I did all my checking on Friday before competition started and recorded the results on the inside of the cardboard pellet box lid.

    holdover info
    The holdover info for my TX200’s scope was written on the inside of the Crosman Premier box lid.

    We had a little drama in the match. On Saturday, when was the first half of the match was shot, my blood sugar dropped very low and I started shaking and feeling faint. Fortunately, a young lady who was on the range has a father who is also a diabetic, and she gave me a candy bar that revived me in about 10 minutes. But, I lost about 8 points during the episode. I shot a 16 on Saturday and 29 on Sunday, which shows how much I was affected.

    sight-in range
    The sight-in range was open all 3 days and allowed everyone to get accurate sight-in data at key distances.

    field target range
    The field target course lanes were close to each other, and care had to be taken to avoid shooting at the wrong targets. The targets in this picture range from 20 yards to 50 yards away (arrow). read more


    2014 Pyramyd Air Cup: Part 1

    by Tom Gaylord
    Writing as B.B. Pelletier

    This report covers:

    • New toys!
    • A job well done
    • Many new developments
    • Competition
    • Field target

    The Pyramyd Air Cup was held in Ohio this past weekend, and more than 70 shooters showed up to compete. I met people who drove in from Georgia, New York, Wisconsin and other states, and many of them came just to learn about airguns. That worked out well because there were world champion field target shooters there, plus celebrities like airgun hunter and writer Jim Chapman and Airgun Reporter Paul Capello, and many of the staff from Pyramyd Air and Crosman.

    Chuck shoots
    Chuck was brought by his buddies to try some airguns. He had a blast!

    Day one was for getting acquainted with the range and sighting in. I  got to shoot wonderful airguns like Crickets, Hummingbirds, a highly-modified FX Independence and even some one-off custom guns many of us never get to see.

    Ray Apelles of the A Team, who just placed second in the World Field Target matches in New Zealand, let me try his 22-lb. custom Diana 54 bullpup. It has an electronic trigger and a knee rest that’s highly articulated and looks like a transformer in action.

    Pyramyd Air Cup Apelles 54
    Ray Apelles shows me the 22-lb. custom Diana 54 he shot to take second in the world in the spring gun class. It’s a bullpup with a 1.6-oz. electronic trigger, a bubble level and an inclinometer to measure the up-down angle of the shot. He’s unfurling the knee rest that drops down more than another foot!

    The public was invited to come and shoot a variety of airguns provided for free by Pyramyd Air. There were pellets galore and targets at all ranges. Also, the competitors where quite generous with their time and airguns. If you were at this event you could shoot just about anything you wanted! read more


    B.B. visits a new field target club

    by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

    Before I begin, I want to remind you that there are two airgun shows this month. On April 12, there’s Flag City Toys That Shoot in Findlay, Ohio. I’ll have a table there, so please stop by and say hello if you can. For more information about this show, go to their website at flagcitytoysthatshoot.com.

    On Friday and Saturday, April 25 and 26, the Arkansas airgun show will be held in Malvern, which is near Little Rock. Email show organizer Seth Rowland for more info or to reserve a table. I’ll also be there and hopefully have a table, too. So, stop by and say hello. Remember, these airgun shows happen just once each year, so they’re worth driving the extra miles to see.

    Last Saturday, I visited a brand new field target club that started here in Texas. The experience was interesting because I haven’t been to a match in years. Many things had changed!

    The club was started by Craig Martin in the gated community where he lives. The Pecan Plantation Archery Club allowed him to use their range facilities on this day, and Craig set up 8 lanes.

    I was surprised by the turnout. There were 30 shooters on this first day. I remember having less than 15 when we started the DIFTA club in Maryland almost 20 years ago. One of the shooters told me he drove down from Oklahoma just to attend the match, and I know others who drove several hundred miles from remote locations in Texas.

    Blog reader David Enoch was there, competing with a .20-caliber USFT. The match was restricted to 20 foot-pounds or less, so some of the powerful PCPs had to be dialed back.

    The day began informally, with the opportunity to check the zero of your gun. But when the match began at 10, I was surprised by several shooters who hadn’t yet sighted in their rifles.

    checking zero
    Shooters could check their zeros at this range before the match began.

    Craig set the match up with a minimum of rules. He wanted all shooters to feel relaxed, so he awarded one point for hitting the animal faceplate and two points if you hit the kill zone and knocked it down.

    He also squadded those shooters who identified themselves as beginners with a shooter who had some experience with airguns. Not everyone had shot field target before; but once you see a target fall, you get the idea pretty fast.

    As I surveyed the crowd, I estimated the average age of the shooters at something north of 45 years. This is in line with what I’ve seen in other airgun sports. Younger people don’t usually want to shoot airguns when there are firearms around; but after a person has satisfied their curiosity, the ease of shooting an airgun becomes more evident.

    sighting in
    One of only a couple youngsters who attend the match sights in his breakbarrel. No, I didn’t tell him about the artillery hold.

    One thing that surprised me was the different types of airguns being used by the shooters. Of course, that was due to this being a first-time event for many shooters; but I saw inexpensive spring rifles, air pistols and even one multi-pump pneumatic I’ll tell you about in a bit!

    04-02-14-03-P-Rod
    This shooter uses a Benjamin Marauder pistol with the shoulder stock.

    Another thing I saw really floored me. Most of the shooters were resting their guns on shooting sticks, and they were sitting in chairs! I’m so ingrained in the old-school AAFTA (American Airgun Field Target Association) rules that the rifle may not be in contact with the ground that I was unprepared for this, but it appeared all the shooters were comfortable with it. I read the current rules and see that bipods (sticks) and seats are now a part of the hunter class. This is certainly an easier way to shoot, and I think it’ll appeal to many more shooters than before, when you had to shoot from an unsupported offhand position.

    Before the match began, Craig gave all shooters his match director’s briefing. It covers the layout of the course, the rules of the match, assembling the shooters into squads and safety.

    Since there were 8 lanes, he formed 8 squads from the 30 shooters. Some squads had 4 members while others had 3. Craig wanted all squads to have at least one experienced shooter to help the beginners. Of the 30 shooters, perhaps 12 had placed themselves in the beginner class.

    Match director's briefing
    Before the match starts, the director explains the rules to all participants.

    Each lane had 3 targets — one close, one at the middle distance and one that was far. The shooters shot twice at each target, so that makes a match total of 48 shots. Hits on the faceplate scored 1 point and targets that fell scored 2 points.

    Craig told me afterwards that there were things he forgot to mention in his briefing. I told him that’s par for the course. It takes a couple matches before you know what’s important and what’s not.

    One thing he had that was a great idea was a barbecue for the registered shooters. It was part of their $10 match fee. The remainder of the money will go toward the purchase of new targets. That’s pretty much par for the course, as well. It’s how a club gets formed.

    The site had excellent facilities, which is essential. At the DIFTA club we had facilities (restrooms), but they were located several hundred yards from where the shooters were. That was a major complaint I heard at every match.

    shooter 1
    This shooter is on the course engaging targets. The use of bipods (sticks) was widespread at this match.

    shooter 2
    This shooter chose to shoot from the prone position. That can make some of the kill zones hard to see depending on the terrain.

    shooter 3
    A few shooters used the traditional AAFTA seated position. read more


    Advancing airgun accuracy

    by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

    Several years ago, a big bore airgun manufacturer was heard to say that his hunting rifles were accurate enough to hit an Oreo cookie at 30 yards. He argued that it would be very hard for a deer to hide behind an Oreo cookie. So, the question is: Were his rifles accurate? He obviously thought they were, but most of the public disagreed. He had to improve the accuracy until his rifles could hit that Oreo at 100 yards. He managed to do that, and the sales were very good from that point on. True story.

    Was this an issue of perception, or was the manufacturer right — that no deer can hide behind an Oreo? Well, here’s the deal. If he doesn’t sell any guns, nothing else really matters because he goes out of business, making his opinion as a manufacturer moot! Today, I’d like to talk about what drives practical airgun accuracy.

    You might think it’s the World Cup and the Olympics that drive accuracy for airguns, but that would be incorrect. The World Cup matches certainly have had a huge impact on the accuracy and ergonomics of target airguns at close range. They’ve gone from being capable of making very small groups in the late 1950s to almost being able to stack all their pellets on top of each other. But that took place back in the late 1960s and early 1970s timeframe. Since then, there hasn’t been much advancement in accuracy because there wasn’t much room to improve. So, the target airgun designers turned their attentions to improving the sights and the ergonomics of their airguns, and that’s still going on today.

    In this same time period, the pellet makers have advanced their art, as well. There’s still room for some improvement of lead-free target ammunition, but things in the lead pellet realm are slowing down. Once again, we’ve gone about as far as it’s possible to go.

    But all of this progress has been in the world of close-range target guns. Longer-range airguns had a lot more room for improvement, and that was accomplished by different means.

    History of field target and accuracy read more