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My Lessons Learned

August 12 2017 at 9:12 PM
Raymond Hawkins  (Select Login rhawk1)
YF12

I shot my first open class match today which was held near Raleigh NC. My eyes were opened to a few things I didn’t understand about my optics and wanted to share some lessons learned. The information I’m about to share is intended for the beginning shooter or anyone making the swing to other classes where ranging and clicking is within the rules.

To start I was having a really hard time finding many of the targets. It seemed like it was taking forever. In some cases I gave out holding my rifle up while looking through my scope. My fellow shooting competitor saw my struggles and suggested I turn the power setting on my scope to a much lower setting. Doing this completely opened up my field of view making it easier to get into position and quickly locate and range my targets. This technic will defiantly serve me in several ways in the future and hopefully you or someone you know may find this helpful.

For example after I started doing this I noticed my setup and range time began to decrease, the stress and fatigue from not being able to locate a target in a timely manner was reduced significantly. However…. My misses increased.

Why, because my scope data was based on the scopes highest magnification and I had started ranging at the lower magnification. This makes a huge difference to the number of clicks required to hit the target. Before long I had lost my trust for the data I had worked so hard on. I soon reverted back to holding off based on my prior misses. Somehow, after locating my targets on the lower power then ranging at the higher power as it was intended. Those targets starting falling and for a short time I felt like a shooter.

So the light has come on for me and hopefully what I learned today will be of value to another. Then again I may be the only one in the world that didn’t know this.

Anyway, I had a great time, learned a lot by shooting with or in close proxcimadey to many of the best shooters in the country. If all this wasn’t enough I ate two hot dogs and turned in my personal best score. No one congratulated me because my best was only good for last place. I don’t know what's wrong with me but I feel I like the big winner today.

Adding these positive changes my routine is going to make me faster on the range and hopefully a better shooter too. Give it a try.

Raymond Hawkins

 
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FireMarshal
(Login FireMarshal)
YC

Just keep on, keeping on

August 13 2017, 1:26 AM 

Ray,

Don't be disappointed by the low scores to start with. You will find that it's very typical for almost all shooters beginning with airguns. Even if you have shot with hi-powered rifles before. This is a whole new ball game. I shot in the service back in the 50's and with .22 cal. after that. Airguns was my first competitive shooting sport and the first time I was exposed to using a scope. I've been in FT with airguns for about 8 years now and I still seem to learn something new pretty often. It's a great sport and you will meet some great people who are willing to help. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Just shooting with and around some of the top shooters will help you.

Hope you enjoy,

Pat

 
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Raymond Hawkins
(Select Login rhawk1)
YF12

Low Score and Great People

August 13 2017, 11:04 PM 

Pat,
Thanks for the help and comments. I'm not at all worried about myself or shooting low scores, I just want to learn, share and grow in the sport. I totally agree about meeting great people in FT. I already have.

Raymond Hawkins

 
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Will Piatt
(Login saddlemountaingunsmith)
YF

It was a pleasure shooting with you Ray

August 13 2017, 6:20 AM 

Everyone has to begin the journey somewhere. Stick with it and you will see your personal bests get eclipsed over and over and that is the reward that keeps us coming back. I think you will find FT shooters as a group are very willing to share their shooting knowledge with you. My first season I went to nationals shooting HFT class and was squaded with the shooter that won open class. I learned so much that day- about shooting FT and how little I knew. You looked like you were adapting fine to new equipment and a new class under pretty tough conditions with the humidity and heat.


    
This message has been edited by saddlemountaingunsmith on Aug 13, 2017 7:48 AM


 
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Scott Allen
(Login variant45)
YF12

Re: My Lessons Learned

August 13 2017, 7:53 AM 

Glad you came out to shoot Ray and thanks again for bringing the cooler filled with water and soft drinks.

Finding the target is something that will come to you. Part of it is finding that natural point of aim with your body before you even put the rifle on your knee to range. I also generally reset my magnification to low power and zoom in after I find the target to my max magnification to rangefind. Then I shoot at 40x. I always range at the same magnification that I set up the yardage distances.
.
___________________________
Tar Heel Air Gun Club

 
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Paul Porch
(Login paulporch)
YF12

Ray, you did one of those things that make you a better shooter in time. You

August 13 2017, 8:11 AM 

figured out an issue and corrected it on the fly. If you just kept shooting, and not trusting your prep, you would have not done so well.

Telling you to lower the mag was just something I figured out at one point in the past. Simple enough to not think of it.

You will pick up plenty of tips from fellow shooters, especially since we shoot with the likes of Will Piatt and others in our club. The heat proved intense yesterday and most had faded near the end.

You picked up your game after you figured out you issue.

Oh and don't fib! I did congratulate you on your shooting when we were done... In case you forgot...Great job Ray! Lol

 
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Wayne Burns
(Login WayneBurns)
YF12

Ray, I fought "finding the target" too until I started lowering the scope power

August 13 2017, 11:09 AM 

I also added a handle to the power adjuster. Not only does that help with leverage, and make it easier and faster to adjust... it also acts as a marker. When it's straigt up, it's at 20 power for "finding the target", then when locked on the target, I just move the handle down to level, and it's at the 40 power I range and shoot at. I don't have to look at the dial... saves time and worry.

Get into a pattern of your process. Do it the same everytime. My process for my USFT is:

1. Load a pellet, cock my gun, close my breech.
2. Look down the side of the barrel and get the gun pointed as close as I can at the target.
3. lower the scope power, find the target, raise the scope power back up.
4. Range the target, evaluate the wind, break the shot.
5. Open my breech, and get the heck out of the shooting box for the next guy.

Always do it the same. That way you don't forget to load a pellet, or close your breech, which could cost you a point if you break your sear with out a pellet in the breech:-)

Welcome to the process... and enjoy the journey along the way. You might or might not get to the top of your class, so it's best to enjoy to journey:-)

Wayne Burns,
Match Director,
Ashland Air Rifle Range

 
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Raymond Hawkins
(Select Login rhawk1)
YF12

Repeatable Routine is So Important

August 13 2017, 11:39 PM 

Wayne,
I really appreciate you sharing your routine with me. Not only is it beneficial to me but believe this kind of information would be very helpful to so many others out there. I'm a golfer and know how valuable having a repeatable routine is. This is what's been missing in my shooting. I don't have a good repeatable routine. So glad you shared your process with us new shooters.

I also totally agree with you saying "I may not reach the top of my class and to enjoy the journey". That's great advice. I'm so privileged to shoot with some of the absolute best shooters in world. They are so helpful and I believe each would help you in any way they could to help you win. For me to win others would have to loose and I'm not feeling so special. I will find my nitch and hopefully that will be helping others.

Raymond Hawkins

 
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Terry E
(Login TleVta)
YF12

I like these levers on my scopes:

August 13 2017, 11:08 PM 


 
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Raymond Hawkins
(Select Login rhawk1)
YF12

Very Nice

August 13 2017, 11:49 PM 

Terry,
Very nice too. I can see this being extremely helpful. This idea makes the operation easily done with one hand. Thanks for sharing.

Raymond Hawkins


 
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Raymond Hawkins
(Select Login rhawk1)
YF12

Paul Porch Will Piatte and Scott Allen

August 14 2017, 12:28 AM 

Three of the absolute best shooters in the country taking the time to respond to this post. I really appreciate your comments, help and kind words of encouragement. It was a privilege getting to see you guys shoot the course on Saturday. You were nice for putting up with me slowing things down. I offered to buy your hot dogs but Scott had already taken care of that. LOL. My eyes were wide open as I scanned the field while you shot. I took plenty of mental notes while asking Paul questions. My wife say's I hadn't stopped talking about the experience since getting home. I'm sure proud to be associated with this club.

Thanks again,
Raymond Hawkins

 
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Paul Porch
(Login paulporch)
YF12

Ray, we're Privileged to have YOU! Someone who is humble and has the desire

August 14 2017, 6:59 AM 

to learn and listens well. And don't be fooled folks. Ray has a sizable investment in his equipment. A Steyr Challange with all Rowan add on's including side wheel, riser, and thumb lever. He scored well at our match, correcting an issue he had part way through the match.

To realize an issue, and figure out how to correct it on the fly, shows he is rapidly becoming a accomplished shooter.

We need more folks with that kind of drive humility to further our sport....

Ray, email me at paulscustomtargets.com need to ask you something..

 
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Raymond Hawkins
(Select Login rhawk1)
YF12

email Sent

August 14 2017, 9:03 AM 

Check gmail.com account.

 
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Hector Medina
(Login HectorMedina)
YF

Ray, ellaborating a little on the very important point

August 15 2017, 11:24 AM 

Scott Allen made:

In FT, you start hitting the target when you put down your bumbag.

Just as in offhand, you correct your aim with the feet. In FT you start a successful lane by putting down your bumbag in EXACTLY the right axis for the lane and then setting your bum into the bag ALWAYS in the same orientation.

Something I recommend to all shooters as part of their practice (even well seasoned ones):

Set up a FT at 25 to 30 yards, then put your bumbag on the ground and sit, take your position and close your eyes. Relax. Wiggle wiggle wiggle with your eyes closed and then open them looking into the scope. Where you are looking at is very close to your NPOA (Natural Point Of Aim). See where you are looking at in relation to the target and then get up, walk around your bag, correct the BUMBAG position and then sit on it using EXACTLY the same orientation of your body (this is where shaped bags are very valuable, round bags need an arrow painted, LOL!)

Got through the same process about 20 times and then take a rest of about 10 minutes.

After those 10 minutes, return and do the blind wiggle thing and correct; if needed, repeat another 20 times. Rest another 10 minutes.

After you get your NPOA down pat, then start practicing taking two shots and then getting up and walking around your bumbag.

A week of this and you will improve at least by 15% your scores.

When you get your NPOA well enough you will see that even at 40X you just raise your gun to eye level and you are VERY close to the target. By then you will need to refine the bumbag/bum/feet/elbows position so that COMPLETELY RELAXED you are no target at the magnification you chose to use.
Good eyes can rangefind well out to 55 yards with as little as 20X. Aged eyes (like mine) may require more like 30X or 35X.

Unless you have a high quality scope do NOT change magnifications on the course (unless it is a do or die situation). Learn to shoot the offhands and the kneelers at the same magnification you are shooting all other targets.

If you find you REALLY have to change magnifications (for whatever reasons), then get a First Focal Plane scope. The good ones are expensive, but they will help you more than hinder you or throw doubts into the process.

Keep well and shoot straight!






HM

 
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Raymond Hawkins
(Select Login rhawk1)
YF12

Such A Timely Tip

August 15 2017, 12:16 PM 

Hector,
I really appreciate your help on the subject of natural point of aim. As it turns out, its not as natural as I thought it would be. After Scott Allen's tips on "quickly taking this position and NPOA" I started training. I really like what you said about practicing mounting the bum bag and learning to acquire this elusive position. I will incorporate this training this afternoon. Since my last match and through the help of others I also realized I didn't have a repeatable routine and started working on that as well. I like what you said about taking two shots and getting up and starting over. My wife is my coach and she's started timing me yesterday. Once the butt hits the bag the clock starts and I begin my routine. Yesterday the target was set at 22 yards and didn't move. I pretended to treat each target as though it was a different lane with 2 targets per lane and set at 2 different distances. After 2 shots the process started all over until the lane was completed. The targets were 1" orange dots and the times were recorded above each target. I've already seen a noticeable improvement in my times and will employ your tips in future practices. Today the coach is going to have me walk up the drive to emulate moving to the next lane. She's pretty tuff.
Thanks again,

Raymond Hawkins


    
This message has been edited by rhawk1 on Aug 15, 2017 12:20 PM


 
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K
(Login Knobs)
YC

Something that helped me.

August 15 2017, 8:20 PM 

I've never done the bumbag dance, but I do sight over the scope as though I were "shooting a slingshot" every time I lined up on a new target. I still do it. I align the scope then plant myself to get my NPA. Then I adjust my seated NPA once looking though the scope.

It's a really fast process, and almost always end up with the target in the FOV the first time I look through my 35X fixed Leupold.

I chose that method as it allowed me a method to adapt quickly to sloping shooters boxes. I found it very tough to try and get consistent "Bumbag" all over the world.

I use the bumbag as a tool to set my NPA.

Knobs

 
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Paul Porch
(Login paulporch)
YF12

+1

August 16 2017, 7:07 AM 


 
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Raymond Hawkins
(Select Login rhawk1)
YF12

I Like It

August 17 2017, 4:02 AM 

Knob,
Thanks for the info. I gave your method a try and found it to be helpful. Peering over the scope is good as long as your already in position. If not this trick will confirm that very quickly. It works for me.

Thanks again,
Raymond Hawkins

 
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Raymond Hawkins
(Select Login rhawk1)
YF12

Thanks For Your Help

August 17 2017, 5:10 AM 

WOW!
I just wanted to say how much I appreciate all the help I received while "trying to be of help". Sharing with others is pretty much become exclusive to this sport and its because of folks like you and the help I've already received makes me know I'm in the right place. Not only did I benefit from your great help but I'm sure others did as well.

Update on my progress and routine.

Once the target is located your body begins to turn naturally as you take up your position onto the bum bag. That's when I strap in and take note of my NPOA (natural point of aim) prior to reaching for my rifle. Once the rifle comes off the carrier the breach is opened and caps snapped open, knee riser and windicator deployed and resting comfortably on my knee that's when phase 2 of my routine begins. I start by quickly peering over the scope letting the mind takes over. Since I started training a couple things have started to happen without even thinking about it. If not in perfect position already the wiggle dance will start and while the song plays I begin focusing on nothing but the target and visually estimate the range while adjusting my side wheel before looking through the scope. By the time the rifle is finally shouldered, balanced resting comfortably on my knee I get on the scope to quickly find a pretty clear target to be gin with. Getting out of the way and allowing the mind to take over is pretty hard at first but once you do and learn to trust it you'll see a big improvement.

I've already put in many hours of practice this week developing a good repeatable routine and establishing my NPOA. I believe the hard work will pay off but know there is much more and I'm just getting started.

Thanks again for the help and kind words,
Raymond Hawkins

 
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