Bootcamp! Daystate training

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With the modern-day airgun becoming ever more complex, many airgun makers now provide dealers with a crash course on servicing and repairing their wares. We enrolled our own techie, Lyn Lewington on one such training session run by Daystate…

While most guns featured in my In the Workshop series are springers, as a registered firearms dealer (RFD), I also work on precharged pneumatics (PCPs) in my day-to-day life. By their very nature, PCPs require a lot more caution and expertise – I wouldn’t recommend any home tinkerer to mess around with rifles that contain precompressed air at such huge pressures. That‘s why the British airgun trade, under the umbrella of the Airgun Trade and Manufacturers‘ Association (AMTA), has volunteered an anti-tamper protocol which makes it impossible for end-users to poke around inside their PCP guns.

Of course, anti-tamper systems also catch out the bona fide gun dealers who either have or want to offer the facility of servicing and repairing PCPs for their customers. Hence PCP gunmakers like Daystate now run high-level training courses for dealerships – and not just those in the UK, as I found out when the editor enrolled me in their training course for international dealers a couple of months ago.

The ‘dealer days’ are regular occurrences at Daystate’s Staffordshire factory – and are always popular: there were almost two dozen delegates on the course I attended. Numbers had been swelled by a handful of international dealers, so I was quite the local boy, with representatives travelling from as far afield as Chile and Kuwait, and countries closer to home like Cyprus and France.

After a warm welcome at the purpose-built factory which Daystate moved into last year, we were taken to a conference room where each of us introduced ourselves, explaining a little about our respective businesses, where we were located and how airguns were being used in our particular corners of the globe. I was particularly interested in what the dealer from Kuwait had to say. Apparently, airguns were becoming popular owing to their increasing sophistication – and Daystate’s electronic models were ticking all the right boxes.

Daystate’s MD, Tony Belas, gave us a short presentation on the company’s history, from how it started back in the 1970s when precharged airgun technology was pretty much unheard of, right up to the modern day, where its association with people like Steve Harper have helped establish the company as one of the world powers in PCP airgun innovation and design. Although many dealers say that Daystate’s guns ‘sell themselves’, most acknowledged that having a more in-depth understanding of the company’s history would be helpful when advising potential Daystate buyers back home.6655_Daystate Training Course_580px

Tony stressed how important he felt it was that Daystate involved its dealers in training courses. His point was that the minor frustrations which all PCPs can suffer from, like dried-out seals or leaking valves due to dirt ingress, are all quick and easy to diagnose and rectify at shop level, and avoid having the customer wait a longer time while the dealer sends their rifle all the way back to the factory for attention. In the case of international dealers, this was a point especially well received – and I could see the course’s great benefits for overseas attendees.

The conference room session was concluded with us being ‘talked around’ Daystate’s range of mechanical rifles – the Air Ranger, Huntsman Regal and Wolverine models – before we were then split into two groups and taken on a tour of the factory itself by Iain Nicol, Daystate’s Operations Manager. This gave us a good insight into how the production lines are run, and was our first look at Daystate’s engineers actually working on all the componentry.

Following that, we adjourned to the conference room again where Mark Andrews, the Production Engineer, demonstrated in detail the strip-down and rebuild basics of the mechanical model line-up. What was particularly interesting is that to abide by AMTA’s anti-tamper protocol, Daystate has designed in many parts which require special tools for maintenance procedures – without them, you simply can’t ‘get into’ the gun. As is the case with premium watch brands, to be able to use these tools, you have to be a bona fide Daystate dealer… with, of course, the necessary certificate that confirms you’ve passed their training course!

After some very clear demonstrations, Mark then invited delegates for some hands-on experience so that by the time the first day had come to a close, we all felt au fait with the procedures and tools required to undertake simple maintenance tasks on the models we’d been shown.

The day didn’t end there, though. In the evening, we were all treated to a meal in the presence of many of Daystate’s dedicated staff before retiring to our respective hotels in readiness for the second day of the course.

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Part two was given over to Daystate’s electronic hardware – rifles like the Air Wolf, MK4, plus the all-new Pulsar – and the various computerised systems which are used to run them. I got the impression that it was a kind of ‘new-age’ gunsmithing – you don’t have to be an IT expert to understand it all, but Mark’s demonstration of the various programming modes was certainly helpful.

He showed it to be surprisingly easy actually, and some of the dealers told me they were now in a better position to explain the actual simplicity of Daystate’s electronic systems to customers of theirs who, up until now, have tended to shy away from such guns on the grounds that they seem a little too complicated. We were also shown how to strip and rebuild the electronic components of the action – it was no more difficult than changing a household plug, really.

Of course, a lot of time was given over to Daystate’s new electronic baby, the Pulsar – probably the most advanced PCP that’s ever been built, yet surprisingly one that’s easy to operate and shoot. Indeed, we were all given a lot of range time with the entire Daystate line-up – many dealers, I was surprised to learn, had never actually shot the guns, but only handled them in their shops!

It was quite an experience because I got to shoot the big bore Wolverine 303 – the 100ft/lb, inaugural model in the Wolverine family tree which was really only developed for the overseas market. Just looking at the size of the purpose-made, .303 calibre Emperor ammo was an eye-opener; its 50-plus grain weight was most noticeable when you held one in your hand, too.

We were shown the facility where each Daystate rifle is bench-tested for accuracy, consistency and power – and there are very strict performance standards that have to be met before each and every action gets passed and moves on to the next stage of Daystate’s assembly process. Incidentally, all the models are supplied with a very comprehensive performance sheet – and are also ‘soak-tested’, where they’re left for a number of days to ensure there are no air leaks.

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I asked what pellets are used in the testing process, and Tony explained that it was Daystate-branded pellets, made in the Czech Republic by JSB. The delegates were told that contrary to what many gunmakers and shooters think, they are made with a standard head size dimension. Apparently, exhaustive tests with the Lothar Walther barrels that Daystate fit to their rifles have conclusively proved that it doesn’t make any difference whatsoever with the rifles’ performance.

After a quick look at other elements of the Daystate business, including accessories like the new, 300BAR compressor that the company is marketing, the final day concluded with a Q&A session where delegates were able to clear up any outstanding queries they had – and with the Daystate training team happy that all the delegates had been suitably educated, the official Certificates of Achievement were handed out before everyone bid their farewells.

I would like to offer my personal thanks to Daystate; this was a very enjoyable ‘bootcamp’ where I not only learned an awful lot about the internal mechanisms of the company’s range of PCP hardware, but experienced the factory’s inner workings, too. The fact that I went home having put many Daystate faces to names, met up with a host of like-minded people from the trade and got an official certificate to show my accreditation as a qualified Daystate service engineer was just icing on the cake. λ

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