Anyone involved in Hunter Field Target shooting will tell you that a fearless new breed is emerging. Youngsters are springing up all around the competition circuit, often bristling with confidence and armed with the latest high-tech kit. Indeed, the rise of the modern PCP has aided their cause. Without cumbersome springpiston mechanisms, pneumatic rifles can be scaled down to suit smaller individuals – enabling juniors to hold their own, even in the adult class.
Harry Fallows is one such shooter – a youngster who’s gone toe-to-toe with older competitors on several occasions. His impressive string of recent results has attracted plenty of attention on the HFT circuit lately – so we took time out with the rising young star to hear his story.
So Harry, tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into shooting?
I’m a 17-year-old Essex boy and I’m currently embarking on my second year as an apprentice at an IT support company. I’ve always yearned for outdoor sports, such as shooting and fishing, as an escape from the built-up area I live in – and I got into airgunning in 2011, using a springer at an indoor plinking range. It wasn’t long before I encountered someone from the Maldon and District (MAD) airgun club, who let me have a go with his PCP… and from then on, I was hooked.
That same MAD member mentioned a ‘crazy sport’ they did called HFT. It sounded interesting, and he invited me down to have a go. Ian Bainbridge organised a day for us to walk around and shoot an HFT course with him. I asked if I could attend any competitions in the near future, and it just so happened that the final round of the Four Counties was coming up – and MAD was in need of a junior. It was only my second time out, so I didn’t expect much; to be honest, I didn’t really know what I was doing. Still, with my newly purchased Air Arms S400 MPR, I managed to slate a 54 ex 60 – enough to get first in the junior class!
Have you owned many airguns?
My first gun, that MPR, was such a fantastic gun, I’ve no idea why I sold it – I think newcomers probably always want to try something else. That came in the shape of a Daystate MK4, which had a nicer feel than the MPR, but was no more accurate. I did well with it, but my results were erratic – I’d shoot superbly for around 28 shots or so, and then I felt the rifle would let me down on a couple of shots. So I replaced it with a Steyr LG110; this has boosted my personal shooting consistency 100 per cent.
Have you made any mods to the Steyr?
I think having hardware designed to suit both an individual’s body shape and their style of shooting can only result in a better performance, so I’ve had a custom stock made to fit me. I’ve also had the barrel free-floated, which is one of the best value for money modifications you can get done. It compensates for those little movements in the air cylinder as the pressure changes throughout the charge.
What about scopes?
I did use a Bushnell Tactical, which was amazing, but lacked aim points. I purchased a MTC Viper 10×42, which for me has the best multi-aimpoint reticle of any scope on the market – but going from the optics of a Bushnell to those of an MTC made me feel I wasn’t shooting at my full potential. After some research, I found out about the Sightron, which blends quality and aim points into a superb design. Since purchasing this scope, my scores have seen a consistent rise.
I find a pellet tray to be essential, as it keeps all my ammo in top condition. When accuracy is key, you don’t want to be shooting any deformed pellets. The small things can make a big difference.
Tell the readers about your recent performances, and how much you practise
Well, I have recently had scores up to a 59 ex 60 and won a few shoots in the adult class. I’m a member at MAD and we practise at least once a week. Finishing work at fi ve o’clock – and the range being so far away – makes it difficult to practise much during the week, but I try and get to the club as often as possible.
What’s the draw of HFT for you?
It’s just a brilliant, fun and relaxed sport – the perfect blend of banter and skill. It’s not even a sport that requires you to be constantly at full concentration – unless you’re dead-set on winning. The social side is equally as important to me.
As a relative newcomer yourself, what advice can you give to anyone thinking about taking up club airgunning or HFT?
Some people are very serious about HFT, which can be off-putting to newcomers – but the majority of shooters are very welcoming and laid back. Don’t worry if you’re not any good to begin with. It really doesn’t matter – it’s just a fun sport to enjoy, with a nice bunch of people involved to boot.