Mark Camoccio shows you how to get the most from the humble target glove, which is an incredibly useful and underrated accessory
My background comes from Field Target shooting and I count myself privileged to have been at the very first FT shoot, held back in 1980, in Magham Down, Sussex. An obsession grew from that day on, and my love of outdoor airgun competition was firmly cemented.
FT has gone on to flourish, of course, with over 33 nations taking part, but my attention has been switched to the spin-off Hunter Field Target format. HFT is a throw-back to the early days of FT, since it relies on a more instinctive approach to shooting. Yet inevitably, the quest for success leads to shooters striving to use more and more sophisticated equipment. This happens in every sport, and cries of ‘Arms Race’ is a regular criticism in HFT.
However, who can blame anyone for trying to gain an advantage through technology.Match rifles are now common place, but there is still a genuine mix of far more basic fare in use, unlike Field Target, where most competitors have spent a few grand to get started. In fact, I’m a case in point, because having tried full-blown match kit on and off, I still arrive back at my trusty Air Arms S400, a gun that has proven itself to be a simple, yet reliable tool, capable of top class performance.
The key is for everything to feel right, and it’s pointless investing in supposed top-grade match equipment if it doesn’t suit your needs, just because a friend down the club has taken that route, in a bid for success. Experimentation is the key with all aspects of our sport, and if something doesn’t feel right, then just adapt and move on.
Yet it’s not all about the hardware. You do, of course, need a gun that is pin-accurate if you fancy yourself on the rostrum, but once we have a rifle that can punch tight clusters, out to our maximum 45 yards, shooting to a successful level then relies on several other factors all coming together; just like any sport, especially at the top level.
However, as I’ll never tire of saying, part of the beauty of Hunter Field target, and airgun shooting in general for that matter, is that we can all enjoy our sport at our own level. But striving to improve can be just as relevant to plinkers as it is to would-be World Champions. Fundamentally it’s about enjoying the sport, but some of us like to push things to the limit, and load up some pressure along the way, and that’s how we choose to enjoy it.
With our new Target Shooter section, the aim is to highlight techniques and methods used, in a bid to improve our performance in competition. My emphasis is likely to be on HFT, since that’s my favoured discipline of late, but it’s important to remember that tricks and pointers learned are also often relevant and transferable to a hunting environment.
Let’s face it, maximising accuracy is just as important when facing live quarry as it is when trying to knock the kill zone out of a metal target. Indeed, many would say more so, in the interest of achieving clean kills! The quarry deserves that much, and on that basis, if it’s good enough for target shooters, it must make sense for hunters.
In the bag: Target Glove options
My own battle-worn glove is an Anschutz no.111 design (£30 from www.intershoot.co.uk) . The contact areas on both sides feature large sections of a rubber-type material, with small dimples to provide plenty of protection and grip. This doesn’t feel harsh to the touch and mine has lasted a good few seasons of regular use.
These Sure Shot Airguns-branded gloves (£various from sureshot-airguns.co.uk) are reasonably priced. The main glove offers similar features and feel to the Anschutz 111 and the smaller trigger hand glove, which is easily removable, adds subtle grip.
The Anschutz model 110 (£31.50 from www.intershoot.co.uk) offers a finish which resembles rubberised sand paper. It can feel a bit rough when you make contact, but gives fantastic grip and a well-padded feel.
This month, I’m going to focus on the use of a target glove in competition; the varieties that are available, and the ways to best utilise this humble accessory. It seems incredible now, but only a couple of seasons ago, I considered the use of a target glove something of a gimmick. Taking it on and off in between target lanes seemed tiresome – the hand can get hot, and it can seem like overkill. When I shot Field Target, I used to just wear a glove for standing shots, and often joked that I just felt more comfortable… missing the target! Yet its uses and incredible versatility have become increasingly apparent, especially in the more irregular world of HFT, where terrain can prove an obstacle in itself.
Target Insight: HFT Rules & Regs
Most shots taken in HFT are termed ‘freestyle’ and allow the shooter to adopt any position other than sitting (unlike in FT). The usual freestyle position is, therefore, prone (lying down) which gives the shooter a very stable platform.
HFT demands that the shooter touch the peg (normally a wooden or plastic post) while taking each shot, and a target glove provides a perfect cushion between yourself and the rifle. The glove helps in gripping the peg, absorbing the pulse and providing a comfortable cushion. But there’s more to it than that: the glove can rest over rough terrain on the floor or cushion the shooter from a hard rest, such as a post. Vitally it can also give strength to the fingers, enabling them to offer support, whereas a bare hand would be far less effective.
Tip: Breathe Easy
Our pulse is often one of the biggest obstacles to good shooting, and properly dealing with it is part of any good approach to accurate shooting. Take a series of breaths in and out, in a relaxed manner. Just before taking the shot, inhale the final breath. Then gently exhale about half of the breath, cut off in mid-breath, and hold until the shot is taken. I have used this technique for years and it has now become instinctive, which is just as it should be.
Essential Technique: Supported standing shots from a tree
Quite often in HFT we are suddenly confronted with what is known as a ‘supported stander’ – and when the support is a sizeable, solid object, such as a tree, one particular technique can be utilised to good effect.
If you approach the shot in the normal way and sight up in a standing stance while touching the peg/tree, this will likely squander a good opportunity to lock into the object and gain an advantage.
The correct approach in most scenarios therefore is to stand at an exaggerated angle to the tree so your body weight is being transferred into the tree, instead of moving about.
Practise against an object and get used to the angle that feels right for you. You should find that this approach helps to anchor your body in position, leaving you far more able to take a steady shot at your intended target.
Comfort is an important factor, and the padding that is afforded by a quality target glove can be worth the investment alone; just forming a barrier between you and the gun. Indeed, the whole essence of the glove is to cushion the hand, and help to absorb body movement into the bargain; and I’ve now reached the point where I feel slightly lost when, on the odd occasion, I’ve forgotten to bring it along to a shoot! So give it a try by taking a target glove with you on your next shoot. You might be pleasantly surprised at just how useful it proves.