Hitting the target centre consistently with a pistol isn’t as easy as rifle-shooters might suppose, as Andy McLachlan discovers…
It would be fair to say that Ian Jones has been involved with airguns for a very long time now. He is a recognised collector of classic 1970s and 1980s air rifles and houses a vast collection that really warrants its own museum.
In addition to his own personal favourites, the Weihrauch HW 35 and the Relum Tornado, Ian’s catalogue includes models from the likes of Feinwerkbau, Original, Haenel, BSF and all the other German manufacturers that produced the guns of our youth back in the 1970s. However, Ian does not possess the strength that he used to have. This means that happy afternoons plinking away with a classic springer are no longer viable, due to the physical restraints that Ian now has.
Several years ago now, Ian started to gain an interest in air pistols, and he has since built up another fine collection of 10-metre German match pistols. These include all sorts of classics, from the Feinwerkbau 65 family right on up to the latest cutting-edge pre-charged pneumatic pistols that are currently being used by many members of various international Olympic 10-metre shooting teams.
A couple of years ago, I had about a year at competitive pistol shooting myself. I don’t know if you have tried it – but if you haven’t, take it from me that accurately and consistently shooting a pistol at a level considered satisfactory is far more difficult than shooting a rifle accurately.
It is all about controlling the circles of aim as you rotate around the bull prior to letting off the shot. Pistol triggers are far heavier than those used for outdoor competition rifles, which means that your technique must be perfect every time. I really did try hard, but never did manage to crack it as I got more and more frustrated at my apparent lack of progress. If ever there was a technique that does not rely upon top-quality equipment ‘buying’ you results, this would be it. Ian and my own Rivington Riflemen club have a few pistol-shooting members who would flounce most other serious pistol shots with a Harrington Gat!
So, following my own failed attempt at serious 10-metre indoor pistol shooting, I thought it was about time that I reacquainted myself with the 10-metre range at the club. Sure enough, Ian was busily practising for the various 10-metre postal league competitions that many, if not all, of our club’s ’pistoleros’ subject themselves to on a regular basis.
I watched Ian shoot a few cards with his Walther LP400 match pistol. He very rarely drops a shot out of the black ‘bull’ area of a target card, but I do laugh when he does. More often than not, Ian’s shots result in either a nine or a 10 being scored – which, as I have previously described, is not easy.
Ian’s ever-increasing average scores (286 ex 300 and 193 ex 200) are testament to the effort and enjoyment both he and the many indoor 10-metre pistol (and rifle for that matter) shooters enjoy week in, week out. Target shooting is not just about rolling around on a muddy HFT or FT course. Pistol shooting was for me far more difficult and harder to master.
The next time you are at your own club, and presuming that you are fortunate enough to possess an indoor set of ranges as our Rivington club does, give a pistol a try. You will certainly find it challenging!
Essential Technique: Pellet Choice
I noticed that Ian was using some ‘basic’ (as in cheap) flat-headed match pellets, and asked him why he didn’t bother with more expensive ammunition. He replied that in addition to being a total skinflint, he found that the use of a pellet-sizer with cheaper ammunition produces standards of accuracy that he is very happy with.
It would have to be said that Ian now enjoys a higher average score than most of the club’s regular pistol shots: according to Ian, however, this has taken several years to achieve, with very regular practice and total commitment. Like any sport I suppose, if you practise hard, competition becomes easier.