Roger Lait shares a few secrets about his training regime as he prepares for the WHFTO World Championships in Poland.
Who wants to be a world champion? How do you go about being one? Is there a quick way to become the world’s best HFT shooter? Well if you know the answers, please, please tell me!
I am lucky enough to have shot in a good few World Championships, but so far (and this might come as a surprise to you all) have not won one! So what do I do? How do I change the way I practise to become a much better shot?
Now, I am also lucky enough to live not too far from Pete’s Airgun Farm in Chelmsford. This is a godsend to me. It has indoor ranges and outdoor ranges. In fact, there are ranges everywhere to be used for practice.
I make sure I’m there around twice a week to put in the hours of preparation for my World Championships. It was never going to be a one-visit thing. Right or wrong, this is what I’m doing at the moment.
Tuesday evenings start with cleaning the barrel so we know the barrel is the same every time. Once the barrel is clean – a pull-through and a couple of felts shot down the barrel do the trick – it’s then time to make sure the zero has not moved.
I’m shooting a Rapid Air Weapons TM1000 and loving it. This is topped off with a Vortex 4-16×44 Diamondback Tactical, which is ace for what I need. So once we have established that the zero has not moved, it’s chrono time to check the speed and to make sure the gun’s power has not changed. I check it every time and it never really changes that much. But just in case…
So far everything is working a treat, and we are good to go. It’s on to shooting groups at every distance. I start with 40 yards (my zero) to make sure the gun is bang on, then come in to eight yards and 10 yards. I make sure the really close ones are where they should be.
If they are spot on, then it’s on to 13 yards. I shoot a 10-shot group at 13 yards, and then again at 15. With where I zero the gun, these distances are really tricky for me. If I am a little out, or the gun is slightly out, I will miss. That’s a wasted point – and I need every point I can get.
For the most part, it’s shooting 13 yards to 25 yards for the next hour or two. Now this might sound odd, but the 15 mil killzones range from 13 to 25 yards, and I want to see what I can get away with. Can I fit both aim points in the 15 mil killzone?
Can I sandwich all my aim points in there? Sadly, the answer is a resounding No. I need to measure the killzone size using the reticle in my scope. Once that’s done, I will have a better indication of how far away the killzone is. So that’s the 15 mil killzones sorted for another week.
Well, here’s the thing. Standers, it seems, are like buses; they come and they go. One minute you are nailing standers at 35 yards easily, the next you could not hit water if you fell out of a boat! I practise standing shots more than most, and when I am on form they are easy – I mean really easy.
But miss just one, and the confidence goes – and then you’re back to square one. You can’t afford to stop practising – well, I can’t for sure! I make sure I shoot at least 50 to 70 shots in an evening – not all at once, because you get too tired. I do it in groups of 10, and that works nicely for me.
At the end of a session, I am confident and know what to do – right up until I am standing in front of a target at 35 yards with a howling wind, but that’s another story.
Easy! Well no, they’re not actually that easy after all. I always used to practise kneelers on level ground, and this did me no favours at all, because there’s not much level ground in a wood.
If you shoot at a wonderful club such as Lea Valley, it’s very rare that the kneeler will be on level ground, so I mix it up a bit. I try to make it harder for myself, and this has helped me no end. I actually now hit the odd kneeler, which is much better than I was doing before.
I do practise kneeling as much as possible, because in the WHFTO, all the kneelers and standers are unsupported, so you need to be on top of your game. Take a shooter like Gav Jones.
His kneelers and standers are a thing of beauty. He’s rock solid, and doesn’t move a muscle – and gets the points more often than not. Not bad for a guy that weighs 18 grams wet through! But he practises all the time, and it certainly pays off.
Now, lots of people do this in different ways. I make sure the gun is running at the correct speed. I make sure the barrel is clean and ready to go. I check the scope rings are correctly tightened.
I check the scope is on the rail properly, and that the action is seated in the stock at the right tension. I make sure all of these are spot on before I go to a competition.
One of my good friends, Wayne Marriot, has a different take on it. He makes sure he has his gun ready. When I say ready, I mean in a gun bag ready to go. He is not the biggest fan of gun cleaning, and I will leave this right here!
Do you weigh? Do you lube? What to do? I always weigh loads of pellets before a World Championship because… well, it makes me feel better. I have tried shooting weighed pellets and non-weighed pellets, and really, there is not a lot of difference between them.
It just makes me feel better knowing my pellets are almost all the same weight. A while ago I used to lube the pellets thinking that this made a difference.
I think it did – a bit. I have given that up now, because for me, with this barrel, it’s a waste of time. I can spend the time practising more standers, which is something I do need to do.
So with everything working well, the rest of the time is spent doing stupidly small groups from eight to 45 yards, and gaining even more confidence in my equipment. It’s so nice to know that the gun is accurate and it’s only me that ruins it all.
I do spend hour upon hour down at Pete’s Airgun Farm sending lead down the range, and this works well for me. If I miss a couple of training sessions I really notice it in my scores. I am by no means a natural shot. I know people that don’t shoot from one month to the next and they just pick up a gun and go and win.
I sadly suffer from ‘LOT’ which is a terrible affliction and one I wish I could change. LOT is ‘lack of talent’, so I am stuck with having lots and lots of practice! I have to shoot once, if not twice a week at Pete’s Airgun Farm and then a competition at the weekend or it’s as if I have never shot in my life.
My rangefinding goes within seconds; my standing shots are like I’m drunk – and so on. I need to be out there putting in the hard work or I am sunk.
So this is where I am at the moment. I have a little while to get better before the WHFTO World Championships in Poland on 22-23 June. Wish me luck. Lots!
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