Ask the family… Andy McLachlan meets the Pantlings: a family of five that shoot together, with great success!
Regular attendees of both the national UKAHFT rounds and various other regional competitions will be very familiar with the family Pantling. Mum Sarah, dad Chris and boys Ewan, Jacob and Ethan will be found at an HFT shoot somewhere or other most weekends, and usually end up winning the lion’s share of raffle prizes! I asked each member of the family to tell me how they have successfully managed to become engaged in a sport that they all clearly enjoy together.
How did ‘Team Pantling’ start?
My husband and I have three boys and he has always allowed them to have knives, axes, fire-lighting kits, etc (under supervision, of course); so I was not surprised when he got them into air rifle shooting a couple of years ago. They started to enter competitions, and it was either stay at home on my own or spend time with my family.
I got an Air Arms EV2 and entered a competition at Loughborough Air Gun Club, scoring 45. Everyone was helpful and encouraging, and we now shoot competitions most weekends.
What brand of pellets do you use and how do you practise?
I use JSB Exact 4.52 pellets and zero at a range of 27 yards. I find the best practice is shooting at a variety of club competitions in different locations. Course-setters are very good at setting challenging courses, which is a great way of gaining experience. We are also lucky enough to have a fairly long garden, about 42 yards, which is ideal for checking your zero. However, any practice is good practice, and getting used to your rifle and scope is also invaluable.
What are your own best personal shooting achievements to date?
I think my best personal achievement so far this year was coming third in the English Open. I was chuffed to bits to be anywhere near some of the top shooters. My goal now is to concentrate on getting to know my set-up and practise for the UKAHFTs and WHFTA next year.
Do you find anything irritating about competitive HFT shooting?
One of the most frustrating things can be the amount of ceasefires during a shoot. These cannot be avoided, but invariably targets are called that when checked are OK. Perhaps the ‘one call rule’, used by the Misfits Club, should be introduced at all shooting competitions. Each shooter is only allowed one call per competition. If the target is not faulty, they are not allowed to call another target. This would make competitors think carefully before calling a target.
What most annoys you about your own shooting performance?
Missing a target that should be within my zero range. However, I have begun to realise that forgetting about the shot you have just taken and concentrating on the next one is a far better way of improving your scores.
How could we promote HFT shooting as a sport that can be enjoyed by all of the family?
Club Open Days to promote air rifle shooting as a safe and enjoyable sport for all, preferably sponsored by the local gun trade.
How did you get into shooting?
I have had air rifles since I was in my early teens. My mates and I would wander round the fields and quarries with our airguns and no one seemed to bat an eyelid. I think that if you did that today, you’d have a SWAT team dropping out of a helicopter on you!
I got into shooting HFT after visiting Kibworth Shooting Ground one day with Jacob; there was an event on, and Greg and the team encouraged us to try it. After that we were keen to have another go, and now seem to be shooting most weekends.
What equipment do you use and how do you practise?
I shoot a Steyr Challenge with Leupold scope and JSB pellets, and I zero at 27 yards. I try to practise my weaknesses, which are currently standing shots.
What are your best shooting achievements to date?
This would be winning the Misfits Matchplay event this year. I have had two 59/60s and would like to clear a course one day – but not too soon, as it’s one of the things that keeps me coming back for more! I would also like to finish within the top 10 in the UKAHFT series one year.
Can you suggest any changes that you think might improve HFT?
The so-called better shooters in the UKAHFT series should shoot in the afternoon, when usually the conditions are more difficult. This would give the other competitors the opportunity to score higher. I know not everybody will agree with this, but I think that it would make it a fairer competition.
How did you first get involved with shooting HFT ?
I first shot an air rifle when I went on a Scout camp. It was a springer with no scope and we were shooting at targets at eight yards. My dad and older brother Jacob had already been shooting competitively at Kibworth, and I decided to go with them one weekend and give it a try.
I used a Daystate Huntsman and, although only scoring 30, I really enjoyed it. Everyone was very encouraging and helpful, and I have been shooting ever since.
What rifle, scope and pellet combination do you currently use, and how do you personally practise your shooting?
I now shoot a Steyr with an MTC Connect scope, because I find there is less parallax error. I use JSB Exact pellets and zero at 27 yards. I like to practise by shooting club competitions rather than just plinking on a range; if it is a competition you try that bit harder and take it more seriously.
What do you consider to be your best personal shooting achievements to date?
Coming third in the UKAHFT 9-13 age group last year and also coming fifth in the juniors in the WHFTA last year. This year at the UKAHFT at Furnace Mill, I scored a personal best of 57, the top score in the juniors along with Tom Willingham. We had to have a shoot-off for first place. Unfortunately, I lost, but I was still delighted with my score.
What are your personal HFT shooting wind-ups?
I get frustrated when I plate a target. I have found that it is best to forget about it and concentrate upon the next target.
How do we help promote the sport of HFT to other young people?
Club days where younger shooters are encouraged and supervised by responsible adults would help increase the numbers in the sport.
How did you get into HFT?
I started going shooting with my dad and my brothers to a plinking range in Loughborough. My dad then entered a HFT competition with Jacob. After the two of them going to competitions a couple of times, my dad entered me as well, and I found it really addictive.
What equipment do you use?
I currently use an Air Arms Ultimate Sporter with an MTC Mamba scope. This is getting too small for me, so I’m looking to change this for a Steyr. I use Air Arms 8.4 pellets and have a zero of 27 yards.
What is your best shooting achievement to date?
Coming second in the juniors at the WHFTA after winning a shoot-off. I would like to be first in the 14-16 age group of the UKAHFT series this year.
How do you think HFT could be improved?
I think in the UKAHFT series shooters in the same category should be shooting in the same session so they shoot in similar conditions.
What irritates you the most about your own shooting?
Missing a target that I should get! Using the wrong aim point or forgetting to give wind are really annoying too.
What equipment do you use?
I’m shooting a Steyr LG 110 with an MTC Connect scope and have had the same set-up for about a year, in order to learn the rifle and the scope. I have changed my scope, but only from one Connect to another due to it having clearer glass.
What’s your best shooting achievement to date?
Coming third in the Worlds in 2016. As I have decided to move into the Open class in the Daystate Midlands Hunter Series, my current goal is to come within the top 10-15 of the Open class. We have also sent our entries off for the Worlds next year, so I would like to practise for them in the hope I come within the top 50.
What annoys you most about your own HFT shooting?
Even though it’s annoying to miss a target because you mis-ranged it or misjudged the wind, the most frustrating part is missing a target and not being able to see where the shot went so you can’t learn from it.