Re-zeroing a rifle: Ask the experts

Struggling with a scope? Having hassles with your hunting? Well, don’t despair because you’ve arrived at the right place to discover remedies for your airgun anxieties!

Whether you’re looking for a quick fix to a nagging problem or simply want advice on your next piece of gear, email us at airgunshooter@futurenet.com or write to us at the address below: one of our experts will soon get you on the right track!

Airgun Shooter,
Future Publishing,
Units 1 & 2,

Sugarbrook Court,
Aston Road,
Bromsgrove B60 3EX

Re-zeroing a rifle

Q: I’ve just bought a new rifle and have fitted my old scope to it. I’ve done some preliminary zeroing and it’s shooting really nicely. How often should I need to re-zero it?

A: What all shooters should be doing is checking zero every time we shoot our rifles, but as far as re-zeroing goes, the short answer is to do this only when we need to. 

You say your new rifle is shooting well, which is great news, and the more you use it, the better it gets. However, this bedding-in process could cause the point of impact to shift, in which case you’ll then need to re-zero, possibly more than once.

Even a well run-in rifle and scope combination may need to be re-zeroed from time to time. If you shoot a different pellet, add a moderator, switch to a different one, or adjust your stock in any way, then you may need to re-zero your combo.

Accuracy is based on consistency, and altering the rifle’s set up may mean you’ll need to adjust your scope turrets. I had an aftermarket regulator fitted to one of my guns, and after the initial zero I had to re-zero several times as the reg itself settled down.

Atmospheric changes affect a pellet’s point of impact. Variations in temperature and humidity can cause it to shift, as can pressure and air density changes at different altitudes. It’s not a massive shift in point of impact, but POI may move and you’ll need to correct it.

One thing to watch out for is the wind. Sometimes, if a pellet isn’t landing exactly where we expect it to, our natural reaction is to immediately adjust the scope and re-zero, but before doing this take a look at what the wind’s doing. There’s no point re-zeroing on a windy day only to then find your zero is way off when you’re shooting again in calm conditions.
Mike Morton

Running Target shooting

Q: What is Running Target shooting all about?

A: At first reckoning, the idea of shooting at a moving target with a comparatively low-velocity air rifle might seem like a hopeless venture. The idea however, is a long way from being new.

In the 1960s, Daisy introduced the Quickskill shooting kit that was intended to promote marksmanship on aerial targets with BB guns. Quickskill was a spin-off of the US Army’s ‘Quick kill’ curriculum for the training of soldiers in the practice of instinctive (snap) shooting in combat. The Army’s initial training was with Daisy airguns!

A variant for centrefire shooters is running deer, like this setup from the British Sporting Rifle Club at Bisley

But the discipline of Running Target came to us from a different direction. Running Boar target shooting, as it used to be called, emulates to some extent the sporting shooting of European wild boar, where shots are taken with centrefire rifles at crossing targets.

Air rifle Running Target is now shot at the highest level, although it does appear to have been dropped as an Olympic event.

Unlike Quickskill, Running Target shooting at 10m distance does require some quite specialised equipment. The air rifles used are generally 10m match rifles specially adapted for this purpose, usually with barrel extensions and special stocks.

All of the European makers of match air rifles currently make Running Target variants. Telescopic sights are allowed. Specialised mechanical target equipment is also necessary in order to move the target from left to right and vice versa, and at the same time produce both slow and fast runs.

When first introduced, the printed card targets took the form of a boar with scoring rings. The current targets comprise two black circular diagrams, each with scoring rings, the ‘trailing’ diagram being engaged at each pass. Do have a go at Running Target if you get the chance; it is great fun and it’s a lot harder than it looks!

Incidentally, on the topic of shooting at moving targets, in 1907 American trick shooter Ad Toepperwein shot at 72,500 wooden blocks of 2 ½”, each tossed into the air. He missed only nine! For this feat he used a Winchester Model 1903 rifle in .22 rimfire.

Dirty Barrel

Q: Why is the barrel of my brand new rifle dirty? It’s full of lead and has clearly been shot before. Have I been given a second-hand one by mistake?

A: This is nothing to worry about. A leaded bore on a brand new rifle is normal, and it’s actually a good thing because it means the rifle will have been tested by the factory before it was sent out.

New rifles are usually made to be sold in several different markets, each with their own rules and regulations regarding the power of the airgun, so your gun will have been tested to ensure it falls within current UK legislation – up to 12 foot pounds for rifles, excluding FAC air rifles, and up to six foot pounds for pistols.

Airguns may also be factory-tested for consistency and accuracy by putting a shot string over a chronograph and shooting at a target. Some manufacturers provide a copy of the chrono readings of your particular gun, and may even include the target that was shot with the same gun, showing how accurate it was when it left the factory.

A dirty barrel on a brand new rifle is to be applauded, because it means the gun’s been properly tested by the manufacturer

Apart from the lead residue left behind by the passage of the pellets, you may also find a greasy brown film, a bit like Cosmoline. Again, this is nothing to get upset about. It’s a protective wax-like coating that’s applied to metal surfaces before the gun is packaged and shipped off to its final destination.

It will prevent the lead from oxidising in the barrel and will also prevent the bore itself from rusting, as some guns may be in storage for weeks or even months before they reach their new owners.

One thing I always do with any gun, new or old, is to clean the barrel before shooting it. You can’t really start to look for the perfect pellet unless you begin with a known baseline – and that means a clean bore.

Trail cameras

Q: I want to optimise my grey squirrel shooting. Should I be using a wildlife trail camera and what should I look out for?

A: Wildlife trail cameras have fast become an important part of the airgunner’s kit bag. I have several cameras set out in woodlands monitoring feeders that have been put in place to help control grey squirrel numbers.

The more affordable units use a memory card which will need to be changed out manually when you want to consult the captured footage.  This means visiting the cameras in situ and swapping out the card. 

More expensive units can be configured so they can be consulted remotely via mobile devices in real time, but you’re paying for the convenience.

Trail cams can be a useful tool as as they can be used to keep an eye on the species you’re looking to protect as well as those you’re aiming to cull.

I like a camera to have a good trigger speed – this refers to the delay that happens between the event being detected and the image being taken. For many units the trigger speed is faster for still images than it is for video clips, but modern units are more than up to the job in both regards. I find a still image trigger speed of around 200-300 milliseconds is good enough for getting images of fast-moving squirrels.

When it comes to detection range, approximately 60-100 feet is typical and perfectly fine for most applications. When setting up the camera, life is made easier if the detection angle is roughly similar to the camera’s field of view, so consulting the screen on the camera ensures you are covering what you want to cover.

My basic setup is to set the image quality on ‘Low’. I select the ‘Rapid-fire mode’ option and set this to around three pictures per trigger.  I then set it to ‘Sleep’ for either two to five minutes between triggers, otherwise you’ll get far too many images of the same squirrels being triggered.

And make sure you make the effort to set the date and time on a new unit or when changing batteries otherwise the data ribbon will be meaningless. Trust me, I’ve forgotten to do this on occasion so it’s an easy oversight particularly when just swapping out the batteries.

Selling a combo

Q: I never thought I’d end up saying this, but I’ve got far too many airguns and want to sell a couple. Should I sell the rifles and scopes as a combo, or offer them separately? I don’t need the cash right now, I just want to thin everything out a bit.

A: It’s a brave shooter who can admit that they’ve got too many guns! Joking aside, I’m inclined to agree with you. It’s all too easy to keep adding to our collections, and sometimes we do end up needing to make some space – even if it does end up getting filled again with yet more rifles!

As far as selling them goes, it’s certainly quicker and easier to sell a rifle and scope as a package, but like any second-hand sale, it all depends on who sees your advert and what they’re looking for. I’ve sold a few airguns this way over the years, and haven’t had much trouble selling both guns and optics as a single package.

A seller can offer a rifle and scope as a combined package, but the success of the sale will depend on what the potential buyer is really looking for

I think those people who are happy to buy a combo do so for two reasons: they’re either looking to buy something that they can go shooting with quickly, and don’t really mind what’s on top of the gun, or they actively agree with your choice of optic and are delighted to buy both gun and scope.

Things may go downhill a little if a buyer is set on matching a specific rifle with a specific optic, and while they may want your gun, they do not want your scope. If this happens, you could always tell them that while you’d prefer to sell as a combo, you’d also be happy to sell the items separately if necessary.

I have a Daystate Pulsar (very much not for sale!) which has an MTC Viper Connect on top. In my opinion, this is a perfect combination, as the scope is similarly small in size to the rifle, and offers a wide field of view and minimal eye relief, but somebody else might well prefer a more conventional scope rather than this rather specialised optic.

If time is on your side and you’re not desperate for a quick sale, it may be better to split the combo into its constituent parts, not forgetting the mounts of course. That way you can look for people who are on the hunt for these specific items.

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