How did you get into air rifle shooting?
I first started air rifle shooting after nagging my dad to teach me. As soon as he taught me the basics of first safety and then marksmanship principles, I was out in the garden most days trying to improve. It was, and still is great fun.
What do you enjoy most about HFT shooting and pest control?
With HFT I enjoy the company, banter and camaraderie. Don’t get me wrong, the shooting is great but it doesn’t come close to the people who take part. When spending time pest controlling, I am looking for something completely different; Peace and quiet. The solitude of stalking up on a rabbit with no one for miles around is a blessing. It’s about taking time, relaxing and just enjoying the outdoors.
What elements of HFT shooting and pest control are similar?
HFT is a great help with pest controlling, many of the skills are transferable. Range estimation is important when out shooting pests if you don’t have the luxury of a rangefinder. Alongside this is the aspect of knowing your gun, when shooting HFT you have to know the tool you are using: The power, the drop of the pellet/amount of hold over or under needed, the weight of the trigger. All these things have to come together to knock down that squirrel or tin chicken. Finally, one of the most important points and similarities in both types of shooting is accuracy. When pest controlling the stakes are far higher. It may seem a strange concept, my main consideration is the responsibility of the animal’s well being. Consciously, being as good as I can with every single pellet and doing my best at HFT really helps in the field.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to try both HFT shooting and pest control?
I would advise someone to join a HFT club and get practicing. Wait until you can put a 3 shot group under a pound coin, or knock down a 25mm kill consistently at whatever range (or position) you intend to hunt before putting an animal in the crosshairs. That way, when it comes down to it the confidence will be there and the probability of landing that clean kill will be greatly increased. If at all possible, try and tag along with an experienced pest controller and learn from them. They will be able to teach you the mistakes they made while learning so that you don’t have to.
Which Air Arms rifle do you prefer for HFT shooting and pest control?
My current HFT rifle is my Air Arms EV2. I love this rifle; I’ve shot many Field Target and Hunter Field Target events with it. The trigger is spot on, the stock fits me well and it’s deadly accurate. Although, I have used this rifle pest controlling it’s a tad too heavy and the trigger is far too light. My Air Arms S200 is a far better choice for this. It’s lighter, just as accurate as the EV2 and very quiet with a moderator fitted making it ideal for hedgerow stalking and woods walking.
How does your setup differ?
Both rifles are set up very similar to one another. The scopes and reticules are both mounted very low to the barrel to help prevent any issue. Each gun has adjustable butt pads fitted. However, the EV2 has the advantage when it comes to adjustability, as everything on the stock from cheek piece to hamster/knee riser is customisable. I try to keep all my guns as similar to each other as possible. This makes it easier to adjust when using a rifle I may not have used for some time. I have two Air Arms S400s in EV2 stocks set up identically. This way, if one goes down, I have a back up and I won’t notice a difference when on the peg.
How do you preparation differ between HFT shooting and pest control?
Preparation again is very similar. I use my Ridgeline gun bag for all my shoots. The pockets are big enough to fit my “terminal” kit in comfortably. For HFT my kit generally consists of my gun, aim shooting mat, Anshutz kneeling roll and glove, my Ridgeline Torrent Euro 2 jacket, water bottle, some snacks and my DVD case with pen for marking scores.
When pest controlling I wear more camo’ so my leaf suit is generally thrown in. That way, its there if I need it. I always take my Leatherman Wave multi-tool because of the various uses it has, from gutting rabbits to sawing branches for hide building. I pack my Spartan Javelin carbon-fibre detachable bi-pod; it’s great in a pinch if there is a long-range rabbit with nothing to use for support, the bi-pod just snaps on and the shot can be taken. Depending on the situation I will take a hide and decoys, but they generally stay at home. It’s important to know how to go about each pest-controlling job and what the most effective technique would be. Finally, I have my Hawke LRF 400 rangefinder clipped to my belt. This bit of kit is invaluable when taking longer-range shots and I never hunt without it.