Before I got interested in Field Target I had little to no interest in the weather apart from if I needed a coat or not, now I’ve got about 7 apps to check what it’s doing, especially the wind.
I’m always checking the trees, bushes and grass around me to see what strength and direction it’s going, it’s the first thing I do every morning and even while I’m out not shooting, it’s automatic now. I was out with the wife having an early spring pint and got an ear full for not listening while staring at a load of ferns 45yds away. “It’s all you think about, bloody shooting” She’s not wrong!. 7mph, gusting wind left to right by the way!
This statement does hold some truth because once you’ve got your eye in it’s pretty easy to keep hitting the same target time and time again. The problem is that doing this doesn’t teach you much about match conditions. So what do I use the Plinking Range for? To learn what my gun is doing today and to check the zero and groupings! That sounds obvious but when I joined a club and started going to competitions, I couldn’t help but notice that all of the top shooters did the same thing every time they arrived: Gun out of the bag, 20 minutes chat, book in and then straight to the plinking range.
So what’s this first part about? In short, it’s about getting the gun to competing temperature. Guns and scopes are made of metal, glass and wood, all of which change and move in different temperatures. If your gun has been in a warm house and then a hot car, you can bet your bottom dollar that it’s not at the temperature you’re about to shoot at.
I always check my zero first, if that’s OK I’ll go out to 50yds to check the clicks and windage. After a group of ten I’ll then drop to 35yds to check everything is OK, then back out to 50yds and finally to 55yds. If everything is OK, I’ll continue doing groupings and then have a short break before repeating the process just before the competition.
This routine gives you a great overview of what the gun is actually doing and an opportunity to spot any changes you need to make. It’s better to put the time in rather than miss your first target with a rude surprise of I’m going high/low and a dink to confirm it. Always make sure you know what your gun and scope are doing before you start any competition.