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From: Doug White <>
Subject: [AIR PISTOL]  Was: Airguns
Organization: MIT Lincoln Laboratory

Here are a few observations on competitive air pistol shooting:

1) Course of fire:  International competition is 60 shots usually with
   unlimited sighters.  All sighters must be fired before any record shots are
   fired.  Because airgun groups are so tight, 1 shot per bull is all that's
   allowed to avoid trying to score 'doubles'.  There are 4 bull targets to
   reduce the amount of target changes required, but many shooters don't like
   them because it requires changing your point of aim for each bull.  All big
   international matches use motorized or very fast crank type target carriers
   to make the frequent target changes easier.  They recently reduced the time
   allowed down to 2 hours (maybe less).  I usually only take 90 minutes to
   shoot a match, so I haven't worried about it.

2) Range is always 10 meters (33 feet).  The target scoring rings are about
   5.5" in diameter, and go from the 10 ring (about 0.5" dia) out to the 1
   ring. Most of the US made targets are fairly thin, and tear badly,
   particularly if you are shooting multiple shots per bull in practice.  Its
   worth the extra bucks to buy the heavier european targets.  I think Neal
  Johnson's Gunsmithing Inc. carries Edelmann (SP?) targets.

3) Pellet Traps:  There are lots of traps on the market.  One of the nicest
   ones is from Gunsmithing Inc., and has a nice oak frame.  It's fairly quiet
   (some make a loud CLANK!) and isn't very deep.  It's big enough to hold a
   12 bull air rifle target, which gives you a little extra margin for error if
   you're having a bad day.  Many of the traps 'leak'.  Usually not pellets,
   but frequently paper.  It's usually a good idea to put a shallow tray under
   them to catch the debris.

4) Pellets:  I wouldn't bother with bulk pellets for serious shooting.  You can
   get individually packed pellets for a few cents apiece from RWS.  They make
   both rifle and pistol match pellets, and they also have super match pellets
   that are carefully weighed and such.  This is probably not neccesary for
   air pistol, except for top level competition.  You can also get pellet
   'sizers'.  Using a pellet sizer provides a bit more uniformity, and when
   the size is matched to your pistol, they can reduce your groups a bit.  It's
   sort of like selecting ammo for the idiosyncracies of smallbore rifles.  I
   don't bother.  If you buy match pellets in large quantities and don't shoot
   them very fast, seal them up in small lots.  This will reduce oxidization.

5) Pistols:  Unless you're in it for the exercise, save up and get a good CO2
   pistol.  60 shots (plus sighters) can be taxing if you have to pump a
   spring-air or pneumatic gun for every shot.  It's certainly not fatal, but
   it's wear and tear on muscles you want to keep fresh for more important
   things.  For someone starting out, the new BRNO CO2 pistols being imported
   by Century look VERY promising.  Most of the performance of Walthers and
   Feinwerkbaus, but much cheaper.  I'm still investigating these, but I think
   it's what I would get if I was starting out right now.  Two things that are
   supposed to help your groups that I haven't had time to try are tweaking
   the CO2 system for best uniformity of velocity (needs a chronograph), and
   muzzle brakes.  The muzzle brakes are supposed to divert the escaping (and
   turbulent) gas from upsetting the relatively slow moving (and light) pellet.
   Many top shooters are using them these days, but I'm not sure if one is
   available yet for the BRNO.  I've got one for my Walther, but I haven't had
   time to install it.  The only problem that seems to plague air guns is
   getting replacement O-rings.  They tend to tear, wear, or stiffen over time,
   and finding replacements for the european guns can be difficult.  CO2 is
   particularly nasty, because it can disolve in the nitrile rubber used in
   most common O-rings, and when the preesure is released, the rings can
   literally expload.  This means using special O-ring compounds that don't
   soak up the CO2, so you can't just buy them locally at 'O-rings R Us'.
   Also, maintaining a CO2 storage bottle to refill the large cylinders most
   match guns use can be a pain.  They aren't cheap, they have to be
   hydro-tested every 5 years, and you need to find a medical or laboratory
   supply house to fill them.  Most CO2 is sold for the soft-drink industry,
   and the gas and cylinders are frequently wet.  This is not good for your
   multi-hundred dollar pistol.  A friend of mine bought a Walther CO2 pistol
   for around $500 when they first became available.  He then got 'a good deal'
   on a CO2 cylinder. It had quite a bit of water in it, and the next thing he
   knew, he had the world's most expensive water pistol.  It took weeks to get
   everything dried out.

6) Shooting:  Follow through, follow through, follow through!  Air pistols have
   sufficiently low muzzle velocities that good form is crucial.  The pellet is
   still in the barrel long after the sear lets go, and if you don't hold still
   for a bit, it is very easy to disturb the shot.

I mentioned Neal Johnson's a few times.  Their address is:

	Neal Johnson's Gunsmithing Inc.
	111 Marvin Drive
	Hampton, VA  23666-2636

	(800) 284-8671

That's all the air pistol trivia I can think of for now.

Doug White
MIT Lincoln Laboratory

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