I wrote several times last year about the journey to the Pyramyd Air Cup and ultimately winning the Hunter PCP and getting the prize of an Ataman M2 Sport. I'd like to elaborate on what happens after you get a new rifle.
Initially off a bench it was one-hole groups at 30 yards. But when I got into comps I wasn't seeing that accuracy. I just wasn't sure if it was me or the gun. There are times when you know it was you, but there are other times when you just felt it wasn't. And that was a problem...that doubt then gets in every shot you take.
Knowing it could shoot well, but having some flyers at times was an issue. And if I'm not shooting closer to 20 ft/lbs then it's going to be hard to remain competitive in Hunter.
In April I went down to Baton Rouge for the Cajun Spring Classic and while I shot well, my scores weren't headed in the right direction and my frustration with the rifle was starting to show. Well, I got wind that Will Piatt is an airgunsmith and he was at the comp that weekend. So I approached him to see if this was a project he could take on. He was very receptive and after talking about what I was hoping to achieve...closer to 20 ft/lbs, he take the rifle and asks me to stick around for a minute. Out comes his own Ataman M2 Sport. He saw mine at Pyramyd and decided he had to have one as a backup for his Steyr. He also showed me what he had done to his... barrel stiffener, drilled a hole in the trigger to get a crisp 2nd stage, and had worked on his regulator.
Knowing Will for as long as I have, I know that he is a top shooter, almost always at the top of the leader board. And seeing him shoot I know that he expects perfection from his rifles. So handing my rifle to him I knew it was in good hands. After seeing the additional work done to his Ataman I asked that mine have the same.
What I got in return is the most amazing rifle. He added a carbon-fiber barrel stiffener, checked the regulator to make sure it was working correctly, enlarged the transfer port, replace some springs with heavier springs (all to get it to 18 ft/lbs), drilled the hole in the trigger and added a set screw and spring to give it an amazing 2-stage trigger, and the very last thing he did was remove the rubber ring inside the barrel band.
What Will saw on his own rifle is that the stock at the far end is thin enough that it can torque which then causes the barrel band to touch the barrel thus mucking up your shot. Such a big problem with a crazy simple solution.
This rifle now shoots clovers at 55 yards off a bipod at 16x mag. I'm sure it can do better, but that's what I shoot in competitions. There is no doubt in my mind that any missed shot is now my fault, which is EXACTLY what you need. If you ever have doubts about whether it's you or the gun then have your gun looked at. As soon as you remove the doubt you then know that the only thing that needs to improve is you.
As far as I'm concerned, Will Piatt is a miracle worker and I will forever be grateful for the work he did on this gun.
Here is Will's contact info:
595 Saddle Mountain Church Rd.
Ennice, NC 28623
As an avid field target shooter there are many things that get my heart racing:
Knowing that someone has fallen off the deep end would normally be a cause for concern, however for field target shooters it's just an indicator that we have finally "hooked 'em" and they are now part of the group.
Please welcome Mark DeBoard to our group, he got hooked because of the 2019 Crosman competition.
My name is Sean McDaniel, and I am an addict....to field target in all it's many forms
It's important to get into a routine when you're shooting Field Target. There's a lot going on and you've got to keep your focus for 4-6 minutes at a time when it's your turn to shoot.
A couple of times my focus waivered this weekend. The first was when I accidentally double-loaded my rifle and took a shot only to see two marks appear well below the target. And my "spidey sense" kicked in before I loaded thinking I should shoot one off just to be safe, but I didn't think I had loaded a pellet.
The second time was on pistol. I'm 2 down and on my last lane. Eric had missed 4, so I'm thinking I have this. I take my first shot at the 1st target and miss. Instead of going through and re-ranging I took a 2nd shot thinking I didn't hold for enough wind <splat>. I questioned my shooting partner afterwards and discovered I had mis-ranged by 5 yards.
The third time was during the pistol shoot-off. A simple 12 yard target, 1" killzone and I look up my hold-over...1 mil-dot below. When I take the shot I rush and aim the center of the scope at the center of the target <splat> I see a mark appear on the bottom edge of the reducer... And just my luck, Eric didn't make the same mistake and ended up getting 1st in pistol.
The mistakes were all mine. I had a great time, though. Shot my best pistol match to date and had a great time with the field target gang. All I can do is remember the lessons learned and make sure to follow my routine.
Apparently the Field Target community can read and are all too happy to throw that back at you any time they see fit.
Case in point... This past weekend we traveled down to Binghamton bright and early Saturday morning for a match at Greg's (Broom County Sportsmen Assoc), which is always great. Greg puts together a great rifle and pistol course. After we had shot the rifle course we're standing around talking, goofing around, and such and Mike Norris chimes in with some comment about field target being a "social" thing. Yes, imagine the fingers of each hand coming up....
Of course I whip my head around hearing this and, being oblivious, I start talking about how I had just written about that after the last match. Mike's just nodding his head waiting for his chance to interject with "yeah, I read it..." To which several people chimed in with the same comment. And me doing a full belly laugh and telling them all they're not on the Christmas list any more.
But it continues, because Greg then goes on about how I don't do enough of these and he hates having to go to my site anticipating the next post and how he's constantly refreshing the page. Me, being a programmer, interject with how you can set up a news feed in Outlook and have it tell you when content has been added. Only to be questioned "Who the hell uses Outlook these days?"
I'd like to say I got quiet and learned my lesson, but that probably wasn't the case.
Sometimes you just can't win because with friends like these who needs enemies?
I wanted to share this with others as I think it's an insight into why we love this sport...
This past winter was pretty long, and the spring was wet, which meant that field target in the northeast was shut down from the middle of November through the middle of May. Eric and I had been busy with 4-H and both of us just felt drained and had even talked of leaving field target. Neither of us really knew why we were feeling this way. So on the way down to Binghamton we talked about what our plans were and how we were both unsure of continuing with field target, which brought conflicting emotions from us both.
However, after the shoot we were suddenly talking about how excited we were about this season and all of the things that we had planned. Strange. So I mention the change in view from the car ride down vs the car ride back home and Eric confirms the change in view.
The only thing that I can think of is that we have gotten to the point where we look forward to the social aspect of field target maybe more so than the actual competition. And it's not just seeing people you know. There's teasing, telling jokes, normal everyday trials and tribulations, stories of good times and bad, and the joys and frustrations of everyday life. All are shared as we shoot next to each other with our nearly silent rifles and pistols.
It's a sport unlike any other that I've been involved with or heard about.
Here is a course outline that we put together for teaching an in-depth field target course
This past weekend I went down to Mt Airy, MD (close to Frederick) to shoot at the DIFTA match on Sunday. Now, keep in mind that I have taken my scope on and off several times over the winter and have not zero'd it in since.
After helping with the lines I get to the sight-in area and take a couple of shots at 10 yards on a clean target. Can't see where it's hitting at all. I finally see some dirt move WAY off and realize I can't possibly adjust the scope enough to compensate. At this point I'm ready to just go spend the day with family because I'm obviously not ready. Last ditch effort I pull out my hex tools and take the scope and mounts off. During this process I realize the front mount wasn't actually attached...it was sitting on top of the dovetail <argh!> Getting everything back together I am finally seeing the pellet and get things dialed in. I have just enough time to check 30 (zero) and 55 yards but not much else. Things seem to be OK and I've run out of time so I register and get ready to shoot.
I quickly realize that 30-55 is close enough, but any small kz between 10 and 20 is essentially a miss on one or both shots throughout the whole course. Something is off, but I have no idea what it is, so I shoot the rest of the course simply enjoying the day and having some good conversations with Mike Harris (DCFSA) who I'm squadded with and the fellows next to us, Paolo and Scott.
Afterwards I realized that I didn't even laser that the 30 and 55 were true.
SO, don't do what I just did...
Come prepared with your gun shooting where you want it -- having zero'd and verified the day before, or at least within the last week ESPECIALLY if you've done any adjustment to your gun. Having a last minute panic like I did is not a good start to the day. Sight-in should be a time to verify that you are shooting every target at the hold-over you expect.
You should have a routine for your sight-in. It's a good idea to bring out small targets for your 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, and 17 yard increments as that is where the most change in trajectory will be. And you can pretty much bet that there will be several close targets with small killzones. I typically have small index cards that I attach to popsicle sticks and put into the ground.
In the end I didn't do as well as I had hoped, but I was hoping for a miracle given that I really wasn't prepared for this match. It was great to see friends after the long winter and meet new people that became friends by the end of the match.
To many a string winder is just a string winder but to a match director this can be a source of utter frustration -- for many. Case in point are the current string winders that we use. They work great but have a tendancy to get tangled WAY too easily when they are in a box being taken from one location to the next and also after a match when people don't keep tension on the string as they wind. Lately is seems that one person is spending the entire time untangling a line.
Probably two years ago I went to DIFTA, in Frederick, MD, for one of their shoots and just fell in love with their winders. Simple, efficient, tangle free, and small footprint. All of that from a simple piece of plywood, who'd have thunk it :)
So in an effort to make things more efficient on my end I set about duplicating these pieces of wood so that I could replace our current winders with these new ones in time for the 2019 season.
I started by figuring out what size I wanted length wise. I wanted 12" between the two half circles. I then looked at the hole cutting bits that I had and decided on the largest one which is 3" diameter. So the final rectangle would be about 15" x 4". Got a sheet of 1/4" plywood, cut that into 15" strips, and then cut each strip into 4" strips.
The hole saws are hard to handle, so I made a quick jig out of some scraps to help. I put a straight edge on top of another board and then drilled a hole 2" from the straight edge. I could not place the strip next to the straight edge, put the inner drill bit into the hole and push the strip I intended to cut a 1/2 hole in right up against the inside drill bit. Start up the drill and a couple of seconds later you have your 1/2 hole. Flip over and repeat.
I think the worst part of drilling these holes was getting the 1/2 circles out of the cutter.
I then took each stack of finished winders and drilled two holes, in opposite corners, so that you can fold the string in half, put it through the hole and loop it around the edge. This then prevents the winder from unwinding and also gives a strong method of pulling the string and is easily undone for winding up at the end of a match.
I ran all of the edges over a sander, which also had a rounded end to get inside the circles where the string would sit. Ended up with 60 of these, which is the minimum I need. I'll probably pick up another piece of 1/4" ply so I can make some extras for Pistol and 4-H courses.
I'll paint them, transfer the string, and get some more pictures at a later time.
Information contained is the result of several hours work by Dennis and Tom Himes. I certainly want to give credit where it is due and they went above and beyond IMHO.
The manual I received indicated it was for an M2R version, so we were working from scratch on this one.
Out of the box the trigger is extremely light, but what we found out was that neither the first or second stage screws were even making contact with the trigger, so it was just the rocker arm doing all the work out of the box against the trigger blade.
If you don't feel comfortable working with the tube pressurized then there is a sunken hex bolt forward of the trigger that allows you to degass the pressure tube. I believe it's between the two larger screws that hold the stock on.
Take the stock off by removing the 3 larger hex screws from the under side of the stock. One is at the metal piece holding the tube and floating barrel. The other two are close to the trigger.
Once you remove the stock you can see the trigger workings a bit better and you will find it easier to work on things minus the stock.
Also, before you do anything else, if you haven't degassed then set the trigger mode to dry fire.
Remove the trigger plate/rod by loosening the one screw that this assembly attaches to.
Once removed there are two small screws used to adjust the 1st stage (forward screw) and the 2nd stage (rear screw). There is a larger screw just forward of that allowing you to adjust what we believe to be the 1st stage spring tension.
The 2nd stage is so light that you probably don't want to increase the first stage tension otherwise you won't be able to feel the 2nd stage.
Try to make all adjustments with the trigger engaged, which might bean you having to keep re-cocking it. Again, trigger test mode is best for this.
Also, you don't have to keep attaching the trigger plate/rod assembly. We found it easiest to insert the small hex tool into one of the screws and feel the tension. It wasn't until the fine-tuning at the very end that we bothered with the rod/blade assembly.
Dennis screwed in the 1st stage screw quite a bit until he felt it contacting the release blade.
Once you have the 1st stage then you can start to wind up the 2nd stage.
This trigger is very much like the Marauder trigger but a whole lot lighter.
In the end the trigger is still extremely light, but you can definitely feel the 2nd stage. And while there is a tiny bit of play in the 2nd stage I will have to use it some more to determine if I need to take out some of that play.
To appreciate Hector Medina you need to understand that he is crazy meticulous to the Nth degree. So anything that he does has a lot of thought involved trying to take into consideration every possible detail. Sometimes it's a bit much and leaves my mind whirling and asking for a sippy cup, but, if you can take it in, you end up learning a lot.
Over the Thanksgiving weekend I was within 25 miles of his home and figured that I would drop by to visit him and his family.
We were working on a couple of projects and so I showed him were I was at. Veronica surprised me by expecting me to have brunch with them and wouldn't take no for an answer.
After brunch the kids were getting tired and I got ready to leave at which point Hector disappeared for a couple of minutes. Not wanting to leave without saying goodbye I figured he was downstairs in his workshop so waited patiently.
He comes up and hands me a pen. OK, thanks, I think...
But WAIT! True to Hector's meticulousness, if that's a word, this isn't just a pen. It's also a ruler, both standard and metric. But wait, there's more! It has a level built into the body as well as a tip on the end to use on your smartphone. And if you screw off this tip it also has a micro screwdriver (standard and phillip) that can also accept any other micro bits that you might have.
Who knew a pen could have so many uses? I certainly didn't.
So when someone hands you a pen, ask them "So what else does it do?" and see what kind of look you get