Team Wild TV expert, Paul Hodson covers some of the issues you should consider before spending time on the shooting range.
The range can either be an official rifle range (likely to be run by gun clubs, or privately owned), or it may simply be an area on one of your permissions that you have designated as a safe place in which to test your guns at various distances. If the latter, you must always make sure that you have a safe backstop, and that you are aware of any roads, public rights of way, livestock, etc. As a matter of courtesy you should inform the landowner, and any near neighbours of your intention to shoot. It might also be wise to inform the local Police of your shooting location. (This can save a lot of bother in the long run.)
You need to check that your licence entitles you to zero rifles. If you have an open firearms licence, you can zero your rifle in a place of your choosing which you consider to be safe and appropriate. If, however, you don’t have an open licence, and you wish to zero your rifle, the area where you zero it has to be passed by your local Firearms Liaison Officer for the calibre you wish to use.
The object of zeroing the rifle is to ensure that the bullet goes exactly where the crosshairs are pointing. To achieve this, you’ll need to consider seven areas:
• Calibre of the bullet.
• Speed of the bullet.
• Weight of the bullet.
• Trajectory of the bullet over various distances.
• Wind speed/atmospheric pressure on the day.
• The Coriolis effect (i.e. as the earth spins, it pulls the bullet to the right over longer distances).
• Skill level of the shooter.
For the range, you will need:
• A solid shooting bench. Preferably at the right height with a cut out so that you can shoot comfortably. You can purchase these online, but I have found that homemade benches are just as good, if not better, because as well as being considerably cheaper, they can be tailored to better fit the individual. I use a workmate with a hand cut wood table top, which is light enough to carry across a field, but also folds down to fit in the truck.
• An appropriate chair of the right height for you and the bench.
• A bipod or shooting rest to hold the rifle steady.
• Bench rest bags. (You can buy these, or make your own – e.g. a sock filled with lentils!)
• A target board. I make my own from fishing bank sticks (which are extendible), and plywood.
• Chronograph (to measure the speed of the bullet).
• A range finder. (This is better than relying on pacing out your distances.)
• A fishing umbrella or similar, for shade and to protect the gun in case of rain.
• Flask of tea!
If you are using an official rifle range, a bench and chair are likely to be provided, and the targets will already be in situ at specific distances. You will still need to bring your own bipod, bench rest bags, and chronograph.
So, now you have found an appropriate range, and prepared the equipment you require. See my next article for the steps you need to take to put that bullet exactly where you want it.