In order to develop your potential as a shooter you will need to buy your own kit rather than continue to use club kit. Here's a brief summary of what you need to look out for as you set out on this trail.
The article is aimed at athletes setting out in the sport rather than those that are looking for their 2nd, 3rd or 4th rifle upgrade. Also, the supply of club kit is limited so we do expect members to purchase their own kit over time as resources permit.
One of the common questions we get asked is: "What do I buy first?". The answer is not as simple as it may sound but here are some ideas to help you on your way.
The second question, which follows the first very closely, is: "How much does it cost?". We'll try to give some idea of that as well. Prices quoted are Nov 2021.
None of the items or suppliers mentioned below are recommendations. They are there to give an idea of what's on the market. The lists are limited so that I didn't have to spend ages doing detailed research as it will always be necessary for you to do your own research before making a decision to purchase.
As you will see, a lot of the kit can be expensive to buy but will last for a very long time. While the club has a stock of spare parts built up over the years they are not cheap to replace. If one of our instructors / coaches fits any of them to your rifle during a setup session they are not free issue and are on short term loan until you can obtain your own. In essence we are helping to determine what size you need so you (hopefully) can go out and buy the right size first time.
What to buy first?
You can buy kit in any order you like but we would suggest the following as a reasonable way of assisting your development as a shooter and also assembling your own range of kit, together with some reasons.
Obviously, price and individual affordability comes into it as well and that will have to be your decision. While the list below is in some sort of order it will vary from athlete to athlete so do not worry if you buy your kit in a different order. You will have your own priorities and there is always the possibilty of a nice bit of pre-used kit becoming available at the right price and it's better to buy it now rather than later when the price will likely be higher or pre-used is not available and you have to buy a new one.
Availability is another issue. While there is a secondhand market, shooting is not a high volume market and you can wait a long while for the particular item you're looking for to pop up on the market. The links page is a good place to start once you have an idea of what you want.
Don't forget to look around at what others are using and ask questions so you get more than one viewpoint. What's ideal for one athlete may be completely wrong for another.
The club has a variety of these ranging from very new to very old. We no longer have any very very old ones as these were binned some time ago following a decision to upgrade the available club kit! Some were purchased new by the club to fill gaps in the available sizes. Some were donated by members as they upgraded their kit. Obviously, the older and more flexible the jacket the sooner you'll want to upgrade to one of your own as the jacket is fundamental to your position giving you your basic stability.
Typical club level jackets are:
- Schulz London (Intershoot) £109. This is a single canvas jacket although the canvas is thick.
- Gehmann Double Canvas – 403 (intershoot) £129.
- Monard Starter Jacket [MON53XXX] (edinkillie) £189
- ahg Anschutz Match 164 (intershoot) £200
The club has both leather and synthetic slings. Leather is suitable at the start as it has a bit of give in it and allows for the fact that your shooting position is developing and adjusting over time. Once you have a stable and consistent position a synthetic sling is good as it doesn't have much give in it and assists in maintaining your stabilty. If you're looking for your own sling we'd recommend a synthetic sling.
- ESE Ambidextrous (intershoot) £38
- Anschutz 335 Sling (NSRA) £45
- Kurt Thune Sling Model I [KTHSL011] (edinkillie) £50
There are a variety of styles on the market. Have a look at what others are using and, importantly, why. For example: If you have long fingers, a fingerless glove might be appropriate as it stops the ends of your fingers touching the end of the glove and aching as the detail progresses.
- Sauer Standard Open Air Glove [SAU317] (edinkillie) £34
- Gehmann 465 Glove (NSRA) £30
- Kustermann Model 5 (intershoot) £43
- Anshutz Model Concept I (EMRR) £67
There are a variety of styles on the market. Have a look at what others are using and, importantly, why. They range from basic passive type for a few pounds from places like Wickes to £100+ for electronic noise cancelling ones. As always, ask questions and, if possible, try before you buy. The club has some cheap electronic ones from China (£16) but one set has already failed.
- Stanley SY345C Adjustable Passive Muff Padded Ear Defenders (Wickes) £7
- 3M Peltor SportTac Ear Defenders (NSRA) £125
- Decibullz Custom Molded Earplugs (East Midlands Regional Range) £29.99
- Bisley Active Stereo Hearing Protectors (Uttings.co.uk) £69.99
I've put this in here but it can be anywhere here onwards. To be consistent you need to wear consitent clothing. So wearing a different jumper/sweatshirt etc each time you shoot will not help as your support will vary depending on things such as how thick the material is. Initially, find one that you already own that has long sleeves and works for you and keep it just for shooting. However, around about now you should be considering a shooting jumper / cardigan as these will provide the consistency noted above. Unlike normal shirts, jumpers etc they also have the benefit of not having any seams under the elbow!
- Sauer Shooting Cardigan (Intershoot) £90
- Kurt Thune Classic Sweater [KTHSW01x] (edinkillie) £96
Following closely after the jumper / cardigan is the base layer, technical underwear, or underclothing depending on your sensibilities. This is a lightweight wicking long sleeve sports top and is ideal for those who tend to get hot (like me). A compression base layer stabilizes and supports essential joints. It helps moisture transfer and has a quick re-drying time. Different manufacturers claim various benefits but the basic one is consistency.
- Lenz Baselayer Top (Intershoot) £45
- Hitex Tecno (Intershoot) £100
- Kurt Thune X.9 Underwear Top (Edinkillie) £45
- Adult Long-Sleeved Base Layer Keepdry 500 - Black (Decathlon) £20.
This may not be chronologically correct but it's quite handy if it occurs about now. Perhaps you could do the same as The Queen did with her birthday and have an official Christmas, because the next item is:
The previous items all go towards providing you with a good stable platform that supports the rifle. If you don't have that, there's not much point in having a good quality or top notch rifle as you will probably struggle to make the best use of it. Look around the club. Speak to others. See what they've got, and importantly, why? If you speak to them nicely, they may even let you have a go with their rifle so you can see if you like it. Buying secondhand is a good way to start.
- Walther KK500 (Intershoot) £2,335 - £4,744 depending on model.
- Anschütz (Edinkillie) £2,059 - £3,987 depending on model.
- Feinwerkbau 2800 (NSRA) £4,200
New or secondhand, check what you're getting in the box. You may have to add a set of sights and a handstop.
If they come with the rifle skip this bit. If they don't check what others are using and why.
Rear sights are the bit that fits on the rifle and has windage and elevation screws. Rear Irises are the hole through which you look. Rear sights may or may not come with a basic iris with a hole of approximately 1.1mm. Better irises are available at a cost.
Foresights. Again, check what you're getting as the foresight tunnel requires a foresight to go in it.
- Anschutz 7020/20 Sight Set (NSRA) £450
- Anschutz 6805 Rear Sight (Intershoot) £235
- Gehmann Compact Rearsight [GHM590] (Edinkillie) £153
- Foresight Tunnels (Intershoot) £60 - £152
Sight Raising Blocks
Just a quick mention. These may be necessary in order to get the sights in the right place for you. We are all human and we all come in different shapes and sizes!
- Anschutz 4mm Blocks 6923 (Intershoot) £40
- Centra Tele Flight (Intershoot) £155
- TEC-HRO System 2.0 (Intershoot) £72
Consistency rears it's head again. With your own mat it's the same every time. You don't necessarily get to use the same club mat each time. Also, you can use your mat to carry kit down to the firing point.
- Evans Shooting Mat (NSRA) £75
- Evans Shooting Mat - ISSF (NSRA) £85
- ESE Waterproof Mat [ESE5071] (Edinkillie) £89
Spotting Scope and Stand
Did I mention consistency? By now you should have a good stable position. So getting the scope in the same place each time to minimise head movement is highly desireable. If you're using a club scope there's a good chance that someone will have used it since you did and adjusted the height or other settings meaning you have to check and/or reset it each time you use it. That's assuming you can get your favourite one and someone else isn't using it.
Secondhand scopes, and particularly stands, don't come up often and maintain their value. The reason for this is that they don't wear out much. I'm still using my first stand purchased in the early 80s. I'm on my second scope as the first was similar to one of the better club ones and struggled with 100yds when the weather / light was difficult.
- Aldi (central Isle) £25. OK for 25yds but not so much beyond that.
- Celestron Ultima 20-60x 80mm Angled Spotting Scope (rothervalleyoptics.co.uk) £155. Budget scope. Reasonable scope for 50m/100yd.
- Opticron Adventurer II, 15-45x 60mm object lens (intershoot) £110
With optics you get what you pay for. If you want a really high quality scope these don't qualify but they don't come with a four figure price tag either.
If you can, try out your prospective scope before purchase by borrowing one of the same type / model.
A new freeland stand would be over £200. Neither the scope nor the stand will wear out much and will retain their value. If you're buying secondhand expect to pay a high proportion of the retail price unless there is any obvious wear / damage.
If you have fingernails of the right length, using the box the ammo comes in is relatively easy. If your nails are too long or too short it's a good idea to transfer your ammo to an ammunition box that presents the ammo to you so it's easier to pick up. They also tend to have the holes suitably grouped so it's easy to keep sighting shots and competition shots separate which allows you to easily count competition shots. When you've tried really hard to get a ten it's a shame to get penalties for putting the shot on the wrong diagram or too many / not enough shots on the card.
- Gehmann Wooden Ammo Box 710 (NSRA) £50
- ahg-Anschütz Ammunition Box [AHG269] (edinkillie) £20
- MTM SB200 .22 Ammunition Box (NSRA) £18
I think that's a good summary of a basic set of kit. If you have any questions please ask any of the Instructors, Coaches, member of the committee, or anyone that has a bit of kit you like the look of!
There are lots of accessories that I haven't mentioned so don't forget to ask and do your own research.
Mike Kettle, Club Coach