A more expensive target rig or airgun may be nicer to use than a cheaper one, but Andy McLachlan sets out to see if expensive airgun equipment is really worth it
I am aware that some readers of our magazine will sometimes look at the hardware described by myself and others and think to themselves that if they could afford such expensive equipment, they would be capable of matching or exceeding their normal level of performance, and probably mine as well, so therefore they ask themselves if expensive airgun equipment is really worth it.
The problem is that it is not as straightforward as that. Fair enough, if you as a target shooter are equipped with the latest high quality and expensive German or Austrian target rifle, you have in your possession a rifle that can deliver outstanding levels of accuracy, but for a cash outlay that many consider either unobtainable or just downright overpriced.
Being a serious airgunner and having associated myself with other enthusiasts over the years has to an extent affected my purchasing of various equipment.
What I mean is I have always been in the company of experienced shooters who justified the purchasing of expensive equipment as it meets their high standards of performance. This has rubbed off onto me as I learned to appreciate just how good high quality equipment can be in the hands of an experienced shot.
Basically, it makes shooting more accurately easier and more likely on a more consistent basis.
It is fine going out and buying the latest target rifle and scope combination that at today’s prices might total something around three grand (and probably more than that), but will it really lead to a dramatic increase in enjoyment? Possibly not in many cases.
I don’t know about you, but I suspect that for most readers, myself included, spending that amount of money needs to be fully justifiable. For many of my “serious” shooting friends and me, as we spend so much time down at the range trying to out-compete each other on a regular basis, it is quite easy to suppose that the purchase of a German supergun is the price of entry into the serious world of competition.
Fair enough, an expensive target rifle will certainly allow us to make the most of any talent that we have, and as long as we find a suitable pellet it will allow us all a modicum of success from time to time.
It is genuinely nice owning anything that is high quality. When it happens to be associated with a serious hobby such as airgun target shooting, this is a wicked combination which can and does, providing that you can afford it (and sometimes when you can’t!), entail the quick-drawing of credit cards as we seek shooting nirvana.
There is nothing wrong with owning high quality gear, and I enjoy using both my Steyr and Walther target rifles on a regular basis as they are both just so nice to shoot.
This was not possible for me a few decades ago when all my money was being spent on the usual expenses incurred with supporting a young and growing family.
I can remember back in the eighties seeing all the “old blokes” (who were probably much younger then than I actually am now), handle their beautiful Ripley and Sportsmatch rifles while my sons and I busily shot away with our medium-priced spring-powered rifles.
Not that we did not enjoy our times together, but it was clear to my boys and me that it was not possible for us to own and use such amazing guns at that time as they were well out of my price range.
As we get older and our responsibilities change, the committed shooter usually has access to additional funds that allow them to participate in the buying and enjoyment of high-end guns that will hopefully bring a smile to their face.
We now must consider a serious question: does the cost paid for your equipment equate to how much enjoyment you can have when shooting it? Do you really have to clear out your bank account or can we enjoy ourselves spending far less?
I am aware that our editor Mike often receives communications from shooters who think that we feature too many expensive guns within the pages of our magazine. Fair enough. I know that I for one am guilty of highlighting both guns and optics that are often expensive and arguably appear elitist to many.
The reason I do feature this type of gear in my articles is because this is the equipment that my shooting friends and I use on an almost daily basis to try to achieve high scores during our many competitions.
Could we do as well with equipment that costs much less? Personally, I doubt it, although there are some great rifle and scope combinations out there that will give our match-grade gear a run for its money.
Just to emphasise this particular point, some friends of ours over at the Rochdale Airgun Club range where we now engage in twice monthly 50m competitions have recently come up with a single rifle model shoot for both the Air Arms S400 and Weihrauch HW100.
Apparently, they looked down the line of the Rivington club during our last competition and noticed a plethora of Walthers, Steyrs and Daystate Red Wolves rather than the less extravagant selection of their own guns.
I should at this point make it clear that regardless of the price of equipment used, the Rochdale team are still in the lead which clearly makes an argument for the “all the gear but no idea” comments!
The local club elf, Ian Jones, again decided to prove a point regarding talented shooters using less expensive equipment to match the performance of the “expensive gun” brigade using his well priced Chinese-manufactured Artemis.
Some of the comments I made regarding this particular gun in a previous edition: “The Artemis M16-D is a bottle-fed pre-charged pneumatic that reminds me of an early Theoben Rapid. It possesses a regulator, a magazine-fed action and a very plain stock. The trigger action is not up to match standards, but is more than up to accurate shooting, but possesses one of those trigger safeties on the blade itself that I don’t like, just like some UK-made guns.”
What I also went onto say in the review was that the gun was surprisingly accurate for the low cost of purchase. I well remember said elf destroying a line of Polo mints at the Turton outdoor range one after the other with consecutive shots in a mild breeze at 48 yards. I told you he isn’t human!
Ian and a friend decided to see if they could improve the accuracy of the Artemis further. Using the services of a local gunsmith who sourced some high-quality CZ barrels, these have been fitted and the guns are now back in commission. I had the opportunity of shooting one following the last inter-club long-range shoot and managed a row of five nines at 56 yards straight off and without adjusting the scope.
Using my Walther had resulted in the usual few dropping shots, which I didn’t notice with the renamed “Hyena” Artemis. Although Ian also possesses loads of expensive target rifles, he takes delight in proving that it need not cost the earth to enjoy match-winning standards of shooting.
It will be my intention to hunt down and report on more reasonably priced guns that are able to deliver exacting standards of accuracy over the course of the next few months. I reckon I will come across some surprising results and will keep you all informed.