Mat Manning suggests some useful kit designed to help airgun shooters to continue to enjoy their sport even when the colder days of winter start to set in
A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that airgun shooting is a summer pursuit, and gear most of their marketing for this branch of the sport to coincide with the warmer months.
However, many airgunners shoot right though the year and gun shops should be encouraging customers who don’t already to make the most of what can be a prime time for our sport.
More and more indoor ranges are opening up and down the country, so shooters don’t have to get cold and wet to enjoy their sport. Even so, outdoor competitions remain popular throughout the winter and many clubs host well-attended events with shooters turning out in their droves even in the most miserable of weather.
Lots of hunters will be chomping at the bit now that the temperature is finally starting to dip—I know I am. Autumn is a great season for targeting live quarry; harvest and seed drillings create some remarkable opportunities for crow and pigeon decoying, squirrel shooting can be brilliant when the greedy rodents are distracted by a heavy crop of acorns and beech mast, and the pot shooter can expect to find plenty of three-quarter-grown rabbits around the paddocks. Winter is even better, though.
Squirrel shooting goes up another gear after the leaves have fallen and the rodents can be culled in substantial numbers by setting up feeding stations after a few frosts have put an edge on their hunger. Roost shooting for pigeons is a really popular winter pursuit for airgunners, and night shooting for rats and rabbits reaches its peak at this time of year.
There really is no excuse for airgun shooters not to be out there, making the most of it right now. In fact, those who pack their guns away until the spring are missing some of the finest airgun sport available.
Those who do decide to brave the elements will definitely want some specialist equipment to keep them comfortable and help them make the most of their cold weather forays. Below are some of the key items that airgun shooters are likely to be stocking up on as winter sets in.
GRIZZLY III JACKET
Most airgun shooters want a warm, waterproof and stealthy winter jacket. Available in sizes from XS to 5XL and in olive green or highly effective Dirt Camo, the Grizzly III is hard to beat for the money.
Nicely fitted with a long cut and plenty of movement around the shoulders, this jacket has a long cut and double-lined hood. Features include adjustable cuffs, double main zip, two handwarmer pockets and large zipped chest pockets. Apart from being warm, it is also very quiet, which should go down well with hunters.
AIGLE PARCOURS 2 ISO BOOT
Nothing beats Wellington boots when it comes to shooting in really wet weather but that doesn’t have to mean cold, uncomfortable feet. The Parcours 2 ISO from Aigle has a 4.5mm neoprene lining for improved insulation and features a triple-rubber shock absorption system in the sole for ultimate comfort and stability.
These boots have a reputation for being lightweight and flexible but are also surprisingly tough. They’re available in a wide variety of sizes, in khaki, bronze/green, brown and black finishes, and feature an adjustable calf strap.
PARD NV008P LRF
The compact night vision unit delivers great performance and exceptional value for money— prefect for airgun shooters targeting nocturnal rabbits and rats on cold winter nights. Its high-definition screen provides and clear sight picture by day and sharp NV-viewing by night.
The NV008P LRF has an integral infrared illuminator and built-in rangefinder to assist with precise hold-over and hold-under. Zeroing is quick and easy and there is a choice of reticle designs and colours. Other features include e-compass, 3D giroscope and HD video recording.
PAO LUMENMAX 900IR SYSTEM
This kit includes everything airgunners need to target nocturnal pests without having to spend a fortune. Less than 18cm long and weighing 230g, the lamp runs a powerful CREE-LED light module that can be swapped for the supplied 850 NM infrared illuminator for night vision use.
An attachment mount to fit 25mm and 30mm scope tubes is supplied, as is a remote pressure switch, battery charger and colour filters. Runtime varies from 30 hours on the lowest power setting to 80 minutes at full output.
SHOOTER’S CUSHION (CAMO)
A cushion may not sound like an essential accessory but it is one of the most useful items of kit any airgun shooter will ever own. A lot of winter shooting involves sit and wait tactics, and this lightweight beanbag cushion provides a comfy seat and a stable shooting position.
Filled with squashy polystyrene balls the Shooter’s Cushion provides excellent insulation when sitting on frozen ground. Made from a tough outer shell that comes in camouflage, black or olive green finish, this handy cushion features a carry handle and a zip-up pocket.
HOPPE’S GUN & REEL SILICONE CLOTH
Shooting in wintery conditions inevitably means that your airgun is going to get wet from time to time, and you can also expect frequent splatterings of mud and blood, plus the odd drop of sweat on the occasions when you manage to work up a bit of heat. Thankfully, a coating of protective oil is a reliable way to seal out the worst of the wet and grime until you get home.
Soft and absorbent, Hoppe’s Gun & Reel Silicone Cloth is made from soft flannel that has been pre-soaked with silicone oil to drive out moisture, lubricate and prevent rusting. Compact and extremely affordable, there’s no excuse for not keeping one at the ready to protect your airgun.