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Gary Chillingworth reveals how to improve your air rifle shooting using a chronograph, and advises on a few models which won't break the bank!
Check out the video below for more tips, comparisons, and a demonstration of Gary using chronographs to test pellet speeds
As far as I am concerned, a chronograph is absolutely essential, and they can range in price from £30 for an eBay special or £50 for a Combro, all the way to £350 for a Skan. Luckily, for the home shooter, a basic one like the LMBR R2a from JS Ramsbottom is not only brilliant, but it will also help you to improve your shooting, and costs around £140.
The LMBR R2a is not like many other chronographs because it has a 120mm gap between the sensors; this makes this chrono’ a very interesting prospect for a number of reasons. The obvious one is that with such a large aperture it’s harder to shoot it accidently. If you are using a chrono’ like a Skan, this can be fine with a rifle, but lining up a pistol or a bow can be tricky, and you can only really use it at the muzzle of the rifle, but more of that in a minute.
The other advantage with the R2A is that you can set it up so that it sits just in front of your muzzle, and depending on how high your scope is, you can shoot your targets and just look up at the display and see your velocity. This way, if you have a shot that hits high or low, you can see if there has been a power fluctuation at the muzzle. The R2A will remember a 250 string of pellets and there is no doubt that this chronograph will help you to be more consistent and so choose the best pellet for your rifle.
How does a chronograph improve your shooting?‘Okay, but how will all of this help me to improve my shooting?’ I hear you ask. Well, it will help in four main areas:
1) Consistency Having a rifle that is consistent over the chronograph is very important. I know that my TX200HC with weighed pellets will always be within 5fps either side of 775fps. However, over the years I have shot chrono’ strings in the heat and the cold, and I now know that if the ambient temperature is over 75°F, my rifle will slow down, and if it’s below 40°F it will speed up.
2) Problem SolvingThe other day, my rifle was feeling ‘wrong’, and when I shot it over the chronograph, it was running at 730fps, so I knew that either a seal had failed, or something more catastrophic had happened, and when I took the rifle apart, I found that I had a broken spring. So, having a chrono’ immediately pointed me toward a problem.
3) MobilityThe big advantage of a chrono’ like the LMBR R2a is the ability to place it downrange. The large 120mm aperture means that you can shoot it safely from a distance, and unless you are having a very bad day, you can shoot it safely.
4) Choosing the right pelletPlacing a chrono’ downrange will enable you to pick a pellet with the best ballistic coefficient, or to put it more simply, a pellet that carries more speed downrange. I own two TX200HCs; one loves Air Arms pellets and the other prefers JSBs and both are set to run at 775fps at the muzzle, and both are around 630fps at 45 yards.However, if I put the JSBs through the wrong gun, this will drop to 590fps. There is no doubt that a faster pellet will take less wind and have a flatter trajectory, and there can also be a bigger difference between pellets with different head sizes.By testing different pellets downrange, I now know which pellets work the best in each rifle, and there can be a huge difference. So this is why a chrono’ like the LMBR can certainly help your shooting.
You don;t need to break the bank to buy a chrono!A good friend of mine, Jason Lockett, swears by the ‘cheap as chips’ chronos that you can buy on eBay for under £30, and even though they read in metres per second, they will do the job. My Skan works brilliantly indoors, and my Combro lives in my car and is as accurate as anything else. I know I have said this before, but every shooter should have a chronograph, and for me, the LMBR R2a is the best of the bunch.
Let me know what you think, and if there is anything you want me to look at, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org – and if you want a chrono’ visit Ramsbottom’s
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