Prep makes perfect! Join Gary Chillingworth as he reveals how he’s planning for the year ahead by ensuring his kit is functioning as it should be, his insurance is up to date, and his pellets are in tip top condition...

Hello everyone, I hope you are all fit and well and like me, itching to get back to shooting regularly. Fingers crossed, it looks like competitive HFT should start very soon and events like the Worlds and the UKAHFT have even posted some tentative dates on the calendar.

With this in mind, it’s time to start digging out the rifles, scopes, pellets,mats, bags and boots and get them ready for the season ahead, so this month’s article is about providing a check list, to help us all get our kit ready and make the most of the shoots to come.

Check your rifles!
Okay, so the first thing that we need to do is extricate our rifles from their slumber and check that they have retained pressure since we packed them away.

Some rifles may have had very small air leaks and will have dumped all their air, and they’ll need to be refilled – remember, some rifles like the S400 have to be cocked before filling, when they have an empty cylinder. As ever, always check that the rifle isn’t loaded before doing any checks.

If your rifle has lost its air, refill it and make a note of the pressure on the rifle’s gauge, and if you can, leave it for a day or so to see if the pressure holds. During the months of non-use, the ‘O’ rings could have become brittle, and the rifle might need a service, and if this is the case, then take the rifle to a reputable gunsmith if you are not confident about doing the work yourself, and get them to give it a spring clean.

If you have a springer, then it might be worth giving it a strip down and lubrication, and remember, if you greased the barrel before placing the rifle into storage, this needs to be cleaned out and the rifle re-zeroed. If all the pressures are good, make sure that all the bolts, and stock screws are nice and tight, and that includes the scope as well.

Changes over time
The next thing is to shoot a string of about 50 pellets through the chronograph to see how the rifle is performing. With luck, the rifle will be consistent, but if it isn’t, it’s worth considering your pellets; have they become oxidised over time? If you are using lubricated pellets that were lubed last year, do they need cleaning and relubing?

Once you have the rifle shooting consistently, it’s time to take a quick look at your bottle. I checked mine the other day and as a I shoot a springer and rarely use a PCP, I don’t fill guns very often, so I was amazed when I noticed that my bottle’s test ran out 18 months ago, so it needs to be sent in for a hydrotest and recertification. A surface bottle needs to be tested every five years at the cost of around £35.

For my HW100KT, I have a range card, but things do change over time. I’ve noticed that my eyes have become slightly worse over the last year, and this has affected what I see though my scope. In the past, everything was clear from 14 to 41 yards, so I knew that if the targets were blurry, then they were under 14 yards, or over 41. Now that my eyes have changed, I am now blurry from 16 out to 38 yards, but with a quick adjustment of the fast focus, I have managed to reset it to the my previous settings.

The rifle had kept its zero and luckily, all the aim points on my card were the same, but the rifle felt strange in my hands, especially on the supported standers. Over the last 18 months I had lost the muscle memory of this rifle, and it took me a good two to three hundred pellets to get it back.

So, we now know that the gun and scope are good and that all the bolts, screws, hamsters, butt pads and cheek risers are nice and tight. I also know that I need to get my bottle tested and filled and that my range cards are correct.

Dirty bags!
Lastly, I looked at my bag, mat and beanbag. My AIM gun bag is a bit grubby, but after a quick vacuum and a jet wash, it was good to go. My mat has a small rip on the back and was quickly fixed with some flex tape, and a small rodent had made a nest in my beanbag, so after it was evicted and the bag washed in the machine, it was time to re-stuff with beads that I’d bought on eBay for a few pounds.

Finally, I checked the UKAHFT website for any rule changes for 2021, and that my insurance was up to date. If I have missed anything, then please let me know at and I hope to see you all soon. Stay safe, Gary.