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FT Equipment
In the UK, 0.177 inch (4.5 mm) caliber rifles are the most popular, as the higher velocity (relative to a .22” rifle of the same power) of the pellets means they fly with a flatter trajectory over the distances involved. One downside is that .177” pellets are very light and can be affected more by light crosswinds than the heavier pellets of a .22” (5.5 mm) rifle. Pre-Charged Pneumatic (PCP) rifles are more popular than spring guns as the much lower recoil provides more confidence in aim for most people. There are some FT shooters who compete at a very high level with a spring gun, and a well-engineered gun, shot with some skill will be no less accurate than a PCP. There are some “dedicated” FT designs available, with the main features being a deep stock or adjustable platform ("Hamster") to rest on the knee while shooting seated, a high or adjustable cheek-piece to suit the large telescopic sights, and often an adjustable butt or butt hook. Many experienced shooters have chosen to use made-to-measure custom stocks for their rifles, and there are a small number of stockers in the UK who compete in FT and have a good understanding of the specific requirements of the sport.
Telescopic sights are favoured for obvious reasons – it is often difficult to see the kill zone of the furthest targets clearly with the naked eye. Another advantage of high-magnification scopes is their ability to act as a simple range-finding tool. At very high magnifications, most scopes have a very shallow depth of field, and one can accurately focus on a series of targets at known distances and mark the scope for future reference. In competition you simply focus on the target and deduce the distance from the marks you made on the scope’s focus control. Some scopes use a side-wheel parallax adjustment to control focus (rather than a camera-like focus ring on the objective bell of the scope), and this allows the use of large diameter wheels to increase the distance between range markings and effectively improve ranging resolution.