Are complete outfits the buyers’ choice of the future?
The editor investigates - (See Bottom for Competition)
By Terry Doe
This month’s Editor’s Test is a total departure, not least because I’m not actually testing an airgun. Under test this time around, is a concept, and I believe it’s an important one. Among the thousands of questions we at this magazine are asked throughout each and every year, the most frequent theme is, ‘what should I buy?’ This is entirely understandable in any equipment-based sport, and all the more so due to the mind-boggling array of hardware available to today’s airgunner.
This type of question isn’t reserved for newcomers, either. Experienced shooters can also be unsure of new developments and emerging technology, and we get plenty of long-term readers contacting us for advice, and that too is perfectly understandable, especially when assembling a complete combination.
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve talked shooters through their entire proposed kit list; air rifle, scope, mounts, pellets and rifle case, plus all sorts of other accessories such as bipods, chronos, cleaning kits and limitless items of hunting gear. At the end of these conversations, my advice is always the same, ‘Once you’ve bought it, take all the time you need to set it all up perfectly.’ This is incredibly important, and I usually leave the person I’ve just advised with a final thought, ‘No matter how much you spend, no combination will ever serve you properly if you don’t set it up right.’
Choosing the right gear is a massively complicated task, and getting any part of it wrong can seriously affect your success rate and therefore the amount of pleasure you get from this sport. This in turn will play its part on whether you stick with it, or not, and that is a huge driving force for me, and for anyone else who is passionate about the future of airgunning. Thus, my ears pricked up when Jim, an Airgun World reader of 15 years standing, phoned me to tell me how happy he and his mate, Tony, were after a visit to Hertfordshire airgun superstore, Ronnie Sunshines.
OUR READERS’ EXPERIENCE
James wanted a BSA R10, scope, mounts and bipod, and when he and Tony went to Ronnie Sunshines for a midweek recce, James learned about their in-store complete combo superdeals, which included an outfit that listed exactly what he needed, at a price that, according to Jim, ‘saved me a right few bob.’ Then Jim became really animated about what came next.
After saving ‘a right few bob’, Jim was delighted to discover that the Ronnie’s deal also included a lifetime warranty and servicing for the original purchaser, plus a full day on the Gun range for himself and Tony. Jim could also have had his new outfit assembled by one of the Ronnie Sunshines’ technicians, but Jim was happy to do that himself.
A DAY AT RONNIE SUNSHINES
As revealed in last month’s issue, I recently dropped in to see David Craze and his crew at Ronnie Sunshines, to see the ‘complete outfit’ deal in action. David took me through the whole ‘what the customer gets’ process, and I could see immediately what Jim and Tony were so happy about. I came away with exactly the same BSA R10SE ‘Pro Kit’ outfit Jim had bought and I thought I’d go through the components to see how well they all worked together, after which I’d study the whole concept of having your gear chosen for you. I found the process extremely interesting and it threw up a question I’d like you to help me answer. Let’s study the gear, then.
I’ve used the BSA R10 Air rifle pretty much since it was released, and I was part of this rifle’s pre-production testing team, so I have no doubts about its performance or potential. For the few who aren’t familiar with the BSA R10, it’s a right-hand, bolt-action, fully-regulated, pre-charged pneumatic sporter that runs a removable, rotary, 10-shot magazine. It has a fully-adjustable, two-stage trigger, an oiled walnut stock with hardwood fore end tip and grip cap set off by whiteline spacers, plus a height-adjustable butt pad.
The R10SE is supplied from a 280cc buddy bottle that is charged with air via a push-in adaptor, and each charge should supply over 150 shots in .177 and over 200 in .22, with minimal variation throughout, thanks to that regulated action.
BSA makes its own, cold hammer forged barrels and this version of the R10SE comes with that barrel fully shrouded and tipped with the factory’s own silencer. Accuracy is a given, and past testing produced sub-20mm groups at 45 yards in .177, using Air Arms Diabolo Field pellets. If you can outshoot a properly set up one of these, I’d surely like to meet you.
THE SCOPE AND MOUNTS
The team at Ronnie Sunshines have matched a Hawke 4-16 x 50IR scope with Hawke mounts. Hawke does an incredible amount of in-house testing on its products, so I’d have complete confidence that this scope and mounts will complement the quality of the rifle. That 4-16 format is my personal favourite for all-round hunting use and the Hawke’s 50mm objective and illuminated reticle will take its owner round the clock, from first light stalking, through lamping trips.
The Pro Kit outfit I took away from Ronnie Sunshines includes an adjustable-height, tilting bipod, a quick-detachable, BSA sling, and a high-quality, fully-padded hard case to keep everything secure. Study this outfit from any angle you like, and there’s no doubting the quality of the hardware. Back it all up with that free servicing for life and lifetime warranty for the original purchaser, plus a full day on the range with expert advice on setting it all up, and it’s obvious why these total package deals are as popular as they are.
THE FINANCIAL ASPECT
Cold, hard cash is still often king of the world of airgun hardware purchasing, and the simple fact that opting for the £995 Pro Kit saves its owner a full £140 over buying the components individually. That’s an awful lot to spend on pellets or whatever. Now factor in the 0% finance deal on offer, and for many the whole complete kit thing becomes a no-brainer – but are they missing out on something very important? Let’s see.
THE PLEASURE OF CHOOSING
Like many reading this, I’m an old hand at this airgunning lark and I get great satisfaction out of browsing the pages of airgun mags and the shelves of gun shops. The process of choosing has always been a source of pleasure to me, rather than the daunting, scary phase of airgun ownership it represents for so many. Seeking views, I consulted fellow club members and friends of a shooting persuasion, and their answers genuinely surprised me. More than half didn’t share my pleasure in researching hardware choices. One chap, who I thought for certain would agree with me, said, ‘Nah, it’s a pain, all this trying to choose the right gear. The fact is, if you’ve got a lifetime’s warranty and servicing, there’s no worries if something goes wrong. I’ll take that over your ‘pleasure of choosing’ thing all day long’. There wasn’t a lot I could say in reply to that. I’d still like to know what our readers think, though. Are we missing out by letting experts select our outfits for us, or is the range of outfits on offer all the choice we need?
GOOD FOR THE SPORT?
I’ll finish on the angle I touched upon earlier, that making it easier for people to get properly kitted out can only benefit our sport. After researching the whole ‘complete kit’ deal, I’m more convinced than ever that it’s a good thing. For its survival and progress, our sport needs to recruit as many responsible participants as possible. As long as they’re safe, legal, and have the well-being of our sport and its participants in mind, for me it’s a case of ‘the more the merrier’.
Smoothing the process of buying quality airgun hardware, be that by making the buyer’s choices for them, reducing the cost, offering peace of mind for the future, or providing a set-up and familiarisation service – or ideally all of these things – has absolutely no downside for those looking to get into our sport, or upgrade their commitment to it through better hardware. An easier journey will encourage more to take it, and I’m all in favour of that.
If that ‘more easily bought’ equipment is the right gear, set up the proper way, then the odds of its successful use are raised immeasurably. There’s a magical point in any sport when someone believes ‘I really can do this!’, and those of us who reached that point will never forget it. More importantly for the sport itself, that realisation is a major factor in retaining our interest and increasing our numbers.
The concept has been around for decades, but I believe the current complete outfit deals are offering more to our sport than ever. My only suggestion for improvement is for every outfit to also contain a flier or two for the nearest airgun club or gun range. If we could get well-equipped, properly set up shooters heading toward the airgun clubs of our nation – that really would be the dream team!
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