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Shooting Science


By Blake Egan Owner of Podium Pellets


The Importance of Pellet Testing: Part 1 of a Series


Hold onto your lead skirts


folks, this article is going to be a technical start to a se- ries about pellets. If you’re an elite-level, you probably know the importance that the


new decimal scoring


system has on both Qualifi - cation and in the Final. Rifl e and pistol shooting are al- ready precision sports, but decimal scoring leaves no room for errors, and that in- cludes everything down to the pellets that you shoot. Compromising on improper- ly-tested pellets can leave points up for grabs – it is im- portant to ensure that your pellets are properly lot test- ed and matched to your gun. In this article, we will ex-


plain what makes up a pellet and how to prepare to prop- erly pellet test. Our next se- ries will cover the details of testing. First off, let’s review the


anatomy of a pellet. Yes, it is essentially a piece of 99.97% pure lead molded into the form of a pellet. But every time a new batch of


lead is used, components of a tool are changed or a dif- ferent assembly line is used, the pellets change ever so slightly. Pellet manufactures have devised a “lot” num- ber system to group pellets created under the same conditions. This number varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but in gen- eral it comprises the tooling information, date and other items. For example, pel- lets manufactured by the Czech company JSB have lot numbers such as Lot #36560814. This tells us quite a bit about the pellet. “36” is the die number (com- posed of multiple parts), “56” is the machine opera- tor and inspector team, “08” is the month, and “14” is the year. If any of the tool- ing or production aspects change, the pellet will most likely shoot differently. Since no gun barrel is exactly the same, and since no batch of pellets is exactly the same, this leaves


shooters with a gun that may or may not


shoot the best “lot” of pel- lets for their gun. Matching your pellet to that ever-so- expensive gun is nearly as important as the gun itself. A quality gun that is not shoot- ing matched pellets does not allow the gun to perform at its optimum ability. So, how do you prepare your equipment for testing?


Ensure the Gun is in Optimum Working Condition The fi rst step in testing


your air gun is ensuring that the gun is in optimum work- ing condition. This means that the seals are not dam- aged, the cylinders hold pressure and that the regu- lator is working properly. We recommend that you shoot the gun through a chrono-


The group refl ects a nice 5.8 mm diameter group, a solid group for pellet testing. Most electronic target systems will measure group diameter.


44 USA Shooting News | May 2015


Place your chronograph within a few feet of the gun barrel and keep it as centered as possible.


graph and ensure that the feet per second (fps) match- es the feet or meters per sec- ond that the manufacture recommends for the gun. In general, the fps should not vary much over 10-15 fps. To test this, simply set the chronograph approximately two feet away from the end of the barrel and shoot a large enough sample size of around 20 pellets and record each number. If you want to really get precise, you can calculate your stan- dard deviation. The higher the level of competition, the more precise you’ll want your testing results to be.


Set Up Your Testing Area You need a secure vise and a sturdy target frame or paper holder for testing. A fi rmly-held vise does no good if the target moves on a loosely-held frame. If ei- ther moves even a few mil-


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