Controlling pests on more than a thousand acres across the south of England means Alpha Militaria’s Rich Saunders is no stranger to shooting in the dark, in fact he finds it the best time of the day to tackle rabbits and rats.
He’s been using ATN X-Sights for almost as long as he can remember, usually on Daystate rifles. In fact, his current set up is a .25 calibre FAC-rated Red Wolf on which he uses an X-Sight 4K Pro 5-20x most of the time.
However, having recently gained another permission, he needed a more compact and lighter set up. The farm grows strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, as well as plants and shrubs for the garden industry. Covering some 300 acres, rabbits are a constant problem, causing thousands of pounds of damage each year by eating the crop and chewing through irrigation pipes.
“They just can’t help themselves,” he says. “The problem is that breaks in the pipes cause water pressure drop and potentially crops to be ruined.”
With such a vast area to deal with, covering the ground on foot isn’t an option so instead, Rich drives around in his truck, spotting rabbits with a thermal monocular and shooting them through the open window. It helps that the rabbits are used to farm vehicles and don’t pay them much attention.
The only snag with the plan is that whilst his Red Wolf / ATN X-Sight 4K Pro combination is great for stalking and ambush tactics, it is too big in the confines of a truck. His solution has been to use an FX Impact mk2 and a PARD NV008P LRF. And because he is restricted to driving the lanes that criss-cross the farm, shots often present themselves at distances too far for 12 ft. lbs. legal limit rifles. To overcome that hurdle, his .30 calibre FX Impact has been tuned to deliver 95 ft. lbs.
“People ask why I don’t use a .22 LR or .17 HMR,” says Rich. “The truth is I like airguns and the combination is easily capable of taking rabbits cleanly at 60 or even 70 metres. Although it’s a big area, there’s always the chance of a ricochet with a .22 LR and there are several cottages on the farm I have to be mindful of which puts me off using a .17 HMR.”
With 44.75 grain pellets, the FX Impact hits extremely hard and is better able to withstand the effects of any breeze, although Rich is experimenting with a second rifle, an FAC-rated Daystate Delta Wolf, which he has set up to shoot slugs.
However, regardless of the capabilities of his rifle, he finds that the limiting factor at night is the ability to see small quarry such as rabbits clearly. He finds the PARD NV008 LRF the ideal tool. Weighing only 450g and measuring just 162mm long, it’s the ideal partner for the compact and light FX Impact and Delta Wolf.
The tiny onboard infrared (IR) illuminator has three brightness settings and is more than capable of lighting up targets at the range Rich shoots over. And despite sometimes spending all night shooting, the rechargeable 18650 battery usually provides enough power, although he always has a spare to hand just in case.
As anyone who has shot at night knows, judging distance is extremely difficult, especially if shooting over open land. Having opted for the LRF version of the NV008, Rich is able to accurately measure ranges at the press of a button and adjust his aim point accordingly.
Written by Richard Saunders of Alpha Militaria