Republished with permission from stuntkite.de
The new freestyler by R-Sky has been available since mid-June. Several 2.2m wingspan designs have been “shooting up” of late, some of which landed in my kitebag
The Shooter is a true R-Sky kite ! The shape and design are typical of the famous Roger Tessa Gambassi kite workshop. Richard Debray and the R -Sky team pilots are proving very successful with this kite and they demonstrate that France is still absolutely top notch in sport kite technology.
I tested the “Ultra” version with a suggested retail price of €289. It is, apart from the spine, framed with Skyshark 3PT and 5PT. The slightly cheaper option costs €249 and is framed with P300 and 6mm pultruded carbon fiber. The spine for both versions is 6mm.
The specified dimensions for the kite are 219x90cm, however mine measured 210x93cm. The weight is about 260g of which 10.5g is to be found in the brass weight at the spine end. The inner bridle is attached slightly below the centre cross. The lower outer bridle has its place directly under the connectors.
The nose is made of corse Cordura, the top spreader sail protector made from Dacron. The stand-off re-inforcements are generously reinforced with Mylar and stand-off connectors on the sail are common variants with a small bevelled washer. Otherwise R-Sky’s sail construction is cleanly executed with no frills. And yet, despite the thoughtful construction, I still found myself with the occasional line snag.
The Shooter is a thoroughly modern design, which is well trimmed for freestyle and is hardly overpitched. It’s not a kite for light winds, and certainly not for light gusty winds ! However, in steady 6mph it develops into a “tracker” – pure French style ! For its size, the Shooter does have significant pull and so it happened that it broke my 90lb Liros lines at around 15mph.
Regarding linesets, I found 100ft and 90-150lb breaking strength to be the sweet spot. Flown at 80ft length, I found the Shooter to be pretty hectic, too sensitive and aggressive. The kite has little opportunity to run freely and the pilots needs lightning fast reactions and maximum slack control. With 115ft lines it felt a little too remote and unresponsive for my liking.
The power needs to be controlled. Roger has configured the kite with the ability to fly tight corners in a small space. The kite has a very tight turning radius, so the untrained pilots will have their difficulties not to “overshoot” the desired 90° degrees. But you get used to it quite quickly. The Shooter needs a tough hand and inputs around corners.
The kite’s sound is rather tinny, lacking a leech line and double stitched hem will produce a not too noisy but quite uniform tone.
I have flown the Shooter at winds between 3pmh and 35mph. I would recommend winds between 9mph and 21mph. Below that one quite often loses control and the drive is often not enough to fly properly. Over 18mph it develops a very powerful pull, but still tricks very easily. The interaction of pressure and low slack demand required, at least for me at first, took a bit of getting used to it as you tend for very strong inputs when the kite is pulling strong. At first this seems slightly disproportionate, but when you think about it the Shooter’s setup makes perfect sense.
The straight line flying thanks to the enormous pressure is correspondingly good. Equipped with a three-point bridle, the kite doesn’t need any special commands for push-pull inputs to accelerate out of the corners. Speed control is not a particular strength of the Shooter, it converts gusts very directly into speed. The generous use of nylon panels do not help much there unfortunately.
The Shooter tends to over-steer tight turns or loops, which was more noticeable under 6mph and with short lines (80ft). I test flew the kite almost exclusively on the first knot (flatest) setup. Even in gusty winds often missing the sail pressure, it can happen that after an Axel the kite will fall towards the ground.
Designed for all modern tricks, the Shooter has an aggressive horizontal axis, but without getting stuck in a Turtle. The Turtle is deep, but not provided (as in many other current models) with auto-lift. That makes two-point landings from 6mph pure bliss ! Such a tight turning radius makes it a brute(?) even under full load to force a two-point landing without having to be afraid of losing her in the turtle, for that you have to keep the lines very tight!
Negative moves like YoFade and CrazyCopter are pretty easy. They need a more careful setup than taller designs such as the Toxic or Vortex, but Shooter performs these tricks more accurately/cleanly in my opinion.
A major criticism is the pressure buildup in the wrapped state ! If you want to fly wrapped up, the Shooter begins to pump. As soon as it receives pressure the kite swings on the horizontal axis and won’t allow a normal flight. The reason for this is that probably that the Yoyo stoppers are positioned too low on the leading edge.
The Shooter requires careful slack line management, otherwise you’ll lose it, as already written above, even with basics such as an Axel. The Taz Machine needs a very short first input and immediate confirmation by the second, otherwise you lose the move and the the Shooter tends to wrap up. Once you’ve adapted to these short/quick inputs, you’re rewarded with wonderful Taz cascades without much effort ! Yoyo TazMachines are super easy because it needs minimal commands for Taz and has zero ambition to fly further wrapped up – it unwraps automatically no matter what the wind.
The Shooter spins incredibly quickly at Axel turns, so that the Axel Cascade needs short and fast inputs to prevent oversteer. For a descending Axel Cascade you need some more pressure on the sail.
The Shooter has a “dead spot” when transitioning from pancake to fade. Whilst this can be easily compensated, it can be an annoying gotcha for novice fliers. Half-Axel to Fade, however is a challenge in low wind. It transitions rather quickly into a wobbly fade and the nose tends to come up high and when theres no pressure built up, the kite becomes unstable and starts oscillating. This trait is not uncommon with more designs, but I felt this is a negative against this design.
The backspin is immediately triggered even without accurate setup. The fast rotation on the back allow for a tremendous speed in backspin. But this exactly requires a very strong stopping for a Backspin Cascade. If the Shooter isn’t stopped hard for the counter rotating backspin, she completely denies rotations in the opposite direction !
Cometes with the shooter are a bit quirky. From flowing to akwardness is only a small step and it needs an accurate hand to fly fairly stationary or flying smoothly without major loss of altitude. If you don’t find this fine point, some of the energy dissipates in the (in that moment) too soft wings. However, if granted too much slack, it’ll punish you with one and a half rotations and subsequent total pressure loss.
The Cynique worked for me (not my best discipline) relatively easy. Goffing (if you like this) can also be done relatively simple. Guided Multi Lazys (La pedals) are not a strength, because the Shooter is quite low but not particularly stable in the Turtle. Normally triggered Multi Lazys are on the other hand are no problem.
When I tore my Liros DC40 lines, the spontaneous loss of pressure was so immense that the lower spreader pulled out of the ferrule. This happened to me again while I flew Cometes around 30mph. Both were extreme situations for which the Shooter could not be blamed
So, despite a few quirks, the Shooter a very easy and well-balanced modern freestyler.