How to shoot an airgun accurately
By B.B. Pelletier
Here is a question that came into Pyramyd Air recently.
I have an RWS model 34 with a BSA scope. Everything is tightened down securely, but my shots "wander" all over the target even when bench sighting it. It's not ME... I shot competitively in the Marines, Also, it WAS locked in for very tight groups...now I can't figure it out. Any advice???
Hold it soft for accuracy
The hold you learned in the Marines for centerfire competition is completely wrong for a recoiling spring air rifle like the RWS 34. You get away with it when shooting a centerfire because of the speed the bullet is moving, whether 5.56mm or 7.62mm. If you had been a smallbore target shooter, you would have learned a completely different hold.
For best accuracy with an air rifle, hold it this way
Let the airgun rest ON your off hand – nothing else. Don’t grasp the stock with your fingers. DO NOT rest your air rifle directly on sandbags or your groups will suffer. Rest the forearm on the OPEN palm of your hand. You CAN lay your hand on a sandbag, if you like.
Only TOUCH your shoulder lightly with the rifle’s buttpad – don’t hold it in tight. And grip the pistol grip with AS LIGHT a grip as possible. Let your cheek ONLY KISS the comb of the stock. But try to rest the forearm on the SAME place and put your cheek on the SAME place on the comb, EVERY TIME!
Every facet of this hold allows the air rifle to recoil AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. That is the secret to accurate shooting with an air rifle (and with any other smallbore target rifle, as well).
The "safecracker" hold gets results!
Hold your rifle like a safecracker works a lock - lightly! That normalizes the recoil and vibration patterns from shot to shot. With a spring air rifle like the RWS 34, the pellet does not begin to move in the barrel until the heavy spring-loaded piston has slammed to a stop! Nobody can hold the gun still against that movement.
In addition to recoil, your air rifle has many minor vibrations when it fires. The hold described above allows those small vibrations and the two-way recoil of the rifle to repeat the exact same way from shot to shot. When the pellet leaves the muzzle, it's at the same point in the recoil/vibration cycle every time.
If you try to hold the gun tightly, you set up counter-recoil nodes and counter-vibration nodes that differ from one shot to another and your groups will be open.
Try this method and get back to me.