Tuesday, April 05, 2005

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.


At April 06, 2005 6:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey! you no what? your right. I thought your idea was a crock untel I trued it. What do you no it works. My groups were alot smaller when I rested the gun and let is move the way it wanted to. I shoot an rws diana 48 in 177 with cp lites. At 30 yards the best it could do befor ewas about an inch. Now its shooting in a group about the size of a diem which is way less. Thanks for the tip. Ray

At April 11, 2005 8:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

if u need to hold it a certant way are there sertaint wase of holding certant air rifles and if so are there any repeater rifles that arent CO2 and are still easy to handle.

At April 12, 2005 4:55 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Well, any precharged pneumatic will be as insensitive to hold as a CO2 rifle, but I suspect that what you are asking is whether there are any SPRING repeaters that are easy to hold. Since there aren't too many spring gun repeaters, the answer is, no, there aren't.

If you will accept a PCP, then yes, almost every one of them is insensitive to hold. Since most repeaters are PCP, that would be the way to go.


At May 17, 2005 3:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was wondering if you would have tips for pistol shooters. I suspect the same principles would be in effect for springer pistols, my guess is that for pneumatic pump pistols, this would not hold. Any other suggestions for pistol shooters, especially shooting pneumatic pumps like the Beeman P3 (I shoot the Marksman 2004 which is a clone).

At May 17, 2005 7:27 PM, Anonymous B.B. Pelletier said...

I did write a tip for pistol shooters on April 29. It's about shooting target pistols with one hand. And on April 14 I wrote about the correct grip for shooting a pistol.

I like to shoot pistols, so I'll get back to them several times, I promise. Thanks for your comments.


At June 03, 2008 2:10 AM, Blogger The Big Bore Addict said...

Hey B.B.

Just noticed that it's been a LONG time since an update in this thread.

Any new ideas or input you can add?


- The BBA -

At June 03, 2008 7:06 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...


This report was a single article. It was never intended as a serialized report.

The "safecracker" hold I talked about was the artillery hold. At the time this was written, I didn't want my identity known, so I was throwing people off the trail.


At June 03, 2008 11:28 PM, Blogger The Big Bore Addict said...


Thanks B.B.

- The BBA -

At June 17, 2008 7:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This does work great, but what do you reccimend doing when you are standing and shooting?

At June 17, 2008 7:45 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

When standing you have to use the right techniques for offhand shooting.



At July 04, 2008 7:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

okay if i hold my gun like this, i sight it in like this, i get it sighted in LIKE THIS, what do i do when im hunting? you cant hold a gun lightly and rest the gun on an open hand when you are hunting.

At July 04, 2008 7:43 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Sure you can! It's called the AAFTA sitting position and thousands of U.S. airgun hunters use it.

If you shoot mostly offhand, you should sight in that way.


At June 07, 2009 5:59 AM, Anonymous steve said...

Hi all like the man said dont grip a springer 2 tight and you wont go far wrong.
Even while hunting.


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