What is a L-O-N-G shot?

by B.B. Pelletier

We read a lot about long shots with a pellet gun, but what really qualifies as a long shot? 50 yards? 75? 100?

50 yards is LONG!
I’ve read in gun magazines about riflemen taking 200-yard shots, but whenever I visit my local gun club, the 50-yard range is always the most crowded. An examination of spent brass left on the range confirms that 5.56mm and 7.62x39mm shooters (AR-15 and SKS/AKM shooters) like 50 yards a lot more than 100 and beyond.

So, with firearms we like to READ about 200-yard shots, but we SHOOT more at 50 yards. So it is with pellet rifles; only for us, 50 yards is a long distance.

Fifty yards is 150 feet. It’s so far that you can sense the interval the pellet takes to travel to the target. If the sun is behind you, you can often see the pellet flying out to the target.

One-inch groups are SMALL
If 50 yards seems standard in print, so does a one-inch group. An American quarter is 0.996″ in diameter. So, a one-inch group is one in which ALL shots touch a quarter. Thinking about it that way puts a different perspective on things. Can YOU hit a quarter five times out of five at 150 feet?

What makes long shots more difficult?
Sighting errors are a big problem. Any cant or parallax can throw your shot several INCHES off target. Hold is another problem, especially with spring guns. Unless you hold right, you get three-inch groups. Read about the correct spring rifle hold in the April 5th post, How to shoot an airgun accurately

The wind presents a challenge
I’ve watched pellets curve several inches when there’s wind from the side.
It’s like watching through a telephoto lens as a major-league pitcher throws a hard-breaking curve ball. But the pellet doesn’t JUST go to the side! It also climbs or dives, depending on the direction of the wind and the direction the pellet is spinning.

A pellet spinning to the right will move to the right and down when the wind comes from the left. But a wind from the right will move the same right-spinning pellet to the left and UP! The upward movement won’t be as pronounced as the downward movement because gravity will offset it to a large extent, but it will move in that direction because a spinning body always moves 90 degrees to the angle of an outside force. Wind can play some mean tricks on a long-range shooter.

Last, but not least, is the effect of stabilization
When a pellet is stable, it flies true.
When it is not stable, it will flutter and move about wildly. Heavy pellets that move too slowly will be unstable and may exhibit this phenomenon. You can tell when this is happening because the hole in the target paper will become elongated. That demonstrates the pellet is not flying nose-first through the target.

Yes, 50 yards is a VERY long distance to shoot a pellet rifle. That’s not to say you can’t shoot farther if you want to, but expect to be faced with all the challenges to accuracy as the distance to the target increases.

13 Responses to “What is a L-O-N-G shot?”

  • Anonymous Says:

    I have a question. My son’s neighborhood is over run with racoons. He shot the first one with his Ruger 1022 but it stirred up the neighbors too much. You know how it is. They hate the racoons but are more afraid of a gun.
    What gun and pellet would you choose if quietness but power was important? He said head shots at 20-25 feet are the norm.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    A raccoon is a large animal, so the first shot has to kill it right away. Also, raccoons are known to be carriers of rabies, so never touch the dead animal with your bare hands. The best way to pick up a carcass is to reach through the bottom of a large strong trash bag and draw the animal into the bag tail-first (after making certain it is dead!)

    That said, I think a Benjamin Sheridan Blue Streak pneumatic will do the job. The report will be loud, but just a small fraction of the 10/22. Pump the gun 8 times and shoot Crosman Premier pellets. As close as you are shooting and under the conditions (moving animal, hard-to-see shots, etc.) I think open sights are the best bet. You should be able to hit a penny at 30 feet offhand with this rifle.

    Be sure to sight in for the approximate range you will be shooting, and study the anatomy of raccoons before attempting a shot.

    If you think the Blue Streak is still too loud, you can reduce the noise by half by going to a spring-piston rifle. For this job, I recommend a Beeman R9 in .22 caliber. An RWS 48 in .22 would even be better.

    I would not shoot a raccoon with a .177 because the pellet is too small for the animal. You want something with lots of punch that won’t go through the animal, and .20 or .22 is a better choice.

    Your son has some experience killing raccoons at close range, but caution him to have an escape route in case his first shot doesn’t do the job. A raccoon is a dangerous animal that can do serious harm when wonded and angry.

    Good luck.

  • Anonymous Says:

    Look into the Airforce “tallon SS” very fowerfull…around 850 fps in 22cal, adjustable to around 400 by turning a knob. It comes with an intergrated silencer that makes it quiet as a mouse.

  • D SMEDLEY Says:

    THESE ARE NOT LONG SHOTS BUT I WANTED TO REPORT BACK TO YOU MY RESULTS ON CROSMAN PREMIER AND JSB EXACT PELLETS. USING MY RWS 350M IN .22 CAL.
    ALL SHOTS WERE AT 20YDS FROM A SOLID REST USING A LEUPOLD 3X9 SCOPE SET AT 5X. I SHOT 5 3 SHOT GROUPES WITH EACH PELLET. THE PREMIERS AVERAGED 5/16 INCH CENTER TO CENTER. GROUPS RANGED FROM 1/8 TO 7/16. THE JSB’S AVERAGED 9/16 INCH CENTER TO CENTER WITH A GROUP RANGE OF 5/16 TO 7/8. THE CROSMAN PELLETS FIT TIGHTER IN MY BARREL AND I THINK THIS IMPROVES ACCURACY. I HAVE SHOT A FEW PIGEONS WITH THIS RIFLE AND THE PREMIERS OUT AT 60 AND 70 YDS. BUT I’VE MISED AS MANY AS I’VE HIT AT THIS RANGE. I WISH I COULD GET THE HEAVIER JSB’S TO SHOOT BETTER. I DO THINK THIS WOULD BE A GREAT RIFLE PELLET COMBO FOR THOSE RACCOONS.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    D Smedley,

    The Premiers are the best in your rifle. I think that’s due to the power of the 350M.

    You might try an H&N Baracuda, which is the same as a Beeman Kodiak.They might do even better than the Premiers. Abd they are quite a bit heavier.

    And your gun would be excellent for raccoons, as you say.

    B.B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    To the reader who mentioned the Talon SS – watch the blog next Tuesday.

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    I just took out a rabbit at 25 yards using a predator pellet (.177). Amazing it was a perfect headshot right behind the eye. The rabbit only gave one twitch before laying dead still. I used a winchester 1000FPS air rifle with scope.

  • Anonymous Says:

    You said that benjamin sheridan blue streak can kill a racoon. I have heard some comments from owners of more powerfull rifles bragging about their rifles for killing racoons. I also came across some websites that publish pictures of airgun “hunters” who hunt squirrels with RWS 350 in their backyard (gotta be hell of a backyard, I guess). I am confused here. I’m thinking about purchasing Benjamin Discovery. What can I hunt within 30-45 yard range with it?

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Discovery,

    I would stop at woodchucks, raccoons and turkeys.

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    I used to regularly shoot my FWB 124D 100 yards and group on average about 1 1/2" as long as there was no wind.
    50 yards with it was no problem at all and average less than 3/4" groups.
    50 yards, not that long for a good airgun doing at least 800+ fps.
    100 yards is a long shot, but today with the Airforce condor in .22 & .25 cal have made 100 yards not exactly long shots either.

  • Stephen Says:

    We have a raccoon that so far has massacred 11 of my chickens. This evening I got him in the forehead between the eyes with a .177 from a Gamo big cat 1200. He simply did a somersault and ran away. I expect him back. He will spend hours every night trying to break into the coop until he succeeds. Do you think .22 subsonics would work better? I can't use a full round at 1am in our neighborhood.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Stephen,

    Almost anything will be better than a .177 pellet rifle. But will your .22 rifle hold its shots on a quarter at the expected engagement range?

    Too bad you don't own an AirForce Condor. That would roll a coon out to 50 yards and hold five shots on a quarter for sure.

    B.B.

  • Bobby Nations Says:

    Stephen,

    Raccoons have tough foreheads! I experienced the same thing that you did when I tried to dispatch a raccoon that had killed one of my chickens; the pellet left a furrow between it's eyes and nothing more. Fortunately, he was in a live trap at the time, so running off wasn't an option.

    Living in a subdivision as I do, firearms were right out the window, so I was forced to use my Ruger Airhawk for the task. What I found was that I needed to shoot him from the side of his head right between the ear and the eyeball. He went down like a light with one shot in the proper place.

    BTW, you'll get a lot more answers if you post to the present day's blog as this sight is for archival purposes only. The current blog can always be found at http://airgun-academy.pyramydair.com/blog/

    Cheers,

    Bobby

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