Advanced accuracy tips: Part 1
by B.B. Pelletier
I want to share some accuracy tips I've learned over the years. These should be added to all the tips this blog has covered since it started. There are too many of those to recap here, but searching for them would be well worth the effort. You should look at the postings about scopes, scope mounting (including levels), anything about pellets and barrel cleaning. Today's two tips cover all kinds of airguns.
Tip 1. Relax!
I don't mean melt into a puddle...just relax before you take each shot. And, not just you - make sure the GUN is relaxed, too! What do I mean by that? I mean, make sure the gun is not being held in a cramped or forced position, that it can move in any direction after the shot is fired. This tip is especially good when shooting a spring rifle, but it also works for all other kinds of rifles and pistols. Here's a good way to ensure that you're relaxed with a scoped rifle.
After you are sighted on target, close your eyes and force yourself to relax. Now, open your eyes. Where are the sights aiming? That's where your rifle wants to shoot! So, make some adjustments and try it again until your sights remain on target.
With a target pistol, you have to hold the pistol on target. Your shooting arm can't be relaxed, but the rest of your body can be! So, do the same thing, but allow for the shooting arm. Get on target, close your eyes, relax and open your eyes to see where the sights are aiming. When shooting a pistol and when shooting a rifle offhand, I find that the position of my feet has a lot to do with where I'm aimed after relaxing.
When I want to make the best possible group, I always do the above, and I go through the procedure as many times as it takes. I stop going through this drill when I open my eyes and the sights are still on target. That can take over a minute per shot, especially if I have to move between shots to cock and load the gun.
Tip 2. Find the power level and pellet that your gun likes - and stick to it!
This tip applies mostly to those airguns with adjustable power, but all guns will have a favorite pellet. It has been my experience that each airgun with adjustable power has a spot or two where it performs really well. If you change pellets, the spot may change, too. Find the power spot for your gun and keep it there for best results. Also, find the pellet that your gun likes best, which I've covered in several past posts.
The shooters who are hung up on velocity have a hard time doing this. I have actually taken an "inaccurate" pneumatic rifle and shot a group nearly one-fourth the size the owner had been getting. I did it by turning the power down in every case. After the group was shot, the shooter told me he only wanted to run his gun on the maximum power setting. Fine - but don't blame your airgun for your own failure to understand what it takes to be accurate. That's like entering a draft horse the Kentucky Derby or pulling a wagon with a thoroughbred!
Here is an actual incident to support my story. I knew a shooter who wanted to get the most from his Sheridan Blue Streak. He sent it off to have the powerplant upgraded. When it came back, it was set to allow as many as 14 pump strokes instead of the factory-recommended 8. The shooter then loaded his rifle with super heavyweight Korean .20 caliber pellets that delivered over 20 foot-pounds when he pumped his gun as high as it would go. He shot 1-1/8" 5-shot groups at 30 yards with this combination. With the same rifle, I pumped just six times and shot five Crosman Premiers into a 3/8" group at 30 yards. That was with the upgraded rifle! The upgrade had increased the power, but the accuracy had been there all the time.
Crosman stopped making Premiers in .20 caliber a short while back, then they were persuaded to start making them again. The world supply is short as this is printed, but the Crosman domed pellet is close enough until Premiers come back.
I know Premiers work well in Sheridan Blue and Silver Streaks. I've never seen one that didn't like them. While they may not be the absolute best pellet in these rifles, they will probably always be in the top five. I don't have to waste my time trying hundreds of pellets for a Blue Streak, I stick with them until someone shows me something better.