The importance of the artillery hold

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

While I was at the courthouse awaiting jury selection the other day, I was reading a favorite gun book, Yours Truly Harvey Donaldson, edited by David R. Wolfe and published in 1980 by Wolfe Publishing Company, Prescott, Arizona. In the book, Wolfe assembles letters and articles written by Harvey Donaldson, one of America’s top shooters, and cartridge developers. He is best-known for his .219 Donaldson Wasp cartridge, but he actually worked on dozens of different centerfire cartridges over the 89 years of his fruitful life. And he was a schuetzen shooter on top of all of that. Schuetzen rifles are single-shot rifles with incredibly accurate barrels that shoot lead bullets at low velocities. They typically shoot at 100 and 200 yards, either offhand or rested on a bench. The best of them have been known to put 10 bullets into a group that measures under one-half inch at 200 yards, which is a challenge that’s difficult to equal with modern arms today.

So, Donaldson knew how to shoot. And that’s the connection to today’s report. I read a paragraph that Donaldson wrote for an article that appeared in American Rifleman magazine in May 1936 – Rest Shooting and Schuetzen Loading:

“The secret of fine rest shooting is to hold the rifle so it will be free to recoil in the same way for each shot. I like to have my rifle come straight back, and when I see the crosshairs rise toward 12 o’clock in a straight line above the bull, I know that all is well and I can expect a good group. If the shooter will carefully perfect his holding so as to get this effect, the matter of making small groups will come much easier.”

That’s a good description of the goals of the artillery hold airgunners use, with one exception. Donaldson describes firearms that, while their bullets don’t travel very fast (never over 1,400 f.p.s.), still leave the muzzle before the major vibrations and movement of the gun begins. With a spring-piston airgun, the heavy steel piston has already jumped forward violently and then come to a sudden stop before the pellet begins to move. Vibrations in the gun have already started well before the pellet leaves the bore, which is why airgunners have to take this special hold even farther than Donaldson describes.

Important point — please read and understand!
Remember this — Donaldson was talking about firearms when he described his hold. So, the basic tenets of the artillery hold apply to firearms as well as to airguns. I have known that all along, but I haven’t harped on it because it really doesn’t matter to most shooters. A hold like this is only important to those who want the absolute last bit of accuracy potential from their firearms. Some of our blog readers who have competed with firearms, like Victor, understand the importance of hold consistency without my saying anything. They might call it something else, like follow-through perhaps, but we’re speaking about the same thing. For the rest of the shooters who are just plinking with a .22 rimfire or shooting anything offhand, it wasn’t important that I drill down to the absolute bottom bedrock fundamentals of shooting to explain my points. Either they understood it without me commenting or it wasn’t important.

But I’m going on record today and saying that an artillery-like hold, or at least a repeatable hold that allows the firearm to recoil in the same way every time, does have a positive influence on the accuracy of a firearm as well as a spring-piston airgun. And I’m also going to say that the artillery hold has a positive effect on other types of airgun powerplants — including the precharged pneumatic (PCP).

It’s still true that a PCP is much easier to shoot accurately than a spring-piston gun, but only with a proper hold will any PCP be capable of delivering its full accuracy potential. Because PCPs do not vibrate very much, nor do they recoil, the benefit of a consistent hold gets lost in the noise. Most good PCPs shoot very well regardless of how they’re held.

What is special about the artillery hold?
Okay, we know that the consistency of the hold is important to accuracy. But is the artillery hold different than what Donaldson describes in the passage above? Yes, it is. Donaldson rested his schuetzen rifles front and rear. The barrel of his rifle rested on the forward rest and the buttstock rested on the rear rest. There’s foam rubber between the barrel and the rest, but my point is that Donaldson does not rest the rifle on its forearm.

To be honest, there are photos showing benchrest rifles rested on their forearms, too, so it can be done either way, but the barrel rest was by far the more common in these older times.

Harvey Donaldson with rested rifle
Donaldson shown with a rested schuetzen rifle in the 1930s. The barrel is resting on foam rubber on the front rest. Photo from the book, Yours Truly, Harvey Donaldson, Wolfe Publishing, 1980.

What’s special about the artillery hold is that we don’t normally rest the rifle directly on sandbags or other rests. Instead, we rest it on our hands, which are placed on the rest. The flesh of the hand cushions the rifle in some unique way that even sand cannot. There are some gel-filled pads that seem to work as well as the hand; but when you examine them, you find that they feel quite a lot like the flesh of your hand. There’s something about the consistency that a spring-piston air rifle needs in order to have repeatable recoil and vibration patterns.

What you rest the rifle on is important, but so is where you rest it. I often have to try sliding my off hand back and forth under the stock, from the triggerguard to out as far as I can hold it — searching for a point where the rifle responds the same with every shot. Sometimes, I never do find the right place, and then I resort to resting the stock on the backs of my fingers and even directly on the sandbag. I don’t use the backs of the fingers unless absolutely necessary because it often hurts. And the number of airguns that can be rested directly on a sandbag and still shoot well is very small, although the TX 200 is one that can.

Today’s lesson
The point of this report is that the artillery hold is nothing new, and I didn’t invent it. It was already very old when I picked a quirky name for it, so airgunners would remember it and be able to talk about it. This hold is one of the fundamental tools in a good shooter’s kit. You can ignore it, but do so knowing what you’re giving up — because this is the “secret” to shooting a recoiling spring-piston air rifle well.

65 Responses to “The importance of the artillery hold”

  • Slinging Lead Says:

    My gun rests have some type of fake leather on the tops of them (yes the cheapo Winchester-branded ones from Wally) that create a decent amount of friction. I find that if I put a woolie, beanie, sock hat etc. over the gun rest, that it creates a surface that is very slick against the finished wood forearm of my springers. So slick in fact that if the gun is balanced correctly and held lightly, the gun slides effortlessly backward during recoil . In my experience it is as accurate or occasionally more so than my application of the artillery hold. It does not work on my synthetic stocked guns like the Diana 34P, and I doubt it would work as well on a walnut stock. But on guns with a smooth finish, especially heavy ones, it is worth a try.

    I very much enjoy watching the artillery hold video

    http://www.pyramydair.com/article/The_artillery_hold_June_2009/63

    Part of the reason is that watching BB ogle his Beeman C1 carbine makes me smile. (0:30 to 0:39) There is only one word to describe that look: Love.

  • Victor Says:

    B.B.,

    A key element in Donaldson description was having an ideal behavior that he wanted to achieve, namely, seeing the recoil go straight up (12 o’clock). But you can’t know this unless your follow-through. The only way that I can tell when everything went perfect is by following-through.

    It’s amazing how the exact same rifle can exhibit entirely different behaviors after a shot. If the hold is wrong, the rifle will jump off to one side, and not return back to where you were when you took the shot. If the hold is perfect, the rifle returns exactly back to where it was when the shot was fired. I’m talking about springer’s here, although it applies to firearms as well.

    Seeing that ideal behavior is a goal in itself.

    Victor

  • goatboy Says:

    I always used to hold my air rifle lightly when i started out shooting in a school club years ago to good results, along comes the artillery hold and not only why is made clear but my shooting improved. However my HW 35 is very hold sensitive and i could not understand why until i took the stock off to oil the gun, someone before me had put in an Ox Accelerator spring in the hope of making it super powerful.

    Well that square spring obscenity is coming out and a trusty brand new Titan spring is going in, then i might start getting some decent groups and not have my teeth rattle when i shoot it. I had tried placing my palm all over the rifle all to no avail, and i agree with you about using the hold on my PCP. A nice light hold on the grip with my thumb in the rest a, and my other palm supporting the fore stock about 2/3 along have given me incredible results on my Shamal. If i grip it tighter or support the rife anywhere else and my groups are noticeably larger, anyway i found that sweet spot now.

    TTFN

    Best Wishes, Wing Commander Sir Nigel Tetlington-Smythe

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      Sir Nigel,

      An Ox spring! With square-section wire! How many years has it been since I have heard of one? :D

      B.B.

  • RidgeRunner Says:

    I used to rest my CFX directly on my bags. My bags are old denim jeans legs, which makes for a slicker surface that suede, filled with 1/8″ diameter plastic pellets. They are heavy, but the pellets shift much easier than sand and the CFX could move easier on the suede. With that setup I was able to produce 10 shot groups at 25 yards you could quite literally cover with a dime. My biggest bugaboo was that the slightest variance in my thumb pressure on the stock could cause a 2″ POI shift.

    • twotalon Says:

      RR….

      I Have tried deliberately holding my thumb out to the side and not touching at all, but found that if I try too much then the bottom of my hand start to tip inward more and screws it up.

      twotalon

      • BG_Farmer Says:

        On my rifles with good, esp. set, triggers, I put my “trigger thumb” alongside of the stock; this makes a big (good!) difference, but it only works if the pull is light enough not to torque the rifle. If the trigger is a little stiff, it is easier to just focus on pulling straight back with the thumb on top/back of the wrist. For the really hard cases, you can put your thumb behind the triggerguard and squeeze like you are pinching the trigger — works very well on the stubborn ones, esp. off a bench.

    • Victor Says:

      RidgeRunner,

      I love my CF-X! At 10 meters I can drill 10 shots into a single hole. I haven’t done as well as you have at 25 yards. When I shoot out at the desert the wind is a bit too much because it’s wide open for miles.

      For best performance, I need the the height of the rifle to be just right.

      Victor

      • RidgeRunner Says:

        My CFX has since found a new home. I could only tinker with it so much, so I now have a Talon SS with a hi flow valve and an Edge. They are a tinker’s dream come true.

  • /Dave Says:

    I’m still working on perfecting my hold on all my rifles, but I will say this… My shooting with all types of weapons has improved a hundred fold in the last few years after listening to BB describe the artillery hold and then apply it to everything from slingshots to rifles and everything in between! It really works well on everything as long as you follow through as Victor advises. Noticeable difference!

    /Dave

  • caveman Says:

    BB,

    “But I’m going on record today and saying that an artillery-like hold, or, does have a positive influence on the accuracy of a firearm as well as a spring-piston airgun. And I’m also going to say that the artillery hold has a positive effect on other types of airgun powerplants — including the precharged pneumatic (PCP).”

    I just wanted to here you say that again.

    A light hold is easier to repeat consistently than a hold with more tension. Also being able to focus well enough to observe the recoil patterns is easy to say but difficult to do.

  • David Enoch Says:

    Most of my shooting is done off of a tripod rest. I rest the forearm of the air rifle directly on the rest. I have tried resting it on my hand but my hand under the forearm seems to add movement to the rifle. I do better resting my rifles directly on the rest. I agree with Donaldson on watching what the rifle does after the shot is fired. If I see the rifle getting jostled to the left or right I know I have messed up.

    One shooter I respect says he likes to close his eyes before a shot and the re-open them and see if he is still pointed at the target. That tells him if he has tensions in his hold that will throw the pellet off course. If you can close your eyes and re-open them and still be on target you are much more likely to hit the target.

    David Enoch

    • Victor Says:

      David,

      This process of closing your eyes to check if you are still aligned with your target is called finding our “natural point of aim”. When first establishing your natural point of aim, you want close your eyes AND allow for a little swaying motion from side to side to see where your aim settles. Once you’ve found your natural point of aim, you shouldn’t need to recheck it, unless you change something, like stepping out of position. Of course, in the case of shooting something like a springer, where you change your entire grip between shots, it wouldn’t hurt to recheck how you hold the rifle.

      Victor

      • J-F Says:

        I usually do it while taking a deep breath just before the shot, is it OK or should it be done separetly?
        I aim, close my eyes, take a deep breath and when I start to let the air out I’ll open my eyes and take the shot.
        It works pretty good but if there’s a way to make even better I’d like to know about it!

        J-F

        • Victor Says:

          J-F,

          I find my NPA (natural point of aim) separately from taking the shot.

          1. I get into position as if ready to take a shot.
          2. Breathing normal (or slightly shallow), I close my eyes and introduce a little side-to-side sway.
          3. Once the swaying motion has stopped, I open my eyes and see if my sights are still aligned with the target.
          4.
          a. If aligned, then I take a deep breath and continue with the shot.
          b. If my aim is off, then I make adjustments. If shooting from the offhand position, I adjust the rear foot accordingly.

          In competition you’re careful not to change your stance, and you put your spotting scope and loading block (ammo) as close to you as possible, so that you don’t have to move much. Finding your NPA is most important when you’re first getting situated. But if you’re shooting a gun like a springer, where the entire motion for cocking and loading causes you to change everything, then its best to recheck it often. Even the act of getting into position with your eyes closed will tell you a lot about whether you need to re-find your NPA.

          The really important thing is to follow-through and see where your sights end up after taking a shot. Springer’s act as if they are opposing any amount of pressure applied, so they will jump off in some direction. If you aren’t shooting according to your NPA, then somewhere in the mix, you’ve introduced bias. Not shooting according to your NPA means that you are somehow forcing the gun to point at the bull, as opposed to it naturally pointing at the bull, with zero tendency to pull in any direction. If shooting from a rest, then forcing the rifle to point at the bull (i.e., without NPA), will result in jumps.

          When I started shooting my first springer, while resting it on a bag, I learned that it was possible to almost consistently repeat the same mistake and generate TWO tight groups. Even worse, I found it was possible to produce ONE tight group that was a consequence of repeating the exact same mistake. When this happens, you see the gun jump in exactly the same way each shot. Trouble is, it’s harder to be consistent when doing something wrong versus doing everything right.

          Victor

        • Victor Says:

          J-F,

          I just got off the phone with a good buddy of mine, Dave Kimes, who was an Olympic and World Champion. I asked him about NPA, and he had a brilliant response. He says that he checks his NPA after every shot by simply following-through for 2 to 3 seconds. When the gun settles after a shot, it will land at the NPA. That’s actually what I was trying to say elsewhere here when I wrote about the gun settling back to where you were when you took the shot. Dave Kimes solution is both correct and efficient. It also gives more incentive to follow-through.

          Victor

      • David Enoch Says:

        Victor, I was talking about closing the eyes when shooting from a bench. When I tried this I found that sometimes I am pushing the gun against the rest or torquing my body in a way that will affect my shot and follow through. When you close your eyes you are no longer trying to hold the gun on target and release the tensions.

        I understand what you are talking about when shooting from an unsupported position. Your body will pivot to a position that fits your body with the least stress. If you shoot enough you can learn that position.

        David Enoch

  • dangerdongle Says:

    Awhile back, when you could still get ammo, I found holding a .44mag revolver loosely did indeed tighten up the groups but required super monkey grip immediately upon discharge to avoid having all my teeth knocked out. This ruined any chance of follow-through of course.
    Are the spring pistols, like the P1 or the HW 70 you reviewed recently, particular about the way they’re held?

  • TC Says:

    BB,
    Does hold matter? How about some real proof? What started out with wild 2.5″ groups at 25 yards are now refined down to .6″ with a lower end break barrel. I have tracked improvements along the way. You can see where hold played an important role. Maybe it should of been step #1.
    1. GTR III trigger and tightened all screws – dropped 2.5″ down to 2.1″
    2. Replaced supplied scope with one with AO and installed one piece mount – dropped 2.1″ to 1.9″
    2. Hold – dropped 1.9″ down to 1.4″ <—- That major improvement cost zero dollars!!!!
    3. The right pellet – dropped 1.4" down to 1.1" <—- You really need to master #2 first!!!
    4. Mild tune (brass bushings, clean up internals, moly, new seal …) – dropped 1.1" down to .8"
    5. Better scope and mounts with adjustable droop to achieve optical center – dropped .8 down to .6"
    I still can't group 1" at 50 yards but 1.25" is now possible. I'm going to replace steel spring with a gas ram and see if it helps. I have my eye on the LGV Ultra as my next logical investment in break barrel accuracy. :-)

  • Pete in The Caribbean Says:

    B.B.,
    When I was boy I used to play with my Dad’s tuning fork-striking it against any wooden object and then placing it close to my ear to listen to the sound. the odd time it would touch my ear or cheek and the sound would stop immediately. Did not understand it then but now I do. Replace the tuning fork with a springer and the result is the same- your flesh dampens the vibrations.

    Pete

    • TC Says:

      Pete,
      Very interesting comment. This is the exact reason I want to experiment with a gas ram. Eliminate the twisting action of the stock that I can feel on my cheek. I have discovered that cheek pressure plays a key role in mastering the proper hold. With a springer, trying to prevent this twisting action has a negative impact on accuracy. The best example of minimal vibration is the TX200 (and it looks like the LGV as well) is that the piston is free to rotate when fired. In the low end B18/19 designs, the piston is slotted and cannot turn. My guess is that this slotted design adds to the twisting action I feel.

      • Pete in The Caribbean Says:

        B.B.,
        that is why I love this blog. You learn something new all the time. I always thought that the pistons on all springers were fixed ie not free to rotate.
        I have a tube of RTV silicone Gasket Maker. It dries in 1 hr and cures in 24 hrs but remains flexible. I was thinking of taking out the action of my Tf 87 and lining the stock with silicone. Once is dries to the touch I would then cover the silicone with saran wrap, insert the action, tighten all screws 3/4 way in and wait for it to cure in 24 hrs and then tighten the screws fully. Just want to see if that would dampen the vibration. What do you think??

        Pete

  • Desertdweller Says:

    It is good to see this subject addressed again. I have always advised my grandchildren not to hold their guns in a death grip. I used BB’s example to explain to them there is a lot of mass moving inside a springer and the gun has to be free to return to its initial position.

    It seems to have worked. Melanie won a blue ribbon and Nicky a red ribbon for their efforts in second year bb gun. Amber won both a red and a blue ribbon in first year bb gun.

    Melanie and Nicky will be shooting in air rifle (Daisy Avanti PCP) next year, and Amber will be in second year bb gun with Daisy 499′s again. The school provides the shot for the bb guns (Daisy regular zinc plated). The PCP shooters bring their own pellets for shooting ten meters. The kids either seem to prefer the cheap Daisy wadcutters, or RWS wadcutters. What would the readers here suggest? I have found the advantage of RWS pellets over cheapos in springers at 25 yards. If I can get some specific suggestions, I’ll order a supply for them to use.

    I’m pretty proud of these kids, not just my own. The best-scoring kid in the first year bb gun was one of the very smallest boys there. He earned himself a brand-new 499.

    It makes me proud to know that in these gun-phobic days that we live where a school like this can draw around 30 students, with strong support from their parents. These guys are learning a sport they will be able to enjoy all their lives, and are learning skills that can save their lives and the lives of others.

    Les

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      Les,

      You have many reasons to be proud. And re,member that YOU are one of the people who makes all oif this possible. :D

      B.B.

  • Bob Watson Says:

    Tom
    I had a hard time getting my head around the artillery hold and accepting the small amount of movement when rifle is not resting on bags. I can say that even my low powered HW-55 shot better with artillery hold. I haven’t tried to move my grip a lot I usually just use the balance point. So far I haven’t shot a perfect five shot in one hole but I will keep trying.

    Bob

  • BG_Farmer Says:

    I pretty much use the artillery hold on everything much of the time up to and including the .30-06 (you have to have faith and reliable measurement on that one — watching it rear up and seeing the scope come back); I don’t really shoot any heavy recoiling guns that much anymore, so I don’t know if it would work, but I bet it would. My flintlocks really like it — they act like noisy, smelly springers, anyway :).

    Re: the forward rest point. Most of the barrels were heavier than we are used to, even on the breech loaders, so they provide a good place for a rest (these days you need a heavy barrel for resting on the barrel to work very well. Supposedly there are sweet spots on barrels where the rest is optimal. I’ve seen descriptions of making the barrel chime along its length to find a “dead spot” (best to rest) and other arcane methods. I need to test some of them out and make sure I have the cant block in the right place on the rifle I use for chunk shooting — people have told me that just moving it a little can tighten up groups. Other wise, I haven’t seen much difference on modern rifles (or even caplocks) rested on the forestock as far as accuracy (group size), but I have often seen POI change with the rest point. If you look at a slow motion video of a barrel being fired, you can see it oscillate. In fact, it makes you wonder how we can hit anything at all :)!

    • Matt61 Says:

      Yes, I was wondering about the barrel rest. Doesn’t this fly in the face of the free-floating barrel principle and why most springers fitted with bipods cannot hit anything?

      Matt61

      • BG_Farmer Says:

        Matt,
        I think a heavy barrel is one key. Most chunk guns have a cant block clamped to the barrel (on halfstocks) or forestock (full-stocks). Theoretically, it should be just like a bipod on a springer, but the barrel is much heavier (e.g. 1 1/8″ octagon for .40 cal. or 1 1/2″ octagon for .50 caliber), plus I suspect that being able to fine tune the location helps, as apposed to a spring where they probably just attach the bipod where it looks good. I think if it hurt accuracy, people wouldn’t use them; instead they are considered almost a requirement for accuracy (in the role of eliminating cant).

  • Gunfun1 Says:

    Now that you mention about the tuning fork.I have been at a gun range waiting to shoot and would see people shooting center fire rifles on a bench with a rest and pull the gun in tight and when they pull the trigger the gun usually rotates.Then the gun will pull to the left or right.All I can say is I did not see very accurate groups that way.Now back to air rifles.I have been shooting air rifles since the late 60′s and one of my first springer’s was a ElGamo break barrel.(I guess somewhere down the line name changed to Gamo)But even back then I knew the gun shot better when I held it loose and I was only 9yrs. old at the time.I also had a Winchester model 190 .22 rim fire rifle and it shot better holding loosely.I still have my wooden stock 760 Crosman from the day and i will shoot it every once in a while and it definitely likes the looser hold.I’m into the PCP rifles now which kind of shoot like the pump guns.Some people say they don’t have a recoil or vibration but they do.I have several PCP guns and my.25 cal.Marauder I got the power turned up pretty good on it(chrony’s at 950 fps.with 31.02 grn. Barracuda’s)And the gun is made into carbine with a 1377 pistol grip and 1399 stock.Much lighter gun.This gun does have a recoil when it shoots and the spring and striker definitely make a vibration when the trigger is pulled.I shoot most of my rifles at longer ranges including this one.Always better with the looser hold.My problem is I still haven’t learned how to repeat my hold technique from one gun to the next.I have my Discovery.177 cal. also made into a carbine and I cant even feel the gun go off when I pull the trigger.And yes that is one of my more accurate guns. And also thanks B.B. for bringing the artillery hold up again. The hold and everything else(type of pellets,making the gun have less vibration/Tuning and pressure and also the shooting conditions/humidity among other variables).It all has to come together as a complete package that you have to keep experimenting with.

  • ajvenom Says:

    My ex military (Vietnam vet) father in-law got a Beeman springer for Christmas. I asked him if he wanted any help shooting his springer. I explained what military hold was and how to site in a scope in and how it’s possible to intersect twice with the pellet etc….and he looked at me (as usual) like I was on crack or something. Well, I guess you can lead a horse to water…..but I guess you can’t make em drink……

    As for the military, they seemed to have taken a liking to the 6.8 spc…… in last decade……. similar cal. to .270 without as much punch. Jack O’Connor liked the .270 and I always felt it was a good compromise between speed .223 and the punch .308 . From what I remember a .270 at 500 yards and light wind your looking at a 2 foot drop and drift.

    BTW.. My artillery hold is basically two fingers and rolling the back one into the trigger. Sure your springer may jump, twist and spin all about (figuratively) but the one hole groupings are pretty sweet.

  • john Says:

    I’m all excited today. I just got my hands on 8 boxes of 7.62×39 ammo with another 4 boxes next week. Now I can test fire and sight in my AK47 and AMD65. Both are nice and freshly built with new barrels. First time they get to speak since I put them together from parts!

    Also my AR15 experiment is beginning in 4 days. More on that once that experiment begins. I need to wait on something specific to get here first.

    • Matt61 Says:

      You are a resourceful guy if you can get your hands on that kind of ammo. I thought everything connected with assault type rifles was backordered years into the future.

      Matt61

      • john Says:

        Oh, I am not lucky. I got quite a few man hours of searching into finding a source that wasn’t tapped out. Right now they have a 4 box limit but I got around that by buying 4 boxes and having my mom along since we were out and about together today and had her buy 4 boxes. Then I paid her back for the 4 she bought. 160 rounds is a start. I kept 20 rounds at home for my home defense weapon and the rest went to my armory. This is the good stuff too. Non-corrosive berdan primed non-reloadable full metal jacketed. Poor muskrats don’t stand a chance between that AK-47 and my Airforce condor with fully shrouded 24″ barrel can let the world know what I just did with my AK47 or be quiet about it with my condor.

      • ajvenom Says:

        Not long ago they were practically giving ammo away in the 8mm Mauser, 7.62x54r and x39 and 5.46×45. Now it costs more for .22lr rounds today. I still have few thousand .22lr rounds…I can never pass up a deal. Now I’m glad I did stock up. I may have to but a 22lr pistol 1st, as the Aquila super max solid point or hollow points is still better than nothing. Stingers, velociters & yellow jackets are pretty good also. Haven’t been too keen on Winchesters lately, but now with a new extractor in my ruger 10/22, we’ll see how they feed.

      • ajvenom Says:

        Found the ammo…..Jerks are buying it up and selling in on gun broker etc…to make ez money…..I’ll stick to airguns for now..they can stick it for all I care.

  • Matt61 Says:

    I’m a great fan of the artillery hold, but Donaldson’s ideas seem more strange to me than familiar. Not a word in this description about relaxation which has been the defining feature for me of the artillery hold. I wouldn’t actually expect this with firearms. But isn’t he the fellow that advised total relaxation even for big calibers? I can’t make any sense out of that, not for more than a few shots anyway. The buttstock on arm is kind of strange and so is the barrel rested on a support. He makes me think of the Russian book by the Olympic shooter, Yurgin, or something like that which PeteZ recommended. There were photos of top-flight shooters in just about every imaginable position. If there is such a thing as technique, the elements that are universal as opposed to individual are not easy to see.

    On a brighter note, I had one of my best shooting sessions ever with the B30 thanks to Victor’s killer technique. One commenter on the B30 said that he had named his own copy “The Beast.” So, I think it can be fairly said that I have tamed the beast. I’m up to something like 120,000 total shots now. Maybe by 200,000, I’ll really have this down.

    JTinAl, I’ll look closer at my 686, but your explanation makes sense out of the ejection mechanism. Yes, the revolver does seem to fly in the face of the principle that simple is best. Its complications actually seem to contribute to the reliability which is its hallmark. I’m no end of amazed at how a cylinder that can rotate can also line up with sufficient tolerances to seal a chamber for accurate shooting. I’ve noticed that with the Ruger Single Six in .22 magnum that I will occasionally feel a light sting from gunpowder when I fire, but that is still an amazing achievement. As I dry fire the 686, I’m starting to appreciate the workmanship in the smoothness of the cylinder and the precision of that single action mechanism. Feels like jewelry.

    Speaking of which, what do you all use for dry-firing, an important part of any marksmanship training! It would be a waste of air and effort to dry fire a pcp, expensive for a CO2 gun, damaging for a springer. The only option would be a stroke or two of a multi-pump although you are working the seals in the process. I may have the ultimate solution! I’m spending more of my time dry-firing my classic firearms and surplus rifles (with snap caps). I get to enjoy the history and work on the skills, and it’s very easy on the ammo. :-)

    Incidentally, does anyone know about the health hazards of breathing carbon dioxide? Sometimes when I remove a spent CO2 powerlet from my Crosman 1077, it hisses for a long time in my shooting room which I keep closed for the noise. I thought it was only carbon monoxide that was dangerous, but I read a story about how CO2 can kill animals.

    Desertdweller, I read of an example of abuse in the workplace where a guy was forced to walk his boss’s pet pig. I call that a perk. :-)

    Matt61

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      Matt,

      The chapter is all about the hold. Relaxation is there is several paragraphs. I just quoted the jist of it.

      B.B.

      • Victor Says:

        B.B.,

        A good buddy of mine, Dave Kimes told me that when he smashed a world record in three position high power, that he put himself in a relaxed mental state that including pretending that he was shooting his FWB 300 each shot. Obviously it worked!

        Victor

    • Desertdweller Says:

      Matt,

      As I understand it, carbon monoxide is poisonous because it attaches to red blood cells and prevents them from carrying oxygen. So carbon monoxide poisoning is really a form of asphyxiation.

      Carbon dioxide does not do this. But, like carbon monoxide, it is heavier than air and will displace air in a confined space. So it can kill in certain circumstances.

      The amount of carbon dioxide in a CO2 cartridge is not enough to cause a problem, even in a small room.

      Another factor that makes carbon monoxide so dangerous is that it is not noticeable in itself, only its effects. As it deprives the body and mind of oxygen, it degrades the mind’s ability to reason. So it is possible to be sickened and killed by it without realizing what is happening.

      Carbon dioxide in concentrated amounts is readily detectable. It makes the inside of the nose tingle and burn. If you take a breath through your nose off the top of a freshly-poured glass of soda, that is the carbon dioxide you are feeling. If you stick your head into a covered bin of dry ice without holding your breath first, it would be possible to pass out and be killed that way.

      Carbon dioxide is one of the normal components of air. Diluted in air by oxygen and nitrogen, it is harmless.

      Les

  • john Says:

    There are a few guns you really don’t want to use an artillery hold on unless you are one of those sick puppies that really love pain. My Mossberg 100ATR is one of those rifles. You need to be really dug in and holding tight to it or it will break your clavicle with some serious recoil and sending a round downrange to punch a hole in the universe. Same with most shotguns. If you’ve seen the You tube video showing Joe Biden saying “Buy a shotgun” and seeing a variety of women trying to control a shotgun and being sat on their backsides by the recoil…..You need to be really holding on to those things tight. but I can see an AR15 with negligible recoil using a light hold or even an AK47 although I wouldn’t try it. But my Marlin model 60 likes an artillery hold since it also recoils almost like a magnum springer. I’d say artillery hold would be good for light recoil guns only since heavy recoil guns will bust you up if you don’t throw some meat behind the gun.

    • BG_Farmer Says:

      My experience with rifles is that they hurt a lot less if you don’t fight them. Some people push the rifle away to fight recoil, but that just gives it a running start. Put it up against your shoulder and keep it close, then let it push you, but don’t push back with anything other than your weight and minimal resistance; as long as you keep your head moving back with your body so the scope doesn’t whack you, it shouldn’t hurt at all. One exception is evil buttplates, but a shoulder pad can help with that. Maybe play around with it on the Mossberg. What is it chambered for?

      The 60′s have a heavy bolt and hard buffer– my Glenfield 60 will throw scopes worse than a springer!

      • john Says:

        It’s chambered in .240 Winchester. That’s sufficient for just about anything I hunt around here. I found if i stick it on a bipod and make sure my shoulder is good and tight on the butt of it that it isn’t so bad. But if I try it free standing the thing hits me like a very angry mule. I know I’m not the only one that doesn’t like to send more than 2 shots out of this gun. A few deer hunting friends have taken a few test shots wit it and never had much desire to fire it again. Part of the reason that is my “Just in case nothing else is working gun”. I only use that gun for particularly stubborn pests that i can’t seem to nail with anything else. I’m hoping my AK47 will bridge the gap and be able to take care of all my stubborn work without having to break out my Mossberg. I have that action in that AK polished, greased and tuned so it cycles smooth as silk. We shall see if it works.

  • Mike Says:

    Rifles with two piece stocks (Win 94, Marlin 336, etc.) often shoot best off the bench if you support them just in front of the receiver.

    Mike

  • Tin Can Man Says:

    BB,I also use the artillery hold on all guns now.When firing guns that benefit from it the least,it still helps me to be so much more aware of cant and all aspects of how I’m holding the gun that it makes repeatability more possible.For springers it helps us to achieve a neutrality so we don’t give the gun any extra reactive forces to ruin accuracy.But this makes me wonder why manufacturers don’t make the guns less reactive in themselves.From science we know that”for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”.When the barrel starts to spin ,and then accelerate the projectile to the right, the reaction tries to spin the barrel to the left.Why not make the spring twist to oppose this?Or,better yet,why not cut the main spring in almost half and make part in a left hand twist and the other part in a right hand twist and weld them back together?The slightly longer part would oppose the left hand twist reaction from the projectile as well as the twist force of the other part of the spring.This could neutralize torsion forces from within the rifle and improve the chances for accuracy. :(BB,I’m sorry if I went and did it to you again,but these are real questions I wonder about.-Tin Can Man-

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      Tin Can Man,

      Feinwerkbau actually did what you suggest. They used 2 mainsprings in the 300S and they were counterwound to cancel the torque. It worked!

      B.B.

  • Gunfun1 Says:

    Look at the RWS Diana 54 Air king its action floats in the stock basically.I have one of those in .177 cal.(first day I got it had to take the stock off to see how it works) They are kind of heavy guns(not fun to carry hunting all day).But the balance of the gun and the weight and floating action make for great bench rest shooting.A built in artillery hold basically made into the gun.Its shoots better than I do.Kind of wish my .17 HMR had a system like that made into the rifle.Already a pretty accurate gun at long range the way it comes.Only problem is it would still be another gun to learn how to hold the same every time the trigger was applied.

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      Gunfun1,

      You’re right! The Diana 54 and FWB 300 are rifles that have the artillery hold built in. Good thinking!

      B.B.

  • Gunfun1 Says:

    Thanks and I think one of the more important factors of those guns and others that kind of stand out when you shoot them is that they feel comfortable when you hold them(balance).At first this will sound off subject but you will see what I mean.Two of my other hobby’s is flying RC Planes and dragraceing at the local track.I flown as long as I have shot and started going to the drag strip soon as I got my licence to drive.One of the important facts about both is C.G.(center of gravity).The airplane wont fly right and the car wont achieve good traction.When I set up my guns I try to get the scope height set for eye sight and to oppose the counterbalance of the stock(kind of like a pendulum if you lay the barrel on a rest then take one of your fingers and put it behind the trigger guard and slowly lift the gun.Some guns will fall over and some will try to stay upright.I have went as far as to put weight in the bottom of the opening on my 1399 skeleton stocks.Back to the cars. Both will try to torque roll from the engine torque.So its very important on the plane to put weight on one wing to keep the plane from rolling.You can trim the plane out but your control surfaces wont be at 0 deflection.If you get a good balanced plane it will be easy to fly.Same with the car,weight back right for traction and front left to counter the torque roll.Get the balance right on the car and it will be easyer to drive.One less variable of getting the car down the track and the plan flying hands off.Also helps get the projectile down to the target with less to worry about.

  • LB Says:

    Hi folks. I know I’m a bit late to the party, but I just joined. I also just bought my first air rifle since grade school. I picked up an RWS 34P in .177. I’m not new to shooting, I’ve been doing that for more decades than I’d care to admit. I’ve shot just about everything from a .17 to a .460.

    In my glorious mis-spent youth, I helped with our clubs Basic Rifle program and Jr. Rifle program. Both of those are 4-position .22 programs. When I picked up the RWS, I just shot it like I have always shot a .22 without the sling of a 4-position shooter, just a light hold. I’m still getting to know the rifle, but I am impressed so far. I bought it for casual plinking, for keeping my hand in without traveling afield, and to deal with a minor rodent problem. Rodents are gone, so I headed down to the basement. This is at about 25′, with my elbows supported. The green dot is 3/4″. This is 15 shots over 3 days, and you can see where I adjusted the scope up and left a bit as I went. I’m going through one of the sampler packs, this is with the H&N Field Target Trophy Green 5.56 gr pellets.

    I was a bit enamored with the adjustable comb and gas-piston of the Hatsan 125 Sniper, but with these results, I’d be hard pressed to justify a change.

    http://i.imgur.com/1Zq06L4.jpg

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      LB,

      That is an impressive group. You obviously are doing things the right way.

      Welcome to the blog.

      B.B.

  • Charles Dias Says:

    I agree that artillery hold is the best for most springers shooting standing or bench resting … but not for all of then. The newest springer I bought, a magnum .22 SAG AR 2000 Jet, shows poor results shooting offhand with artillery hold. I tried to position my hand all along the forend of the stock … hold the pistol grip gently … almost not touched the butt stock on my shoulder … and got only poor results. So I decided to try the infamous “Death Grip” and voilá I got much better groups and accuracy increased a lot. I really don´t know or even understand why some springers prefer “death grip” … they are part of a small club, but they exists. What do you think about it B.B?

    • Edith Gaylord Says:

      Charles,

      It’s rare, but it happens that the anti-artillery hold works best on some guns. B.B. has also mentioned this in a past review of an air rifle, but I don’t recall off the top of my head which one that was.

      Edith

      • Charles Dias Says:

        I remember reading some articles and posts about it. It´s quite rare indeed. I really want to understand why with this small group of springers all the logic of the about artillery holding doesn´t apply. See, it´s all springers, have the same parts, and therefore should work more or less the same way in the end. I really can´t imagine what makes some springers to reject artillery holding and embraces “death grip”.

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      Charles,

      Like Edith said, it does happen that way. It’s not common, but you have to be ready to test for it.

      B.B.

      • Charles Dias Says:

        Truth, B.B. But have you any clue why some springers acts so weird in order to prefer “death grip”? These springers have the same powerplant and pieces of springers that prefers artillery holding … why they works in such weird way?

        • B.B. Pelletier Says:

          Charles,

          I don’t know. I’ve seen it is powerful airguns and also is those of moderate power. I just don’t know what drives the phenomenon.

          B.B.

  • Gunfun1 Says:

    Its about the coil design.If you have a place that the spring rests in.And it is a certain diameter and length.Then all of a sudden we try to put in a bigger more powerful spring.Guess what.We still have to make it fit in that spot.Coil length may be longer,then there is coil diameter(not only outside diameter but the diameter of the actual coil).And when you compress the spring you have coil bind.(learned this about cars if you want your motor to RPM and stay together)But if we start changing all these characteristics around you change the springs vibration pattern(like the tuning fork).The gun may vilently shake with one spring then be almost as calm as could be with another spring.And still achieve in our case almost the same FPS.I bet the square spring you talk about was terrible for vibration.(I haven’t seen one ,but I guess the coil is actually square)Every time the spring hit the 90 degrease from last straight length of the spring it would make another vibration.Also this is what I mean by tuning.And only part of that process.Or experimenting if you will call it that.

  • Gunfun1 Says:

    Sorry B.B.

  • Gunfun1 Says:

    But what was the square spring?Was it wound at a angle.Or was the coil that it was wound out of square or both.If so seems to me it would of been harder to make and control the quality or I guess the consistency of the spring.If so the guns that the springs were put in would of produced different results.Vibrations,recoil and feet per second.I’m glad they only put one spring in our spring guns :)I guess that was kind of off subject.But the artillery hold as far as I’m concerned is about learning how to hold the gun to cancel as much of the stress or reaction that the gun produces and keep it naturally positioned when the gun is fired with the least amount of contact to the gun but still maintain stability.Amazing what starts happening when you move your front hand forward or backwards and take your trigger hand and try different holds.I went as far as writing down on a piece of paper how I held a certain gun so I could reference it and try to reproduce the same accuracy at a later time.Kind of like tuning feet per second on a PCP gun.What I found was that I could always achieve a pretty close to same group as the last time I shot but could really never make it any better.I guess what I have seen is that when you do finally get that hold the way you want it.It seems the gun likes to perform its best at a certain range while using the same pellet.Like my 25 Marauder shoots its best at 60 to 90 yards.out.My 177 Marauder likes 40 to 60 yrds.And they just surprise me sometimes how well they do group.I will still also catch my self trying to hold a gun the way I know it wont shoot and feel myself fighting to hold the gun on target.Then I go wow what am I doing.For some reason by nature you have a tendency pick up a gun to shoot it and hold a certain way.When you over come that and start creating your hold is when things start getting better.

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