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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.

21 thoughts on “How to shoot an airgun accurately”

  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.


  4. 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).

  5. 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.


  6. 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 –

  7. BBA,

    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.


  8. 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.

  9. Amazing. I bought a cheap Crosman Stinger R34 2 weeks ago and haven't come close to hitting the center of a target, although that's easy for me when shooting a Crosman Stinger P311 pistol. I just shot the rifle using your directions and 1st shot hit the bullseye,1/8th inch off dead center. Amazing! Thanks a million for telling me how to accurately shoot my airsoft rifle.

  10. Stinger R34,

    Thank you for your feedback. This blog you commented on is now 8 years old and no longer active. Please join us on the current blog, where you can discuss any topic you like, as long as the conversation rem,ains civil.


  11. I’m sure glad I ran across this site. I recently purchased a benjamin nitro piston, and even after the break in period I couldn’t keep consistent shot placement. I was beginning to think that the gun itself was junk, and I was very frustrated at throwing money away on a airgun. I tried holding the gun lightly, and it absolutely worked wonders for my accuracy. I realize now that before I was trying to wrestle the gun by force. My mistake. Thank you for the advice, and taking the time to write this article.

    • Eh,

      Welcome to the blog! So, you have discovered the artillery hold? Isn’t it wonderful?

      Here is an article about it with a video that demonstrates everything.


      Be sure to join us on the daily blog, located here:



    • Sorry to stick my nose in here, I do own a Benjamin NP2 and I also had problem with grouping, but then I read the comment about holding the rifle lightly…and it stroke me. I used to shoot Black powder .45 cal bench rest 100 yards, 50 cents group, 5 shoots, no bragging just explaining. The way I held my Black Powder was very simple, I had a sandbag and put my rifle on it, crossed my arms with the left arm inside (I am right handed) place the stock of the rifle lose between the index and the thumb, wrapped my right arm around and held the grip slightly, held my breath aim, left all the air out and shot, a winner every time. I tried this method with my NP2 and I’m very proud to say I make 2″ 10 shots at 50 yards. one more note. I clean and lube my pellets before I use them and let me add I am 78 years old, not a young chick any more

  12. Dear BB
    I have gotten a Slavia 630 for my bday , its a great gun BUT I have no clue why it’s shooting all over the place, I use mainly hollow point destroyer’s and super dome, if you have any suggestions on pellets i d like to know, my airgun is new and the recoil is mad so I hold it thightly and still shoot off, I’m not so sure about your tip, because if I were to shoot like that then the recoil would spoil the pellets path , at least I think.

    • Matthew,

      Welcome to the blog.

      Let’s try something. I want you to hold your rifle as LOOSELY as possible. Let it mover around and vibrate when it fires. See what that does to your groups.

      Read this article and watch the video:


      I know it seems like it shouldn’t work, but thousands of shooters have discovered that it really does.

      Superdomes are sometimes good but not always. Destroyers are often bad.

      Try Crosman premiers and JSB Exact RS pellets.

      Then tell me how it went.


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