Teach a person to shoot: Part 4

Teach a person to shoot: Part 1
Teach a person to shoot: Part 2
Teach a person to shoot: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

The right guns for training
Let’s talk about the guns you will use to teach a person. Airguns are ideal for teaching because of their safety and their lack of noise or recoil. It’s very important that you use a gun that is inherently accurate, because the student has to see improvement as he or she progresses.

Most BB guns are out, except for the Daisy Avanti Champion 499. It’s good enough for a world-class shooter to practice with!

In pellet guns, I like the IZH 61 a lot. It’s small, light, easy to cock and can hit a dime every time at 20 yards – if the shooter can.

If you want to use guns you already have, here’s a short list of what does NOT work:

1. Guns that shoots both pellets and BBs.

2. Sporting spring-piston guns that aren’t recoilless, except the IZH 61.

3. BB guns, except the 499.

Here’s a short list of what works well in a training program:

1. Multi-pump pneumatics with rifled barrels that do NOT also shoot BBs.

2. Most CO2 rifles, unless they are repeaters with hard triggers, such as the 1077 (sorry).

3. Some older spring-piston guns made specifically for target shooting, such as the Diana 70 and 72 or Marksman 1790-series guns (which they have just re-introduced as the Beeman Sportsman S500).

4. Single-stroke pneumatics with rifled barrels that do NOT also shoot BBs.

Single-shots are the best, because they force the student to reload the gun many times. This reinforces safe gun-handling practices.

Size matters
The size of the gun is important. No gun can be too small, but it is very easy to be too big. The main concern is the length of pull. That’s the distance from the back of the butt to the trigger. An adult target rifle usually has around a 12-inch pull, but less is okay. A sporting pull is around 14 inches, and that’s too long for most target shooters.

Watch the weight!
Weight can be a big issue with smaller shooters. We used to have small kids come out to shoot who weren’t physically developed enough to handle a gun over 3 lbs. The 499 would have been great, but ours was an NRA program that used pellet guns only. For these kids, we rested the rifles across cardboard boxes with V notches cut on both sides for the gun to lay in. They shot them rested in the box that was sitting on a table. These kids could not go on to join our junior team until they grew a little larger, but we did teach them safety and the fundamentals.

I’ll talk about sights and triggers in the next post.

26 thoughts on “Teach a person to shoot: Part 4”

  1. WHOOPS!

    Just saw Tom Gaylords article on the history of BB guns. He suggest’s the Power Line No. 515 Precision Ground shot. Is that the same as the Avanti BB’s? I don’t see No. 515 available any longer. Thanks again!


  2. good stuff, bb. i’ve been doing a few things wrong, i see.

    i’m teaching an 8 year old (my neighbor’s kid) how to shoot. i’m not sure he would know how a ghost ring works, and i thought it would be a good time to familiarize, so i just let him point the gun unloaded at a target. hes getting there. i just had a few questions.
    ihes still developing, so for now, is it okay if i let him shoot a pellet/bb gun? he will get sub 3 inch groupings from some 2-3 metres. and, how can aperture sights be accurate? surely they are, seeing as they are used extensively in target shooting. with all open sights, i figure the shooter’s movement would throw the sights off a little, but the shooter can see the drgree of the error. but with an aperture, there isnt any thing to determine where the front post is supposed to be! (i have seen some aperture sights and front sights with horizontal lines. but no vertical lines!) woudldnt the front sight drift around the aperture?
    still learning from your blog!

  3. Hey,

    This is for anyone looking for the gamo viper express shot shells. Cabela’s carrys the viper express and the shotshells. There rather expensive, 25 for $8, and the gun costs around $230. Hope that helps,


  4. Unless you skirmish with them, there really is no cleaning required. Perhaps brush off the outside occasionally and keep dirt away from the valve inlet port at the bottom of the magazine where you charge the gun (assuming it’s a gas gun).

    If the MP5 you’re getting is an AEG remember to shoot a semiauto shot after all full-auto shooting is finished, to take the tension off the mainspring.


  5. also remenber to keep the hopup rubbers lubed with 100% silicone only. This can be found at hobby stores labeled as “Shock oil”. 100 weight works fine. dont use the crap from home depot its not 100% siluicone and can rot your seals

    The aperture sight [aka ghost,receiver,target or peep]is self-centering. you MUST look through it, NOT at it. Any markings on the aperture itself would defeat the optical function of the sight,it is automaticaly self-centering. You place the foresight’s aim-point in the center of the aperture. Even a fraction of a millimeter off center WILL be apparent. The fact that the aperture has an optical function without a lens is little understood,and sometimes hard to accept. The eye ,sans concious thought, seeks the brightest point of the aperture, the center. The eye WILL react to any object [foresight] placed out of center of the aperture’s field of view.
    I start beginners out with a non-magnified [1x] red-dot
    sight,removes all of that front/rear sight complexity and allows concetration on hold and trigger pull. Iron sights come later.

  7. Teach a person to shoot: Part 4:
    Under the heading of “things that do not work” you list “1. Guns that shoots both pellets and BBs.”

    You must have a reason for such a statement, would you care to share the reason(s) with your readers?

  8. I covered this two posts back in “Different types of rifling.” Basically it’s because they cannot be as accurate as a regularly rifled barrel. I illustrated the differences in that post, but I’ve been talking about this for over a year.

    These barrels must be conpromises, because BBs measure 0.173″ and pellets are nominally 0.177. The BBs just bounce about in the barrels. With pellets they are accurate to a point, but not as accurate as a barrel with lands and grooves. With BBs they shoot poorly.


  9. I would love to see how the gamo viper express worked. Another couple of things I would like to know are how powerful would the shotshells be, as in how good would they be at hunting squirrels. Also, I saw it has an adapter to shoot .22 pellets. I wonder how accurate it could be, because it doesn’t have a rifled barrel. It seems quite powerful, the .22 pellets shoot at 850 fps. Be cool to see if its worth what it costs. Another one I would love to know if it was good is the new gamo recon. Obviously, its not powerful enough for hunting, but I wonder how accurate it is, I would love one for target practice, and teaching my younger siblings to shoot.


  10. Lama,

    I would guess the Viper is nowhere near powerful enough for squirrels. In fact, that’s what I intend finding out when I test it. When I asked Gamo what it could be used for, they said they doidn’t know – maybe squirrels? But squireels take real power and no .22 shotshell has enough – especially not an air shotgun.

    If it also shoots pellets, I’ll test that as well.

    We shall see!


  11. Ok cool, can’t wait to see that. Also, how exactly do air shotguns work? Is the back of the shell open to allow air to blow the shot out of the top? I can’t figure it out. Thanks again,


  12. BB,

    How do we go about testing to know if a particular airgun is accurate by itself? It is impossible to know whether my poor shot was due to my performance or my equipment. I believe training to shoot straight means having an accurate gun to train with.

    I would like to read your discussion on specific testing procedures in this regard.



  13. bb, i just visited the oyramyd website, and purely out of curiosity, why is there a $500 price gap between the walther dominator, and hunter models? are the triggers different?

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