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Improve your shooting with the two-bag rest technique

by B.B. Pelletier

Today, I’m helping a couple readers with some problems. First is Frank B., who owns a Marksman model 70 that he asked a question about. Seems his rifle is missing the trigger adjustment screw. So, Frank, I pulled the screw from my BSF 55N rifle, whose trigger unit is very similar, and I photographed it. For you photographers, I painted the screw with light. I didn’t get a perfect exposure, but it’s good enough for this job. Also, this is a macro done with my nicer camera.

The shank is 10mm long.

I told Frank the screw was 2.5mm, but seeing it enlarged like this I think it’s a 3mm screw.

I hope this helps you locate a screw for your trigger. Remember, the BSF trigger that your rifle has is very prone to slipping off when cocked, so never let go of the barrel when its broken open.

Discovery problems
Today’s blog is really an emergency report to help our reader, Andreas, who is having an accuracy problem with his new Benjamin Discovery. Normally, that wouldn’t be so bad, but Andreas lives in Cypress and doesn’t have the same airgun opportunities that we have here in the states. He bought the Discovery after reading my reports, and I want him to enjoy the gun to the fullest.

Room to improve
On Saturday, Andreas sent me the links to some groups he’d fired with his rifle. They look okay, but since they were shot at just 18 yards, they do have room for improvement. Andreas doesn’t have access to JSB 10.2-grain Exact domed pellets, which my tests showed were the best in the .177 caliber he owns, so he is shooting 10.5-grain Crosman Premiers, which are pretty close.

Premier benchrest technique!
I want to share with him and all of you the best technique for shooting a firearm or a pneumatic rifle to get the most accuracy. This technique was developed in the late 19th century. It’s called the double bag technique. To use it, you need two shooting bags.


Look at the arrow that indicates how the rear bag is to be adjusted. Sliding it back and forth raises and lowers your aimpoint. You never have to touch anything but the trigger.

The front bag should be long enough that the rifle, when rested on the bag, won’t fall off. A rolled blanket or towel usually isn’t good enough. A bag with “ears” is always best for this, though if it is too long it won’t allow the rear bag to work its magic.


These Beeman benchrest bags are perfect for the two-bag technique. The front bag is on the right.

Rear bag controls the gun
The real secret of this technique is the rear bag. It stabilizes the rifle so you don’t have to hold it to your shoulder. I’ve watched several of you caffeine-hyper shooters on the range, and I know that not holding the rifle can be a real plus! The rear bag also adjusts the muzzle of the rifle, ever-so-slightly, because of the angle on the bottom of the butt. You can raise and lower the crosshairs by very small amounts by sliding the bag forward and back. That’s how you center the sights, and since you aren’t touching the rifle anywhere other than the trigger, the sights stay on target. Your breathing and heartbeat cannot move the rifle when you use a two-bag rest.

I should have shown you this type of rest long ago, but so many of you shoot spring guns. You can’t use this rest with a springer because it has to be handheld.

Andreas, please let us know if this helps you with your Discovery.

51 thoughts on “Improve your shooting with the two-bag rest technique”

  1. B.B.,

    Thanks a lot for this blog.

    Today I will go to the local airgun shop to buy two more types of pellets to test, I will see if they have double shooting bags like these, but I doubt it. If they have bags like these I will probably shoot the groups today.

    If not, I will have to make my own bags or order from the US. I don’t have time for either of that right now because in 5 days I will join the army so I will be away from home.

    My shooting bag used to be a pillow filled with seeds. It’s big enough to keep the rifle from falling as you said, and I think it will be good enough for a front bag.

    I will try to find something suitable for the rear bag though. Any suggestions?

    I will see what I can do to try this shooting method.

    Thanks a lot for all your help B.B. I really appreciate it.

  2. B.B. I don’t think this would work for an Air Force gun, do you? I read that the frame can flex if you stress it. Seems it would be better to try to get all the support you could right in front of the trigger. How would you do it for an A.F. gun? From SavageSam

  3. Mornin B.B.,
    Once again, i have to say youve gone out of the way to help your readers. Now lets see if you can help me. I was shooting my new Crosman Storm XT over the weekend, and yesterday, my scope stop pin sheared off from the bottom of my ring. So now i need a scope stop. Is there an easy way to make one,or is it best to just order one?

  4. SavageSam,

    I think this will work on an AirForce rifle, but I’ve never tried it.

    The flex takes place in the joint between the butt reservoir and the frame, but the scope is attached to the frame, only. It remains in line with the frame at all times. So any flex, which is nothing unless you pull the frame back against the butt (which there is no reason to ever do) has zero effect on the sight alignment.

    But to be honest, I have never seen any flex, and I was their technical director for three years. I tested hundreds of AirForce rifles and shot some phenomenal groups with them.

    Actually the frame does not flex. What moves is the -4, the threaded bushing that fits into the frame and accepts the air tank. If you handle the rifle normally, that bushing stays tight. People who put slings on the gun are stressing that joint when they carry the rifle, which is why I never attach a sling. The bipod COULD stress the joint, except I never put any pressure on the rifle when shooting so there’s no stress.


  5. Brody,

    You didn’t tell me what brand of scope rings you have. If they are Leapers, AirForce or B-Square, the scope stop pin is an Allen screw. Just replace it.

    What is more disturbing is the fact that it sheared off in the first place. That shouldn’t happen.

    If the pin isn’t threaded, use a common screw of the same size of smaller in the hole.

    An alternative might be to use two scope stops – the one the rings came with and a second one behind the front ring like I showed in Part 3 of the Ruger Air Hawk Elite report.

    Unless you are using a one-piece mount, in which case that won’t work.


  6. B.B.

    Those bags look great, I just ordered 6 sets for the rifle range…I saw them before, but did not see how well they can work.

    I am wondering, if you set up on the corner of a desk, like I did with the “Benchmaster” tee frame type rest, so I can sit in my office chair and hold the gun as much as I want to, or let it sit completely in the rest,….
    If you could use the bags to help hold a springer, thus improving your technique or testing or setting up a scope?

    Ashland Air Rifle Range

  7. B.B.,
    The rings, are the ones that came with the gun. The cam in a small bax, and there is a pin, that is tapered to a point. i mounted the rear ring with the pin in the hole, and yesterday, i noticed my rear ring was haning of the back. that explains why my head was moving further back with every shot. I will try and find a screw to fit the hole, and i will also try and take a macro shot of the rings, and pin.
    Thanks again,

  8. B.B.,

    I went to the local shop, they didn’t have any shooting bags but I found the JSB exact domed pellets that you used.

    I will shoot some groups tomorrow morning after I find something suitable for a rear bag. I really hope the results are the ones that we are both waiting for.

    Thanks again for all your help.

  9. Andreas,
    I use a Bean Bag from a Corn Hole game as a Rest. It works well, when standed on end. It conforms to the shape of your gun to.
    Heres a pic of my sheared scope stop pin.
    I think i did a great job with the pic. I tried painting it with light, and it worked out really well. I cant find a screw short enough to fit in the hole, so im going to just order a scope stop. Thanks again for the great blog, and photo series,

  10. BB,

    As you requested here is the report on using the low temperature moldable plastic to improve the grip of the Daisy 747.

    It Works!! Here are some tips:

    1) Wrap the grip with Saran Wrap and put some cooking oil so that the plastic will not stick.
    2) Wear rubber gloves also coated with cooking oil.
    3) Melt the plastic pellets and form a 2 x 3 pad about 1/4 inch thick.
    4) Place the pad on the grip where your plam will contact.
    5)While the plastic is still soft, hold the grip tight making sure that the sight alignment is correct. Trim the excess and shape so that it is comfortable.
    6)Allow it to cool and harden, sand away any rough spots.
    7) remove the saran wrap from the grip, test fit the molded plastic.
    8)Attach the molded plastic with electrical tape.
    9)Wrap the entire grip with Athletic tape (the type used for sprained wrists) to give the grips a nice texture.

    By the way, ShapeLock did not deliver…do not order from them. I found similar product from a Hobby & Crafts Store called “Friendly Plastic”.

    Works better than the mousepad.

    Mousepad (aka Stingray)

  11. B.B.
    I tried the artillery hold with my Gamo Big Cat. I saw a large improvement from the groups I was shooting before. With a little more practice, I am sure that I can can tighten the groups even more. Also, since benchrest bags won’t work for a springer, what would you recommend?


  12. B.B.
    I want to get my first air rifle, but I’m not sure if I can try it myself somewhere locally. Do you have any opinion about “Crosman Quest 1000X Combo” and “Ruger Air Hawk Combo”. They look similar by description and in the same price range. I would appreciate if you share an opinion or advise based on your experience.

  13. For measuring screw sizes, It’s best to use a (relatively good quality) dial or digital caliper. Often a screw will measure undersize from the diameter of a perfect screw, this has to do with thread tolerances and such, but it’s usually very close to the next highest standard size.

    I digital caliper is handy as you can toggle between inch and mm measurements. This will help you determine whether the screw diameter is closer to an inch or metric measurement, thus identifying which system is used.

    Thread pitch (that is, how far apart, or how many threads per unit) is easily measured with a thread gage. I’m finding that I use both the imperial and the metric gages I have. There are other thread systems, such as older British 55 degree threads too.

    Find the pitch by holding different pitch gages against the threads and look towards a bright light, you can see the alignment or misalignment easily. A magnifier can help as well.

    I’m also finding that a number of airgun screws are non-standard, ultra fine pitches, and some are left hand rather than right hand. You can still usually get taps and dies for all but the oddest examples.


  14. Andrey,
    I have a Crosman Storm XT which is basically the same gun as the Quest, except it has a bigger scope, and a little nicer wood. I will say, that you wont be dissapointed with this gun. It is accurate, in fact i shot a quarter with the open sights today at 20yds, it hits hard. shot through both sides of a coffee can, and 1/2″ into my backstop. It is a hefty gun, which i like, because its easier to hold steady. Well good luck.

  15. Andy,

    I see Brody has told you about his Storm XT. And of course I am testing the Air Hawk Elite right now.

    I think either rifle represents a lot of value. It’s a tough call. I do notice that the Quest seems to have a scope stop on the rifle, where the Ruger has none. So you will have to do something like I did if you get the Ruger.


  16. For the IZH 46M I use nothing but Chinese hand-sorted wadcutters that are no longer available. I would try both RWS R-10 and H&N Finale Match (both in the lighter pellets).

    You might also try Vogel pellets from Pilkington, too.


  17. B.B.
    I just noticed that rust is starting to form on the trigger, safety, and the loading port of my Gamo Big Cat. The gun was never exposed to water as far as I am aware. Should I use rust remover on these parts? Could I buy it at Home Depot?

  18. Brody, if you call Crosman Customer Service I’ll bet they’ll send you a replacement ring free of charge (and without demanding the old ring back).

    Andy, I’ve had several Quest variants and an AirHawk, and have had both of them apart. The Quest series is the simpler gun based largely on the Gamo breakbarrels, while the AirHawk is based on the ’34 series. The Quest is easier to work on, but ultimately the AirHawk should be the nicer gun if both are performing up to their potential. The AirHawk has a copy of the Diana T05 trigger, which is much better than the Theoben-type trigger than the Quest uses.

    The AirHawk I had, however, was made very sloppily – rough stampings and poor assembly meant that I had to do a LOT of deburring and replace the piston seal. There were also metal shavings in the threaded hole for the rear sight elevation adjuster knob that I had to clean out before the sight would go down all the way.

    Unfortunately, the last Quest I got (in .22) was about as bad (maybe worse). It’s a shame, I thought that the QC on the Quests was getting pretty good – until this turkey.

    For the prices right now I’d be tempted to recommend the Ruger. If nothing else, the rear sight and trigger are vastly superior to those on the Quest.

  19. B.B.

    Those are my bags in the blog post! How wonderful. I will say that having your own pair of filled rock-hard bags is very gratifying. There are a couple of caveats, though, or perhaps I’m just ignorant and would appreciate correction.

    The bags are on the small side so unless your table and chair are a very particular height, it is very unlikely that the bags will be positioned correctly, and you will have to put something under them. The more rigid the support is the better–like planks–but rigidity means that it will be hard to make trace adjustments. And you will need to shape your plank or support to allow the sliding of the rear bag forwards and back. All of this can be done with your own benchrest at home or with some additional hassle at a public shooting range.

    However, I don’t see how you can follow the accompanying instructions about one use of the rear bag. The instructions say that you should position the rear bag so that your point of aim is slightly above the target, then squeeze the rear bag to raise the stock and lower the point of aim as necessary. Unless you have a grip like the Incredible Hulk there is no way you can get movement out of the bag when it is filled as it is supposed to be.

    On the bright side, the notch in the front bag is big enough so that you can put a supporting hand there for springers. And I suppose you could also use the gel pad there that B.B. profiled some time ago. I can’t wait to use these bags for my firearms.


  20. Matt61,

    You don’t have to squeeze the rear bag. As long as you can slide it back and forth, you can adjust the height.

    Look at the drawing carefully. Do you see that black thing under the front bag? That is there to elevate the front bag. You can also use something under the rear bag if you need to.


  21. hi BB,
    Im currently making a nice leather shooting bag much like the one pictured. if you want me to i could take some pictures and form it into a DIY guest blog. What do you think.

    Nate in Mass

  22. The two bag rest won’t work on a springer? I’ve been using this exact same set-up with my 460 Mag for months now, and seem to do fine. The only difference, and it’s critical, is that I use Pyramyd’s gel bag on the front rest, nylon side up, in the V of the rest. This bag approximates the feel of flesh quite well, and is slippery enough to let the gun move freely fore and aft.

    My rear rest is rather loosely filled, so I can scrunch it into any shape I want with my left hand to get the crosshairs to stay on center when relaxed. A very loose grip with thumb and trigger finger seems to work well, producing generally 1.5 inch groups at 60 yds, once in a while sub one inch, and 3 inch groups at 100 yds.

    What am I doing wrong? (;>)

    Duncan Idaho

  23. BB,

    this is a bit off topic so apologies in advance. I just purchased a Benji Discovery and am quite happy with it although it’s a bit loud. I want to scope it and have a RWS scope lying around. Before I mount it, I wanted to optically center it. I remember a past blog (around March ’05) that said you can easily optically center a scope by holding it up to a mirror and adjusting the windage and elevation controls until only one pair of reticles appears. Here comes the stupid part – are you supposed to look through the scope at the mirror or are you supposed to see the reticles in the mirror? Is the mirror only supposed to be a few inches from the scope’s objective lens or should the scope be right up against the mirror – resting on it?

    Hopefully you or some of the others following the blog can help be get over this bit of stupidity.

  24. The best production I’ve gotten from all my springers and rimfires alike is shooting from a Caldwell Tackdriver bag – just a massive bag with ears, and a small sandbag for stability at the rear. I used seeds like Andreas, and learned that bugs tend to grow in this environment and they did a number on the bag. I had to reseal the seams and later fill with sand instead (which seems way too solid, but I want to give the sand a chance to kill off any remaining larvae). It’s a pain to lug around, but amazing to shoot from, only I feel it ruins my field technique. Great for sighting in, and pulling off long range shots. When I get tired of missed shots at asprins and expired vitamins, I use it and watch them burst. It just spoils you. I rest my IZH 46m in it also and pretty much shoot through the same hole consistently at 10 meters. The 513m even shoots well in it and it’s one of the worst behaved springers I’ve fired (2 broken Leapers scopes attest to its violent nature – they were replaced thankfully). I just need to find an ideal filler for it, too bad airsoft bbs are a little expensive… Seriously, you should check this bag or the dozen or so clones that exist..

    W. PA

  25. Duncan ID,

    You are doing nothing wrong. I am constantly surprised when a springer can be shot directly off a rest. Obviously there is some dynamic that hasn’t been identified. So trying everything is still essential.


  26. Optical center,

    I’ll let someone else handle this question, since I didn’t do this procedure, myself. However, you do understand that after you optically center the scope you must zero it with an adjustable scope mount? After it’s zeroed, you never touch the windage knob – only the elevation knob.


  27. to W.PA you might want to try a combination of long grain rice and bbs.had some rusty ones lying around….good weight and the combo is pliable.a big carton of bbs,the rest rice.in two years no bugs.moisture could become a problem but not so far…frankb

  28. FrankB,

    thanks for the suggestion. I was thinking steel shot from maybe a machine shop (shot blasting media), but had put off rice because I bought a huge bag from a discount store and it was filled with small bugs, however not as gross as the ones in the dried beans I tried – kind of like mealworms and they bored straight through the nylon of the bag.

    BB, I’m really surprised you had such poor results with the bag. It’s common in the region of PA where I live to bag rest and sight a gun in to it’s potential – then make a shooting adjustment to the gun. However, with a lot of airguns it’s not quite so simple. I’ve had excellent results with maybe 10 different types of magnum springers on the bag, and even better with the moderate power springers (IZH 61, 512m, HW 55, Benjamin Legacy, etc.) I’ve been trying to get a lot of people hooked on airguns, with some success (even some dyed-in-the-wool firearm shooters who thought of airguns as Red Ryders). But beating out the simplicity, affordability, lack of effort, etc(not mention wonderful brass mess..) of .17 and .22 rimfires is a tough task. They always ask about the noticeable recoil and wonder what kind of upper velocity they’re capable.. coincidentally Gamo sells very well here. I’m pushing Baikal because they are amazing entry level and affordable guns. Anyone who shoots my 61 and sees how they can repeatedly nail bottle caps at 10 meters instantly wants one.

    still thankful for that report

    W. PA

  29. PS,

    I forgot to mention that in the part of PA in which I live – a loud rifle report at midnight means nothing more than a raccoon being shot, and no one seems to care. I read all these reports of guys worried what the neighbors will think of their springer’s discharge and I’m shocked. I run my blacksmithing power hammer routinely at night and even in my closed shop it sounds like a centerfire going off every second or so… yeah, I’m popular with my neighbors. That’s part of the rationale behind rimfire over airguns in the region. Of course I’ve lived in the city before and can understand the paranoia that comes from a constricted home shooting gallery.


  30. The last statement you made was “You can’t use this rest with a springer because it has to be handheld.” I have read this a lot and this is just simply NOT TRUE. Many that post this on the forums immediately get the same response I am giving in return. There are many spring air rifles that shoot just fine off bag rests. This is not just my opinion. Many have shot their springers using duel bags at my local benchrest match as well and their results are very good.




    First two links are with my TX200 which I have had just over a year now. With time I am sure I can shrink those groups a bit more. NONE of those groups posted are trophy groups. 3rd link is with my R7, also from a dual bag set-up. Only one trophy group in that post.
    Those are typical and “to be expected” sizes given those conditions (actually, on the TX200, I expect a little bit smaller groups and print such groups now that I have more shooting time and my trigger is a bit better since those posts).

    My point is saying “You can’t use this rest with a springer because it has to be handheld.” is just too much of a blanketed statement. It just simply isn’t true. One should try all forms of rests and go with which one works best for them.
    By the way, I do like your blog and especially loved your recent 10M shooting multi-part read on the basics to the Olympics.
    Very Respectfully
    Greg S

  31. For guns and parts that fit, use your scanner – makes excellent, sharp, perfectly exposed photos. Lay colored sheets/cloth/towels for background. Makes a good way to get serial numbers for your records.

  32. "You can't use this rest with a springer because it has to be handheld." – (2 bag method)

    What other methods can I use for a spring gun to obtain better results/accuracy? I am new to spring guns and am not obtaining the results I have grown accustomed to after 15 years of shooting expert every 6 months in the Army. I know that using iron sights & pop up targets is a different type of shooting but I would assume that the same basic principles would still apply. As much as I enjoy shooting air guns it is becoming quite frustrating for me because I am not achieving the types of groupings that I am used to or when I do achieve a nice tight group next thing I know I am throwing a pellet out by 2 to 3 inches. I am using decent quality pellets and I am practicing all the techniques I have learned over the years (breath control, trigger squeeze, follow through, not canting the rifle, proper scope alignment/good sight picture, and finally using an adjustable raised comb to consistently achieve the same cheek weld/sight picture). I am going to start weighing my pellets for consistency next to see if that helps. Any recommendations you may have would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank You!!!

  33. B.B.

    Thanks for taking the time to respond to my post. The gun is a cheap-O that I bought at Wal Mart for my 13 year old. It is a Crosman Storm XT. I had some problems with the supplied rings so I changed them out with a Leapers Accushot 1-Pc Mount from Pyramyd AIR. Later in my ongoing frustration I purchased a new scope to try and eliminate that variable as well (Leapers 3-9x32mm Range Estimating A.O. Scope from Pyramyd Air). I plan on mounting and aligning it this weekend. The first batch of pellets I tried were RWS Superpoint Extras since I happened to have a tin of them. Next I tried Beeman Crow Magnums which did make some difference as I actually shot some touching groups but then I started throwing shots and my POI moved. To date I have shot no more than 200 rounds through the gun.

    As to the “artillery hold” in spite of my 15 years as a cannon cocker (13B) I haven’t heard of it before but I am very interested.

    Again, thanks for taking the time to listen to my sniveling.


  34. B.B.,

    P.S. I have been attempting to zero the gun at 20 yards. Should I use a different range? Additionally I have been doing this in my back yard with negligible wind although I haven’t actually set up my Kestrel 4500 to check it. I definitely think alot of it has to do with the fact that I have hit the big 40 and am just not as steady as I used to be. That’s why I always try and use the prone supported or a sand bag/shooting rest whenever possible.

  35. Steve,

    20 yards is the perfect zero distance for this rifle.

    I don’t think Crow Magnums are the best pellet for the rifle, and the Superpoints are very specific to only a few rifles/.

    Try Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets and if you are in a hurry, go to Wal-Mart and get the Crosman Premier hollowpoints. They are the same pellet and just as accurate.

    As for the artillery hold, it is the secret of shooting a spring gun well. Read here:



  36. B.B.,

    Thanks for the advice, it was very interesting. It appears to me that just because someone is a decent shot with center fire guns, doesn’t mean they can shoot spring airguns. It seems that a different skill set needs to be developed here. I hope I can get that gun dialed in, I don’t want to let my 13 year old down. He still thinks his old man can walk on water and I am not quite ready for him to take me off the pedestal just yet. I will let you know the outcome.

    What is your opinion of using the JSB .177 Diabolo Exact Heavies in this gun? Should I just stick with the lighter 7.9 grain Crosman Premiers or do you think this gun has the power to effectively and accurately push the heavier JSB pellets?

    I really appreciate your time in this matter!!!


  37. Steve,

    It isn’t so much that the gun doesn’t have the power to push the heavy pellet, because it does. But in general, spring guns seem to do better with lighter pellets. The compressed air they generate with their piston is just a mouse cough compared to what a pneumatic can do.

    Within just a few inches of barrel the pellet has already reached its top velocity, which is why the artillery hold is so important. The pellet doesn’t start moving until the piston has come to a stop, so the gun is already moving before the pellets does. The artillery hold allows the gun to always start from the same place, so to speak.

    I have recently discovered that instead of laying the forearm on the open palm of my hand, the backs of my fingers is an even better place, because they move even less when I breathe.


  38. BB,
    I am very close to having saved enough for a Discovery (!). PA has a set that comes with a scope, but it comes with a CenterPoint 3-9x40AO scope. Is this an optimal scope for this gun, or should I just buy the gun without the scope and get another scope. I’m not familiar with CenterPoint scopes.
    Secondly, I’ve been having trouble finding out what optimal pellet to use with the .22. PA lists quite a number and I’ll probably try many of them. Any suggetions?
    Michael in Georgia

  39. Michael,

    Crosman owns both Benjamin and CenterPoint, so I think that scope is fine for the rifle. Are there better scopes? You bet! And you will pay more for them.

    In my report in the blog, I found JSB 15.8-grain exacts to be the best pellets. Premiers are also good.


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