Teaching someone to shoot an air rifle
by B.B. Pelletier
Update on Tom/B.B.: Tom is charting new territory: the doctor has ordered him to eat a lot of calorie-dense foods. Tom’s new to this type of thinking and is actually having a hard time adapting! His bloating/swelling has decreased markedly, and it appears that his pancreas is functioning quite nicely.
B.B. wrote this blog.
This report is similar to one I did about teaching someone to shoot an air pistol, but I’ve thrown in some differences. The differences, however, are practical, especially if the rifle is a spring rifle.
Distance or target size?
With the air pistol, I started my subject at 5 feet from the target. I left the target the same size throughout the entire lesson and backed up the shooter when I felt they were ready for the next stage. Air rifles, however, are different in that they’re often harder to shoot accurately. So, we’re not going to worry about the artillery hold or anything else in this lesson. We’re just going to get out there and teach someone to shoot.
You probably could have guessed that I’d pick the Air Venturi Bronco as a great gun for teaching someone how to shoot an air rifle.
Instead of changing the distance, we’re going to start by changing the target size. With everyone wearing safety glasses, let’s shoot at something that’s hard to miss…a soda can. And, let’s use a rifle that can be shot all day long without getting tired. No mega-magnums are needed for this. The Air Venturi Bronco is an ideal gun (you knew I was going to say that) but so are the Hammerli 490 Express, Ruger Explorer, Gamo Delta and Stoeger X5.
Let’s start at a distance at which our student can hit the target at least 75% of the time. For most new shooters, 15-20 feet will be no problem. Be sure of your backstop and the safety range behind it.
Once you have the shooter hitting the target all the time, it’s time to make the target smaller. So, let’s go to a tuna fish can or a small box. One benefit of this kind of shooting is that both the shooter and the instructor will the see the results from the way the target moves. Don’t let the target get so shot up that the shooter starts shooting through his own holes.
When your shooter can hit the smaller can or box with near certainty, it’s time to get small. We’re still shooting at 15-20 feet. If your shooter is so good that he doesn’t miss, you can accelerate through these stages.
The next target is a plastic bottle top from a two-liter bottle. Your gun will put these into orbit, so have extras on hand. If you don’t like chasing your target, the ever-popular Necco wafer is a perfect biodegradable target.
Next, back up
When the shooter can reliably hit the smaller target, it’s time to backup. Back up double the distance, and go back to the next-largest target, which was a tuna fish can or small box. The shooter will probably miss until he gets the right sight picture; then, to everyone’s surprise, he won’t miss again. Believe it or not, you can have a new shooter hitting bottle caps at 50 feet in a one-day session if you choose the right rifle and the right set of circumstances.
Low pressure, low-key
Many of you have asked me for instructions to teach kids to shoot. This is probably the best way to get them started with a rifle. You’ll notice that we haven’t fussed with the artillery hold once. Let the shooter find a natural hold that does well for him. You can offer suggestions if he needs it.
This is so low pressure and low key, a person can be turned on to shooting simply because he has success in his very first session. Oh, yes, it IS also possible to hit an aspirin at ranges you probably won’t believe.
I’d like to hear your experiences using this method, because I’m sure many of you already use it. If not, give it try and let me know how it works out.