Holding an Airgun


Firstly NEVER FIGHT A SPRING-PISTON WEAPON, it will win every time.

For accurate shooting you have to HOLD IT SOFTLY.
You must let the rifle recoil in it’s own way.
To restrict it will cause you to miss.
Imagine it as a tuning fork, it needs to ring not be dampened by heavy handling.
Let the rifle rest ON your supporting hand. OPEN PALM.

Don’t grasp the stock with your fingers. You can cup your fingers round the fore stock BUT DON’T GRIP!

Don’t EVER change the position of your hand along the fore stock.
This position affects how the rifle ‘rings’ or recoils.
NEVER rest your air rifle fore end directly on sandbags or a support as your groups will suffer.
This also applies to those who use a mono, bi, or tripod.
Slings should only be used for carrying, never for support.
You can lay your wrist or forearm on a rest if you like.

Just try to rest your forearm / wrist on the SAME PLACE EVERY TIME.
Only TOUCH your shoulder lightly with the rifle’s butt pad and don’t try to pull it back hard into your shoulder. It’s OK to ‘snuggle in’ but don’t smother it.

A note on clothing.
Different clothing will affect the ‘ringing’ of the weapon.
Try and wear the same outer clothing the whole time i.e. your favorite camo jacket.
Rest your cheek LIGHTLY on the comb of the stock.
Don’t mash your face onto the stock.
Put your cheek on the SAME place on the comb EVERY TIME!
All the above is designed to let the rifle recoil as naturally as possible.
Failure to do so will result in poor shooting.

A few notes on Trigger Control.
Curl your fingers round the neck of the stock using the lightest grip you can. The trigger finger is all you want to move. Everything else is purely to help control the jittery effect your body imparts on the weapon.
With shotguns you pull or ‘slap’ the trigger. (Spray and pray)
That’s because shot gunning is all about timing a shot release on a moving target, not accuracy.
Airguns and firearms all call for you to squeeze the trigger.
Control is everything because you have to keep the weapon in line with the target fighting it’s weight and your body tremor which is present in all humans.

I learnt a simple acronym when being taught to shoot, B.R.A.S.S

It stands for Breathing, Relax, Aim, Stop, Squeeze.
Stop breathing for during the natural pause between inhalation and exhalation. The natural pause between breaths is typically 2-3 seconds. You should not extend that past 8 seconds.
This is when you fire I.e. when the diaphragm and breathing muscles are relaxed.
After 8 seconds, stop the release, relax, and try again.

Your position should be relaxed and the weapon NATURALLY aligned with the target i.e. you do not need to push the sights to align with the target. This applies to any weapon but especially a spring-piston rifle as to push or pull one will definitely affect the way it recoils.

Make sure you are aiming correctly i.e. the correct sight pattern for the targets range, and elevation. (I’m thinking MIL DOT aim off here).

You are in the 8 second window. If all is in order i.e. Breathing, Relaxation, and Aiming you can proceed to release the shot.
Releasing the Shot

There are two ways of squeezing the trigger and releasing the shot.

Uninterrupted Trigger Control.
Smooth is the term that comes to mind.
Take up the first pressure on the trigger and when the sights are in line and are steady on the target, increase the pressure to the trigger at a gentle rate until the weapon fires.
No stopping, pauses, snatching, a constant squeeze.

Interrupted Trigger Control
Basically whenever you can’t settle on a target.
Think windy conditions, poor support or standing.
In short you release when the target comes onto the sights.
Then, when it does, you pull the trigger until the shot breaks.
Here you still don’t force the weapon on target, the rifle will be swaying the whole time. When the rifle starts to sway towards the target, second trigger pressure is applied and you release the shot as the sights align.
This is a really poor state to be in. Over distance, a waving about air weapon is actually being subtly over controlled. It’s human nature. Gun moves off target, you sub consciously try and re-align it. It takes a lot of training to get out of this habit.
My personal advice? Always shoot from a supported position.
Lying down is best, sitting second, kneeling takes a lot of practice, and standing. . . . why?
Same as shooting at a moving target.
Leave that imprecise way of killing to the “spray and prey brigade” aka shot gunners.
Why shoot at a moving target when you have the ability to precisely place a shot into the brain. One shot, one kill.

Follow Through
Always stay in the aim when and after the shot has been released. This will prevent you relaxing your grip as you release thus the weapon will remain still and on target. Too many air gunners immediately relax on releasing the shot.
IMMEDIATELY is the key word here.
The brain senses the rifle go off, immediately the tensed up body tries to relax from the control you have been applying over the last 8 seconds. Result?
The pellet is still sliding up the barrel and you’re now off target.
Your grip has changed subtly so the air gun doesn’t “ring” or recoil the same way.
Everything goes to pot and all because your brain said “Glad that’s over with”.
The follow through is something you have to train yourself to do.

With a spring-piston or gas ram weapon, it’s positively vital.

A few other notes applicable to airgun shooting.

Effective range.
Shoot to a 1″ (one inch) of accuracy.
The range that you can consistently hit within a one inch circle.
The safe range for me to do that EVERY TIME is 50 yards.

Power, i.e. how hard do you need to hit something to kill it.
The UK limit for unlicensed air weapons is only 12ft-lbs of power.
0.22 pellets weigh anything between 12 and 30 grains and have ballistic coefficients between 0.01 and 0.04
To kill a rabbit you need a minimum of 5 ft-lbs, and a bird 3 ft-lbs.
Using a propriety software program i.e. Chairgun 3, the average range to achieve 5 ft-lbs is:-
35 yards for those with a ballistic coefficient of 0.01,

75 yards for those with a ballistic coefficient of 0.04 
Wind Speed
Wind Clock
Don’t forget as the range doubles, the drift quadruples (ish).
Slope Dope (up & down a slope)


How is all this applicable to firearms or PCP weapons?
Don’t forget whilst spring power weapons can be tuned up to 30ft-lbs, PCP can happily be tuned to exceed 50 ft-lbs. Firearms speak for themselves.

The basic marksmanship principles are the same.
Holding and BRASS, but supported is permitted i.e. sandbags, mono / bi or tri-pods and slings.
As for holding on a bit tighter?
Good idea with high recoil weapons. A smack in the shoulder from a decent full bore firearm (.308 or greater) will probably not make your day.
Just one thing, follow through remains the same even for semi, burst, and full auto weapons and that is only perfected through practice.

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