According to a 2018 report, about 43 percent of U.S. households own at least one gun. Many of these are airguns as opposed to firearms. However, very few people know exactly how to use an airgun as it is different from other guns.
An airgun pneumatically launches pellets – or even darts or arrows – by using compressed air or other gases. The gases are mechanically pressurized instead of using a chemical reaction like a firearm uses.
I’ve compiled a number of shooting techniques and methods you can adopt to get the best out of your airgun. Let’s have a look.
1. Choose the right kind of pellet for the job
There is no wrong choice when it comes to pellets. However, if you want to get the best output then you must choose a pellet according to your use.
For instance, if you’re going out to shoot a few cans, then it may be a good idea to get yourself some cheap wadcutters. There’s no point in wasting hollow points.
On the other hand, if you’re shooting long distance, then a pointed tip will prove to be more aerodynamic and useful in traveling further.
The same will also work for small game, but if you’re hunting large mammals you should go for a hollow point.
If you’re very new to shooting an airgun, I suggest getting a test pack of pellets. They contain a large variety of pellets for you to try and find what works best for you.
2. Set the parallax correctly
If you’re shooting longer distances, you need to correctly set your parallax. You won’t find this scope setting on all rifles, but if yours has it then it needs to be set to the correct distance.
A parallax will typically be set to 100 yards. However, if this isn’t the distance that you’re shooting at, then you must adjust it to ensure your pellet hits the target.
3. Hard surfaces are a big NO!
This rule of thumb will apply to all airguns and particularly to spring piston powered guns. Your barrel should never rest on hard surfaces.
When you fire your gun, there will be a bit of recoil. This, along with the vibrations caused by the internal mechanism of your rifle, will cause the barrel to move.
You see the problem here? The barrel always moves before the pellet can leave it, resulting in inconsistent groupings.
4. Scope cant?
Around a quarter of shooters face this problem – so what is scope cant?
Simply put, it happens when you're positioned on a slope, causing the weapon to not be held straight up or vertically true. This causes the crosswire to lose its level.
If a rifle is canted to the left, the shots at the ranges marked will follow this pattern.
Some makers eliminate this problem by adding a spirit level to the scope. If your rifle doesn’t have one, it is important to make sure that the scope reticle is in line with the horizon.
If you are in situations where you can’t view the horizon, then you can counter such situations by buying dovetail mounts. They make it easy to take the sight on or off and play an important role in levelling the weapon.
5. Use an artillery hold
When you fire your rifle, the pellet only starts off once the spring propels the piston. The vibrations at this point cause recoil before the pellet leaves the barrel, which can make the pellet stray off course.
Most shooters will say the answer is to hold the rifle more firmly, but this is not recommended. It’s better to learn the artillery hold stand. This involves holding the rifle gently in your hands and letting it float in any direction it wants to go.
You can watch a simple explanation of artillery hold for an airgun on YouTube.
6. Take good care of ammo
It is important to be careful about how you store and transport pellets. Some reports say that pellets that are shook around the inside of their storage tin become unreliable, especially when compared to pellets kept in a box or can that isn’t moved around a lot.
Plus, don’t expect good results from old pellets. You would be better off just throwing them away or keeping them for recreational shooting such as plinking.
When out shooting, it’s a good practice to empty your tin of pellets onto a soft pouch or wallet.
7. Zeroing your rifle
Zeroing, also known as sighting, is a process that involves aligning the sights so you can accurately and easily aim at your target from a specific distance.
We suggest re-sighting your rifle every two to three thousand pellets based on your next trip. It may also be a good idea to zero your rifle if you’re going to try a different distance.
In addition to this, make sure to zero your rifle in conditions that match your typical shooting conditions. Do not wait for a calm day.
8. Bipods and tripods
Using a bipod or a tripod while shooting may be a good idea since it gives you flexibility. This will prevent spoiled shots and ensure you attain precision.
9. Cheek position
The technical term for cheek position is “cheek weld.” It refers to when your cheek rests against the stock while you’re looking through the scope.
You need to be comfortable in that position. Adjust your body until you reach a comfortable point. If you’re struggling, you might want to get your hands on a cheek guard which tells you exactly where to place your cheek.
10. Maintain your airgun
Maintaining an air rifle can be quite tricky. Most shooters start by cleaning the barrel. This is important because pellets always leave behind traces of oil and metal. I suggest cleaning your gun each time after you’ve cleared a tin of pellets.
To maintain the exterior, get your hands on a carry case. It will ensure your weapon continues to look good for years to come. Moreover, some experts prefer to use gloves when outside to keep the trigger and hold well maintained. But this may make some shooters uncomfortable.
It’s good to go through your hunting basics every now and then and invest time in developing your skills as a shooter. Shooting is a fun sport, but it requires a lot of time and attention to improve.
Continue working on your technique and you will be a skilled shooter in no time. If you’re looking for shooting classes to enhance your skills, search for a shooting range nearest you.