Have you just purchased a new air rifle? Deciding to start a new hobby is thrilling, but if you don’t have immediate success it can be easy to get discouraged.
Luckily, if you follow a few easy tips, you can improve your air rifle shooting right away. Follow these methods to get you through your next practice sessions, and watch your groupings tighten up!
1. Flinching Is Normal
If you’ve never shot a gun before, you may not expect the noise or the kick of the rifle. Even if you’re experienced, a new gun may surprise you with either of those elements. A third element that can make anyone flinch is any kind of discharge or blast from the end of the gun.
One way to work on your flinching is to practice. The more you expect those three elements, the less you’ll shrink from them as they happen (or as you anticipate them happening). Spend time weekly at the range or even more often to get used to the report, the blast, and the kick.
Another option is to choose a different gun. One with a longer barrel will minimize the effect you feel, at least from the noise and the discharge from the end of the barrel. You’ll be farther away from those elements, and less likely to flinch.
You can also try wearing ear protection. It’s a good idea to have those anyway because repeated loud noises, as from a gun, can damage your hearing over time.
2. Reduce Kick
The kick of the butt of the gun can cause you to flinch, but it can also hurt your shoulder. To reduce kick, make sure you’re holding the gun properly. When it’s tucked into your arm, your body will absorb the inertia and help stop the gun sooner, reducing the kick you feel.
When you tuck your rifle into your shoulder, you’ll also avoid getting a black eye. The recoil of the gun means the scope moves back, too, not only the butt of the gun. That means if your eye is too close improperly positioned, you’ll get hit in the face with the scope.
Try different positions. You can shoot your air rifle standing up, lying prone, kneeling, or sitting. Using a tripod to hold the barrel of the gun can help you get the right positioning. You can also use any wall or other solid resting spot.
3. Research Your Ammo
To get the desired effect, you have to shoot with the right ammunition. Air rifles have all kinds of possibilities for projectiles, so make sure you’re purchasing the best one for the activity you’re doing.
For example, target shooting at close range is altogether different from hunting. You can use cheap ammo, like wadcutters, if you’re shooting in the backyard for fun.
If you’re hunting large game, you’ll need hollow point pellets. For small game, use pellets with pointed tips, just as you would for long-distance target practice.
If you’re not sure, consult with the experts at the gun store or your local shooting range. They’ll have a good idea of what kind of ammo is best for your air rifle and hobby shooting.
4. Control Your Breathing
Practice some deep breathing exercises. These will help you control your breathing while you’re trying to hit the target. You need to be able to calm yourself down quickly.
Shooting practice can be exhilarating. While it’s great that you’re having fun, the erratic breathing patterns can reduce your accuracy. If you can learn to control them, you’ll hit the target more often.
It’s also a good idea to try and feel your heartbeat in your body without taking a pulse reading. If you can, practice shooting between heartbeats. The beat of your heart causes a slight tremor in your body. Studies show that this tiny tremor can have a negative influence on your shooting accuracy, both with shooting guns and with archery.
5. Use a Scope
New gun owners should learn how to use the sights on the gun to aim at a target. It’s a good idea to have this skill, and the more you practice, the better you’ll get. However, as targets get farther away, it can really increase your accuracy if you get a scope for your air rifle.
Don’t worry if you’re not an expert with the scope as soon as you install it. You have to practice with air rifle scopes, as with iron sights, to get the hang of sighting in your target. Practice sighting in quickly, too, especially if you’ll be shooting at moving targets like clay pigeons.
Adjust the magnification based on how far away you are. To do this, get to know the terminology and get good at converting klicks to feet or yards. You’ll adjust your scope up or down a notch based on the distance of the target.
6. Placement of Trigger Finger
It seems easy to shoot a gun—just pull the trigger, right? Yet there are plenty of theories out there about which part of the finger to use. Pay attention to where your groupings are when you use different parts of your finger on the trigger.
If you use the tip of your finger and it’s too far from the finger joint, the gun will pull to the right. If you use just the tip of your finger on the edge of the trigger, the gun will pull to your left. Try using the middle of your finger, where the fingerprint part is.
This part, the pad of your finger, will give you the most accuracy. It helps you shoot straight and handle the recoil of the gun better.
Air Rifle Shooting 101
For beginners who are just starting out with air rifle shooting, some tips like the above can help your accuracy. The more you practice, the better you’ll get, but you can avoid rookie mistakes if you follow sound advice.
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