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How to Start Air Rifle Shooting

Posted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 10:39 pm
by TenX
Here are some pointers to begin Air Rifle shooting. I have observed a growing number of new joiners who are buying air rifles for the first time. Many thanks to Bindra :)
Having said that, I am sure everyone has a lot of doubts on aiming, handling, etc. I have brought in picture some of the more useful FAQs answered for everyone's information.
• As a beginner, I suggest you read the following information carefully.
• As a moderate shooter, I suggest you spread the good word.
• As an experienced hand, I request your additions/corrections.

Good, so now you got yourself a gun, haggled with the small variety, made your choice and bought it. You also got some free pellets, and cant wait to shoot. You are several years old, and have waited so long to shoot. Now wait just a few more minutes and read this before you go about doing what you want to do :)

• Every new gunner is eager to find out more about his air-rifle. Take your time, and let the rifle shoot a few hundred shots before its full potential comes out. Groups may be erratic for the first 100+ shots. The parts will have to 'gel' with each other. Read and follow the 'Don’ts' mentioned in other topics by Mack The Knife and other seniors. Some Don’ts mentioned below.
• There are about 4 positions to shoot an air rifle. Considering ease of adaptation and cocking, the standing position is good to begin with. Start by shooting at a blank piece of paper with a minimum distance of around 5 meters. As you get considerable grouping and improve your accuracy, start to shoot from a greater distance and go up to 10 or 15 meters, which is a good distance to practice.

• Don’t shoot to shoot. Be calm while shooting. Have a target. Know what you want to shoot. And try not to have anything distracting around you while you shoot. If you want to watch a India-Pak cricket match, just watch -don’t think of shooting and watching TV, etc. Its your safety we are talking about :)
• Always assume the gun is loaded. It’s not a toy and can inflict serious injury.
• Ensure there is a wall or something solid behind your target point. Prior to shooting, check your target and the area surrounding your target. Make sure the target area is unobstructed and that people or other unintended targets are not in line with the target.
• Never shoot at close quarters. Pellets will ricochet back at an equal velocity (and somehow gets into the eyes in most cases :) ... )
• Avoid shooting at breakable objects like bottles, pressurized cans, etc. The breakage is unpredictable and can render serious harm.
• Keep your forefinger, with which you shoot, off the trigger unless you have aimed well, ready to shoot, and know very well what you are shooting.
• Always ensure there is nothing in the vicinity of the line between the rifle and the target.
• Never load the gun unless you are ready to shoot.
• Don’t move around or change your aim unnecessarily with a loaded gun.
• If you have loaded a gun and have to take a break, discharge (shoot) at a safe place, and let one pellet go waste instead of something more important.
• Don’t keep the gun cocked for a long time. Its bad practice and bad for the gun too.
• When guns are not in use i.e. when not on range it must be kept unloaded; that is no pellet in the chamber.
• While loading, always ensure the pellet is completely in the chamber, is NOT protruding, and when the barrel is cocked back, it should be latched completely without any shake. If the barrel is not latched back properly, the shot could break your gun and cause harm.
• Try to have a mechanism behind the target that will deflect the pellets downwards.

In most cases, a thick bunch or magazines or newspapers act as a good pellet stopper.

Aiming and Position
• Maintain a Diary of your position, scores, etc. Develop a checklist of key position reminders in your journal or diary. These may include comments about hand position, foot position, keeping the shoulders relaxed – anything that is important for you to develop and maintain a good position. Keep updating the diary of your positions. It will be good to notice that you may have different comfortable positions in different times of the day, etc. It will help to also mention the climate/lighting/food-habits etc.
• Get into position and tune your balance and natural point of aim so that the rifle points at the center of the target with a minimum of muscle tension. To do this close your eyes, relax, and see if the position stays stable; then open your eyes and see if the sights point at the center of the target. If balance or natural point of aim is off, adjust and repeat until this is accomplished.
• For Aiming, the easiest way explained is like this. The rear sight has a 'V' groove. The fore sight has an 'i'. You will have to align this together - something like \i/. This \i/ should be aiming just below the target you intend to shoot. Note that the i sits in the center of the v. Also, if you would draw a line on top of the v, this line should also touch the top of the i. If the i is deep in the v groove, you will shoot low. If the i is higher than the v, you will shoot up.
• Having said this, aim and fire, following the steps below. This will let you know where the pellet is shooting on the target. In most cases, despite having aimed well, the pellets will not shoot at the center. You will now have to adjust the sights of your rifle, which is called zeroing.
• Always hold and aim the same way for every shot.
• While aiming, the human eye cannot focus on three distances at one time. You can either see the rear sight in complete focus, the fore sight or the target. A good practice would be to focus on the rear sight, then the fore sight (align them well), then focus on the target (with both the aligned sights aiming at the base of the target), then get your focus back onto the fore sight and keep it there till you have shot and are finished with the follow-thru. You wont believe how much it will help. When I say 'keep your focus on the fore sight' you will still see a indistinct blurred target and fore-sight. This is the 'Shooter's picture' and is good practice.
• Try to shoot every shot in the same amount of time. You can start by counting the seconds when you start to load, then hold, breathe in, then aim (continue slow breathing, exhale and inhale, and slowly exhale about 60% of your breath), hold your breath, re-check aim, then shoot (still holding breath) and then follow-thru (still holding breath, slowly exhaling the remaining air in the lungs), bring down rifle (Inhale again). This 'rhythm' should try and match a fixed interval of time for every shot.
• Do not hold/aim for too long. It will weaken your hold, vision and probably result in a bad shot.

• When you are ready to shoot, and have looked into all safety aspects, its time to load.
• Remove your finger from the trigger. You may now grip the rifle with all your fingers. Under no circumstance should the trigger finger (fore-finger) be on the trigger.
• Break the barrel of the gun (or release the under-lever or side-lever) with a firm pat from your left palm, holding the rifle grip firmly with your right hand, barrel pointed towards the target, and the butt resting on your hip/waist/belly :)
• Alternatively, you may also move your right hand closer up the stock towards where the barrel 'breaks', to have better command of the loading operation.
• Once the barrel is unlatched from its normal position, Firmly 'cock' the rifle, wherein you will have to pull the barrel (or under-lever) fully back against the spring tension), until it 'cocks'.
• Remember, letting go of the barrel (or lever) during this act of cocking, while the rifle is not cocked may result in severe damages to man and gun.
• Ensure you don't give the rifle to minors or those whom you feel may not be able to cock it properly.
• Try to hold the barrel down while you load the pellet into the chamber. Odd position may have to be adopted to do this. Some shift the opened barrel to the right hand with their arm running from underneath the rifle, while some manage to hold the rifle pitted against their thigh/waist, holding the barrel in the left hand itself. Eitherway, ensure you have one hand holding the barrel and no finger anywhere near the trigger.
• In case the barrel is released, or the trigger is pressed, the barrel will try to swing back to its normal position and this could cause serious harm. You don't want to try this at all.
Once you have inserted the pellet completely - fully inside, you may now proceed to complete the loading stage.
• If the pellet is not inserted completely, and you continue to set the barrel to its normal position, the pellet may get jammed and in most cases loses its shape. This will, in the long run, damage your rifle and its parts.
• Once the pellet is inserted, hold the rifle stock again with your right hand, firmly, with the butt resting well on your thigh/hip/waist, and move the barrel back into position. Offer as much pressure as needed only. Once you feel you have to give more pressure, that is, while the barrel is almost in position, you will have to give the right amount of force in the right direction and the right speed. This will latch the barrel safely and correctly. I am sure there are a whole lot of technical terms, but I would prefer to use a language that my 14 year old nephew can understand...
• Once the barrel is back in position, recheck that it is stable and locked well. The gun is now loaded and ready to shoot. You may still NOT put your finger on the trigger, because you may not be ready to shoot yet :)
• NOTE: The speed at which you cock the barrel has absolutely no resemblance in any form or logic, to the speed and accuracy of your shooting, nor will it greatly improve your manhood; but it will surely spoil your gun.

Zeroing ... &start=327

• For zeroing, you may 'bench-rest' the rifle. What you would normally do would be to get a table and chair, sit on the chair and keep the stock (not barrel) of the rifle on the table with a rolled up blanket ('rest') or something similar between the gun stock and the table. The gun now rests on something that is sturdy and not hard, yet not soft. It would be best to keep the front of the stock on the 'rest', with the left hand holding the rifle stock just behind.

• Keep your feet as apart as about your shoulder width, or a little more. Stand erect and with both the feet almost in line to the target. The body is in such a position that your hip is slightly at an angle to the line of fire. This is a good stable stand to begin with. Bring the gun's butt to your shoulder, placed firmly and raise the gun to become parallel to dear earth.
• Hold the gun firmly but not too tight as your muscles will start to shudder and affects your accuracy.
• Adapt different stances until you find a position which works for you- what may suit one person may not another.
• The grip (just behind the trigger) is where you hold the rifle with your right hand (for a right hand shooter). The thumb comes above and over the grip, the fore finger on the trigger/trigger-guard, and the remaining three fingers wrap around the grip. The fore finger should be capable of moving freely without affecting the rest of the fingers.
• The left hand holds the 'Stock' or the wood below the barrel. The left hand will support the rifle with the rifle weight falling on the left palm. Gently wrap your fingers around the stock in a manner that will not impact your aim. The thumb will come on the left of the stock, and the remaining four fingers will go on the other side. Don’t grip the rifle tightly with this hand. Instead, let the rifle rest on the palm, with sufficient hold to just have the rifle in control.
• The base of the butt (rear part of the rifle) sits where your shoulder cup joins the body. The rifle should not be pressed hard against, and should instead be firm and in full contact. Any loss of contact between the body and the butt will result in a harmful jerk, hitting the shoulder.

Trigger Release
• Squeeze the trigger and not snatch it as this jerks the gun and affects your accuracy. After you have aimed and are ready to shoot, slowly start adding pressure on the trigger with your fore-finger. Matter of fact, the shot should go in such a manner that it should surprise you. As the pellet is shot, you will feel the recoil of the gun. Do NOT drop the rifle, loosen your grip or start to bring the rifle down. It is very important to follow thru - to keep aiming during AND after the shot. Once the recoil is done with, and the rifle is rested again on the target, start your exhale-inhale and bring the rifle down. Follow-thru is one of the most important and yet ignored aspects of good shooting.
• Follow-thru: Keeping your target in sight, letting the gun recoil, (if you shoot a Springer) and keep squeezing the trigger until the shot is over. Never look immediately where you shot. a one to half second follow through should be a mandatory part of your shooting sequence.
• Never jerk the rifle while taking the shot. Not often said but what most shooters do initially, is to assume that they are aiming a little low or high, and they jerk the rifle while pressing the trigger, and against the direction of mistake. There is a hope in every shooter that this little bit of correction would have improved the shot. But that never happens. Your shot will only get worse.

The shot
• After you know you are in a stable position with good balance and natural point of aim, begin shot rehearsal exercises. Mentally rehearse shots by picturing yourself performing perfect shots in your mind. Follow this with some dry firing or holding/aiming exercises. Do this without loading or cocking the air rifle - Dry Firing.
• When you are happy with your stance, with your rhythm, load the rifle and take a shot. Check every shot to see where it is hitting the target sheet, but dont do it right after the shot.
• IMPORTANT - Keep your focus on the rifle sights, until the follow thru is done with. Don't focus on the target immediately after the shot. The target is going nowhere and you will have ample time to check your shot. If you wait you will check a good shot. If you don't, you probably shot it away from the bull and will feel sad :(
• Make required corrections to bring the shot to the center.
All the very best and keep posting :)

Posted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 11:04 pm
by icemanV
Very Nice
Thank You

Posted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 11:10 pm
by TenX
iceman.. go to sleep.. you have practice tomorrow :)

Posted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 11:38 pm
by sitar

that was a nice post

please emphasize more on dry shooting because it seems to be less useful than it is actually

Posted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 11:41 pm
by OverUnderPump
Awesome amount of info, :) thanks for sharing Anand.


Re: Tips to begin Air Rifle Shooting.

Posted: Sat Sep 27, 2008 12:22 am
by kanwar76
Nice info, thanks 10X


Posted: Sat Sep 27, 2008 12:27 am
by mundaire
TenX if you still online can you copy paste this as a submission to the knowledge base? Submit it under ISSF sports... will approve it and merge it with this thread.

Thanks for a very well written article :)


Posted: Sat Sep 27, 2008 12:30 am
by TenX
mundaire";p="54123 wrote: TenX if you still online can you copy paste this as a submission to the knowledge base? Submit it under ISSF sports... will approve it and merge it with this thread.

Thanks for a very well written article :)

Would love to do that, but would you rather suggest it remain for a while, so that more information/corrections/updates from other elder folks can be updated?

Re: Tips to begin Air Rifle Shooting.

Posted: Sat Sep 27, 2008 12:52 am
by msandhu
Nice post TenX.. lots of useful info for newbees

Posted: Sat Sep 27, 2008 12:55 am
by mundaire
TenX";p="54126 wrote:
mundaire";p="54123 wrote: TenX if you still online can you copy paste this as a submission to the knowledge base? Submit it under ISSF sports... will approve it and merge it with this thread.

Thanks for a very well written article :)

Would love to do that, but would you rather suggest it remain for a while, so that more information/corrections/updates from other elder folks can be updated?
The corrections/ updates can be part of the thread, besides the KB article(s) can be updated from time to time... anyhow, it's your call. Let me know if you change your mind. :)


Posted: Sat Sep 27, 2008 12:59 am
by TenX
OK.. I have sent the submission :)


Re: How to Start Air Rifle Shooting

Posted: Sat Sep 27, 2008 5:49 am
by to_saptarshi
Abhijeet/Mack The Knife

Probably the link is wrong and the article is not openning up. Can you please check it from your end ?


Posted: Sat Sep 27, 2008 8:56 am
by Mack The Knife
You are right, Saptarshi. I wouldn't know how to fix it though.

Posted: Sat Sep 27, 2008 9:13 am
by mundaire
to_saptarshi";p="54163 wrote: Abhijeet/Mack The Knife

Probably the link is wrong and the article is not openning up. Can you please check it from your end ?

It's opening at my end, could one of you copy paste here the exact error message you are seeing?


Re: How to Start Air Rifle Shooting

Posted: Sat Sep 27, 2008 9:16 am
by biking3819
No probs opening my end as well.
TenX thanx for sharing your experience is benefitting us all here in IFG.
regards sanjiv