Author Topic: How to shoot.  (Read 1356 times)

Offline Novagun

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 885
  • Mana -8
    • View Profile
How to shoot.
« on: June 18, 2013, 10:31:59 AM »
The process of shooting should be a simple routine that can be consistently repeated over and over again.
Once you get the details of the routine right if you repeat it with consistency every shot will end up in the same spot. Really very simple but very hard in practice. The best shooters still miss and it takes time and experience for new shooters to master the technique.

Let us try and write down the main steps in establishing the routine. I say try because everyone will develop their own routine that will be unique to them in some small detail. As long as it works for the shooter the fine detail doesn't matter so perhaps the main points will be enough. I have seen some people polish the pellet head and some warm it slightly and some use a special lubricant called saliva. If you think it works it is good practice.

First of all the shooter must raise the rifle to the shoulder. That is the same step in all shooting positions. It should feel naturally comfortable with out undue reaching, cramping or straining. It should point at the target naturally so that fine sighting takes very little alteration in the way you are holding it. If the rifle is too heavy or rapidly causes fatique then you have the wrong rifle. Either alter the one you have or get a different rifle.

The rifle shown has had a wooden spacer added to the butt so that it fits a tall shooter. The hampster is a temporary attachment held in place with an elastic cord. The hampster raises the rifle on the forehand to help with standing shots and sitting shots when resting on the knee. They are simple DIY additions that cost nothing but a little labour. Note the safety flag tied to the trigger guard.

Next you must not only point the rifle at what you are aiming at but you must keep it still. The shooting cycle of an air rifle is a slow process when compared to a high powered powder burner. It takes time to operate the trigger and more time for the trigger mechanism to release the piston and more time for the spring to compress the air and even more time for the air to push the pellet out of the barrel. Although it is a long time in shooting terms to the air rifle shooter it all seems instantaneous.  During this comparatively  long time the shooter has to keep the barrel pointing at the right spot or yet another miss. The time you have to hold the rifle still is called lock time.  Never fear, with simple techniques the shooter will get by handsomely.

While holding the rifle and taking careful aim you will notice a rythmic movement of the sight on the target, particularly with high scope magnification. This is the effect of your heart shaking your body as it pumps. The more stressed you are the bigger the shake. Relax; take a couple of deep breaths, think calm and steady, think this is enjoyment not life and death.
Just taking a couple of deep breaths helps but it also prepares you for the next phase. Your breathing will cause the rifle to rise and fall and you have to control that. The deep breaths put a bit more oxygen in the blood stream so that you can hold your breath or better still just stop breathing. A deep breath in, then exhale almost all the way until the chest is relaxed and stop breathing. You have 7 to 10 seconds to make fine adjustment to your aim and steadily press the trigger, release the shot and keep the rifle on point of aim until the shot hits the target.  While you are not breathing and your chest is still and you have the best chance of a good shot. After about 10 seconds the blood starts to become oxygen depleted and that can affect eyesight and heart beat so get on with it. If you feel you have lost the best opportunity to take your shot just relax and start from the beginning again.

Keeping the rifle aimed at the target until the shot hits is called follow through. It is a way of keeping the rifle properly aimed while all the facets of taking the shot are completed. Do all that right and bang; another bullseye; a bit boring really, too easy. If you follow through properly sometimes in the right light conditions you can see the flight of the pellet.  Now try all this out. Ah no: the shot went wild, way off centre. You said it was easy. Well there are a few things you did wrong.

When using the trigger you must press it rearwards firmly and evenly. Pull the trigger back until you feel resistance. That is called the first pressure. Then with the trigger on the first pad of the finger firmly increase pressure until the shot goes off. If you jerk or snatch the trigger or if the trigger mechanism is too rough or too hard you will pull the rifle away from the correct point of aim, usually in the direction towards the trigger finger.

That is not all you did wrong. When the rifle discharged you knew it was going to recoil and jerk in your hold so you held it tight. You could never hold it tight enough to stop it jerking so don't try. Hold the rifle as lightly as you can. Just enough to keep it pointing where you want it. The front hand should just have the rifle resting on it, the fingers not even closed around the stock. The trigger hand should be holding just tight enough to allow the trigger finger to press the trigger and no more. They say,"Never Strangle a rifle." The butt should be nestled lightly on the shoulder. The rifle wants to move so let it have its way.
This flexible hold is called the artilliary hold and the name is drawn from the recoil mechanism that lets big battle guns move aft on firing so that the gun carriage is not wrecked.  Try it!

 The first shot was pretty good, the second not so good and the third a big miss.  You are still not doing it right. You have to hold the rifle the same way every time for every shot. Take note of where your front hand is and get it comfortable. Make sure the rifle is supported in the centre of the palm so that it does not roll when firing. Take note of where your fingers of the trigger hand are when you make a good shot. Take note of where your cheek rests on the stock and get it in the same place every time. Where your cheek rests on the rifle stock is called the cheek weld. It is a combination of the stock and the position of your head. This contact point provides another steadying point for your rifle hold and is very important. Take note of how you are standing or sitting or lying and get it the same every time. All this contributes to consistency and you need it because every little difference causes the shot to fall in a slightly different spot on the target. That really matters when you are trying for a bull's eye.

Now you have a routine to follow and some shots will be good and some not so good. Keep trying and think about every phase of your routine and try to work out what you did well on the good shots and what you did that caused the bad shots. Practice the good and avoid the bad.  Practice and more practice and you will not get it right every time and not consistently until you have had a lot more practice. The bonus is that it is fun practicing and that makes it easy to put in a bit more practice.

Shooting positions.

There are four different shooting positions that you will want to try, indeed need to try because some of them are mandatory in some competitions. Apart from that a change of position adds variety even if you are not interested in competition.  The positions are standing, sometimes called off-hand, kneeling, sitting,  and prone or lying flat.

Note in this photo the position of the right hand of the shooter. This seemingly affected position of the supporting hand may not suit new shooters or every shooter but it has been adopted by a leading  field target shooter using a top of the line pcp rifle.

 When shooting from the standing position the torso should face the target at an angle. About 45degrees,  that is not critical but comfort is. The rifle when at the shoulder should lie across the body so that the  front support arm, the upper part, can tuck in against the rib cage so that it is steady. The trigger hand arm should be similarly tucked in. Both arms are then prevented from shaking and are offering steady support. To do this the front hand will need to be close to the trigger guard. Even then it may not be able to hold the muzzle high enough so an accessory called a Hamster can be used to extend the reach of the arm. The rifle should be held high on the shoulder so that the head when sighting is erect and the neck relaxed; not twisted down to reach the sights.
The feet should be a little apart and the knees relaxed, that is not locked back. Some shooters arch the small of the back and twist a little towards the target to gain extra stability. Try it and see if it suits you. However you do it make sure that you do not cramp up any muscle group and cause rapid fatigue and discomfort. That will surely affect your accuracy.

Some shooters prefer to have the front support hand as far forward as they can. The advantage of this hold is that there is less rifle in front of the support and if that is considered as a fulcrum then a small wobble at the butt end gives a small deflection of the muzzle. 

Shooting from the standing position without the support of a convenient tree or rest is the most difficult and you need to get as steady as possible. That can be difficult when the wind, even quite light, is pushing you around and your footing may not be on even ground. Practice, practice and you will get there.


The next to consider is kneeling. This is a much steadier position because you do not have all your height swaying about and you can use one knee to support the arm that supports the rifle. The position can be taken with the buttocks set back so that they are supported by the heel of the rear foot. It is not actually sitting on the foot because that becomes a sitting position that may be prohibited in certain competition shots. The Hampster can be used to extend the height of the knee, or lower the height of the forestock. There are other kneeling positions that are acceptable but not as steady and that is what the position seeks

Next to consider is sitting. That is with the buttocks firmly place on the ground. Field Target competition allows the use of a seat up to 100 millimetres high. A small bean bag can be used and that can even out any lumps you may have to sit on. The rifle is shouldered and one knee is raised up to support the rifle  Some shooters rest the front part of the stock directly on the knee and some use the Hampster to get the rest position a little higher. Other shooters hug one knee with the support arm and rest the rifle in the crook of the arm. This tends to lock the leg and torso together to provide a steady rifle rest.

The non rest leg can be stretched out or crooked to whatever position is comfortable in the terrain but keep in mind that it should be used to steady the position.

The most stable position is prone. Because it is steadier it also allows for best accuracy. Some shooters like to get really low to the ground with chest touching. The more you have in contact with the ground the more stable the position will be. The difficulty is that being very low necessitates the head being tilted hard back on the neck to see the target and rifle sights. The straining of the neck can become uncomfortable very quickly.  Other shooters will have the stomach on the ground and the weight of the torso held by the elbows. The head is higher and the position more comfortable to hold for a long time. The body should be at an angle to the rifle so that it points across the front support hand shoulder and the legs splayed comfortably. Some shooters like to have the trigger hand leg drawn up to eliminate any tendency to roll. When loading a break barrel or underlever rifle from this position it is necessary to roll onto ones side so the  rifle can be cocked.   A side lever cocking rifle can be done lying flat because the lever is articulated sideways. 

When using the prone position the head extends forwards and the effect is to bring the scope closer to the eye. That can have the effect of making the sight picture in the ocular lens surrounded by a black rim and the field of view small. To get the correct picture you can move the scope forward but that means the rifle is really set up for prone shooting and that is fine if you want to do that. You could pull your head back or hold the rifle a little forward or a combination of both. That impinges on a proper hold, makes consistency of hold impossible and affects accuracy. The third option is to have a butt extension either permanently or temporarily mounted to make the butt a bit longer. You can have that extension of a compromise size that accommodates all positions but favouring the position you most use.

Take note: You will not be a crack shot by 5 o'clock and not even tomorrow but you might get there if you get the fun and satisfaction that comes with practice - failure, practice - frustration, practice - improvement- practice - success. That is how it goes. 

Note well the seven Ps:-      Proper                       SEVEN, THE SAME NUMBER AS THE SAFETY RULES!
                                         Preparation &

When you have got all this mastered then you have to cope with wind, atmospheric conditions, and your head. The experts say that target shooting is a head game.  Don't worry, you can do it-- others do.

Aide to Concentration.  Springer air rifle shooting routine.   

The following list may be useful in establishing a repeatable routine to follow when training to improve your accuracy. The steps for you to repeat could be :-

Load...               Make sure the pellet is squarely and firmly seated.

Shoulder...         Bring the rifle to the shoulder and get the hand grips to your favoured position including
                         rests.  Artillery hold.

Target...             Identify the right place to shoot.

Visualise...         Imagine what you want the target to look like after the shot.

Sights ...            Bring the sights onto the bullseye zone.
Breath...            Three breaths then partial exhale; stop breathing.  Do not hold breath as that creates tension.

Aim...                Bring the scope x hairs or open sight to fine detail and hold.   7 seconds maximum or
                         restart the process. ( Less time is better but do not rush to get shot away.)

Squeeze...         Straight back, steady. Do not snatch the trigger trying to get shot away while sight is spot on.

Follow through... Watch the sight, target picture for two seconds, watch the pellet if you can. Do not release
                          the trigger until the pellet has struck.


« Last Edit: October 06, 2018, 09:19:31 AM by Novagun »