How to improve your accuracy by using the correct hold,
timing and breathing control.
Most modern airguns are incredibly accurate and to shoot to the best of your ability with them only takes a short amount of time to learn. This will not only increase your kudos among your shooting mates, but increase your shooting enjoyment as well.
The first thing to get right is the hold. Holding a rifle poorly, whether it’s a springer or a precharged pneumatic (PCP), will make your shots inconsistent. Its true that on a PCP with negligible recoil, your accuracy will be less affected by a poor hold, but nonetheless you wont be getting a consistently tight group on the target, which is what every shooter wants.
On a springer, with a sharp recoil, a poor hold can give very erratic accuracy, leading some to think that springer's are not as accurate as PCPs. This is rubbish because springer's in the right hands can be extremely accurate, but it requires more skill to shoot a spring gun than a PCP.
Whatever rifle you are shooting with, if you grip it too tightly at the fore end and pull the butt into your shoulder, it will adversely affect accuracy. Gripping the gun requires muscle tension, which quickly turns to fatigue and your hold will become inconsistent. To be consistently accurate you need to be so in every aspect of your shooting.
For example, it is easier to hold your rifle in a loose grip consistently than to hold it tightly. Some shooters even suggest putting pellets in the palm of the hand to prevent the shooter gripping the fore end to tightly.
Another method that saves pellets is placing the fore stock in the open palm of your leading hand and letting it rest there without closing your fingers round the rifle. This is often called the artillery hold.
Naturally, when you are used to shooting with a relaxed grip, you can close your fingers gently round the fore stock, but using the artillery hold just proves that the rifle only needs supporting at the fore end, not holding.
If you try to grip a springer to prevent it from recoiling, you will end up disturbing the recoil cycle and messing up the shot. All rifles should be allowed to recoil naturally, fighting the recoil is futile and will end up in a fluffed shot.
So just place the butt of the rifle into your shoulder, lay your cheek on the stock, rest the for end of the rifle on your open palm and take the shot. Relaxing is also very important. If your tense, you’ll wobble and this will put you off aim. I was told - by the same guy who said I should listen - that you should relax your bum, tongue and tum, or something like that. I was listening, honest, but it was a very long time ago. People will often talk of ‘relaxing into a shot’ and this is exactly what they mean.
Once you have mastered the ‘hold’ and the requirement to relax, you will then need to concentrate on breathing. Many feel that they have to hold their breath when taking a shot, but this is wrong. You need to control your breathing, not stop breathing all together. Not breathing will deprive your muscles of the oxygen they need to hold the rifle steady.
If you take your rifle and hold it on aim, you will see that the crosshairs move up and down as your breathe. For some, the crosshairs move upwards as they breathe, but for most, they move downwards.
So start with the crosshairs above the target and they will move downwards as you breathe in. As you exhale the crosshairs will move up again. Repeat these long, slow breaths about three times and then pause your breathing when the sights are on target and squeeze the trigger. Ideally, the sights should be over the target when you reach your natural respiratory pause.
This whole process from shouldering the rifle to pulling the trigger should take 3 to 6 seconds because the longer you hold the rifle, the more tired your muscles will get and the more ‘wobbly’ you will become.
Should you fail to take the shot within the time, its best to remove the rifle from the shoulder, compose yourself and start again. This is mark of the true expert.