Improve Your Air Rifle Accuracy
This article is the ultimate guide on air rifle accuracy. We will cover everything from improving your rifle’s accuracy, scopes, and breathing techniques all the way down to the way you hold your rifle when shooting.
We hope you enjoy this read and it helps you with pinning down your accuracy when shooting air weapons.
What Makes an Accurate Air Rifle?
An accurate air rifle will have great power, outstanding shot consistency and incomparable preciseness coupled with excellent iron sights or a brilliant scope. Every Air rifle will have a manufacturer specification that will ultimately limit your gun’s accuracy therefore it is essential when buying your air rifle that you choose something with great specs.
The rifle in question should have a good barrel, excellent powerplant, a comfortable stock, and a user-friendly trigger. As well as choosing an accurate rifle, it is of the same importance to choose a good quality pellet that suits your rifle well because the pellet you are firing will be the pinnacle of an accurate shot.
A good scope will make it easier to shoot most air rifles more accurately as long as the correct techniques are used. A good rifle and scope combination will also open up further possibilities for longer-range targets or quarry, allowing you to produce more accurate and precise shot-groups.
Choosing the correct scope for your desired uses will improve your accuracy in that field, a good hunting scope will be ideal for longe-range target practice and, of course, hunting however something like a red dot sight will allow you to pinpoint a target quicker than a traditional scope.
A red-dot sight isn’t as precise as a hunting scope but if you need something for fast target acquisition and don’t require tight shot-grouping then this may be a better option for you.
A good rifled barrel will provide the user with greater accuracy. The barrel of your rifle is the biggest influencer when accuracy is concerned, a good barrel is defined by the rifling and straightness of the bore.
If your rifle has a straight bore and a well-rifled barrel, then once the pellet is fired it should exit the muzzle with sufficient speed and twist-rate. The twist and speed that the pellet leaves the barrel at will ultimately affect the trajectory and accuracy of the pellet. If your rifle has a good barrel and a decent pellet is used when shooting, you can expect superior accuracy to a rifle with a poor quality, ill-designed barrel.
If you’re looking for an accurate rifle, then barrel design and quality should be at the top of your list of factors to consider before buying.
The caliber of your rifle will affect the accuracy of your shot dramatically. Depending on what you want to use your rifle for will affect your choice of caliber.
.177 caliber pellets are lighter and therefore travel further and straighter than larger pellets however they are more affected by variable factors like side winds, so perhaps they are not the best choice for somebody that will be shooting in a long-range hunting situation.
.22 pellets are heavier, therefore, have a more curved trajectory but aren’t as affected by side winds as a .177 pellet, the curved trajectory isn’t a bad thing but its something to consider when taking aim on a longer-distance target.
How Can You Improve the Accuracy of Your Air Rifle?
Break-in a New Air Rifle
If you have recently purchased a new air rifle have you broken it in correctly? Has the rifle settled and leveled out fully? This is a major factor when considering accuracy, the reason your new rifle may be producing inconsistent, inaccurate and imprecise shots may simply be because it has not been broken-in correctly. Run your rifle through our break-in checklist to ensure your rifle is ready for accurate target practice and hunting situations.
Choose the Right Scope
Choosing a good scope is the best thing you can do to help improve your rifles accuracy. Although a good scope will never make your air rifle more accurate, it will make it easier for you to make accurate shots with your rifle and get the most out of it in short – long-range situations.
Using a Shooting Bench
Using a shooting bench is a great way to improve accuracy consistency with your rifle. Obviously using a bench/rest is not achievable in every situation however it is very useful in stationary long-range target practice situations. Make sure your bench is evenly set up on the ground and has no wobble as this will dramatically affect your accuracy. If you use a good, stable bench with zero wobble you can expect more consistent accuracy and tighter shot-groups.
Maintaining your air rifle regularly will ensure that it’s performing to the best of its abilities and lasts for as long as possible.
Regular maintenance and checks to make sure your gun is in the best condition to shoot will improve your accuracy by reducing the likeliness of stock-wobble, power issues or accuracy issues related to a dirty barrel.
It is good practice to maintain your rifle, and a well-maintained rifle is a well-performing rifle, so keep your seals oiled and your stock screws tightened because long-term this will help with your rifle’s accuracy.
Sighting-in Your Rifle Correctly
Make sure your air rifle is sighted-in correctly. Whether you’re using iron sights or a long-range scope, it is important to keep them sighted-in well to produce consistent accurate shots. If you notice your accuracy dropping, then double-check your scope. Is it sighted-in for the distance you are shooting at? Is it mounted correctly? Are your mounting screws tight? Have you knocked it out of alignment while walking through the field?
Adjust Your Rifles Power Accordingly
If you’re using a variable-pump rifle have you adjusted the power to suit your situation? Altering the rifle’s power can affect your accuracy in both long and short-range situations, so experiment with what power works best for the situation you’re in. This tip works for other rifle categories too, some pre-charged pneumatic rifles offer variable power, is your rifle over-powered for your short-range target, or is it under-powered for your long-range target?
Making Sure Your Rifle fits Your Stature
Make sure your rifle fits you. By this I mean make sure your rifle isn’t too big or small for your stature. If your rifle is too small or too big you will find it very difficult to hold a good, stable posture with it in your hands. If your rifle has an adjustable stock, has it been adjusted to your size and is it comfortable to hold in a relaxed, natural-feeling way?
How Can You Improve Your Accuracy through technique?
Employing the correct breathing techniques when shooting your air rifle is one of the most impactful changes you can make to your shooting that will affect your accuracy for the better. Practicing a good breathing technique that works for you every time you shoot will ensure you get consistent, accurate results.
Before you start to employ a good breathing technique, take note on how your breathing affects the aim of your rifle. Look down the scope or iron sights of your gun while pointed at a target and take some deep breathes, concentrate on how each breath affects the aim of your rifle.
As you breathe in and out you will notice how the aim of your rifle moves up and down on the target, now can get an idea of how much breathing can affect your accuracy. Without employing a good breathing technique, you could be firing on either an in-breath or an out-breath, you can now understand how not focusing on your breathing can greatly affect your accuracy and make your shots very inconsistent.
Holding your breath is definitely not the answer to an accurate shot. You may think holding your breath will steady your aim because breathing causes your sight to move up and down the target, right?
It may seem logical to hold your breath but this is truly not the answer to an accurate shot, how long do you expect to hold your breath while waiting for that pesky raccoon or rabbit to come out of the undergrowth? Not very long right? Our body and mind need oxygen to function at 100% and in order to concentrate properly on your shooting you need to breathe, this is where a great breathing technique comes into its own.
So how do you increase your accuracy through breathing technique without holding your breath or wobbling your aim through breathing? The key to this is to utilize the natural pause every human takes when at the end of an out-breath. Doing this allows oxygen to the brain, giving you more concentration and proper focus while giving you the opportunity on every out-breath to take a steady and accurate shot.
So how do you apply this breathing technique? We have made a 4-step list below to follow and memorize to improve your accuracy when shooting your air rifle. Remember and employ these steps every time you shoot, and it will quickly become second nature for you.
- Prepare: Get into a comfortable shooting position, sight your target on an out-breath and ready yourself to fire. (see the next paragraph to learn about posture)
- Take a deep, smooth breath: Notice your aim rise above your desired target point, it’s important not to readjust your aim at this point.
- Breathe out: As you breathe out your sight will move back down to your desired target when you reach the natural pause at the end of your out-breath.
- Take your shot: Once you reach the natural pause at the end of your out-breath and your target is back at the center of your scope or sight, take the shot.
Hold Good Posture
Incorrect posture when shooting your air rifle is a top reason for poor accuracy, so before you blame your kit, look at your posture and make sure you are employing a good technique. Whether you’re standing up, sitting down, kneeling, lying or using a bench posture is key to providing consistent, accurate shots every time.
Pick a stance that you feel relaxed and comfortable with and employ this stance every time you shoot, be mindful of your posture every time you pick up your rifle to shoot, if you do this every time then your consistency and accuracy will improve greatly. Combining good posture with the breathing technique listed above is a sure-fire way to improve your accuracy and hit your target first time, every time.
The Standing Position
The overall aim when holding your rifle in a standing position is to relax and adjust your posture to allow your body’s center of gravity to coincide with the addition of the weight of your rifle. By adjusting your body’s posture, you ultimately reduce the strain on your muscles and create a stable skeletal structure to support your rifle while shooting. Reducing tension and increasing relaxation is paramount when holding good posture to increase your accuracy.
The standing shooting position comprises of two structural lines, the load-bearing column (the vertical line between the leading leg and the supporting hand) and the supporting buttress (the diagonal line between the supporting hand and the supporting leg). This stance creates a low tension highly structural frame to support your air rifle stably.
Your feet should be parallel without any twists at the ankle, this ensures that your body is relaxed, untwisted and posture is straight. Imagine a line that runs underneath the balls of both feet then through them perfectly straight leading down to your target. Picturing this in your mind and making sure you are in this prime position will ensure you’re lined up perfectly for your shot.
The butt-plate of your rifle should be pressed firmly against your right shoulder (or left shoulder, if left-handed) and your shoulder should be lowered and relaxed fully. Your head should be aligned with the way the rifle is pointed, without any unnecessary twist or strain, and your eye should be looking directly through the rifle’s scope or down its sights.
Keeping your rifle not only pointing straight horizontally but also vertically is paramount to precision and accuracy. If the rifle is allowed to tilt on its vertical line, then you will encounter your shot bearing left or right (depending on which side you’re tilting). The best way to combat this is with a firm butt placement and locked, relaxed arms.
Use this 5-point checklist below to ensure you are shooting with the best posture possible. Follow and memorize this list and employ it every time you go shooting to improve your standing technique. Couple this with the breathing technique list in the previous section and watch your accuracy greatly improve.
- Keep your feet parallel: Keep your feet parallel without any ankle twist and imagine a line going through the balls of your feet leading to the target.
- Keep your body aligned with the shot: Keep your back straight but slightly leaned back to incorporate your rifle into your body’s center of gravity.
- Stabilize your rifle: Keep your butt plate firmly pressed into your shoulder with both arms locked while staying relaxed and not straining your muscles.
- Align your head and look down the sight: Keep your head in line with your rifle and look directly down the scope at your target.
- Fire: Make sure you’re employing the previous 4 steps and fire on your out-breath-pause.
The Kneeling Position
The kneeling position starts with the base, this is the foundation of your stability and what keeps you rooted firmly to the ground. To start with, the leg that you kneel on the ground (right or left leg depending on what your leading hand is) must be placed with you toes pointing away from your body and your heal will be supporting your bodyweight underneath your tailbone.
You want to keep your leading leg’s foot parallel with your rear foot, imagine a straight line running from your rear foot to your leading foot all the way to your target. Make sure your supporting leg’s knee is somewhat parallel with your leading leg’s foot, doing this will ensure you’re positioned toward your target.
Next, you want to place your coinciding leading arm atop the knee of your leading leg – elbow to knee. You will find a flat spot just underneath your elbow that sits comfortably and firm on top of your knee, interlock this point of contact as this will provide a consistent structure to support the body of your air rifle. This position will prevent your arm from rocking up and down, just be sure to keep your arm straight and not tilting to the left or right.
Keep your back straight and your head in line with the inside of your leading leg, this will ensure your posture is facing the target and your natural aim will follow.
Place your butt in the pocket on the inside of your trigger arms shoulder, keep firm pressure into your shoulder with your butt plate but make sure you are relaxed and not tensing your muscles to support the rifle. This position should feel natural and relaxed. Place your trigger hand on the grip of your rifle and get into a comfortable position to shoot. Lean forward into your leading arm, this will absorb the rifle’s recoil with your whole body and allow more accuracy when shooting.
Use this 5-point checklist to ensure that you are holding the correct posture when in a kneeling stance. Following these steps every time you shoot will help make the kneeling stance second nature to you and provide you with more consistent accuracy.
- Get your base right: Make sure your supporting leg is inline with your leading leg while facing the target, the supporting knee should be parallel with the leading foot.
- Create your rifle rest: Place your leading arm’s elbow atop your leading legs knee and get into a comfortable position with your rifle’s body in this hand.
- Stabilize your rifle: Place your rifle’s butt plate into the pocket on your trigger arm’s shoulder and ready your trigger hand for shooting.
- Prepare to take the shot: Lean into your shot and allow your body to absorb the rifle’s recoil, make sure you are facing the target and your posture isn’t tilted.
- Take aim: keep your head in-line with your rifle and look directly down the scope or sights at your target, at this point you can take fire on your out-breath-pause.
Aiming Your Rifle Correctly
Aiming your air rifle correctly goes hand in hand with holding a good posture and if you hold a good posture then aiming your rifle correctly should follow suit with your posture.
Pulling the Trigger
When you go to pull the trigger on your rifle it is very important to do so without jolting the rifle and jeopardizing your composure. Acquiring a rifle with a hair-pin trigger and adjusting your trigger to suit you can help greatly with keeping your posture correct therefore improving your accuracy. Overall, your trigger is a big part of your rifle’s mechanics and a huge factor in maintaining consistent and accurate shots.
A List to Help Improve Your Rifle’s Accuracy
- Make sure your rifle is a good fit for you
- Make sure that your iron sights are correctly zeroed-in
- If using a scope, make sure it is well suited to your rifle and your intended shooting distance
- Make sure your scope is correctly sighted to the distance you are using it at
- Make sure your trigger is set correctly and feels good on your finger
- Make sure you’re using the best pellets for your rifle and that they are suited for your intended use
A Technique Checklist to Use When Firing Your Rifle
- Practice regularly to home in your accuracy skillset
- Position your body correctly whether standing, crouching or firing from a rest
- Know your rifles capabilities and its usable range
- Don’t be afraid to adjust your scope if your accuracy is poor
- Just breath! Don’t hold your breath when shooting and employ the breathing technique mentioned earlier in the article
We hope this article provided everything you need to know in order to increase your accuracy when shooting your air rifle. Follow our technique guides for breathing and posture every time you shoot, and you will not be disappointed with the progress you will make. Along with holding a good posture and breathing correctly, make sure you maintain your equipment and have your rifle sighted-in correctly. Great technique combined with a precise, accurate rifle makes a consistently accurate marksman with enough skills to take on any hunting or target situation. Happy shooting!