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After months of pondering, you have finally decided to splurge on an air rifle.
But after your first hunting trip, you quickly discover that you are not as good at it as you thought you were.
So should this deter you from going hunting with an air rifle?
Of course not, after all, it couldn’t have been that bad.
Besides, no one ever became good at shooting overnight; it takes practice.
Learning a few tips and tricks will also go a long way in improving your air rifle shooting.
With that being said, here are nine air rifle aim tips that you will find useful.
1. Use the Right Air Rifle
Let’s assume for a second that you are yet to purchase your first air rifle, what air rifle would be best for you?
If it is your first, then you will probably want the best air rifle under $200.
Models in this price range tend to be smaller and less powerful.
And this is good, as powerful air rifles with a high FPS will be challenging to manage. A higher FPS means higher recoil.
When it’s your first air rifle, more recoil is not what you should be looking for.
If you have more questions about which one is right for you, check out our roundup of this year’s best air rifles for hunting, self defense, and fun!
2. Have the Right Pellets
After purchasing the right air rifle, you will want to purchase the right pellets for your rifle. Pellets come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
However, they can be classified into four main types: Wadcutters, pointed, round nose, and hollow point.
Question is, which of the four is right for you. Well, it all depends on what you want to do.
Wadcutter pellets have a flat head with slight bevels at the edges.
They are considered the most accurate of the four and are predominately used for target practice.
Pointed pellets have very sharp pointed heads.
And as you can imagine, they offer excellent penetration. As a result, they are great for hunting small animals such as rabbits.
Round nose pellets, on the other hand, have a protruding area ahead of the driving band.
They tend to be heavy and, as a result, experience minimal wind resistance. What they offer is excellent knock-down power. They are perfect for larger games.
Hollow points are somewhat of a combination of round nose and wadcutter pellets.
They are great for short-range shooting. You can comfortably achieve one-shot kills at short ranges with this type of pellets.
For target practice and plinking, wadcutters are ideal, but when you want to take down larger game, hollow-point pellets or round nose pellets will serve you better.
Ammo isn’t the only choice you’ll have to make. Check out our guide to the different types of air rifles to find which one works best for you
3. Use the Right Caliber
Air rifle pellets come in four main calibers or size: the .177, 20, .22, and .25. (which is better, .177 or .22 pellet guns?)
Of the four, the .25 caliber is the largest, while the .177 is the smallest.
However, the most common of the four is the .177 and .22. So which between the two is best for hunting?
The .22, being larger, makes a pretty good case for itself as the better hunting pellet between the two.
Nevertheless, do not discount the smaller and lighter .177 just yet.
It is easier to hit the target with the .177 because of its flat trajectory. Additionally, with the right shot placement, you can get a clean kill with a .177.
All the same, since it’s bigger and heavier, the .22 pellet has better knock-down power. Thus, it is ideal for hunting big game.
The .177 caliber is ideal for target practice and competitive shooting.
Related: The Fundamentals of Shooting: A Beginner’s Guide to Firearms
4. Use the Right Stance
Should you shoot your air rifle standing, kneeling, or lying flat on the ground?
In our experience, if vegetation and weather permits, lying flat is the most stable position you can assume.
However, it is not every time you will be able to assume this position.
Thus it always helps knowing how to shoot accurately while standing or kneeling. The standing position is perhaps the most difficult of the three.
So how should you position your body to shoot accurately while standing?
Firstly your body should be 90 degrees to the target.
Secondly, your feet should be apart with your left hip positioned towards the target while the left elbow should be positioned towards the hip.
As for your arms, the left should be used to grip the rifle from beneath, while the left forearm should be vertical.
The right hand that operates the trigger needs to be close to the body to reinforce the position.
If the lying flat and standing stances aren’t an option, you can always adopt a kneeling position. It’s a bit easier to adopt than the standing stance.
In this position, tuck the elbow of your gun operating hand over your knee or behind it.
5. Use the Right Trigger Finger Positioning
Question, what part of your finger should be in contact with the trigger blade, the finger pad, or the first joint?
The answer may seem obvious but not to everyone.
It is the finger pad that should be used to squeeze the trigger blade.
If the trigger weight is a bit heavier and not possible to adjust, consider adding a trigger shoe. With the latter, you get a wider surface area that will help spread the load.
Another essential point to note is to maintain the same position throughout the shooting.
Moving the finger trigger too much inwards will result in your shot going to the right.
On the other hand, if you move the finger too much outwards, the shot will stray more to the left.
6. Control Your Breathing
Now that you have learned how to place your finger on the trigger properly, it’s time to squeeze and send the pellet on its way, or is it?
Before you pull the trigger, it is essential to master your breathing.
But before we get the breathing exercises, what does breathing have to do with shot accuracy anyway?
To answer this, let’s do a simple hypothetical exercise while pointing at a target and looking down your iron sights or scope. Breathe in and out.
The first thing you will notice is that the aim of your rifle moves up and down as you breathe in and out.
From this exercise, it is clear that breathing affects the accuracy of your shot. So what can you do to remedy this?
Employing a simple breathing technique prior to squeezing the trigger is the best way to remedy this.
First, take a long breath and exhale as you would normally.
Next, inhale a bit longer, exhale, and hold your breath.
At this moment, squeeze the trigger to propel the pellet out of the barrel.
Then inhale and exhale as you would normally.
7. Use the Right Scope
It may seem obvious, but if you want to improve the accuracy of your shots, a good air rifle scope (such as one of these) is a must.
The number one thing to note is that not all scopes are designed for air rifles. Air guns produce more forward recoil capable of snapping a firearm scope in half.
Therefore, scopes that are used on conventional rifles will not work on an air rifle.
Also, the best magnification for an air rifle scope will not be the same as that of a conventional rifle scope.
Air rifles are not known for their long-range capabilities.
Therefore, you will most likely be hitting targets from 50 to 75 yards out. For such a range, you will need a magnification of between 4x and 6x.
Something else to consider is whether to go for a fixed or variable zoom scope.
Fixed zoom scopes are easier to use due to them requiring minimal calibrations.
Nonetheless, for hunting a variable zoom scope gives you flexibility.
With a variable zoom, you can aim at targets at close range or mid-range. This flexibility is essential when hunting.
8. Have the Right Scope Mount
You may have the best air rifle scope money can buy, but if it is not mounted right, then it will make very little difference.
Proper mounting of your scope is essential to the accuracy of your shots.
Some air rifles and scopes come with mounting rings included. In the absence of these rings, ensure the rings you use to fit the diameter of the scope tube.
Furthermore, the rings should be the correct height for proper alignment.
Also, it is essential to get the correct eye relief. This is the distance between the rear lens and your eyes.
As a basic rule of thumb, you should not adjust your head to suit the scope position.
Rather, adjust the scope to suit your position.
You can use the screws to either move the scope forward or backward, depending on your needs.
9. Practice Makes Perfect
The best way to improve your aim is through practice.
Paper and cardboard targets will help you familiarize yourself with your air rifle set up.
They allow you to see where your pellets land.
Find a variety of targets here.
When practicing in your backyard or a range, it is essential to assume different positions.
When out in the field, you may have to switch between different positions.
Practicing from just one stance will not help improve your accuracy in the field.