This article of shooting tips for improving your accuracy was originally written for RWS guns, but applies to all spring piston air guns.
- Be patient as you break in your new gun. Spring piston airguns typically require 500-1,000 shots to break in properly. Groups may be erratic for the first 100+ shots.
- DO NOT bench rest on ANY solid objects! NO part of the gun should rest on a rigid surface or object.
- Stabilize your shooting surface. Utilize sand bags, pillows, or folded quilts as a shooting surface. This helps stabilize the gun so that you can verify the gun’s accuracy instead of the gun & shooter combined.
- Protect your gun barrel. The gun barrel is NEVER to rest on any surface when shooting.
- Position the gun so that it is resting and pointing at a specific target point without being held. You can then ease into the shooting position without changing sight picture. By taking out as much of the “human factor” of holding the gun, your accuracy will most likely improve.
- SQUEEZE the trigger – pulling the trigger or jerking the trigger will result in terrible accuracy.
- Make sure to follow-through for every shot. Try not to blink when the gun fires and continue to focus on the precise point of aim.
- Always hold the gun “loosely” at the forearm and in the shoulder. Spring guns usually become inaccurate when held tightly.
- Use a consistent position & grip. Changing your shooting position or grip can and will affect your point of impact.
- Become familiar with your rifle and your ammo. Each rifle is individual and has its own characteristics. To achieve the best performance, you should try an RWS Pellet Sampler pack of pellets to see which ammo your gun shoots the most accurately.
- Don’t use junk ammo. Use only high quality pellets in your rifle, such as the RWS line of pellets. They are much cleaner and manufactured to more exacting tolerances.
- Never dry fire a spring gun. Dry firing your spring rifle can damage your gun.
Many competent air rifle fans are aware of these rules. How many do you think consistently follow all of them?
by: Glenn and Danny
Editor’s Note: This articles comes directly from gunsmiths who work at Umarex USA.
Whenever we get into a discussion with someone about rifle scopes, inevitably the subject of parallax arises. Scope parallax confuses a lot of people, and there is a great deal of misunderstanding on the subject.
First things first; the term “parallax” is used to describe the difference in angles between objects that are seen up close and those seen far away. When you are driving and look at telephone poles pass by on the side of the road, those closest to your car seem to pass very fast, while the ones far away seem to go very slow. That difference is due to parallax.
In general, it is wise to keep the old phrase in mind, “The better you can see your sights and your target, the more accurately you will shoot.” However, that phrase is only true as long as your sights are pointing in the same place from one shot to the next. Telescopic sights allow you to see much further distances, but they create new sighting problems with rifles that never were a problem in the old iron-sighting days.
A scope with parallax issues can wreak havoc on a person’s air rifle accuracy as well as sanity! We see this issue frustrate people to no end time and time again in our service and gunsmith departments. If you don’t know what’s going on and how to check for this problem then you could be wasting hours at the range trying to figure out what is causing the “accuracy” problem.
Many modern day airgun scopes have an adjustable objective (AO) feature, which is located at the forward end of the scope or the turret. There will be an adjustment ring with yardage numbers that can be rotated to coincide with the distance at which you are shooting.
If you are suspicious that there may be parallax issues with a scope then place the gun in a solid rest that totally supports the gun without you holding it. Place a target at a known distance and set the AO ring to coincide with that particular distance. Adjust the gun rest so that the crosshairs are centered on the bull’s-eye.
Adjust a gun while on a solid “hands free” rest to correct for parallax.
Now, move your head left and right about 1” in each direction. The crosshairs should remain centered on the bull’s-eye as you move your head left and right. If the crosshairs are wandering off the bull’s-eye then there is an issue with the parallax at that distance for that scope when you are shooting it.
It should be noted that distances marked on the scope are not necessarily written in stone. A person’s own optics of their eye comes in to play for a certain scope at a certain distance. Some scopes do not put markings on the scopes for this very reason, instead saying to use the test (above) to find the point of zero parallax error for each distance and then use a silver or white paint pen to mark the positions. If you do notice an issue with parallax on your gun, you can try rotating the AO incrementally to see if the parallax issue can be eliminated, and then noting the position that the AO is in for that distance. If you are unable to eliminate the parallax, then we suggest replacing the scope with another one.
The parallax issue is a critical one for hunters and target shooters. The crosshair remaining centered on the bull’s-eye when moving your head left and right is of utmost importance. The reason being…if you didn’t position your cheek at the exact same spot on the stock each time you are shooting then it would be like moving the rear sight, which of course changes your point of impact. By its very nature, parallax is more of an issue at close distances and becomes less of one the further out one aims. Because air rifles are usually aimed at much closer distances than firearms, parallax can be much more of an issue among air rifle shooters.
So, if you find yourself becoming increasingly frustrated with sighting in your rifle, look at parallax as an issue that might need to be eliminated.
Learn More about items mentioned in this article:
Have you ever watched a collegiate air rifle match? Until recently I hadn’t. Prior to the event a friend told me it could get boring, but I chose to go with an open mind. The truth is, I enjoyed the rhythmic sound of lead pellets “plinking” against the steel traps at the end of the short indoor range. Maybe it was simply the change of pace—no phones ringing, no emails, and no one knocking on the door. Just lead hitting steel and low whispers from the other spectators in the room.
With the naked eye it’s hard to watch an air rifle match. There’s little to see other than the competitors in their stance-stabilizing shooting gear standing next to a scope and a rifle rest. The .177 caliber pellets make holes that are too small to see from a spectator’s distance. However, with the use of a spotting scope your level of involvement can become interesting and even exciting as you anticipate the next shot to punch the target.
The match I observed was hosted on November 22nd, 2008, by the Lion Rifles, the air rifle club team at the UA Fort Smith, who just happened to set a new team high at this match by outgunning the visiting University of Nebraska rifle team 2126-2033. All of the Lion Rifles team members used RWS pellets. One loaded RWS R 10 match pellets while the others fired 8 grain RWS Meisterkugeln.
“This was a big day for us,” said Lion Rifles coach and adviser Roy Hill. “This is the first time we’ve been over 2100 points as a team, the first time we’ve had a shooter over 550 and the first time we’ve had a team of four shooters all over 500. There were a lot of milestones set today.” The Lion Rifles squad has a history of success, including finishing fifth overall in the United States in the Intercollegiate Rifle Club Championship in March 2012 at the Intercollegiate Rifle Club Championship.
For a change of pace, go support your local air rifle team by watching an air rifle relay or two. Seeing the students silently compete and witnessing their big grins after a good relay are well worth the time.
When it comes to air rifles and air rifle related products, you have to know what you are looking for when buying for yourself or someone else. Knowing which characteristics to focus on could be the key to happiness with your air rifle purchase for many years to come.
Now, more than ever, there are more models of air rifles to choose from. You should be well informed when it comes to the types of rifles that are offered and the type of product that you want to buy.
The first thing you must decide when shopping around for an air rifle and air rifle accessories is its intended use. There are many different classes of rifles, and they can be broken down further by their expected use. If it is to be used by a youth, then the single shot Ruger Explorer is an excellent option. If, however, it is going to be used for small game hunting, then something more substantial, like another higher velocity .177 or .22 air rifle might be more appropriate. After use, the next thing to consider when analyzing rifles is the propulsion type.
The three main types of propulsion methods that are seen in today’s quality air rifle market today are CO2 powered, spring piston, and pre-charged pneumatic. The older, less reliable “pump up” pneumatic rifles that many people are familiar with from their youth can still be found, but are generally considered much less powerful than the other three methods.
CO2 Rifles come in a wide variety of different shapes and sizes, but the one thing that they all share is that CO2 capsules or canisters power them. The most common type of CO2 on the market is the 12-gram cartridge, although other sizes are also on the market, such as 88-gram CO2 cartridges.
The main advantages of CO2 powered guns are that they are very quiet, very easy to use, they are available in a variety of different shapes/sizes, and there is no cocking effort, or force that has to be applied between shots.
One thing to note about CO2 powered air rifles is the difference in CO2 pressure tanks that can occur with changes in temperature. Also, quickly repeated shots can decrease the total amount of rounds that can be fired with the use of a single CO2 canister, so spacing shots (even by a second or two), instead of rapidly firing can increase the total amount of shots from a single canister.
When it comes to CO2 rifles, the Hammerli 850 AirMagnum provides a uniform, rapid rate of fire, while the Beretta Cx4 Storm provides a tactical look.
Spring piston air rifles are the most common air guns used by adults. They utilize a hefty spring and air piston to propel a pellet down range. For each shot the spring is retracted, and when fired, the spring pushes the piston forward, propelling a charge of air into the barrel of the gun. While the spring piston is the propulsion method, there are several types of cocking mechanisms, such as barrel-cocking, side-cocking and under-lever. The most common type is the break barrel gun. Extremely high velocities and accuracy are attainable with spring piston rifles, and their versatility makes them very popular amongst all shooting styles.
Spring piston guns are popular for both plinking and hunting. Some of the more popular spring piston guns include the low cost Ruger Blackhawk® and the high quality line of German made RWS air rifles which are available in both .177 and .22 caliber.
Pre-charged pneumatics use a large air reservoir of extremely high pressure air, which results in many shots before a recharge is required. Often abbreviated “PCP” for short, recharging of the tank is done with either a high-pressure hand pump or a SCUBA tank with proper adapters. Pre-charged pneumatics are the most powerful types of airguns that are made, and are generally among the most accurate air rifles that are available to be purchased. As a consequence of being the most powerful, most accurate, and made from the highest quality parts and craftsmanship, pre-charged pneumatics are often among the more expensive air rifles to own.
Due to their many advantages, pre-charged pneumatics are among the most sought after guns for the most serious shooters. One example is the the Walther 1250 Dominator comes with an 8-shot rotary pellet magazine and is available with a scope and tripod for increased accuracy.
After intended use and propulsion methods are explored, you should then consider which caliber air rifle is best for the individual user.
Air Rifle Calibers:
Air rifle calibers vary, but the most popular calibers are .177 and .22. Also, .25 caliber air rifles are readily available via online retailers for serious small game hunters..
The .177 caliber is the same diameter as a steel BB and some guns chambered in .177 can fire either BBs or pellets. (Always read the gun’s owner’s manual and instructions carefully or consult an expert before attempting to change ammunition.) The .177 is an excellent target caliber and also serves well for shooters interested in cost effective plinking and some pest control of smaller game, such as mice or small birds. The .177 caliber also boasts high velocities, good penetration and a flat trajectory, which lends itself well to target shooting and competition.
The .22 caliber is a larger caliber and is more often used for small-game hunting due to its increased energy and “punch” upon impact. With the increased power comes a decrease in the total speed from the .177 caliber pellet. .22 rounds are slightly less accurate than their .177 counterparts and are used less often for target shooting or plinking, but more often in situations where more power is needed, such as hunting.
The least purchased of the “major” calibers of air rifles is the .25 caliber air rifle. For .25 caliber rifles, the energy is increased even more while the accuracy is decreased even more. For the dedicated small-game hunter, this is often considered the best caliber.
AIR RIFLE ACCESSORIES
Air rifles used to only fire steel BBs, but have evolved to fire pellets. Pellets are safer (due to fewer ricochets), more accurate, and carry more energy than BBs.
There are four basic types of pellets, with many variations in between:
Wadcutter – The wadcutter pellet has a flat nose and is typically associated with target shooting due to its accurate nature and cleans hole-cutting properties in paper. It’s used exclusively in 10-meter competition. It is well-suited for lower-velocity airguns and for hunting at short ranges (out to 25 yards) due to transferring a lot of energy. Beyond 25 yards, a wadcutter’s accuracy starts falling off. The RWS Supermag pellet is an example of a typical high quality wadcutter.
Domed or Round Nosed – The domed or round nosed pellet has the best aerodynamics and is used in field target, small-game hunting, and general shooting. It is generally considered “all-around” pellet. The RWS Superdome pellet is an example of a high quality domed pellet.
Hollowpoint – A hollowpoint pellet is used almost exclusively for hunting. It allows the maximum transfer of energy to the game, and expands rapidly when it enters the game. If the hollowpoint is effective at expansion, the accuracy generally begins dropping off at distances beyond 25 yards. The RWS Super-H-Point pellet is an example of a hollowpoint pellet.
Pointed – Pointed pellets have a point on the tip, and offer superior penetration. Most people consider the look of a pointed pellet to be somewhat “streamlined”. A good example of a pointed pellet is the RWS Superpoint pellet.
In addition to these four “pure” types, there are a large range of those who mix features from the different pellets to achieve additional effects, or have the same shape but different weights or metal alloy compositions. When deciding which pellet to use, or to try a wider variety of different pellets, people often try a pellet sampler kit which contains several different types of pellets.
For more information on the different types of pellets, and the right one to choose in different situations, see our article, How to Choose an Airgun Pellet. For a comparison of 3 hunting pellets to determine which are best to hunt with, see the article Which Airgun Pellet to Hunt With.
In addition to choosing the type of air rifle you may wish to consider an air rifle accessory.
Airgun scopes, such as those by RWS and Walther, give the shooter the ability to more accurately acquire and hit a target at increased distances.
Airgun optics offer a way to achieve more accuracy with your air rifle. A good scope can provide magnification of the target you are shooting at. Most scopes have a beginning number and ending number; if it lists 4 x 32, the number four equates to how many times closer the object you are viewing becomes when viewed through the scope, and the number 32 equates to the size in mm of the front lens, also known as the objective lens. The bigger the objective lens is, the brighter the image when viewed through the lens. Many other issues such as scope parallax come in to play when dealing with scopes on air rifles. Other optics, such as reticle point sights offer ways to accurately aim at an acquired target with both eyes open.
Air gun maintenance accessories, such as gun oil, cleaning pellets, and a cleaning rod, are also important to the overall longevity of your airgun. There are recommended 100-shot and 1000-shot maintenance steps that you should undertake to improve the lifespan of your air rifle.
As with any purchase, it really depends on what you are looking for as to how you should approach your air rifle buying quest. The information above can be useful if you are wanting a brief overview on what options are available. If you have any questions about what you might need for a certain situation, feel free to contact Umarex USA’s excellent customer service and their knowledgeable staff will be happy to help you out with whatever you might need specifically.