Airgun Shooting Positions

by Eric A. Schwartz

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Lie on your stomach, strong-side leg bent forward to widen your base of support. Gun should rest in the weak-side hand, and be completely supported by your sling. If you are using any effort to hold the gun in place, make the sling tighter. You should be able to take your dominant hand completely off the grip, and the gun will stay perfectly in place against your shoulder. Both elbows should be planted firmly, and you should be angled slightly towards your dominant side, so as to compensate for the rifle's tendency to aim slightly towards the weak side, relative to your body's axis. The natural point of aim when you are completely relaxed in this position should be exactly on target.

Sit cross-legged, with your ankle bones directly under the knee joint. Place elbows directly into the cleft between the bones of the knee. Essentially, support bone directly on bone, for maximum stability. Advice in sling tension is the same, as is the idea that the natural point of aim should be right on target. If not, get up, and get back into position, rotating yourself appropriately to make sure it is.
Some people with long legs or arms cannot fit in this position, so the alternate position is to cross your ankles out in front of you, and force your legs to spread by the weight of the gun, with your elbows in the knee joint, as before. This is less accurate and more tiring, so if you fit in the other position, it's better.

Same about sling and natural point of aim. The position is to stand facing the target straight-on, then step your dominant foot back 45 degrees, pivoting on the weak foot. Place your kneeling cushion in front of the dominant foot, and kneel over it, supporting your ankle directly on it. The heel should support the buttocks firmly, heelbone against tailbone. The toes should point out to the rear, or slightly towards the non-dominant side. The other leg should be bent so the calf is perfectly vertical, and you should rest the bone of the elbow directly into the slight cleft between the two lobes at the base of the femur on the knee.

Face 90 degrees away from the target, legs shoulder-width apart. Place the butt of the gun to your shoulder first, to ensure consistent positioning, then place the forearm of the stock on top of your hand. I used to place the gun on top of my fist, and that is a good position, but I've personally found that holding my hand as if I were a waiter carrying a tray and placing the gun on the heel of my palm works best. This position is much less standardized, so play around and find what works best. Feel free to change if you find that what worked best when you were a novice isn't working as well as it should once you get better. Place the elbow of that hand across your chest, so as to support the bone of the elbow directly against the ribs and sternum. You should now be aimed about 45 degrees off-target. Swivel your entire upper body about your hips to bring yourself on-target. Keep your legs and upper body rigid, but not tense, or you'll shake. Only the spine should swivel.

All positions:
Do NOT grip the gun, as that will destroy accuracy. It should merely rest on the hand. This is especially important in standing. Note again that this is for target guns. Common sporters won't be equipped with the kind of sling mount that can support the whole gun like that, so you may need to grip it, but you should still keep the grip as loose as possible. Squeeze the trigger in a pincer grip, moving the index finger towards the thumb, which should be on the tang of the gun behind the trigger. Breathing was covered extensively in a separate thread, so I won't repeat that here. Go for perfect consistency in position; place the butt against your shoulder first, and make sure it's in the same place on the shoulder each time, make sure you put your hand on the same part of the stock's forearm, and make sure your cheek rests on the same part of the cheekpiece every time. That's especially important since it will directly affect sight alignment if you move your head around between shots.

This is even less standardized than rifle, so pick a position you like. You may want to face straight towards the target (this is best for people with strong eyeglasses), or a full 90 degrees away from the target, with only your arm and head aimed at it. Or anything in between, whatever's comfortable. Feet should still be about shoulder-width apart. Grip the gun lightly; the purpose of the grip is to tighten and lock up your wrist, not to hold the gun. The gun should rest on your middle finger mostly, and should balance fairly well between that and the heel of the palm. The tighter you grip beyond what's needed to lock the wrist, the more you will vibrate and ruin accuracy. Lock the elbow and shoulder out likewise, with as little muscle as possible to do the job. I find it's easier to aim somewhat above the target, and let the sights walk themselves down on target as my arm stretches, but some people prefer to aim low and lock up on the way up to the target. Whatever works best for you. Six-o'clock sighting (where you set the sights so that lining them up on the bottom of the bullseye puts the pellet in the center) works best for targets since it gives a more consistent reference point than dead-on sighting, but doesn't work as well for rapid-fire or if the range to target is unknown or variable.


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