Why I use airguns to improve my marksmanship
- Wednesday, 06 October 2021
Why I have gone back to Airgun shooting to improve my marksmanship.
Professional deer stalker Peter S Jones explains why he has reverted to shooting an air rifle to improve his marksmanship
I expect you will have heard the phrase ‘Aim small, miss small’.
Truth is, as deer stalkers we are shooting some sizeable quarry, albeit at longer ranges than those that hunt with airguns. With such large quarry, groups consisting of 4 or even 5 inches are easily capable of dispatching deer of all species humanely with a deer calibre rifle generating in excess of the legal 1750ftlbs
The thing about airguns though, is that the legal limit for those without an FAC is just 12ftlbs, so shot placement and accuracy is key. In effect, quarry such as rats and other small vermin need to be shot in the head for the pellet to penetrate sufficiently to kill humanely.
With shots typically out to a maximum of 30 yards to ensure there is sufficient retained energy for a humane kill, this means that you have to be able to consistently shoot a ½ -inch group at 30 yards. Put that into some perspective, that’s groups the size of your thumb nail.
I know that there will be people out there perfectly capable of achieving this, however, I think that over the years I may have become complacent and satisfied with groups that are larger but still effective in dispatching deer humanly with a heart/lung shot.
And so, it was with great interest when having moved from London out to a country house in Wiltshire with a much bigger garden, I decided to purchase an airgun. ‘Buy once buy right’ they say and so with a spend of around £1,200 I purchased one of the best airguns on the market, a .22 Weihrauch HW110 with a compressed air cylinder for ease of re-charging what has transpired to be a highly effective air gun. Fit a Hawke scope that I had lying around at home, and I was ready to go.
What an eye opener! With absolutely no recoil or muzzle blast, I was once again able to get back to the basics of marksmanship. One of the first things I noticed, shock-horror! was that I appeared to have developed a flinch! Snatching at the trigger and preparing myself for the report. Realising this flaw in my shooting, after just a few shots I was able once again to regain some composure and control over my shooting and immediately felt better for it. As a professional hunter recognising this alone meant that my £1,200 had been well spent. This is because, flinching is the number one cause of poor marksmanship amongst hunters and since first picking up my airgun eliminating this from my shooting has become my number one focus. And to be frank, I am not sure that if I hadn’t picked up an airgun, I would have noticed.
Practice, practice, practice they say, and today I can squeeze off a pellet from my HW110 without even the tiniest movement or even blink of an eye.
Not only that, but because of the demand for precision, I have been able to once again focus on other aspects of marksmanship, such as breathing, gently squeezing the trigger and watching my shot strike. Something that has transformed my groups from what had become acceptable to something that I was once again proud of.
What’s more, being able to practice in my back garden at almost zero cost and without having to visit a range has meant that whenever I feel that I am creeping back into bad habits, I can nip them in the bud with a few shots.
If you think that you might have started picking up some bad habits, rather than traveling to a range and banging off round after round at a couple of pounds a pop, there may be a much simpler and cost-effective solution right there in your back garden.
For more on marksmanship follow this link: improve-your-marksmanship
Or to watch a film about How to Improve your Marksmanship click here: youtube.com/watch
If you are am airgun shooter and would like to get into deer stalking, a great place to start is by taking the nationally recognised PDS1 Deer Stalking Certificate. A course accredited by both LANTRA and UK Rural Skills. You can get started simply by following this link to the Hunting Academy: deer-stalking-course