What’s the Best Shooting Position For Airgun Hunting?
What’s the best shooting position for airgun hunting? That’s a question that’s been asked many times over the years. And it’s one that I asked myself again just recently as a result of a squirrel hunt.
Take a look at this photograph. It shows the sizes of 5-shot groups that I’m able to shoot at 25 yards range from different shooting positions. Comparing them to the size of a (British) rabbit skull, where the brain is about 1-inch across, certainly should make us all think…
It’s the law of the earth that wherever we still hunt or set up an ambush we can be sure that our quarry will always appear from some awkward quarter, meaning that we sometimes risk shots from positions that advanced yoga instructors would be proud of.
Being off- balance will have serious effects upon accuracy, particularly if we haven’t trained ourselves to group well from the supine twist (ask your local guru). On the range, we often shoot from prone or from the bench but in the field we might take shots from sitting, kneeling or even standing positions.
Hitting the kill zone at anything over 20 yards whilst standing is extremely hard. You may be surprised, too, at just how inconsistent you are from less familiar positions.
I took a 20 yard standing shot at a squirrel recently and ended up hitting it in the leg, then dropping to one knee to hit it again in the neck and finally when it fell to earth in the head to finish it. I’m not proud of this kind of shooting and I hate to see an animal suffer because of my own poor judgement and over confidence.
The fact is that a tight group on the range doesn’t always translate to a clean kill in the field. That’s why the question of the best shooting position for airgun hunting is so important.
Adrenaline, excitement, muscle fatigue and intervening foliage all play their part in making real world hunting considerably more challenging. Add to this the fact that we normally only get one shot and you can see why it’s important to minimize any factor that could make us less effective.
After your rifle and scope combination, the stability of your shooting position probably has more influence upon your accuracy than any other variable. So we always need to think about the best shooting position for airgun hunting before taking a shot.
Back to reality
I decided to step out of my comfort zone and put my shooting skills to the test by doing a side by side comparison from six different positions at a set range of 25 yards.
This is really the first part of a two part experiment as it was only intended to demonstrate how my groups expanded as my shooting position became less stable.
I didn’t aim for kill zones but rather for the same spot every time. A future article will deal with how accurately we can shoot a single shot when it counts.
I chose my Weihrauch HW97K in .177 as I’m most familiar with it, but the weight meant that I needed to take breaks between groups and sometimes even between shots.
For paper, I used Target Air’s excellent pigeon offerings as I felt that traditional roundels weren’t realistic enough.
My first two groups from the bench were absolute tosh (that’s “junk” for those of us on the Eastern side of “the Pond”!) and it served as a reminder that there are always some mental gremlins to be banished before we can come down to the business accurate shooting.
The Six Test Positions
1. Bench Rested.
3. Sitting (back supported).
4. Sitting Supported.
6. Standing (offhand).
To the Test
Be sure to create a solid benchmark for comparison and then shoot a three or five shot group from each position being sure to take a rest in between; it can be tiring for the mind and body and this will affect accuracy.
If readers regularly find themselves shooting form unfamiliar positions then perhaps it’s time to do some in depth analysis of your shooting particularity if you’re missing your mark. This is the best way to understand your best shooting position for airgun hunting.
This kind of test makes for a good competition at home or on the range with the adrenaline only adding to the realism.
We can all shoot a couple of pellets at pine cones and get lucky and this can lure us into thinking that we’re better shots than we actually are. If you think you’re effective then maybe it’s time to prove it! Good shooting!