Andy McLachlan offers his advice when it comes to target practise, so get prepped and ready to shoot with his ten top tips…
1. Seek out pellet batches
Rather than just use a brand of pellet that has worked for you in the past, have a look under the tin at the pellet batch number. What you want to see is that the tins all have the same code, meaning that they all came from the same die in the factory.
It is no good just looking to see if they all say “4.52”, for example. Pellets manufactured by JSB will all have a series of codes on a sticker located underneath the tin. If you find a pellet from a batch that shoots well from your own gun barrel, find a retailer who has a supply of these and buy as many as you can. I know competition shooters who will travel far and wide to purchase vast stocks of a certain pellet die number if they can locate them. This will ensure that you have confidence in your ammunition.
2. Try a glove
If you are serious about outdoor target shooting and haven’t already got one, buy yourself a properly fitting target glove. They’re guaranteed to improve your performance straight away!
3. Get some scales
If you haven’t already got one, buy yourself a set of digital scales that will allow you to properly sort your pellets. Although I know people out there like to sort weights to two decimal places (8.44), I personally prefer to just weigh to one (8.4). If you do this, the pellets that might cause you to miss a target, usually at long range, can be removed at source, once again giving you more confidence in your ammo. In a tin of 8.4 pellets, I find many that are either 8.2 or 8.6 grains, and it is these rogues you want to avoid!
4. Buy a pouch
Using one of the plastic pellet holders that allows each of your pellets to be lined up like soldiers in a line is great in summer. It’s not as much fun in winter, however, as rain, mud and all sorts of other nasties can leave your cherished pellets looking a bit grim.
Buy yourself a good-quality pellet pouch. Once you have poured in a supply of preferably weighed pellets, find yourself some foam packaging material and cut it to size so it fits snugly into the pouch. That way, when you lay down to take your shot, your cherished ammo won’t go rolling out onto your mucky mat.
5. Maintain your bag
Check the condition of your gun bag! Watching an expensive Steyr target rifle do a nose-dive onto concrete is not a pleasant experience, believe me. You need to check the condition of zips and particularly carrying handles or straps, which have a nasty habit of working loose or fraying.
6. Check your scope
Are you 100% sure your scope is square to the gun’s action? If not, use editor Mike Morton’s method of two spirit levels, one on the action and the other on the scope, to make sure they are aligned correctly.
7. Lean into the challenge
To improve your overall average score, practise shooting the targets you find most difficult. In my case, that is kneeling shots. I don’t like them, but it’s what I practise most.
8. Join a club
I would like to think that all our readers are members of an airgun club. If you aren’t, you should be!
9. Learn to laugh
Don’t take the inevitable misses too seriously. I used to get really worked up when I missed a target, but I have learned just to learn from my errors.
10. Get a scope enhancer
Buy yourself a scope enhancer to reduce the risk of parallax error. They’re cheap to buy, and are a great investment in improving accuracy.