A-Z Dictionary of airgun terminology

Learn your airgun lingo! A handy go-to A-Z dictionary of airgun shooting jargon to keep you on top of your game!

Don’t look like a fool – know your jargon!

Bluing: A chemically applied finish to metalwork that offers protection against rust. it’s a traditional finish that looks great when properly applied, but gives less protection than more modern finishes.

Cant: To slope, tilt or angle the vertical crosshair from the vertical plane. A rifle held upright may still exhibit cant if the scope has not been mounted vertically. Similarly, the shooter can induce cant on a correctly mounted scope by angling the whole rifle away from the vertical.

Chronograph: An instrument to measure velocity by using two optical sensors that detect the passage of a pellet. The pellet is fired so it passes through or over both sensors, and the time it takes for the pellet to travel the distance between the screens is measured electronically.

Chronoscope: A device that measures the velocity of a shot, which will change depending on how far the chronoscope is placed from the muzzle. While it’s most often used to measure muzzle velocity, a chrono can be placed downrange to measure the drop in pellet speed and, if the pellet weight is known, retained energy.

Crown: The area of the muzzle where the end of the bore intersects with the face of the end of the barrel – this is the last place the pellet is in contact with the bore.

An example of a first focal plane scope

First Focal Plane: With this type of scope, the reticle will grow and shrink along with the image of the target, meaning the relationship between the target and the secondary points of aim is consistent, whatever the magnification.

Flyer: A shot that goes wild, but that doesn’t mean the reason for it can’t be pinned down. Flyers are usually blamed on a rogue pellet or shooter error. Our mission is to eliminate them.

Free-floating: A barrel is free-floating if its only point of contact is where it is connected to the breech block of a rifle. Any contact elsewhere, such as a barrel band, the stock or air cylinder, may result in a change in point of impact.

Hold-sensitive: The point of impact may change if a rifle, usually a recoiling type such as a springer or gas ram, is held in a different place and with a different type of grip for subsequent shots. A shot taken with a tight grip on the forend followed by a second shot with the rifle rested on the palm of the hand just in front of the trigger guard may result in two very different points of impact. Such a rifle is hold-sensitive.

Lands: The part of the bore that remains following the rifling process. Because the grooves are cut into the metal of the bore, the resulting lands appear to be raised.

Leading a barrel: When a pellet is fired, it will deposit some lead in the fissures in the lands and grooves, offering a smooth, even surface for subsequent shots.

Parallax: Where the images of the target and reticule appear on the same plane inside a telescopic sight. poor head and eye position can be offset by ensuring you have correct parallax.

Point of aim: The precise area on a target, whether paper, metal or living quarry, at which a rifle is pointed using either
a telescopic or open sight.

Point of impact: The place where the pellet hits. Point of aim and point of impact should coincide at the chosen distance at which the rifle has been zeroed.

Power curve: A number of shots taken from a PCP and plotted against their velocity. A flatter curve is desirable as it means there is little variation from one shot to another.

Regulator: A mechanical device that controls the air pressure and volume of air that is made available to the firing valve of a precharged pneumatic airgun.

Rifling: The spiral lands and grooves in the bore that stabilise the pellet by spinning it either clockwise or anti-clockwise as it travels down the barrel.

An example of a second focal plane scope

Second Focal Plane: This type of scope makes the image of the target grow and shrink with changes in magnification. The reticle stays the same size, meaning the relationship between the target and the secondary points of aim will alter with changes in magnification.

Single-shot tray: A device to effectively convert a multi-shot rifle into
a single-shot rifle. This can be useful for training and competition purposes, but can also be useful to ensure pellets are properly presented to the breech by the pellet probe.

Springer: A type of airgun using a coiled spring and piston to create the compressed air that drives the pellet. Springers, while generally being harder to shoot due to hold sensitivity and recoil, do not have a power curve – a big plus point compared with the PCP.

Sweet spot: The portion of a power curve displaying the minimum variation in velocity between shots. For an unregulated PCP, this will usually be somewhere in the middle of the power curve.

Torque: The rotational force needed to tighten or loosen screws. Too little torque means the components being tightened may come loose, while too much can cause damage, particularly to scope bodies and their sensitive internal parts.

Threadlock: A compound applied to the threads of a screw to prevent loosening and corrosion. Use the semi-permanent blue type, not the permanent type.

Zeroing: Lining up the sights on a rifle with the point where the pellet hits at a chosen distance. Gravity means the pellet is tracing a downward arc as soon as it leaves the muzzle, so the sights must be adjusted to intercept the pellet’s trajectory at a chosen point – this is your zero.

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