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A Shooter’s Guide to Airgun Accuracy

Everyone likes to think that you can judge an airgun by its specifications, but the truth of the matter is that accuracy depends on the user. Training, technique and a number of other factors go into airgun accuracy, so it’s impossible to judge an airgun based on its performance in one shooter’s hands.

What You Need to Know About Airgun Accuracy

Naturally, an airgun is only as accurate as the shooter’s training will allow. Different airguns produce different results. It’s important to note that the techniques you’ve learned will need adjustment based on what you’re shooting.

However, even in light of small adjustments you need to make, the basics of marksmanship still apply.

The basics include:

Steady position


Breath control

Trigger squeeze

Steady position includes holding your airgun lightly and making sure it’s stable enough to give you pinpoint accuracy.

Aiming is a given; if you can’t get an accurate sight picture, you’re not going to be able to hit anything with any semblance of accuracy.

Breath control is unique to the shooter. Most people find that their shots are more accurate during the pause after an exhaled breath, which the U.S. military teaches, but it could be different for you.

Trigger squeeze is important because you have to keep the weapon still and sighted-in as you squeeze. Otherwise, your shot will follow a different trajectory than the one you intended for it to follow.

Performance-Limiting Specifications in Airguns

Each airgun has its own limits when it comes to accuracy. While some airguns will let you shoot an 80-meter target the size of a dime and others will only be accurate within a 35-meter range, it’s important that you recognize the built-in limitations each airgun has.

The barrel, powerplant and pellet all combine to affect an airgun’s accuracy. Further, the trigger must be controllable and the stock must fit the shooter — but those are minor considerations compared to the barrel, powerplant and pellet.

A longer barrel usually means greater accuracy. The pellets you choose will certainly impact your shots; if they can’t produce a stable trajectory, you can forget about hitting your target. Powerplants using compressed air are more forgiving than powerplants based on spring action are.

Testing Your Own Accuracy

Because a combination of the shooter’s skill level and the weapon’s natural limitations determine accuracy, it’s important that you check your shot groups and see what needs work.

Your shot group size is the best way to gauge how accurate a particular airgun is in your hands. Don’t measure the pattern; measure the group. In order to properly sight-in your weapon, it’s essential that you keep your shot group within a quarter’s width on a 50-meter target.

A scattered shot group usually signifies that it’s your technique that needs work. An off-target but tight shot group means that your weapon is limited in its capabilities. Sometimes minor windage adjustments will do the trick and improve your weapon’s accuracy. If they don’t, you may be dealing with an airgun that isn’t cut out for high accuracy at 50 meters. Try moving your target closer – about 35 meters should do – and use the same type of pellets to further pinpoint your accuracy problems.