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A beginners guide to airgun ownership, shooting and accuracy

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phantomshtter:

There is a lot of info that new airgunners should learn right away even before beginning their adventure.  These are a few of the most important things that will get you on the right track straight out the gate.  Avoid those beginner mistakes! ;D

 Clean ALL new gun barrels thoroughly before shooting!

  There's tons of oils and junk left in the barrels from the machining process, don't braise that stuff into your brand new barrel.  DO NOT however use brass bristle methods like bore snakes or cleaning rods, nothing metallic should ever enter your air gun's barrel, there's no need for it.  Air gun barrels are made from softer steel and you may damage your barrel's rifling by doing so.  In my experience dry patches are the best method for a light cleaning just to get accuracy back on track.  A lighter cleaning may be the best to just remove excess buildup and not all of the leading.  Airgun barrels often shoot the best for folks when they have somewhat of a coat of leading in them.  Patches moistened, NOT SOAKED in Goo gone are in my opinion the safest and most effective method to thoroughly and completely clean your air gun barrel out.  Just tie the patches to a strand of 15- 20lb test fishing line (I tie multiple patches on) and run them through the barrel from the breech end over and over replacing them with clean ones as necessary.  Do so until you are getting clean, dry patches coming out. 

  With the multi patch method I remove the first wet patch after a couple good pass throughs, it's usually filthy by then.  One ingenuous trick for getting line down the barrel involves a vacuum cleaner hose cupped with your hand around the muzzle end. ;)  This is a great way to all together avoid having to remove muzzle brakes and such and is my personal favorite since I use the light fishing line. 
Small | Large
  Using strong solvents, anything petroleum based or other possible combustibles is typically ill advised, dieseling can occur in some guns and can inherently damage your gun's seals.     

  Once initially cleaned you shouldn't have to clean the barrel again until you see a noticeable change in accuracy.  This will give you an idea of how often your barrel really needs cleaned.  You do not get fouling in air gun barrels like powder guns, there is no propellent residue.  However you'll eventually get lead buildup that can fill in the lands and groves of your rifling. 

  Know your barrels typical accuracy and when it needs cleaning attention.  After a complete and thorough cleaning it may take a short time to see pellets grouping really well again, this is common. 
   
Breaking in your new gun 

  This applies the most to spring guns but also to other power plants as well.  You shouldn't really expect to see good groupings or accuracy until you have broken a gun in, often 500+ shots are required for a new gun to become worn in and begin getting consistent.  Performance will increase, cocking efforts will decrease and everything should begin coming together after a proper amount of break in time is afforded.  I think it wise to use cheap pellets and save a few bucks for the duration of the break in.

  Granted if you are seeing incredible variances in foot per second speeds or drastic performance inadequacies there may be an issue with the gun.  My best advice is to do your full break in within a few days of purchase.  This will give you adequate time to assess your new guns performance, discover any issues swiftly and get them addressed well within your alloted warranty time frame. 

Spring gun shooting

  A quick touch on shooting accurately across all platforms is of course focusing on proper trigger and breathing control.  That said, accurate spring gun shooting often requires a greater amount of care and discipline. THE ARTILLERY HOLD is the essential tool in a spring gun shooters arsenal, most spring guns demand it though some can be very forgiving or completely without hold sensitivity.  Typically higher end springers are the most forgiving. 

  Spring guns are a different animal all together due to their unique forward and backward recoiling action.  As the spring is released and travels forward you get backward recoil, as the piston slams forward you then get a forward recoil.  This action more often than not requires the user to adapt a looser hold on the gun all together allowing it to complete it's cycle unrestrained.  Utilizing a firm grip on most springers will almost indefinitely assure you a misplaced shot. 

  A little info and a video on the artillery hold from a pro-->  http://www.pyramydair.com/article/The_artillery_hold_June_2009/63

  Bipods and firmly seated rests are most likely going to negatively affect accurate springer operation as well.  Try a non gripping rest by placing your hand atop a small shooting bag and the gun in that open hand, make the contact point 3-5 inches in front of the trigger guard.  This may produce good results for rested shooting.  A bit of practice and experimentation with your springer will get you the most effective hand placement, grip pressure and shouldering for your gun.  You may find more information on the artillery hold and accurate spring gun shooting techniques within the library or by doing a forum search on the terms.

  Scoping a springer can also require a bit more attention to detail as a strong recoiling springer can shake and break a flimsy or poorly mounted scope in no time flat.  Many will benefit greatly from the sturdy one piece mounts that are widely available.  Rigidity in a mount on a spring gun is a good thing!  Also be sure to purchase a scope that is airgun rated!

proper pellet selection essentials

  First thing to state here is that there is almost never a "the best pellet" to recommend.  Reason being that nearly all airguns are different in their preferred diet, even the same brand, make and model can vary from owner to owner.  What shoots amazing in Tim's Benjamin Discovery could be worthless in yours.  That said, I have found it a wise idea to first check and see what others with your specific gun are shooting well, on occasion there can be a good baseline to start with in particular models.  For example, nearly all Marauder pistol owners I have talked to find the H&N field target trophy pellets in 5.52 head size to be a great match to the gun.  I highly recommend a pellet sampler pack nonetheless for new airgun owners looking to find the optimum pellet(s) in their gun, you may find multiple pellets in multiple weights that shoot great or even cheaper pellets as well that way. 

  These folks make some excellent sampler packs-->    http://www.straightshooters.com/

  The choice you make in a pellet can make or break your shots.  When choosing a pellet for your gun there are a few things to consider, pellet weight is a major factor in the accuracy and performance you achieve from a specific gun.  For instance, choosing a 7 grain pellet for a .177 magnum springer is just a bad choice all together.  You need to consider the power of your gun and mate it with a pellet weight that will optimize that power.  A magnum springer is going to greatly benefit from a heavier pellet, you will get more accuracy and knock down power by capturing all that shot power into something like a 10-14 grain pellet.  Your gun will also thank you because such a low weight pellet in a hard shooting spring gun is very tough on the spring.  Same goes for a lower powered gun, a pellet choice of 12 grains in .177 in a 700 foot per second gun is probably a poor idea.  You get the picture. 

  Shooting a light pellet over the sound barrier is just great for marketing and sales but bad for a shooter looking for accuracy.  Staying just under the sound barrier is a desirable quality to the airgunner in the know. ;) Trust me.   
   
  Head sizes and pellet shapes are a major factor to pay attention to when testing for the optimum pellet in your gun.  Barrels can vary and therefore you can find that a larger or smaller head size is required for achieving the most accuracy and power in a specific gun, if you are unknowingly using a loose fitting pellet in a barrel you may even see a pellet fall through the muzzle.  In this case you're not even seating the pellet in the rifling and probably seeing terrible accuracy.  On the other hand a pellet that may fit to snug can also cost you in fps. 

  Do some research and searching around and it will help narrow your quest.  Remember though, there really is no definitive answer to the best pellet until you've shot it. 8)  Hopefully this can shed some light and answer some of the ever present valid questions that new airgun shooters ponder. :D


JR       
   

 

ezman604:
Nice compilation of the experienced information available here on GTA by it's VERY knowledgable members.
If you have corrections or additions, it would be more productive and respectful to share them in a pm or email.
I commend a member that takes the time to condense a LOT of reading into a helpful thread. A lot of great airgunners have furnished this info right here on GTA.
SAFE & Happy Shooting!!!!
Dave
 8)

phantomshtter:

--- Quote from: ezman604 on August 22, 2013, 10:57:42 PM ---Nice compilation of the experienced information available here on GTA by it's VERY knowledgable members.
If you have corrections or additions, it would be more productive and respectful to share them in a pm or email.
I commend a member that takes the time to condense a LOT of reading into a helpful thread. A lot of great airgunners have furnished this info right here on GTA.
SAFE & Happy Shooting!!!!
Dave
 8)

--- End quote ---

Thank you Dave, suggested additions or respectful corrections are more than welcome.

BenjiHunter:
Very good post.
 It should be a sticky.

jlieu:
Many thanks for the guide phantom.  New to air guns in general and I went with a springer...so definitely helpful for someone like me. +1

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