How to Shoot an Air Pistol Accurately

If you can believe Hollywood and television, shooting a pistol with pinpoint accuracy is the easiest thing in the world. I mean, gee, my favorite action hero does it every week, and that guy with the license to kill – he never misses, does he?

But it only takes a few minutes in the back yard with an air pistol to discover that it’s a lot harder than it looks on TV. The media does have one thing right, however: it’s easier to shoot with two hands on your pistol, so we’ll begin there.

Next, bring your other hand to the gun. Wrap the fingers of this hand over the middle, ring, and little fingers of your trigger hand and curl the index finger of your non-trigger hand around the front of the trigger guard. The thumb should overlap the thumb of your trigger hand. Squeeze gently, so that your trigger hand is pulled into the other hand, with the pistol grip sandwiched in between

Extend both arms so that your two arms and chest form a triangle. This is a very stable position that is seen often in the movies and on cop shows. (And they never seem to miss!) Your feet should be about shoulder-width apart with the foot opposite your trigger hand about half a step forward. Flex your knees slightly.

What we’ve done up to this point is to turn you into a very stable shooting platform. Now comes the fun part: bring the gun up so that the sights or red dot align on the target. If you’re shooting with iron sights, align the sights so that the front post is the same height as the rear blade and there is equal space on either side of the front sight as it floats in the notch in the rear sight. The entire “sight picture” should be over the center of your target.

Slide your trigger finger into the trigger guard and place your index finger on the trigger. If you air pistol has a heavy trigger, place your finger so that the trigger is caught in the joint between the tip and the next segment of your finger. This will give you enough leverage to pull the trigger. If your air pistol has a lighter trigger, place the fleshy part of your fingertip on the trigger. You may want to experiment to see which works best for you.

Now, while keeping the sights aligned on the target, pull your trigger finger straight back into the pistol grip. Try not to pull the pistol to one side as you pull the trigger (relaxing the middle, ring, and little finger of your shooting hand may help) and use your non-trigger hand to help maintain the position of the sights on the target. The key to this method of shooting is that the two arms brace against each other and the trigger hand braces against the non-trigger hand for good shooting stability.

A couple of notes: if you’re having difficulty hitting the target, try shooting your pistol two-handed off a rest such as a rolled up blanket or sleeping bag. And remember: there’s no shame in starting in close (perhaps 5 yards) and increasing the distance as your accuracy in shooting an air pistol improves.

Holly Fisher-Beckett, wife of pitcher Josh Beckett, at the 2011 Baker-Beckett Celebrity Hunt for Charity.

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