4 top tips for shooting your air pistol
PUBLISHED: 14:44 29 October 2020
Gary Chillingworth outlines four keys points to consider when training with your air pistol; from the correct stance and grip, to a few warning words about back stops, everything you need to know about pistol training is here!
If you read the October issue of Airgunner, and my ‘Blast from the Past’ article, you’ll see me talk about my trip to Florida and my experience shooting the Colt 1911, Glock17 and the 44 Magnum revolver. To prepare for this trip, I purchased, borrowed and trained with some air pistols and this training has stood me in good stead over the years. So, I’m going to write about two of my favourite pistols, and also look at some of the skills I have learned since going to Florida.
Before you even pick up a pistol, you need to learn how to stand. Air rifle shooters stand side-on to a target, but in pistol shooting this is not the norm. The two main stances that I learned are the ‘isosceles’, and the ‘Weaver’. To break it down; the isoceles stance is where you stand slightly side-on to the target and if you are right-handed, your right hand will drive the gun forward and be fully extended, and the left arm will be slightly bent and will help to absorb the recoil. This type of stance also normally requires the shooter to keep his or her non-dominant eye shut.
For the Weaver stance, you stand square on to the target, slightly bend the knees and drive both hands out equally. You will keep your arms slightly bent because this helps to control the recoil, and you can keep both eyes open – handy if you are cross-eye dominant. Cross-eye dominant means right-handed, but left eye dominant, and vice versa, and it also increases your peripheral vision – very handy if someone is shooting back at you)
I’ve found that for accuracy the isosceles stance is better, but for speed shooting, the Weaver stance is king.
If you are a fan of shows like ‘The Sweeny’ and ‘The Professionals’, you’ll know that they would often use the ‘cup and saucer’ style of shooting. Take the left hand and lay it out flat, and then place the butt of the pistol grip and the right hand in the centre of that palm. This might have been good for revolvers, but with modern semi-automatics like the Desert Eagle, which in real life ejects rounds to the right, it’s not a good way to get accuracy.
If you are shooting a semi-auto, like a Glock, take the bottom three fingers of your right hand and place them on the grip, with the thumb then placed on the left-hand side of the frame. You then take three or four fingers of the left hand and place these on top of the three fingers of the right hand. The thumb from the left hand sits slightly below and forward of the right-hand thumb, but it still presses against the frame of the pistol just below the slide. This two-thumb approach will prevent the pistol from being pushed to the left when rounds are ejected right – this does not happen with a air pistol. The more hand you can get on the gun, the more control you will have.
Now that you have your stance and grip, it’s time to look at trigger pull. When you place your finger on the trigger blade, you want to use the fleshy bit in the middle of the trigger finger. Think about pulling it straight back through the frame, toward the hammer. This linear motion will give you better control and therefore accuracy, and remember, always squeeze and never pull or snatch.
If you are shooting a double-action revolver, or even a double-action semi-auto, the first pull will often be longer, and when you go to shoot again, you might only need to release the trigger 50% of the way. Also, the second pull will be lighter, so don’t let this catch you out. Spend time with your trigger and you will become friends.
The two pistols that I have used in this piece are the Webley Mk6 and the Umarex Desert Eagle – a gift from my wife for my 50th birthday – thank you, honey – and are very different firearms.
The Webley is a double-action revolver. It breaks in the middle, so you can remove the cartridges and load the pellets into them, and it’s made from metal. When you pull the hammer back and shoot it in single-action, it’s actually quite accurate. Sliding the rounds into the chamber and snapping the pistol shut never gets old, and I just love it.
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The Eagle is a different beast altogether. This pistol is a blow-back, and every time you fire it, the slide at the top glides back and the next round is chambered. This makes the Eagle feel like the real thing and getting it to shoot accurately takes some work. The only downside with this, though, is the gas – blow-back uses the CO2 to operate the slide. The Webley is quite frugal, but Desert Eagle gets through a 12g CO2 bulb very quickly – it is so much fun to shoot, though.
Pistols are great fun, but remember, always have a good back-stop. Don’t pretend to be Dirty Harry, and don’t practise things like ‘quick draw’ if you buy a six-shooter. I now have a dent in my steel toe-capped boot, and this proves that I’m an idiot who should stick to rifles and not be let near a pistol. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and call me names.