Airgun Guru: How should I aim when hunting squirrels?
PUBLISHED: 12:15 06 March 2019
Those steeply-angled shots still cause confusion. The Guru simplifies the uphill struggle...
I’m just getting into squirrel hunting and I’m totally confused. One of my friends says I should be aiming higher on the upward shots, because the pellet is working harder against gravity, and lower on the downward ones because gravity isn’t having so much effect on the pellet. Then, another friend reckons I should just aim a little bit lower for both types of angled shot!
Please help, because at this rate I’ll end up giving it all up, rather than shooting when I’m not certain.
Hello, Colin, and first let me compliment you on your attitude. A very important part of the hunter’s code says that we should never take a shot at quarry unless absolutely sure of a clean kill, so well done for getting in touch to find out what to do before tackling those squirrels.
The good news is, the simple answer to your dilemma is that you just need to aim very slightly low, never more than 20mm, for all extreme-angled shots, whether they’re uphill or downhill. In fact, unless those shots really do need to be taken at angles beyond 45 degrees and at ranges beyond 20 yards, the difference in required holdover is so small that you don’t have to worry about it.
Any experienced hunter will confirm that, once our point of aim is known, the degree of precise shooting required for field work depends more on us maintaining proper technique during the aiming process than working out slide rule equations before we shoot. In the hunting field, this means doing all we can to get the foundations of our shooting right, and that must take priority over worrying about the effect of angles and gravity.
The enemies unmasked
In fact, the real concern with angled shots, is their destabilising effect on our stance, and the ‘unseen menace’ of parallax error. Our stance can easily be destabilised because, whilst our neck and spine are bent into unfamiliar shapes, the support from our forward hand is reduced. Regular training to develop a smooth aiming sequence, lasting no more than five seconds, will help tremendously, as long as we pay particular attention to maintaining the correct relationship between our sighting eye and the scope.
If you’re not looking through the centre of your scope’s rear lens, you run a very real risk of producing parallax error and missing your target.
To sum up, then, Colin, my advice is to decline those really extreme targets, and concentrate on getting your technique right, just as you should do with all hunting shots.