Where should you shoot your quarry?

Any chest shot is just a guess. Please don't take them. (c) David Iliff

Any chest shot is just a guess. Please don't take them. (c) David Iliff - Credit: Archant

The editor discusses the hunter’s aim points

When it comes to shot placement, in the hunting sense, I pretty much always use head shots because what matters to me more than filling the bag, is that any animal or bird I shoot should be killed cleanly. By this, I mean a single shot that ‘turns the lights out’ immediately, and any pellet of any calibre driven right through the brain will deliver that. Precise shot placement is what airgunning is all about, but some people ask me why I don’t go for heart and lung shots and the answer is quite simple really. I can’t be as sure where they are as I can with the brain. Half an inch this way or that might make the difference between a kill and a lost animal, and remember, a rabbit can be back down its hole in seconds and even if it is now dead, you don’t know that and cannot retrieve it.

Further, you need to understand what happens to an animal when you stop its heart working. That in itself does not kill the animal, rather it denies its brain the oxygen that it needs to function. Once the oxygen runs out, unconsciousness sets in and the brain eventually stops forever, but there is a period between the hit and death occurring when the creature will do everything it can to flee and avoid capture. If you have a skilful gun dog it might find a pigeon that flew 50 yards after a chest shot, or it might not. It’s much better to put the pellet right through the brain and drop the bird straight to the ground where you’ll have little trouble finding it yourself.

Clearly defined

Trying to visualise the exact location of a rabbit’s heart is fraught with problems made worse by no specific aim points, and the fact that it might be sitting, standing, up on its backside like a meercat...any number of other positions, but the position of its brain is always visible and offers a clearly defined aim point. If you draw a line back horizontally, from the eye and then down from the base of the ear, you have the perfect aimpoint for the centre of the brain, and a pellet placed here will kill the animal outright and instantly. Yes, there might be all sorts of kicking and wriggling, but these soon subside as nerve activity stops. Please take my advice on this one. Follow the ‘brain shots only’ rule and you’ll be a more ethical and successful hunter, that I promise you.

Finally, combine realistic ranges with the proper target area, and you’ll really make the most of those hunting trips.


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