Monday, 24 August 2009

Air Rifle Fieldcraft: Breathing and Shooting

I took what felt to me to be a 'good shot' a few days ago. It was late afternoon and I'd just spent a while leaning up against a fence post and watching as the wood-pigeons came home to roost. I'd got up and walked across one field - patting a passing Labrador on the way - and then through a gate and down along the side of another. As I walked, I found that I was looking through a gap in the hedge at the bottom of the field at the land stretched out beyond and, squinting a little, I noticed that just visible in the green of the distant grass were two tiny patches of grey-brown.

I stepped sideways so that one clump of the old hedge would shield me from sight and kept on walking. There was a dip in the ground over the last dozen yards so I ducked down into this cover, dropped into a semi-crawl on my hands and knees, and managed to get to within ten yards of the hedge without the rabbits - perhaps another fifteen yards beyond in the next field - being able to see me.

Lying flat and raising the scope I saw that my approach hadn't gone completely unnoticed as the rabbits were sitting quite still and alert, holding their heads up high above the grass to look around.

I could have snatched at the shot but I decided - in the hope that an accurate shot in a few seconds time might yeild more than a quick but wobbly one right then - to take a moment or two and steady my breathing.

Looking through the scope I watched as, with each exhalation, the falling pressure of my breath lessened the push of my shoulder against the rifle stock and caused the cross-hairs to rise on the target. The sights climbed with my out-going breath and reached their peak in the momentary pause before the next inhalation which, increasing my shoulder pressure, would again force the reticule down.

In the cycle of two breaths I made tiny adjustments to my support of the rifle so that the peak of the sight's climb on the next exhalation would hopefully leave it paused - in the stillness before the next breath - on the head-shot aim-point just back from the eye and beneath the ear of the still-motionless rabbit. As my breath left me and the sight rose I tightened my squeeze on the trigger; the shot gave out much as I'd wished and the rabbit disappeared.

I scrambled through a gap in the hedge and made for the place where the rabbit had been and found it, to my surprise, head-shot and dead right there. I stood for a minute or so almost baffled at how well the shot had gone and pleased that, once again, I'd managed to get some food for the next few days.

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  1. The Suburban Bushwacker24 August 2009 at 23:01

    Good to hear you're out and about again then.

  2. NorCal Cazadora.com24 August 2009 at 23:55

    Such a pleasant surprise, isn't it, when we are perfectly successful?

  3. Hubert, that stump post in the first picture is downright mesmerising.  You've got a great eye for photos. 

    I love the story of how you steadied your breathing before taking the shot.  That's good advice for all hunters, and yours is an unusually good retelling of the technique involved. 

  4. Nice shooting and a good write up. Field marksmanship is a wonderful art.

  5. Nicely done HH!

    Best to you!

  6. Nice shot!
    BTW: What calibre has your HW80?

  7. Thank you very much for your kind comments SBW, NorCal, Bobby, Guest, Albert and Krenkel!

    It's a .22 Krenkle, and it's the slightly shorter barrel HW80K (with the K for 'Karbine' I believe).


  8. Ah, thanks. I also have a HW80 K in .22 but it will be converted in .20 within the next weeks. I found it a bit heavy. Therefore I bought a new rifle in .22, a HW95 "Luxus" and like it very much. But this one is more difficult to shoot than the HW80 K because of the stronger recoil.

    BTW: The "K" stands for "kurz" (German for short) because it has a shorter barrel than the standard version.

    Kind regards,