Sunday, 20 September 2009

Zeroing Air Rifles: Festival of Missing Things

I was reading a thread on an air gun forum last night about shooting with pre-charged pneumatics (here) and so I went to sleep thinking - well, among other things, sure - about accuracy in the field. The folk in the thread are discussing the pellet-on-pellet performance that can or can't be expected from an out-of-the-box Weihrauch HW100 - and in terms of what they wrote and how it compares with the sort of thing that I can produce with my old springer, well, I might just as well attempt to hone the rabbit-stopping properties of my critical thinking as attempt to match the precision of these things (I quote):

"At 30 yards once you've found the the right pellet it should be 1 single hole."

[At 30 yards] "You should be getting ragged one hole groups at that distance."

"Both me and a mate was out the other evening perfect conditions, he too shoots a HW100KT and he shot a rabbit at 51 yds bisley magnum, and I shot one at 54 yds logan penetrator. Both shots were premeasured with laser rangefinder both perfect head shots instant kills. Neither of us are annie oakley but these rifles are deadly accurate if running as they should."

The image at the top of this post is my last zeroing effort a few days ago with my, as ever, boingy old HW80k. I'd taken about three shots the day before - thirty-yard shots, all - and missed every time. So in something of a funk, since I'd zero'd about two days before this, I went and fired off the first group (top left in the photo) from an unsupported sitting position at thirty yards (with H&N field target pellets).

And yes, the group showed that I was, indeed, out. So I dialled it up two clicks and fired off another set (top right). O.K, a little too high this time, so I took it one click down and fired off the third group (bottom left).

Well, O.K. That'll do, I thought. The last group did show a little bit of a left drift, but that could just have been the wind perhaps. The first two groups weren't to the left so I didn't adjust on the basis of the last one being a bit skewiff left-wise.

I certainly do wish that I could dependably hit a rabbit at 54 yards - but it would be crazy for me to even try. Twenty to thirty is about my limit and - even then - I miss a good deal.

Sometimes, when faced with an ideal like this against which I can judge myself, I can tend to think, 'ah, gawd, I shouldn't even be out shooting if this is the best I can do'.

I suppose that what I then do is remind myself that I'm not going out shooting in order to try and win any accuracy competitions, I'm actually going out because I want to try and get my dinner.

It's also becoming clearer to me that if I think that zeroing is something I need to do every couple of weeks, say, then I'm kidding myself; I ought to be doing it more or less every time I go out hunting.


  1. theraschoutdoorchronicles20 September 2009 at 13:15


    I wouldn't worry to much about the "experts" on the net.  I shoot a lot, and the closest I ever came to the one ragged hole was when I pounded a target with enugh twety-two rounds to cut a brickin half.

    Springers are notorious for knocking scopes askew after a few shots, I'm not certain what the solution is for it.

    Best regards,

  2. I would say either your rifle or technique needs looking at. Or possibly both..

    I had an old HW77 and that was pretty good as standard accuracy wise, probably giving me 1" groups at thirty yards when I really tried, but I spent a bit of time fiddling and tuning it and ended up getting 3/4" groups at 50 yards eventually - and it was MUCH nicer to shoot. I really miss that rifle...

    If I were in your position, I would first lighten the trigger pull to make a fairly light, accuracy-friendly trigger pull: HW Rekord triggers are just simply amazing. End of.

    Then I'd take it apart and replace the mainspring. Not to gain loads of extra power and make it illegal (if in UK anyway), but to improve the lock time.
    What I did with my 77 was to get a square section Ox Mainspring, cut some coils off (so that it only had around 1 or 1.5 coils compressed when un cocked) and flatten the end with a grinder.
    Then take a really fine - ultra fine - file and smooth off some of the machine marks on the sides of the piston, and give it a wee polish. Do the same for the sharp edges of the spring guide..
    Then get some nice moly grease and put a fair amount (2 teaspoons full or so) into the spring so that it's not squeezing out everywhere, but is enough to coat the spring 1 or 2mm all over.

    Reassemble and make sure it cocks (actually do this first with the dry but shortened spring - just don't cut too much off!) then cock and uncock it a few times to get the grease around.

    Then try a sample firing... should be lots better...
    Smoother to cock, smoother to fire, faster firing cycle and less disturbance to your aim.

  3. I also forgot to say that after my HW77 I bought an airarms S200(10 shot) and that was pretty accurate, but I never really felt as confident as I did when I had my good old 77...
    So keep hold of your HW80, you'll regret selling it...!


  4. I own a hW 100T in .177, its a great rifle.  Yours is better for what you are doing. Don't sweat it.


  5. Just an observation, I notice that very few of your pellet holes are round, which could be an indication of many things. But, if the rifle is key holing, you will never get tight groups.