Shoot Like a Sniper: Simple Tips to Hone Your Marksmanship

Photo credit: Pixabay, tpsdave, CC0 Public Domain,

Most of us had air rifles as kids.  But few of us stop to think they’re still a great way to keep “in shape” when it comes to the fundamentals of marksmanship.  Whether you’re shooting a .22 or a Barrett 50, your body still goes through the same motions.  Sometimes weather or home chores keep us from getting out to shoot, so why not pick up an air rifle and train in your own basement?  ReadyNutrition’s Jeremiah Johnson, a retired Green Beret, explains. — SRC

This article is presented in the hopes of giving you a method for being able to practice your marksmanship both on the cheap and (logistically) under “friendly” surroundings.  There are a host of different air rifles to choose from.  I must state there has been a marked deterioration in the quality of air-powered (or pneumatic, if you prefer) firearms over the past thirty to forty years.  No matter: you can still accomplish what you need with what is on the market today.

Fundamentals of Markmanship

Air rifles can be either powered by Carbon Dioxide (CO 2) cartridges, or with an internal pneumatic pump, either with multiple pumps for increasing power or a single pump (as with “break-barrel” models of rifles).  For the most part your standard air guns come in either .177 or .22 caliber models.  Beeman offers one that has interchangeable barrels in both calibers, with the velocity decreasing slightly as the caliber is larger.

There are many things you can do with an air rifle from a hunting and survival perspective.  You can hunt small game quietly without the need for a suppressor if you’re doing it on the q-t, and ammo for it is both affordable and (when the SHTF) able to be reproduced simply (refer to the recent article I wrote on how to build your own forge).

The air rifle or air pistol fires pellets and/or BB’s (little ball bearings) that can be reused repeatedly.  There are several “trap” targets like this one available with replaceable buffer materials on the inside.  These targets enable you to collect your air rifle ammo and use it again.  It is a simple thing to set up a range within your own basement or out in your backyard with an air rifle or air pistol.  Although the motion of the weapon in terms of recoil is reduced from that of a rifle, the fundamentals of marksmanship are the same.  Here they are:

Breathing: Before you pull that trigger, you need to control your breathing, and optimally should pull immediately after you have exhaled

Aim: Self-explanatory, but it involves you zeroing on your target to line up your sights with your eyes and enable you to hit that bullseye.

Trigger squeeze: Should be accomplished with the very tip/end of your index finger, and should be a smooth, non-jerky action akin to squeezing a lemon

This article is not intended to cover rifle marksmanship in general; however, you get the picture.  Hand-eye coordination and the employment of these three fundamentals can be accomplished effectively with the air rifle.  There are several European and Korean firms that manufacture air rifles in “big bore” calibers that can take down large game, if you wish to pursue air rifle marksmanship further.  For starters, you can take your pick from Daisy, Crossman, Beeman, Benjamin, even Ruger, among others in the two mentioned calibers.

Just remember to lay out your range in a professional and safe manner.  Treat your air rifle as a firearm at all times, as it is a type of firearm that can hurt someone severely, or worse if misused or used in an unsafe manner.  As a field-expedient trap, you can even make one out of telephone books/directories mounted in the front of a carboard box.  These work better for BB’s, as the pellets are usually made of lead and the strike tends to deform them.  Safety glasses or goggles are also recommended, as a ricochet can come straight back in your direction.

The air rifle or air pistol are great tools to introduce your kids to principles of firearms safety and train them in marksmanship.  It is quality time spent with them, in which they will learn how to do things the right way before they are old enough to fire that .22 rifle or that Winnie ’94 for the first time.  Affordable and effective, the air rifle is an excellent training tool that you never really outgrow, and can enable you to have your own indoor range during the winter months that is both safe and cost-effective.  Be safe, take care of one another, and happy shooting!

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition