One key way to win more battles in Airsoft can be linked back to becoming a more accurate shot! When you are accurate with the shots you take, you increase your ability to last longer on the battlefield. Stands to reason that the longer you last, the more opportunity you have to take out the opposition.
Granted there are other things to consider, but learning how to shoot accurately is by far one of the biggest ways to improve your overall game. Herein we will outline some ways you can become more accurate with your replica, which can help improve your Airsoft experience.
Having the right replica in an Airsoft skirmish is much like an auto mechanic having the right tools when working on a car. Sure, a mechanic could use a pair of pliers to remove a nut from a bolt, but using a socket or box wrench would probably be more efficient and faster at doing the same task.
Same thing can also be said about having the right replica weapon for your Airsoft role. Sure you may be able to snipe up close with a scoped M1911 if you are so inclined to do so, but picking off the opposition with a Bar-10 from a greater distance would be more effective. It would also leave you less exposed.
I think you get the point.
One of the most effortless ways to help increase accuracy is to use the correct weight of BB for your Airsoft replica. Using BB’s that are too light can result in them being carried off in the wind or being stopped in their path by light cover. Too heavy of a BB (especially in a lower velocity replicas) can result in the BB’s falling short of their target.
Take into account the velocity of your Airsoft Replica. At bare minimum, start with the recommended BB weights for your replica. This by no means suggests that this is the be-all, end-all solution. It’s a starting point, and an easy one at that. To find that sweet shot, it may be necessary to test different BB’s with your Airsoft replica.
As I have blogged previously, always use good quality ammo, not cheap ammo. Quality BB’s are more consistent, provide accuracy and achieve better range than cheap-o BB’s. They do cost more, but again if you are buying cheaper, lower quality BB’s, then you are sacrificing performance and accuracy.
If you would like more information on BB’s check out one of my early posts on BB’s, here.
QUICK TIP: .20 gram BB’s are often recommended. This is nothing more than a jumping-off point as anything less is garbage. Just to point out, .20 gram BB’s are typically used when chronographing replicas. Out on the field, the difference is like night and day when you take it up a notch. I have experienced better results in accuracy and range when using .25 gram or heavier BB’s in my Airsoft replica.
A CLEAN BARREL
The barrel of your Airsoft replica can have particulates or residue right out of the factory! The smallest of particles can cause deviation of the BB’s trajectory. Be aware that there are many different methods and tips for cleaning the barrel of an Airsoft replica. These are the methods I use:
- Just as with a real gun, safety first. Make sure your replica is unloaded. Remove the battery or gas. You don’t want the replica to accidentally fire while you are cleaning. This will also reduce any chance of injury.
- Turn your Hop-up off. You don’t want to wear down the Hop-up packing while you are cleaning the barrel. The packing is the rubber sleeve portion of the Hop-up mechanism. This is commonly referred to as the “bucking” by many in the sport. The packing creates enough friction on the fired BB to cause backspin.
- I do not recommend using any lubricants to clean your barrel. I have seen where some guys will use silicone oil to clean their inner barrel. The inner barrel in all actuality needs to be kept clean, dry and free of particulates or residue. Oils are made to lubricate moving parts. Using them to clean your inner barrel can leave a residue which can cause dirt to stick around. It can also transfer to the BB causing it to travel less than true. Keep in mind lubricants that can drip back into the Hop-Up mechanism, can also get on the packing. When there is lubricant on the rubber sleeve, it can interfere with the Hop-up mechanisms ability to effectively put a backspin on the BB. Backspin increases range by adding lift. This is in part to the Magnus Effect. Hindering the ability of the packing to create enough friction on the BB to induce backspin will have an adverse effect on accuracy and range.
- Use only materials that will not scratch the inner barrel. I have found that the safest option is usually a lint-free swatch of material. Paper towels or tissue are somewhat a rougher material that can leave microscopic scratches which in turn can be a safe haven for dirt and debris.
I prefer to run gun cleaning patches with a little bit of 90% alcohol on them, down the barrel with the cleaning/un-jamming rod. Most of the replicas I have purchased usually come with some type of rod for unjamming. This rod usually has an eyelet at one end which lends itself to being able to add a cleaning cloth.
The cleaning patches are softer and won’t scratch the barrel. The alcohol is effective at removing oils and dirt from the barrel. The alcohol also dissipates leaving a residue free barrel.
Finally, I run a dry patch back through. Usually this does the trick. If it is still dirty, the process is repeated until it is clean.
The Hop-up in your Airsoft replica is a key component that has one of the biggest effects accuracy of your shot. As mentioned above, the Hop-up mechanism puts the backspin on the BB’s. This backspin is what increases the range of an expelled BB by adding lift. Adjusting your Hop-Up can help improve accuracy.
It is recommended that you adjust your Hop-Up:
- before game play or target practice
- whenever you change BB brands or types (regular to biodegradable)
- whenever you change to a different BB weight
- whenever you have been engaged in long periods game play
If you find the stock Hop-up is just not doing giving you the results you want, then investing in a higher-end Hop-up can greatly help improve the accuracy of your replica. Many options exist and like most upgrades, they can be far superior to the stock option that came with your gun.
Proper trigger control helps set the stage for the shot and is a critical component for improved accuracy. By executing a proper trigger pull, you can limit unwanted movement. Unwanted movement during firing comes in the form of a shift in the barrel which makes your shot inaccurate. Here are three easy steps to a proper trigger control:
Proper placement of your finger on the trigger helps prevent pulling or pushing the replica which moves the barrel and throws off your shot. Some beginners will either grip the gun tightly having more finger on the trigger than needed. In some cases they place less of their finger on the trigger. Both cases result in inaccuracy through movement.
In right handed shooters, having too much finger on the trigger, results in pulling the trigger to the side shifting your gun off target to the right. Likewise, having too little finger on the trigger results on pushing the trigger to the side shifting your gun off target to the left. This of course is the opposite in left handed shooters.
Make sure that you do not position your finger too far off the side of the trigger or hook the trigger with your finger. Position the first digit of your index finger on the trigger.
Squeeze the Trigger
Remove any slack in the trigger by easing the trigger back just until there is some resistance. This is also known as “pre-travel”. Always squeeze the trigger with your finger. Don’t pull the trigger back or squeeze your whole hand. Isolate your trigger finger from the rest of your hand.
Firmly apply constant pressure in a straight line while bringing the trigger to the back of the trigger guard. Putting pressure on the trigger to the left or right during the squeeze can translate into throwing your shot to the left or right.
This is very much similar to the follow-through in most any other sport. After the shot, get your sights back on target. Following though helps ensure that you do not move the Airsoft replica off target before the BB leaves the barrel. No need to immediately release the trigger (unless you are running full auto). Then ease the trigger back forward to take the next shot.
For me, aiming came be viewed as nothing more than taking the time to make the proper sight alignment (aligning the front and rear sights correctly) to the sight picture (placement of the aligned sights on the target) and then keeping the everything movement free until the shot has been taken. Sure sounds easy, but in the thick of a skirmish, it is sometimes easier said than done.
As it relates to aiming, you should also inspect your sights. You can improve accuracy by making slight adjustments to your sights when needed. Sights that need adjustment may only appear to be off slightly, but any variance can steer your aim off target.
In some cases, you may find that optics could greatly improve your accuracy over iron sights. Evaluate your existing sights. Upgrading your Airsoft sights, may help you take better aim and realize more accurate shots without the need for buying scopes or dots.
Upgrades to your replica’s critical parts can result in improved accuracy, but will come at a cost most beginners may not want to contend with. Due to some expense involved in upgrading critical components, this option should be reserved for those who are more seasoned as it may be out of reach for the beginner. Also, it is typical that beginning Airsofter’s have had little time with their replica and may not have employed some of the easier actionable items covered herein first.
If it is time to upgrade, the barrel and Hop-Up components would be top of my list. The stock Hop-up in most replicas would do well to be upgraded. A better performing Hop-up can in most cases translate into better performance. This further translates to more control which is only helps as it is related to accuracy. Keep in mind Hop-up components take their fair share of a beating with use and will fail at some point.
As it relates to barrel upgrades, I really do not recommend replacing the inner barrel of your Airsoft replica. If you have a quality gun, then your barrel should serve you well. However, for those I have skirmished with, it would be fair statement that many stock barrels manufactured today have a typical bore of around 6.10mm. Replacing the barrel with a tighter bore closer to 6.03mm along with the addition of the proper Hop-up nub and packing set, seems to work well for others and can improve accuracy as well as give an increase velocity.
CLOTHING & GEAR
Even if you think you’re a really great shot, outside elements like clothing and gear can be quietly affecting how accurate you can be. Be wary of clothing items that can actually restrict your movement making it more difficult to achieve a stable firing position.
While it may be cool to be decked out with some of the “extras”, accessories and clothing items can have an effect on your game play. Being weighted down by unnecessary gear can affect your shooting accuracy and accessories can sometimes make it hard to hold a stable firing position that would allow for a primo shot.
Consider shedding some of the unnecessary gear and accessories that aren’t necessarily critical for gameplay.
FIRING POSITION STABILITY
Maintaining a stable firing position will help keep your replica still allowing for more accurate shooting. In order to stabilize your position for firing, make sure you start with a well balance position. Whether you are standing, kneeling or lying prone, if you are off balance or in an awkward position, you may make slight movements. Movement is what will cause you to be less accurate when you take your shot.
Once you are in position, review how you are holding your Airsoft replica. Your strongest or most dominant hand should be used for firing. Firmly press the stock tight against your shoulder (if your weapon is of this type otherwise grip firmly). Use your remaining free hand to support the weight of the weapon. Supporting the replica can help reduce any movement that would affect the shot.
Keep in mind that regardless of what power system you are using, Airsoft replicas will have slight movement during firing. Doing all you can to reduce movement through stabilizing your firing position, will help improve accuracy.
Being tactical can increase your accuracy. This can be accomplished by switching between Airsoft replicas based upon your immediate surroundings. This will increase your efficiency and accuracy. For example, you’re coming into tighter quarters, it may be advantageous to shoulder your primary weapon and pull your sidearm. This gives you the advantage of a quick and accurate shot placement. You can then holster your sidearm and shoulder your primary when you are not as confined.
The old adage, “practice makes perfect” always holds true. No one grabs any gun (Airsoft or otherwise) and is an instant crack shot. Sure, maybe there is the old “lucky shot” here and there, but it is not likely for any sustained performance.
Just as in life when you want to get better at something, practice, practice, and then practice some more. If you can, get out on the field at every opportunity. If it is not possible to get out and play as often as you would like, set up you own backyard firing range.
It’s great to pick up a Target Trap (check out this one on Amazon) to practice with. Target traps hold a variety of paper targets. The trap collects bb’s that pass through each target. This helps to keep your yard and the environment cleaner. If you do use a target trap, don’t reuse any bb’s you capture. If you wanna know more about why you should not reuse bb’s, check out this post.
JUST A WORD OF CAUTION: When turning your backyard into an Airsoft firing range, be sure that there are no local laws or ordinances that prohibit the use of Airsoft guns in the jurisdiction where you reside. To reduce any potential injury or misunderstanding, having a backyard that is fenced in and has no “public access” is ideal for a backyard range.
I really cannot recommend practicing on the grounds of a multi-family dwelling. If you live in a duplex or on an apartment complex, the available area may be shared and therefore really won’t do. With this type of set-up there is usually public access and little to shield you from the view of others who may misinterpret your replica for a real firearm.
There is little doubt that becoming more proficient with your replica can improve accuracy. With fair amount of practice, accuracy with your Airsoft replica will come. Ultimately, accuracy on the field will translate into better gameplay for you and your team.
There are many simple actionable things that when combined with regular practice can improve your accuracy. With practice and trying some of the items listed above first, you can avoid dumping money on upgrades and accessories that may show little improvement. If you have never used the weapon before you really cannot expect that fancy optics or a tricked out replica will make you a crack shot.
See you out on the battlefield!