Those steeply-an­gled shots still cause con­fu­sion. The Guru sim­pli­fies the up­hill strug­gle ...

Air Gunner - - Contents -

Should you aim high or low on up­ward shots? Our Guru ex­plains the tech­nique, and rea­sons for it

Dear Guru,

I’m just get­ting into squir­rel hunt­ing and I’m to­tally con­fused. One of my friends says I should be aim­ing higher on the up­ward shots, be­cause the pel­let is work­ing harder against grav­ity, and lower on the down­ward ones be­cause grav­ity isn’t hav­ing so much ef­fect on the pel­let. Then, an­other friend reck­ons I should just aim a lit­tle bit lower for both types of an­gled shot!

Please help, be­cause at this rate I’ll end up giv­ing it all up, rather than shoot­ing when I’m not cer­tain.

COLIN Hello, Colin, and first let me com­pli­ment you on your at­ti­tude. A very im­por­tant part of the hunter’s code says that we should never take a shot at quarry un­less ab­so­lutely sure of a clean kill, so well done for get­ting in touch to find out what to do be­fore tack­ling those squir­rels.


The good news is, the simple an­swer to your dilemma is that you just need to aim very slightly low, never more than 20mm, for all ex­treme- an­gled shots, whether they’re up­hill or down­hill. In fact, un­less those shots re­ally do need to be taken at an­gles be­yond 45 de­grees and at ranges be­yond 20 yards, the dif­fer­ence in re­quired holdover is so small that you don’t have to worry about it.


Any ex­pe­ri­enced hunter will con­firm that, once our point of aim is known, the de­gree of pre­cise shoot­ing re­quired for field work de­pends more on us main­tain­ing proper tech­nique dur­ing the aim­ing process than work­ing out slide rule equa­tions be­fore we shoot. In the hunt­ing field, this means do­ing all we can to get the foun­da­tions of our shoot­ing right, and that must take pri­or­ity over wor­ry­ing about the ef­fect of an­gles and grav­ity.


In fact, the real con­cern with an­gled shots, is their desta­bil­is­ing ef­fect on our stance, and the ‘un­seen men­ace’ of par­al­lax er­ror. Our stance can eas­ily be desta­bilised be­cause, whilst our neck and spine are bent into un­fa­mil­iar shapes, the sup­port from our for­ward hand is re­duced. Reg­u­lar train­ing to de­velop a smooth aim­ing se­quence, last­ing no more than five sec­onds, will help tremen­dously, as long as we pay par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to main­tain­ing the cor­rect re­la­tion­ship be­tween our sight­ing eye and the scope.

If you’re not look­ing through the cen­tre of your scope’s rear lens, you run a very real risk of pro­duc­ing par­al­lax er­ror and miss­ing your tar­get.

To sum up, then, Colin, my ad­vice is to de­cline those re­ally ex­treme targets, and con­cen­trate on get­ting your tech­nique right, just as you should do with all hunt­ing shots.

Get­ting your head po­si­tion and tech­nique right is far more im­por­tant than aim­ing off for an­gled shots

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