It’s funny how many people think air rifle shooting means picking up a rifle and shooting at a balloon—like in funfairs and on beaches. Air rifle shooting is a bona fide sport that requires a certain amount of skill, which can be learned and honed. It involves shooting at a stationary paper target that is at least 10m away, with an air rifle, in an indoor environment. As your proficiency increases, the target size and the distance can be varied. An air rifle uses compressed gas to fire pellets and hence the name. It is not considered a weapon and does not require a license to either posses or use. So those who are considering air rifle shooting, needn’t worry about breaking the law, though, the pellets can injure a person if hit by mistake.
Many people are taking up air rifle shooting as a hobby due to its uniqueness. There is also a sense of thrill. Holding the rifle gives you an immense sense of power and confidence. Regular shooting practice can change you as a person.
This is the most commonly known benefit of air rifle shooting. You need to focus your entire attention on the target to hit it with accuracy. This requires razor sharp focus and the ability to control mind and emotions, which comes with prolonged practice. When the mind is under control, we can do wonders. In that sense, it is almost meditative.
Your brain decides the exact moment when the trigger has to be pulled and your body has to follow almost simultaneously. Consistent practice helps sharpens your reflexes. This also results in improved mind and body co-ordination.
Calms you down
Steadiness is the foundation of this sport. You have to develop the technique to keep yourself relaxed under all circumstances, whether you are simply practising or competing. There should be no anxiety, no fear in your mind; it should be totally relaxed. And this relaxation should be felt from within. Only a relaxed mind and relaxed body will give steadiness. Wavering thoughts and tension lead to tremors, which will make you miss your target. Slowly you learn to keep everything—both your mind and your body perfectly still and steady. This skill helps a great deal in daily life, especially at work.
Enhances your involvement levels
When we are totally involved in a project, the chances of completing that task successfully are better. With regular practise of air rifle shooting, high levels of engagement in the task at hand becomes second nature. The total involvement also makes us more attentive, which helps us grasp concepts quickly.
Helps in decision making
Air rifle shooting teaches us to take correct decisions at the right time. Even if you have taken correct aim, if you don’t pull the trigger on time, you won’t hit the target. You have to make split second and accurate decisions regarding whether the aim is correct, whether to pull the trigger or start taking aim afresh. This improves our decision making.
Hitting the bull’s eye, satisfies the ‘inner you’, it fuels your confidence. Your self-esteem is held high whenever you achieve the target.
Shooting a target that is far away from you with accuracy is an exhilarating experience. For that experience, you aim with forgetting everything else and think only of the target for some time.
And even this small respite is enough to rejuvenate mind and body. A lot of people, who practise air rifle shooting find it stress busting.
As in the case of a real rifle, there is no risk of shoulder injury while shooting an air rifle as there is no recoil or deafening noise and most people learn it with ease. This is one sport where there is no age-bar and anyone can learn or even participate in a competition if they like it enough.
Beginners usually don’t need to invest anything except their time and tuition fees. The equipment is provided by the training academy. If you want to pursue the hobby further, you’ll need to invest in a good air rifle, which costs about INR7000, targets and pellets. To find a shooting range in your vicinity, simply look up ‘air rifle club’ on the web and you might find many. Some academies even conduct one to two day special workshops in areas where there are no clubs.
Remember, although this isn’t a weapon, it has the potential to hurt others. Hence, it is advisable to practice shooting on a proper range and under the observation of a qualified instructor/coach. You need to learn and observe the safety instructions.
This was first published in the August 2012 issue of Complete Wellbeing.
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