The only way to get good with an air rifle is with practice. Lots and lots and LOTS of practice. Never fire at live quarry unless you are sure that you can produce a kill at that range and under those conditions. But- paper punching gets boring. So, what do you shoot instead?

Basically, you can shoot anything. Paper targets, bells on string, fungi, leaves, twigs, toy soldiers, yogurt pots, coke cans, old books, old posters... I mean, anything- as long as its safe, you can shoot it. A friend of mine has so many free internet access CDs that he uses them as targets! (There are always bright patches of colour to aim for, and if you think you're really good, you can try and get the pellet through the centre hole!). You should wear shooting glasses if plinking hard targets at short range, as ricochets can be evil. Another trick is to put a line of caps or "throw downs" along a concrete ledge, go to 10 metres or so and try and hit them. Once you get your eye in, its very satisfying! (Shooting glasses should be worn, because the explosion of the cap combines with the ricochet and sends the pellet back at you). Another satisfying target is old film cannisters. (Usually available in large quantities from your nearest camera shop). Put about a teaspoon of flour into the pot, and put the lid on loosely. Laid on their sides, the base is about the same size as an airgun quarry kill zone, and its easy to tell when you hit- clouds of flour fly out. (Experiment to find out how much flour is best- a full pot is too much for most non- FAC rifles, as it will just stop the pellet).

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If you want to make it more exciting, you can set up a moving target range. If you have a stream flowing through your property, throw anything that floats in upstream and try and hit it as it drifts past. If this isn't an option, get a long backboard (4ft plus) and mount it in the ground. Place a shelf or runners about halfway up, get a target of your choice and mount it so it can slide along. Tie one end to a weight dangling off the shelf in the direction that you want it to go (or, better, use elastic to drag it), and tie the other end to a long separate string. With a pulley or a peg or two, you can fix it so that a pull on the string moves the target back to where it begins, and you can shoot it again and again. (If you want to shoot moving quarry, this is the easiest way to do it).

If you have any good target / range ideas or designs, Mail them to me and I will place them on the site and credit you. (If enough demand, I will make a whole page for readers tips and tactics).