MIT Sport Pistol Club

Introduction to Air Pistol Shooting

Tau-7 & IZH-46M Air Pistols

Range Operations


  • ALL of the basic safety rules apply to airguns!
    • Keep the pistol unloaded until you are ready to fire
      • Action should be open when not actually shooting
    • Keep the pistol pointed in safe direction at all times
      • Muzzle up when moving around range (i.e. safe to firing line)
      • Downrange when at your firing point
    • Keep your finger OFF trigger until ready to shoot
      • Finger outside trigger guard when pistol is on the bench
  • Other important safety notes
    • Eye protection required any time people are shooting
    • Hearing protection is optional if ONLY air guns in use
    • Pellets are lead: wash your hands before eating

Safety & Air Pistol Target Equipment

  • Stored inside the range, to the right as you enter
  • When done shooting, return ear & eye protection
    • Put safety glasses in boxes

Pellets & Targets

  • “Ammunition”: 0.177” (4.5 mm) dia. lead pellets
    • “Wadcutter” (flat nose) pellets make clean holes
      • Makes scoring much easier
    • Come in tins of 500
  • Targets: special heavy paper, for cleaner holes
    • 10 ring is 11.5 mm dia, black (7 ring) is 59.5 mm dia

4.5 mm


Tau-7 & Tau-7 Jr. Air Pistols

  • Made in Czechoslovakia
  • Tau-7 is older design, right or left handed grips
  • Tau-7 Jr is smaller, lighter & ambidextrous
  • Use CO2 for propulsion: Have to be filled
  • Both are quite accurate
    • Several used to win Women’s Nat’l Championship

Tau-7 Safety: Opening the Action

  • Step 1: Pull the two round knobs on the loading gate forward

  • Step 2: Swing the loading gate up and forward

  • Step 3: Make sure there isn’t a pellet in the breech
    (back of barrel)

Tau-7: Filling With CO2

  • We have a storage rack for five CO2 fill “bottles”
    • Located on end of Range Officer’s bench
  • CO2 is a liquid under pressure
    • About 860 PSI at 72F
  • Filling process is guided by weight, not pressure
    • Use an electronic scale (above rack) to check CO2

Tau-7 Fill Tank (“Bottle”)

Tau-7: Checking the Fill Bottles

  • Weigh the cylinder using the scale on the bench
    • Turn scale ON using ON-OFF button with nothing on the platform
    • Wait until reading is stable at zero
    • Weigh the cylinder (should be between ~ 650 and ~ 780 grams)
      • Tare (empty weight) is marked on cylinder, along with full weight
      • If it’s close to empty, tell a coach and use a different cylinder

Tau-7: Filling Pistol With CO2

  • Make sure pistol is unloaded, and is pointed in a safe direction
  • Cock the action (pull forward on the twin cocking ears)
    • This takes spring tension off the valve
    • Failure to do this may result in loss of gas through the valve
  • Turn pistol upside down, but DON’T REST PISTOL ON REAR SIGHT!
  • Screw on the 125 gram bottle.
    There will be a hissing noise
    as the gas transfers
  • Position should be held for
    a couple minutes before
    unscrewing bottle
    • You can GENTLY rest pistol
      upside down on bench
  • Afterward, check cylinder weight
    • Pistols get ~ 7 shots per gram
    • If pistol was empty, you want
      > 12 grams of CO2 for a match

Tau-7: Loading

  • Seat a pellet into the barrel, flat nose forward
    • Push hollow skirt in place with thumb to ensure full seating
  • Swing loading gate down and push it until it clicks shut
  • Push down & rearward on the round loading gate knobs
    • This ensures it has closed securely
    • If you don’t, the loading gate can fly open when fired
    • This is not dangerous, but you can lose the O-rings seals
  • Cock the action by pulling forward on the twin cocking ears (they will click in place)

Tau-7: Stuck Pellets

  • PAY ATTENTION! Listen to your shots
    • Learn what a typical shot sounds like
      • You should hear the shot, followed by impact on target backer
    • If a shot sounds weak, or you don’t hear it hit, STOP!
  • If your pistol is low on CO2, the pellet may get stuck in the barrel
    • One pellet is much easier to remove than six…
  • We have small wooden dowels to remove pellets
    • DON’T use anything metal in the bore
    • Push them out from the muzzle, don’t hammer on it

Tau-7: Sight Adjustments

  • Target sight adjustment knobs have spring detents
    • Snap (click) from one adjustment to the next
  • Right hand knob is for
    elevation – clockwise
    moves shots up
  • Left hand knob is
    for windage –
    clockwise moves
    shots to left
  • 1 “click” =
    2.4mm @ 10m
    (~ 3 clicks per ring)

Tau-7: Dry Fire Adapter

  • “Dry Firing” (releasing trigger without actually firing) is an important training technique
    • Good to do before a match, but you are not allowed to release gas
  • Adapter inserted into pistol prevents gas release
    • Two sizes: red for Tau-7’s, yellow for Tau-7 Jr’s
    • Pistols vary, may require tweaking (Don’t force it in!)
  • Install from side after pulling cocking ears FULLY forward
    • To remove: reverse process while pushing adapter towards front

Baikal IZH-46M (Izzy) Air Pistols

  • Made in Russia
  • Larger & heavier than Tau-7’s, right or left grips
  • Single stroke pneumatic (compressed air)
    • You get to provide the propulsion

IZH-46M Safety: Opening the Action

  • Push latching block (“slide”) forward until breech block pops up
  • Lift breech block & verify that there isn’t a pellet in breech

IZH-46M: Cocking Procedure

  • With firm grip on pistol, grasp cocking lever in non-shooting hand
  • Keep muzzle pointed down range, and swing lever down & forward
  • Keep going until breech block is nearly vertical
    • Cocking lever will be roughly straight forward
  • Pull cocking lever back until it stops near grip

Pull Cocking Lever Down and Forward

Pull Cocking Lever To Rear

Breech Block ~ Vertical

IZH-46M: Finishing The Cocking Stroke

  • Use the open palm of your hand to close the cocking lever near end of its stroke
  • DON’T wrap your fingers around wooden block
  • The lever can snap into position, close to the grip and mash your fingers!

IZH-46M: Loading

  • Insert pellet into breech
    • Flat nose forward
    • Hollow skirt towards rear

  • Seat fully into breech with thumb against skirt

  • Push breech block forward and down until it latches

  • Pistol is now ready to fire

Inserting Pellet in Breech

IZH-46M: Dry Firing

  • Release the breech block by pushing the latching block forward

  • Pull breech block up until
    it clicks to cock trigger

  • Push breech block forward and down until it latches

  • Aim and fire

IZH-46M: Sight Adjustments

  • Adjustment per click is ~ 2.5mm @ 10m
    • Roughly 3 clicks per scoring ring on target

Range Operations

  • Eye & ear protection: just inside range on right
  • All pistols are stored in safes
    • There are two safes for the team’s air pistols
  • The Equipment Manager will issue you a pistol
    • If you need to change, notify Equip Manager or Coach
  • Clean up your firing point when you are done
    • Recycle fired targets
    • Put away equipment & extra pellets
    • Return air pistol target backer & stop plate to storage

When You Get a New Pistol

  • Before shooting, make sure you understand how to operate it safely
    • Don’t be afraid to ask questions
  • Many target pistols have an adjustable palm shelf
    • This helps get a consistent grip
    • It shouldn’t be tight, but it should help locate your hand (no gaps)
    • Don’t over tighten the screw(s), you
      can break the wood
  • Start by dry firing to get used to trigger

MIT Target Carrier System

  • We have manual crank target “carriers”
  • When changing targets, be gentle
    • It’s not a race to get your target down fastest
    • Cranking like mad will get your heart rate up
    • Cranking with your shooting arm will tire it
    • Banging carrier into its stop can damage it
    • At 50 feet, slamming carrier into the socket can make it stick (makes it hard to retrieve)
  • Range etiquette
    • When possible, don’t change targets when someone next to you is about to fire

Target Carrier Clips

  • Carriers have a rod with a block protecting the target clip
  • Reach behind the block and compress the lever on the clip
    • Have to learn to do this by feel
  • Slip the target up into the clip, then release the lever
  • Give your target a gentle tug to make sure that it is secure
    • It’s very easy to stick target between clip and metal block
    • Target will fall on floor at inopportune moment

Retrieving Your Target

  • Be mindful of those shooting next to you
  • Stand at your point, and start target back by pulling cord STRAIGHT back
    • This will show you which way the crank needs to turn
    • Don’t pull down, it can pop off the pulleys
    • If carrier sticks at 50 feet; a tug is needed to free it
    • If you need to tug, DON’T pull cord back near crank
      • When carrier pops loose, you can cut your hand on pulley
  • Again, be gentle
    • No need to slam it into the stop over your firing point
    • Aggressive actions can pop the cord off the pulleys
      • Requires shutting down entire firing line to fix

Air Pistol Target Backers

  • Pellets can bounce off .22 backstop at 50 feet
  • We use special “backers” hung from the target carriers
    • Located in box on shelf to left of safety gear bin
  • Wooden bar fits on top of metal block on carrier rod
  • Use wing nut to tighten hook around square rod

Air Pistol Target Stops

  • Air pistol competition fired at 33 feet (10 meters)
  • Metal “stop plates” locate targets at correct range
    • Located in box on shelf
      to left of safety gear bin
  • Plates have two bolts
  • Bolts go in holes in
    wood blocks on carriers

Setting Up Your Spotting Scope

  • Find a comfortable shooting position FIRST
    • Don’t stand too far from scope
    • Check out your natural point of aim
  • Don’t want to move your feet to use your scope
    • Typically want it just lower than normal eye level
    • Should be able to lean over comfortably to see through scope

Adjusting Your Spotting Scope

  • Adjust height & direction with clamp on rod
  • DON’T look through scope for coarse alignment
    • There are ribs and a little “sight” on top of scope
      body you can use for rough alignment
    • Coarse adjustments
      are much harder when
      looking through scope
    • Easy to end up looking
      at the wrong target!
  • Fine tune alignment
    and focus while
    looking through scope

Using Your Spotting Scope

  • Basic Goal of Shooting:
    Learn to maximize the probability of getting a good shot
  • Every shot is an experiment!
  • Can’t learn much if you don’t ‘scope’ each shot
    • It’s like doing a lab where you don’t take data points
  • Don’t forget to follow through!
    • Look AFTER you have concluded your shot & put pistol down
  • Learn to “call” your shots
    • Your mind can freeze an image of the sights & target at the instant the shot was fired
    • You can learn to predict where the shot went
      • Within plus or minus one scoring ring
      • Be able to tell angular location within ~ 1 “hour”

General Comments on Equipment

  • Target pistols are precision
    mechanical systems
    • Adjustable sights are built like
      2-axis micrometers
      • 1 click ~ 0.003” or less
      • Easy to knock out of adjustment
    • Rifling is often lapped & polished
      to microinch levels
    • Trigger mechanisms balance large forces with precision engagement of small hardened edges
  • They are also expensive & difficult to repair
  • Treat them with care & respect and they will deliver superb, trouble-free performance

If You Have a Problem or Question

    • Keep pistol pointed in safe direction!
    • Finger AWAY from trigger!
    • Easy to forget when something odd happens
  • If you have a problem:
    • DON’T try to fix it yourself until you have been trained how to deal with it
  • Ask for help:
    • If there is something you don’t understand
    • If ANYTHING seems out of the ordinary