In another blog post , we talked about general safety of shooting: making sure you only ever point your crossbow at something you are willing to destroy (ideally only your target), treating the crossbow as if it were always loaded and ready to shoot, knowing your target and what is beyond it, and exercising good trigger discipline.
These are all crucial to being safe with any kind of shooting weapon and crossbows are no exception.
However, correct use of the trigger is not only a safety issue, it is also a core skill in achieving accuracy with your weapon. And this is what we will be looking at in this blog piece: keeping your shooting safer and more accurate.
Consistency means accuracy
Accuracy comes from consistency. Consistency in the weight of the arrows being propelled and consistency of the power stroke of the limb and string are all taken care of thanks to Steambow’s attention to quality in design and production, but consistency in shooting is on you, the user.
How you hold and how you fire your Stinger II is fundamental to how accurate it is. The AR-6 Stinger II platform is inherently accurate if shooting bed and vice tests are to be believed, so the remaining variable must mostly be the shooter. And below is how to minimize the negative effects of being human!
A bit at the barrel means a lot at the target
First, we must recognize a fundamental of shooting anything. If, while aiming, your barrel moves even 1 mm one way or the other, the effect on where the projectile hits the target will be magnified. In the case of the Stinger II Tactical, a barely perceptible shift of your crossbow can move the point of impact on a target at 5 meters by 2–3 cm. That’s the difference between a bullseye and disappointment.
This means that holding your weapon steady throughout the shot is imperative to maintaining an accurate shot. Any unwanted movement will affect where you hit. And one part of you that moves is the trigger finger. Placement of that finger on the trigger is crucial. In firearms shooting, it is the pad of the finger that sits on the trigger. Not the tip and not the crease of the first joint, but the tip. This means that when you squeeze, the finger moves straight back and does not shift the weapon to one side or the other. It is no different on a crossbow, especially one as light as an AR-6 Stinger II. A smoother trigger pull is one reason why Steambow’s tuning trigger makes such a difference.
The importance of support
A further source of movement is the contact point of the buttstock and shoulder. There should be no play here. The crossbow should be pulled straight back into the shoulder and held there throughout the shot. Importantly, we want to avoid the crossbow being canted one way or the other. Your trigger hand should concern itself only with the trigger while all additional stabilization should be the job of your support hand. In the case of the Tactical, this is typically holding the foregrip. You don’t want your crossbow to be in a vice-like grip: just take up any play, and keep it steady: you want to simply aim and control the recoil, not crush the frame!
It is worth noting that holding elsewhere is a safety risk since this will potentially put your fingers close to or in the path of the string as it travels down the barrel of your crossbow.
Don’t anticipate and don’t stop aiming
Another common issue is “flinching”, caused by the shooter anticipating the shot. This is common with firearms shooting because of the blast and the recoil, but can still be present for users of a crossbow. Here, one of the lasers might help. Use the laser to see movement in the crossbow. If you see a sudden jerk one way or another before firing the shot, that’s flinching. To avoid it, just slowly increase that backward pressure on the trigger and focus more on your aim than when the trigger might break. Also, be sure to place your finger deliberately on the trigger before beginning to apply pressure, rather than jerking back on it from a distance.
Another very important practice is good follow-through. Even after having released the string and fired the arrow, continue aiming until your arrow strikes the target. Doing so will make sure that you do not start moving the crossbow once the shot has broken. You’d be surprised how you might move the frame while the arrow is still in contact with the string – and this results in poor accuracy. The effect of poor follow-through is even visible with rifle shooting, with bullets traveling far faster than any arrow could and thus being in contact with the rifle for 2 milliseconds or less, so don’t dismiss it.
Keep a track of your progress
Now might be the time to take some practice shots, photograph the results, and then start applying the techniques steadily. When they start to feel natural, take another photo and compare to see how you’ve improved. Involve your friends too: sometimes it takes another pair of eyes to spot our mistakes.