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The Difference Between Accuracy and Precision

 15th Oct 2017

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Whether you’re shooting with a firearm, an air rifle, or airsofting, the accuracy of the gun is what it’s all about. At least, from the firearm’s performance standpoint, that is.

Or is it?

I’m here to tell you something that you might not want to hear:

Precision is more important than Accuracy

To put this into context, let’s first go through the difference between precision and accuracy in the eyes of science.

Accuracy refers to the closeness of a measured value (in this case, the impact point of your fired shot) to the known value (in this case, the target). Ideally, the impact point is exactly where you intend it to hit, i.e the target. A sniper could miss every shot, but on average be considered accurate. For example, a miss 1m to the left and a miss 1m to the right, on average is a hit in on target. For obvious reasons, this isn’t how the world works, so what most people talk about when they mean the accuracy of a gun, they actually mean the precision.

Precision refers to the closeness of two or more measured values (shots) to each other. When placing cross hairs over a target, the shot may land a meter to the left every time. However, if it lands in the same place every single time, it’s an incredibly precise shot, even if it misses.  

With this said, you can see how taking shots with precision is more valuable than being accurate. Precise shots are predictable and allow you to compensate one way or another, based on the outcome of initial or previous shots.

As we mentioned in our “Sniper Skills – How to nail your target” blog, we speak a lot about consistency. In airsoft and in shooting in general, consistency is precision and precision is consistency. The ability to put a BB or Bullet in the same spot, every time is what’s important – not where you’re aiming.

Why?

Because in shooting, air rifles and airsoft, you can zero your scope and your rifle to be accurate. By adjusting the sight to accurately reflect the impact point of the shot (also reflecting considerations for other elevation, wind and other characteristics) the resulting rifle is both accurate and precise.

This is why precision is more important than accuracy. A rifle can be made accurate, very easily once it’s been made precise. Making it precise is the hard part; it involves a lot of testing, money and parts of extreme (ready for it) precision.  This ofcourse, doesn’t mention mistakes, errors and inaccuracies introduced by the shooter, not the rifle – but being able to fix those issues are what turn a shooter into a great shooter.

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