Rising Shooting Stars: Luke Sowinski

What does it take to shoot airgun pellets out to 100 yards with accuracy?

by
posted on July 2, 2024
Sowinski

Both SKOUT Airguns and Luke Sowinski emerged on the airgun scene in 2023. Luke, the 23-year-old director of research and development for SKOUT Airguns, has been proving his skills and the guns he works on with top-tier performances in this year’s largest airgun matches.

Luke has been shooting all of his life, but didn’t enter his first competition until last May. “I have many fond memories of shooting pop cans and milk jugs with my Crosman BB gun with my brother and dad when I was young,” Luke said, but “it was not until recently that I started to get serious with my marksmanship. Once I started working at SKOUT Airguns helping to develop the EPOCH, I fell in love with shooting.” Luke’s discipline of choice is 100-yard benchrest, a tall order for lightweight airgun pellets. Slugs are not permitted in these events and the environment can pose especially unique challenges.

A .30-caliber SKOUT EPOCH with a Sightron SVIII is Luke’s competition rifle of choice. He uses a SKOUT Airguns tripod, ARCA weight and the rear rest that he had a hand in developing. “We developed these products in pursuit of the perfect setup for airgun benchrest,” he said. Luke also heavily relies on a chronograph to keep track of his velocities. A lot goes into perfecting a benchrest gun, including exploring different barrels, twist rates and pellets. Luke admits that when he first began competing, he didn’t understand exactly how people managed to shoot stellar scores. Now he’s doing it himself.

One-hundred-yard airgun benchrest targets (cards) have 25 bulls worth 10 points each for a maximum score of 250-25x. Less than a year after his first competition, Luke fired a 238-6x at the 2024 Northeast Airgun Classic, setting a new record for the event and for SKOUT. At large events, competitors shoot two cards, and the top shooters in each relay face each other in a finale. This is to ensure as equal wind conditions as possible. Luke’s record card qualified him for the finals at the Northeast Airgun Classic (NAC), where he finished ninth overall. At this year’s Rocky Mountain Airgun Challenge (RMAC), regarded as the world championship of airgunning, Luke fired a 222-3x and a 228-4x, landing him a spot in the finals. He finished eighth overall with a 228-5x, earning $500.

“RMAC was a humbling experience,” Luke said. “The night before shooting my first card my team discussed the quality of shooters in the competition. RMAC had a lot of amazing shooters. I was able to fight my way into the finals and place 8th with what I felt was one of my best cards in the wind. I shot a 228 and the winner shot a 240. It really showed me how well someone can shoot in challenging conditions.”

As an engineer/machinist passionate about precision, it makes sense that Luke’s main love is benchrest. “The path to get to the necessary precision is my favorite thing,” Luke admitted. “Testing, practicing and experimenting all go into the main goal of performing well in competition, and to me are as much fun as competing.” As much as he’s learned about airguns over the last several years, he’s also learned about marksmanship. “Learning to be patient and waiting for the right wind has helped me improve as a marksman. Being consistent is another big key to being able to perform well. Making sure you set up exactly the same every time helps tremendously.”

While much of Luke’s training has been to not move the gun, he’s also beginning to dabble in more movement-based disciplines including PRS and field target. “Don’t be afraid to come out to a competition and either shoot or learn about how things work,” Luke said. “People at the competitions are willing to help and we all want to have the industry continue to grow! There are a lot of good resources online that discuss equipment and disciplines so you can get an idea of what works for people and what might interest you.”

Outside of airguns and shooting, Luke is also passionate about cars, grilling, golfing and skiing, but his primary goal is to continue developing the skills and the guns needed to top the leaderboard. He’s got a great start!

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