The main reasons for missing your target - Part 2

Some things are worth repeating. I was once advised as a trainer that just around the time you are getting totally fed up with repeating something, is when the majority of students are starting to absorb it. 

The four rifle shooting principles I teach almost every day of my working life are:

1) The position must be firm enough to support the rifle;
2) The rifle must point naturally at the target;
3) The sight alignment must be correct at all times;
4) The shot must be released without undue movement.

Is the rifle pointing naturally at the target? The simple test is as easy as breathing…just breathe in deeply and observe the sights heading South. Breathe out and observe them heading North. If they end up back where they started, you are naturally aligned. If they don’t, move about starting with your feet, then hips and shoulders until they do. You are now aligned, and oxygenated which is always handy and relaxing.
Sight alignment is a developing subject. When I started shooting it involved open sights and aligning the front sight with the rear sight, focusing on the front sight and then placing it correctly on the target before squeezing the trigger. It was an art form. Young eyes helped, and over the years telescopic sights have largely taken over, helping my older eyes and increasingly long vision.
Now, my task is to ensure that I can see the complete circumference of the objective (front) lens of the scope and total extent of the reticule, right to the edges. This should be perfectly encircled by the image of the ocular (rear) lens of the sight. When this is achieved, my jaw/cheek must be firmly welded to the comb of the stock and there should be a three to four finger distance between my eyebrow and the hard bits I don’t want to get hit by. I reckon there are two sorts of rifle shooter. People who have been ‘scoped’ and people who will be ‘scoped.’ It hurts, it scars; try to avoid it.
Further improvement around this subject are to ensure the stock is firmly held into the shoulder. Avoid the bicep or collar bone. The pistol grip should be gripped and gently pulled in to seat the rifle in the shoulder. Try putting your perfectly cleft jaw on top of the comb, keeping your head straight and sliding your jaw bone down the stock until the sight picture appears.
Now you have good stock weld. If you can see any hint of shadow or imperfection in the picture described above, slide backwards and forwards until it is perfect. The higher the magnification is set, the harder it is to find the perfect sight picture and the easier to lose it in recoil. Zoom out, try again.
The shot release is the final frontier in accurate shooting. Everything described before will help, but the shot release decides the outcome and can ruin all that went before. Undue movement is in fact any movement at all, except the rearwards travel of the trigger. Frankly if you so much as blink you have likely spoiled the shot. This takes practice and familiarity with the rifle. My curse as a rifle trainer, is that I probably shoot somewhere between three and 20 rifles in any given week. You can do much better than me by sticking to one, or a few which have the same feel, function and trigger release. Blasers are unique in this subject, with all desmodromic triggers feeling the same and calibre changes possible, using the same trigger group.
I often advise clients to form a word in their heads as the shot is intended to break. The word is nnnnnnnow. It is not NOW! Practice this, at the moment of perfect sight alignment, breath out, steady everything, be relaxed but firm and think nnnnnnnow as you squeeze the trigger. It works for me. When you are totally familiar with one rifle and trigger, you can start to take liberties and get away with them.
When I use sticks, I don’t think nnnnnnnow, I go nnow…much quicker but still without breaking the contract of perfect alignment.
The more I practice what I intend to do in the field, the luckier I get. The luckier I get, the better we eat. Simple. Good hunting.

Blaser – Blog – The main reasons for missing your target - Part 2

About the Author

Andrew Venables

Andrew Venables has some 40 years of experience in shooting, hunting, professional wildlife management and firearms training. WMS Firearms Training operates worldwide, from its headquarters in the Elan Valley area of Wales, UK. There they train clients over some 4500 hectares of hill land utilising steel life sized reactive targets. These can be shot at from an infinite variety of ranges, positions and situations in varied topography and weather conditions. WMS prepares you to make the shot, anywhere.

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