Whether you use a rifle for target practice or hunting, you may ask this question: "Why is good marksmanship important?" This issue is a rhetorical one because obviously, anyone who holds a rifle would shoot well if they were an excellent marksman. The central issue therefore is, how does one become a good shooter? What are the qualities that make an expert shooter?
I feel that the answers to these questions are the key to becoming a good shooter. Follow these 11 points, and you will see what a difference it makes to your shooting skills! Each of the following is a building block of good marksmanship:
1. Proper Sight Adjustment
Also known as “sighting in a rifle” or sight alignment, you need to follow these three steps:
Boresighting: Take your unloaded rifle and remove the bolt. Fix the gun on a secure resting point and looking through the bore, align the target with the bore. Now adjust your sight so that the target appears in the center of the crosshairs of the sight.
Fine Tuning: Now, repeat the same steps at 100 yards. Your rifle is now ready for use.
This procedure results in the development of a “sight picture” for your weapon, which in simple terms means superimposing your sights on the target.
2. Shotgun Patterning
This procedure involves shooting a paper target and recording the deviation which defines the pattern a shotgun makes. A good distance for patterning your shotgun is about 40 yards.
3. Selecting an Appropriate Shotgun Choke
Several factors govern the selection of a suitable shotgun choke like range, type of target, shooting preferences and so on. The logic here is that the tighter the choke, the closer the pattern between individual pellets will be on the target.
It goes to follow that you will need a wider choke for small and fast targets. Thus, an improved cylinder choke or modified choke would give you the most advantage in this case, especially for shooting small, fast and close birds.
4. Proper Shooting Technique
There are countless tutorials on how to adopt a proper shooting technique. In a nutshell, you need to aim for the following best practices:
- Shooting Arm: Keep your shooting arm extended and relaxed
- Leg Stance: Maintain a stable foot position, preferably with your legs apart about shoulder width.
- Body Position: Lean your body slightly forward while keeping proper balance
- Maintain Proper Balance: Balance your body in such a way as to counteract the recoil
- Firm Grip: Maintain a firm, even and tight grip on the weapon
- Trigger Control:How you pull your trigger is very critical to the accuracy of your shot and can be an issue with even experienced shooters.
Follow these simple steps while pulling the trigger and you can’t go wrong:
- Once you have the target in your sights and you are ready to shoot, hold the weapon rock-steady in your hands
- Hold your breath for a steady shot.
- Position your finger on the trigger
- Start pressing the trigger towards yourself
- Once you start pulling the trigger, the only thing moving should be your finger and the trigger
- Avoid any jerky movement – the pressure you apply on the trigger should be a “squeezing” action.
- On firing the shot, do not flinch
5. Develop your Posting Skills
No, this is not about blog posting – we all do enough of that on a daily basis at home! When you wait for game while sitting or standing in one spot, this hunting strategy is called posting.
Proper Breathing is very beneficial while shooting. You're ready to take a shot. You should draw a deep breath and then exhale half of the air from your lungs. This technique is tried and tested and secures maximum stability to your rifle at the instant of firing it.
7. Safety of the Shot
Once you have a target in sight, make sure that you are guaranteed to hit it.
8. Shooting Positions
There are four basic configurations for shooting:
You would do well to practice shooting in all these stances, as this will contribute significantly towards making yourself into an expert marksman.
The light factor is not discussed much but is, however, a critical one. You need to be sure that the light is sufficient for you to view your target efficiently. If you are wearing sunglasses, remove them well before your actual shooting.
10. Safety First
Be aware of the safety measures that you need to take while handling firearms. Follow the four rules of gun safety:
- Always consider a gun loaded
- Only point your gun at what you are going to shoot
- Be sure of you target as well as what is behind it
- Don’t touch the trigger until you have a target in sight
Practice makes perfect, so they say, and it couldn't be truer in the case of aspiring to become an excellent marksman. The more time you spend with your firearm on the range or out hunting, the more familiar you will get with your weapon, and you will see a steady improvement in your shooting skills with the passage of time.
These are simple, actionable steps that you can help you in becoming an excellent marksman. Just incorporate these steps into your regular shooting routine, and you will see a marked difference in the way you shoot. To sum it all up, ensure that you follow these basic steps:
- Get familiar with your weapon and optimize it
- Follow the procedures for good marksmanship
- Make good use of accessories wherever required
- Keep practicing on a regular basis
- Follow safety procedures
We hope that you get some benefit from reading this article and we look forward to your feedback and comments. We will respond to any questions that you may have. Happy shooting!