Whether you are a hunter, a tactical guy or a competitive shooter, there are moments when you start missing shots that you know you can make. The good and bad news of it is that practice, and solid shooting rules are key to making this stop. As the old-timers would say, there are no real shortcuts in life… only hard work and dedication. Here are some tips that will help you stay vigilant and on target. Nothing too special here, just fundamentals to be followed.
Slow is Smooth
Speed kills, that’s a fact. But it can kill your accuracy if you apply it without proper control. Nothing fancy with this tip: go slow. The old saying of slow is smooth, and smooth is fast, applies directly to shooting when you want to shoot rapidly. More specifically, try slow-fire drills.
Set up a paper pie-plate at 5 yards. Hold center mass and shoot. Now, taking your time and going as slowly as possible, empty the rest of your clip. As your groupings shrink, move the target back. But stay smooth. This is also a good drill for curing a novice shooter of “the flinch.”
Do Your Homework
While it might be boring and look downright strange to anyone around you watching, dry-fire practice is key to becoming a consistent shooter. It’s easy on the pocketbook and the domestic tranquility. No loud sounds, trips to the range, or ammo expenses.
Make absolutely sure that your weapon is clear. Set up a dummy target across the room, or choose a specific target such as a light switch or an electrical socket. Use this as your aiming point. Go slow, and make each shot really count. Without the elements of recoil or noise, you will be free to focus solely on sight picture and trigger control.
No Bench Warming
It’s only right that riflemen sight in their weapons from the bench. A stable shooting platform provides consistent data, and allows a shooter to develop good technique. Bench shooting is also great for hand loaders, who require a stable and consistent place to test new loads on. But to become a solid huntsman or rifle shooter, you’re going to have to get off the bench.
Shooting sticks and bipods are a great adaptation to work with, just make sure that you become accustomed to the same sticks or bipod. Learn where you hold best with them, and memorize that hold.
Practice from prone, kneeling and squatting. If you are choosing to use your pack as a rest, be consistent in both how you place the pack as well as what is usually in the pack. Lastly, catalog our data. Learn where you shoot best from. Knowing what real-world position suits your shooting the best is a critical factor, particularly for hunters.
Mix it Up
While the saying of “beware the man who owns only one gun, for he knows how to use it,” is relevant, the reality is that most shooters own more than one weapon. Sometimes taking a step back and working with a different weapon system allows you time to both process the previous techniques you were using, as well as learn new things.
It can be easy to get stuck in routine when your goal is consistency. Discipline is key however changing things up in your shooting regimen is essential to your growth as a shooter. Take the time to research new training drills and implement them honestly.
Know When to Call It
There will be range days that are just off days. Don’t push it. Learn when it is time to pack it in and live to shoot another day. Similar to basketball players who must drill and practice their shots, end on a good note… if you can. If for some reason you are having a day when you can’t hit the broadside of a barn, don’t beat yourself up. Human error is natural and must not be seen as a terminal illness. Call it a day, go watch the game or throw a ball around with your kid. Staying and pushing the issue only develops bad habits and results in a negative imprint that can follow you back to the range next time.