Marksmanship Fundamentals for Riflemen

For the average shooting enthusiast who simply enjoys heading out to the range a couple times a year and letting the lead loose, basic gun safety and range etiquette is all that must be mastered. But those who take a vested interest in their own ability with a rifle, and the perishable skills of shooting, are more than just moonlighters… they are potential marksmen… and marksmanship has rules.
Actually firing a rifle and firing it with consistency requires the application of many component skills. With each shot, a marksman must synchronize these components until they become second nature. These are the basic marksmanship fundamentals that must be put into play each time a shooter takes to his rifle.

Trigger Control

Improper trigger control leads to flat-out missing the target. Proper trigger control means releasing the firing pin of the rifle without creating any other movement to the gun. Most beginning-level shooters have the same trigger-control problem, jerking the trigger. This is usually the result of anticipating the audible report of the rifle, or the rifle’s recoil. Proper trigger control requires that the shooter squeeze the trigger, imparting absolutely no motion to the rest of the rifle as he does so. One solid way to defeat this entry-level mistake is to practice dry firing with your rifle. This will ensure an educated trigger finger and familiarize you with the specific trigger pull of your rifle. Take care to place your fingertip at least two-thirds of the way down the trigger in order to take advantage of maximum leverage.

Body Position

There are many different shooting positions, the position that is best for you is the one that is best suited at the time you must take your shot. But all positions have the following two principles in common. First off, your bones are the foundation for securing your rifle. Not your muscles. Your muscles help with keeping a firm grasp on the gun, but your bones are what keep the rifle in place. Next, you must adjust your body to comfortably fit the position you have chosen. The goal of being comfortable in this sense is to maximize the amount of time that can hold the rifle motionless for. It should be stated that firing from the prone position is the most stable shooting position that a rifleman can shoot from.


Follow-through for a rifleman is key. It means maintaining an extended concentration and nonreaction after firing. This develops the mindful habit of preventing any disruption at the instant of shooting. Follow-through is in large part all about prevention. By having proper follow-through, you are preventing the crosshairs from having any chance of moving before the rifle goes off. To be clear, about 0.22 of a second will pass between the time you pull the trigger and the firing pin hits the primer on your bullet. Then, about .002 of a second will pass while your bullet is headed down the barrel. Any movement of the rifle at this time has the potential to make the bullet hit where your crosshairs were not originally placed. Proper follow-through requires the shooter to maintain pressure on the trigger after the shot, holding it in the rearward position while keeping eyes focused on the target BEFORE releasing.

Join our FREE Weekly Newsletter
Become a Primitive Survivor with our latest hacks, tips & tricks.

Trending Around the Web

Leave a Comment