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Author Topic: Getting Shooting Comfortable  (Read 360 times)

Offline Dutch-Hunter

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Getting Shooting Comfortable
« on: February 07, 2017, 04:50:24 PM »
To achieve Natural Point of Aim (or Natural Aiming Area), the shooter settles into position while not looking through the sights or scope. I prefer Natural Aiming Area, getting into position with the rifle being on paper instantly. Some shooters actually close their eyes, but this can upset the natural maintenance of balance because the brain uses visual cues to help stay in balance. The shooter looks through the sights only after ensuring the position is stable and comfortable. The firearm is resting in the stance with minimal muscle tension. If the sights are not resting on the desired point of impact, the shooter adjusts the position by repeating the same steps until the sights rest on the target. Once a comfortable and natural position, if the sights are not on the target, the shooter adjusts his stance (moves his feet if standing, or hips if prone) until the sights are on target. The arm, head and body position do not change; when standing only the feet are moved to bring the sights onto target.

Natural point of aim is not achieved if the shooter must apply pressure to the firearm so the sight picture is on target. One of the main advantages of natural point of aim is that it minimizes fatigue when shooting a long course of fire. Over time, the shooter learns to assume the correct position quickly, allowing for accurate fire immediately.

The main purpose of identifying and potentially correcting natural point of aim is to make shots with both accuracy and precision. Accuracy is the ability to place rounds on the desired target. Precision is the ability to put multiple rounds in the same location. Good shooters are always precise, and this skill is more fundamental than accuracy, which can be adjusted. Typically, precision is based on natural point of aim. Fire 10 rounds downrange and they will, hopefully, all land in a similar area on the target. This is the natural point of aim. If the impact zone is not in the middle of the target adjustments are made to the shooter's positioning and another 10 rounds are shot.  If the impact zone is again not in the middle of the target adjustments are made to the firearm's sights so that the shots accurately strike the center of the target.

Or in other words:

Begin the aiming process by aligning the rifle with the target when assuming a firing position. THE RIFLE SHOULD POINT NATURALLY AT THE DESIRED AIMING POINT. No muscular tension or movement should be necessary to hold the rifle on target. To check the Natural Point of Aim (NPA), you assume a comfortable, STABLE, firing position. Place your cheek on the stock at the correct stock weld and counterbalance this pressure with the palm of your trigger hand. Relax, breathe and put the crosshairs on the target.  Close your eyes or look away from the scope moving only your eye, relax and breathe. Let the rifle drift to its natural point of aim, then look back through the scope. If the crosshairs remain on the correct position on the target, the natural point of aim is correct. If the NPA is not correct, you must change your body position to bring the sights on the target. If muscles are used to bring the rifle to NPA, the muscles will relax when the rifle is fired and the rifle will begin to move to its NPA. Because this movement begins just before the weapon discharges, the rifle is moving at the bullet leaves the muzzle. This causes displaced shots with no apparent cause as recoil disguises the movement. By adjusting the rifle and body as a single unit, rechecking, and readjusting as necessary, you achieve a true natural point of aim. Once this position of established, you will then naturally aim the rifle at the exact point on the target.
 
Fundamentals of precise-marksmanship requires seeing the target and controlling the mechanics of firing while staying on target.

Seeing the target or aiming; involves three areas, eye relief, sight alignment, and sight picture.
 
•   EYE RELIEF: This is the distance from the firing eye to the scope tube. This distance is fairly constant with a scope. You should take care to avoid injury by the scope tube striking the eyebrow during recoil. You should place your head as upright as possible behind the scope with your eye directly behind the scope. This head placement allows the muscles around your eye to relax. Incorrect head placement causes you to have to look out the corner of your eye resulting in muscle strain, causing blurred vision and eye strain. Eye strain can be avoided by not staring through the scope for long periods of time and correct stock weld alleviates eye strain as well by maintaining consistent eye relief.
•   SIGHT ALIGNMENT: Sight alignment is the relationship between the crosshairs (reticle) and field of view. You must place your head behind the scope so a full field of view appears in the scope tube with NO DARK SHADOWS OR CRESENTS. Center the reticle in a full field of view with the vertical crosshair straight up to ensure the scope is not canted.
•   SIGHT PICTURE: Sight picture is centering the reticle with a full field of view on the target as seen by you. Place the reticle crosshairs on what portion of the target you wish to hit.

Precise shooting mechanics; involves breathing, trigger control and follow through.

•   BREATHING: You must exercise breathing control during the aiming process. Breathing while trying to aim causes the point of aim to move, up and down movement occurs while lying down, side to side when sitting at a bench rest type table when your body is against the table. You must therefore accomplish sight alignment while breathing and finish aiming while holding your breath. You do this by inhaling, exhaling, and stop at the moment of natural respiratory pause before beginning to inhale again.
o   A respiratory cycle lasts four to five seconds. Inhalation and exhalation take only about two seconds, thus between each respiratory cycle there is a pause of two to three seconds. This pause can be extended to ten seconds without any special effort or unpleasant sensations.
o   You should fire during this pause when your breathing muscles are relaxed. This avoids strain on the diaphragm. You should assume your firing position and breath naturally until your hold begins to settle.
o   The respiratory pause should never feel un-natural. If it is too long, the body suffers from oxygen deprivation and begins to send out signals to resume breathing. These signals produce involuntary movements of the diaphragm which interfere with the shooters concentration and lack of movement needed to make a shot.

•   TRIGGER CONTROL: Trigger control is the most important fundamental of precise-marksmanship. It is defined as causing the rifle to fire when the sight picture is at its very best, without causing the rifle to move. Trigger Squeeze on the other hand is defined as the independent action of the forefinger on the trigger with a uniformly increasing pressure on the trigger straight to the rear until the rifle fires. Trigger Control is the last task to be accomplished before the rifle fires.

Proper trigger control occurs when the precise-marksman places his firing finger as low on the trigger as possible and still clears the trigger guard, thereby achieving maximum mechanical advantage. He engages the trigger with that part of his firing finger (middle of the pad of the last digit) that allows him to pull the trigger straight to the rear. In order to avoid transferring movement of the finger to the entire rifle, the precise-marksman should see daylight between the trigger finger and the stock as he squeezes the trigger straight to the rear. He fires the weapon when the reticle is in a position to insure a properly placed shot, or when the reticle is on target.

As the stability of a firing position decreases, the wobble area increases. The larger the wobble area, the harder it is to fire the shot without reacting to it, attempting to influence the sight placement when the trigger breaks. This reaction occurs when the precise-marksman:
o   Anticipates recoil. The firing shoulder begins to move forward just before the rifle fires, thus pushing the rifle out of line with the target.
o   Jerks the Trigger. The trigger finger moves the trigger in a quick, choppy, spasmodic attempt to fire the shot before the reticle can move from the desired point of aim.
o   Flinches. The entire body (or parts thereof) overreacts to the anticipated noise or recoil (jerks). This is usually due to unfamiliarity with the weapon.
o   Avoids Recoil. The shooter tries to avoid recoil or noise by moving away from the weapon or by closing the firing eye just before the weapon fires. This again is caused by unfamiliarity with the weapon and a lack of knowledge of the weapon's actions upon firing.

Trigger control is best handled by assuming a stable position, adjusting on the target, and beginning a breathing cycle. As the precise-marksman exhales the final breath approaching the natural respiratory pause, he secures his finger on the trigger. As the reticle settles on the target at the desired point of aim, and the natural respiratory pause is entered, the precise-marksman applies initial pressure to the trigger. He increases the tension on the trigger during the respiratory pause as long as the reticle remains on the desired point of aim to insure a properly placed shot. If the reticle moves away from the desired point of aim, and the respiratory pause is free of strain or tension, the precise-marksman stops increasing the tension on the trigger, waits for the reticle to return to the desired point of aim, and then continues to squeeze the trigger. This is trigger control. If movement is too large for recovery, or if the respiratory pause has become uncomfortable (extended too long), then the precise-marksman should whenever possible, release the pressure off the trigger and start the respiratory cycle again.

•   FOLLOW THROUGH: Applying the fundamentals increases the odds of a well-aimed shot being fired. There are however, additional skills, that when mastered, make the first round correct hit even more of a certainty. One of these skills is follow through. This is the act of continuing to apply all the precise-marksmanship fundamentals as the weapon fires as well as after the weapon fires. Follow through consists of:
o    Keeping the head in firm contact with the stock (stock weld) upon firing and after firing.
o    Keeping the finger on the trigger pulling all the way to the rear when and after the weapon fires.
o    Continuing to look through the scope when and after the weapon fires.
o    Insuring the muscles stay relaxed when and after the weapon fires.
o    Avoid reacting to the recoil or noise during and after firing.
o    Releasing the trigger only after the recoil has stopped.

Good follow through insures that the weapon is allowed to fire and recoil naturally, and the precise-marksman/rifle combination reacts as a single unit to such actions.

In conclusion; I realize this may be redundant but I’m reinforcing the fundamentals. If you have developed bad habits you may be able to realize them and make corrections. Getting these fundamentals muscle memorized will allow you to more accurately shoot any weapon. After all we all know it’s not the gun that makes the shooter. Training your muscle memory for a Natural Point of Aim does not require going to the range. Practice this in your back yard, basement or anywhere you can pull up, lay down, kneel or sit with your gun.  Practicing the mechanics however with live rounds is best done at a range. For obvious reasons!

I also know when afield all conditions are not clear cut and happen instantaneously. However if your fundamentals are sound and second nature that monster buck or bull elk may be your prize rather than frustration. 

This is why I’m always harping: PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE! Not just because I'm a crabby old Dutchman.  ;D Well maybe a little!  @--0--0123

I've attached a pdf of this if you'd like to print it.
 
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Offline Madgomer

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Re: Getting Shooting Comfortable
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2017, 05:28:54 PM »
Thanks Dutch, good stuff!
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Offline MichiganLouie

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Re: Getting Shooting Comfortable
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2017, 06:05:34 PM »
Boy, have I got a lot to unlearn!   Thanks, Paul!
Don't ask the Lord to guide your steps, unless you're willing to move your feet.
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Offline BLUETOE

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Re: Getting Shooting Comfortable
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2017, 10:12:21 AM »
Thanks Dutch. Very good information.
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Online yari

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Re: Getting Shooting Comfortable
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2017, 07:34:50 PM »
good stuff. all makes sense. thx
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Offline ke7cjw

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Re: Getting Shooting Comfortable
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2017, 08:25:55 AM »
This is how I was taught to shoot years ago as a boy. When I had my accident that cost me most of the use of my right hand I had to teach all of this to myself again to learn to shoot left handed.
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Offline Madgomer

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Re: Getting Shooting Comfortable
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2017, 06:14:49 PM »
This is how I was taught to shoot years ago as a boy. When I had my accident that cost me most of the use of my right hand I had to teach all of this to myself again to learn to shoot left handed.
Good for you! That's no small feat.  I can do a lot of things with either hand but shooting left handed is something I've never gotten good at (have tried plenty).  I am extremely right eye dominant which some people tell me is the main issue with my LH shooting.  I know other guys that can do it effectively but so far I'm not one of them.
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and enjoy it!

Offline Split toe

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Re: Getting Shooting Comfortable
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2017, 05:26:37 AM »
Good stuff Dutch...Thanks
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