The best rifle shooters practice rifle shooting fundamentals on a regular basis and so should you as you prepare for deer hunting rifle season.
One way to practice rifle shooting fundamentals is by dry firing. The best shooters in the world, including Olympic medal winners, all practice by dry firing.
For hunters with a center-fire rifle, this is generally considered to be safe for their rifle. But as always, it is recommended people check their owner’s manual, or check with the manufacturer, if they are concerned.
As an alternative, one can purchase “snap caps” or inert ammunition, which is commonly referred to as “dummy” ammunition. Whatever they decide, the most important thing is to check to make sure a firearm is completely unloaded or that there is something in the chamber that will not fire when the trigger is pulled. Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.
To keep things simple, place a target of some kind on the wall across a room or in the basement. Practice rifle shooting fundamentals by following the steps toward a good and accurate shot.
While there are actually seven steps to a good shot, a person can use one word to help them remember five of those steps as they practice rifle shooting fundamentals. The word is BRASS. The steps are:
B = Breath or breath control. Breathe normally and come to a normal respiratory pause. Your shot should occur sometime within 10 seconds of beginning that pause. If not, you should begin the shooting sequence all over.
R = Relax. Relax the muscles and allow the bones to support the firearm. When muscles are tight they twitch and flex without warning and cause the shot to go somewhere other than where the shooter wants it to.
A = Aim. Take care in placing the sights or crosshairs exactly where you want the bullet to go and keep them as steady as possible. Your goal is to see no change in the sight picture when the trigger is pulled and the firing pin is released.
S = Squeeze. This is the term most people are familiar with regarding trigger control. A hunter should press the trigger straight back towards the rear of the firearm by using slow steadily increasing pressure.
S = the Shot. The shot should be a surprise. When it goes off you should maintain your position on the firearm in order to have good follow through. This means you don’t move anything including the trigger finger; it should still be on the trigger applying pressure. Your cheek should still be on the stock and your eyes looking through the sights. Even though the bullet has left the barrel any movement during a millisecond on your part can and will throw the sights off. The goal is to have no movement of the firearm as the bullet travels down the bore. Many shooters do the “gopher” movement, meaning that they raise their head looking for where the shot went. Using good follow-through enables hunters to better “call” their shots. That means knowing where the sights were when the gun went off.
Good shooters practice their rifle shooting fundamentals on a regular basis. The only difference between advanced shooters and basic shooters is the advanced shooters do the basics better.
About the Author
Tim Lawhern is a hunting and firearms safety consultant based in Madison, Wisconsin. Tim is the former Hunter Education Administrator for the Wisconsin DNR, a former President of International Hunter Education Association (IHEA-USA) and Co-Director of the IHEA-USA Hunter Incident Academy.
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