Sometimes we tend to fall into bad habits when it comes to shooting. If you’ve ever asked yourself on the range while examining your target, “Why are my shots not placed where they need to be? What am I doing wrong?” you are not alone. Complacency can be one of our worst enemies when it comes to shooting on a range, especially when you don’t have a personal instructor or friend there to correct you when you are doing something wrong.
Filming yourself on the range can actually help you more than you think, as long as you go back to watch the footage with an open mind and critique every aspect of the film. I’m sure we’ve all looked at someone’s video on YouTube and said, “This guy/girl messed up right there. They didn’t break the shot at the proper point in his breathing cycle. Etc.” Keep that same mentality when watching yourself on film.
The video above is of me shooting a group to the best of my ability/within the weapons capability (1/2 MOA). I filmed myself and over-exaggerated my breathing so that I could hear myself breath, ensuring I didn’t hold my breath and that every shot broke at the bottom of my cycle. Here is a short breakdown of what I am looking at and what I see when watching. I hope this helps!
Some tend to cant off to one side of the rifle while in the prone position, under the false pretense that it makes them more stable and better positioned to accept recoil. Negative. This only introduces more angles to your body and through recoil, the rifle will exploit them, thus inducing barrel hop.
The rifle only moves an inch or two straight back during recoil. By positioning myself squarely behind the rifle, not canted off to one side, I allow the recoil to be dispersed evenly throughout my body. This allows for the crosshairs to stay on target. I want to watch the bullet pierce the paper downrange, not have to readjust to check and see what happened.
I make it a priority to keep my eyes open through the shot. Before heading to the range, I spend a few hours the day prior, and at least an hour the day of, dry-firing the rifle. Keeping the eyes open through the process of shooting allows you to see the impact downrange (if a miss, immediately correct from what you saw), and prevents shooter flinch. Flinching before the shot leads to misses!
At the point that I fire the weapon, I’m making a conscious decision to keep the finger pressed against the trigger, allowing the recoil of the rifle to settle. Do not slap the trigger!
We’ve talked many times about breathing, so I won’t harp on it here. The shot breaks at the bottom of the cycle. Do not hold your breath. The cycle should feel natural. If at any point I find myself holding my breath, I re-prep the trigger, go through at least one cycle, and then shoot.
When it comes to precision shooting, consistency is key. One of the things I consider when checking for consistency is my trigger finger. I want to make sure that the pad of my finger touches the exact same portion of the trigger each and every time. Over time, you develop the “It doesn’t feel right” syndrome. If it doesn’t feel right, nine times out of 10, it isn’t. Recheck, correct, and send it.