Become a Better Marksman in 2018

There are many benefits to becoming a better marksman regardless of how you use your weapon. Hunters, range rats, sport shooters or anyone who CCs for self protection will all benefit from practicing the fundamentals of marksmanship because it increases the shooter’s mental and physical control, establishes a healthy hobby and naturally enhances the ability to react naturally and accurately in high stress situations. A true marksman focuses on mastering his senses in order to improve their instinctual ability to hit their target. The more hours you can get on the range, the better marksman you will be and the more respect you will have for the sport itself.

A Matter of Form

The body and mind are in constant coordination with one another, ceaselessly busy, behind the scenes, as you move through the motions of your day. Your mind is constantly whirring and your body is ever busy responding to it, so when you step up to the range, raise your firearm, position your sight on the target, and exhale, you are asking your mind and body to stop everything it’s doing and focus only on what’s happening downrange. You are asking for complete motionlessness as you are aiming for perfection, for this shot and for every shot to come. That is the goal of a marksman, to master their senses in order to master their shot.

Aiming & Trigger Control

Let’s start with the eyes, unless you’re physically impaired, they prefer working as a team, sending your mind a visual perception of reality. By closing one eye you are effectively cutting in half the supply of visual information being sent to the brain. Marksman should never put themselves at such a disadvantage unless they are physically incapable of shooting with both eyes on the target. At first it might feel awkward or difficult, but with a little practice this skill can be easily adopted and greatly improve accuracy. Keeping both eyes open during your shot improves your peripheral and situational perception while greatly increasing your overall accuracy.

Understanding the stance that renders your body into it’s most natural and relaxed state is a vital concern when practicing proper firing form. How do you naturally position yourself when facing a target? Do you feel unstable or too tense on your feet? Try dropping to a kneeling position. No matter what stance, the more you shoot the more you will understand your body’s physical tendencies and which firing positions lead you toward your natural point of aim. Try to avoid the sensation of “holding” your position, instead find a stance that encourages a natural “sinking” feeling when aiming so that your body remains nearly motionless, making for the most accurate of shots.

Try some of these foundational firing positions next time you’re at the range to find which is most comfortable for you, but be sure to also familiarize yourself with other firing positions that might be required of you in unpredictable situations. All marksman will benefit from the mastery of the four fundamental shooting positions; prone, sitting, kneeling and standing. Practicing a stance until it becomes second nature will establish a physical foundation for the marksman to then cultivate with various techniques meant to assist the individual nuances of a shooter.

Once stabilized underfoot, you can begin to consider the proper application of the shot from your grip on the weapon to trigger control and follow-through. None of these factors can be fully controlled but the more you practice them the more of a muscle memory you create making the entire process feel instinctual, especially in moments of fear or adrenaline. The process of pulling the trigger is both a mental and a physical one. The goal is to adjust your grip so that your finger is in the correct position to pull the trigger directly backward without disturbing the sight picture.

Practice Makes Perfect

Practicing is the number one way to develop marksmanship skills and become a better shot. The more you practice going through the required motions the more they start to feel instinctive and a second nature to you.

When practicing marksmanship it is equally as pressing to practice firearm safety as it is all other areas of the craft. Marksmanship is as much an asset to range rats as it is to those who conceal carry, however, people who carry daily know that it is a lifestyle choice, not just a hobby. Conceal carry or not, handling a firearm requires a high level of responsibly, foresight, knowledge and respect. Please, do not practice marksmanship if you do not intend to educate yourself about firearm safety and respect the power of the weapon in your hand.

Range and Rifle Options

You can practice many places on public lands as long as you’re in an area that allows shooting. Remember to check your backstop and never shoot toward other people, no matter how far away they may be. When shooting on public lands, a marksman should show respect for his fellow shooters and the environment by picking up everything you shell out before you leave. If you’d prefer to shoot in a more controlled setting, go to your local range. For something more life like that many people enjoy, marksman or not, is immersive firearm training classes where you are placed in lifelike scenarios via a simulator and asked to respond to any perceived threats in real time.

If you are new to shooting and unsure which firearm to start out with, bolt action rifles are great for both starting out and progressing as a marksman. The most popular rifle for beginner shooters is the Remington 700, it is one of the most reliable and accurate bolt-action rifles on the market. There are several different models to choose from all ranging in price so you’ll be sure find one that fits into your budget. If you’d prefer to start with a little less boom, or if you don’t plan on shooting past 100 yards, consider a .22 bolt action rifle. The .22 is a great addition to anyones arsenal and will prove useful for years to come.

Other than practicing often and safely, the best way to improve your marksmanship is to break every shot down to the basics by focusing in on the fundamentals of aiming and trigger control. Practice eliminating tension by paying attention to your body and conforming to your natural point of aim. As your marksmanship skills increase you will notice your own preferences and shooting styles taking a shape of their own. Practiced marksman will enjoy the benefits of an intuitive ability to feel when a shot is bad and why, allowing for the shooter to adjust their position quickly and accordingly.

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