Eight fundamentals that can make you a better shooter | Sunday Observer

Eight fundamentals that can make you a better shooter

Firearms Training: Fundamentally Sound

Whether it’s for your job, competition, or plain fun, shooting well takes more than just knowledge of guns. It takes a solid understanding of the fundamentals of marksmanship. For years, I’ve found the following fundamentals to be proven, simple to understand, and successful for students. Each fundamental listed is important, but the importance is not based on where it falls in the list — it’s up to you to decide what is important and when. They are:

1. Stance / Platform

?Many instructors focus first on this because it’s simple. “Place your feet here and here so you can manage recoil and not get knocked around by the gun cycling.”

It may be surprising but this has nothing to do with your low left hits. I say “stance or platform” because you don’t always fire the gun in a shooting “stance.” This fundamental encompasses all platforms from standing to kneeling to prone, as well as all of those unconventional positions you may have to shoot from. Focusing on stance is not a mission for me. Weight forward, gun in front of eyes. Enough said.

2. Grip

?Grip applies to long guns as much as it does to handguns. How you hold a gun has everything to do with your ability to manage the recoil. Likewise, your ability to quickly fire multiple well-aimed shots has everything to do with how well you manage recoil.

Suffice to say that if you’re not using muscular and skeletal alignment in your grip, you aren’t operating to your greatest potential. High thumbs forward means high to the axis of momentum, thumbs forward toward the target.

3. Draw / Presentation

?The entire idea behind this fundamental is to get the weapon into the plane of vision — between your eyes and the target — as quickly and efficiently as possible. Draw and presentation include how you initially grip your weapon as well as how to deal with retention devices on holsters.

More than just pointing a gun at a target, the draw is not a 1-2-3-4-5 process. It may be taught that way initially but fluid economy of motion is the key here.

4. Sight Alignment / Sight Picture

?For years I have combined the two because properly aligned sights mean nothing if you don’t know how to place them on a target. Simply defined, sight alignment is the front sight viewed through the rear sight with them (iron pistol sights) equally spaced and even across the top. Sight picture is those properly aligned sights placed properly on the intended target. Know the sights, know what you need to see, and have some reference to it while firing. Never disregard the idea of subconscious sights.

5. Trigger Management

?Sometimes called trigger press or trigger control, it is defined as applying steady pressure directly rearward in such a fashion so as to not disturb the sight alignment or sight picture before the round fires. It doesn’t matter if you do it fast or slow — manage the trigger based on target size and distance.

Stop focusing on feeling for the reset. Replace all that wasted effort by training shooters to fire every shot from the pressure wall. What is most important: trigger or sights? I’ve got to know target size, distance and how much time I have. Tough.

6. Breathing

?Breathing has very little to do with action style shooting — most important in action shooting is that you “breathe to reduce your stress and focus on the task.”

Keeping this in mind will go a long way to help performance. Precision shooting requires a little more. The old military BRASS-F — Breathe, Relax, Aim, Stop, Squeeze, Follow-through — is a great way to remember this. Holding your breath at any time is bad for performance. Oxygen deprivation can affect your most delicate organs in as little as four seconds and that certainly includes your eyes. Ever get blurred up while aiming? Breathe, blow the stress out and do what you need to do.

7. Follow Through

?One of the most important and least adhered to, follow through means maintaining all of the fundamentals through the break of the round. Staying with the sights and following them into recoil. Follow through is easiest when you have a solid platform, good grip, and an understanding of the importance of sight alignment and sight picture.

Most people skip follow through and quickly look at their target to see how they did. They usually shoot low, and then wonder why. If you know what your mission is, your body will comply.

8. Recovery

?Recovery is what you do after the shooting is over. Breathing, scanning your environment and returning to sling or your holster are part of it. Working manual safeties may also be a part of recovery. This fundamental can save your life or someone else’s as it is about situational awareness. Know your environment and the potential threat it might present to you. This even includes those around you at the local shooting range.