So, what are You bringing to the equation?
Accuracy can be considered as the sum of a very simple equation broken down into three broad categories. These categories include the inherent accuracy of your rifle, environmental factors and you. Are you a net positive in the equation or a net negative?
The degree to which you are a positive or negative influence in the equation depends upon how much you apply the Marksmanship Principles. Imagine if you had your Marksmanship Rifle mounted to a bench and were firing in a 100 yard indoor climate controlled tunnel. Now imagine that the Firing Mechanism for the trigger never varied. Once the Marksmanhip Rifle was aligned with the target you could shoot groups so tight that a 50 cent piece could be placed over them. That is about a 1” group at 100 yards. In this scenario, all the elements of Marksmanship Accuracy are controlled for as well as possible. Ammunition manufacturers actually test their ammo under these conditions and have established acceptable levels of Marksmanship Accuracy.
Considering that we are not bench mounted vice grips, we have to develop skills to be as stable as possible to achieve as much accuracy as possible from our rifles. The elements to Improve Rifle Accuracy are: natural point of aim, sight alignment, sight picture, breath control, trigger control and follow through. These are the internal factors that are directly under your control when shooting. The external or environmental factors are not directly under your control. You must be aware of them and you can compensate for them, to a degree, but you can not control them.
The purpose of this Hunter’s Rifle Marksmanship series is to focus on the internal factors to Improve Rifle Accuracy. Although, you must understand the capabilities of your Rifle and Rifle Sights, and I would be happy to help you individually, there is just too much variability that I can not possibly cover everything. I will touch on the understanding of Maximum Effective Range. We will also cover the environmental factors and how to compensate for them. However, the main focus is on You in the equation. I want to leave you this week with something to think about and practice.
Natural point of aim is a critical concept to master as a marksman. If you find that you shake when you are trying to hold your sights on target then you are not employing natural point of aim. For every shooter there is a comfortable relaxed position that the Rifle wants to rest. You just have to find it. Once you know how and have practiced it extensively, it will become second nature to go to it. Almost like its natural. Here’s how:
Choose from some basic Rifle Shooting Positions. I recommend Prone Shooting Position to start. Practice on a comfortable floor like carpet or a mat. Place a mark on the wall that will represent the size of your target at 100 yards. It can be a black dot, but why not make it fun and put up a picture of a Bugling Rocky Mountain Elk. Now take up your firing position and sight in on your target. Don’t worry if you are wobbling all over the place and the sights are jumping everywhere. Now take a deep inhale and close your eyes. Slowly exhale and allow every muscle in your body to relax (this might actually take some practice). When you reach your full relaxed exhale open your eyes. Observe where your Rifle is pointing now. Now this is the key to it all. DO NOT muscle your sights back on target. Gently scootch your body keeping it in the same relaxed state to place the sights back on target. Now repeat the process. You may already realize that the sights are not jumping as much and that your body is more relaxed. Now repeat the process again and again until the sights rest comfortably without any muscle effort. This is your natural point of aim. Practice it over and over in all different Rifle Shooting Positions. These are the Beginning Shooting Marksmanship Drills of what the Marine Corps calls “snapping in”. This kind of “grass work” will build into a Basic Marksmanship practice that will Improve Rifle Accuracy beyond your imagination. What kind of accuracy am I talking about? Well consider that a basic Marine with a Marksman qualification (the lowest level of rifle qualification) can hit a man sized target consistently at 500 yards with open sights!!!