Hunter’s Rifle Marksmanship: Two

Now that you are beginning to develop a sense of natural point of aim I want to slowly introduce more concepts of Marksmanship Training for you to integrate. The next principle is Proper Sight Alignment. However, before we jump right in to that I have to touch on some essential elements of Sight Alignment.

Rather then define Sight Alignment, because it varies depending on the type of sights that you are using, it is better to develop an understanding of the proper way to achieve Sight Alignment. Once Sight Alignment is achieved it must be done the same way every time or the slight variations will cause you to miss variably without a good sense of why. Cheek weld or stock weld is an extremely important concept to Rifle Sight Alignment. The stock weld is your point of contact with the rifle that most determines your alignment with the bore. Remember that the bullet always goes where the bore is pointing.

Once you have established stock weld in a comfortable relaxed position, notice if your eye relief (the distance from your rear sight) allows for a clear consistent perspective of either the front sight post in the rear sight or the Scope Reticle. Failure to reproduce this process every time will lead to inconsistent variations in your accuracy. In other words: Shooter failure!!! The degree of variation might be very minute or the difference between a hit and a miss.

Just a little side note, shooters and hunters tend to love Rifle Gear. Hey, so do I, but I often see shooters with every gimmick and accessory imaginable. The sad thing is that they still can’t understand why they can’t shoot tight groups. Gear and gimmicks will never substitute for solid Marksmanship Training fundamentals. So how do you decide if a piece of Innovative Hunting Equipment is helpful? Well, it is a very simple question:  Does it help me apply the principles of Hunter’s Rifle Marksmanship?

Let’s take stock weld for example. There are really nice cheek pads that can be attached to your stock. They look cool. They are adjustable. They are comfortable. Do you need one? If you look back at my natural Point of Aim exercise and you struggled or held muscle tension in your face or neck in order to view the sights, even after full relaxation. Then you could benefit from a cheek pad to allow for that truly relaxed natural Point of Aim. If you can achieve a fully relaxed position and visualize your sights without holding muscle tension then a cheek pad is an unnecessary piece of equipment. Apply this question to every accessory and you will not spend good money on equipment that will not help you Improve Rifle Accuracy.

Once you have obtained Proper Sight Alignment for your rifle or optics you must maintain it throughout the rest of the firing process. Failure to maintain Sight Alignment means a miss!!!

The next step in the process is Shooting Sight Picture. Shooting Sight Picture is the placement of properly aligned sights on the target. During Sight Alignment, the proper focus is either on the front sight post or the center of the Scope Reticle. You should have a strong clear focus. That means everything else is softly blurry. When you place the sights on the target you must maintain the hard focus on the sights. The natural inclination is to change your focus from the sights to the target so that the target is in focus and the sights are blurry. This is wrong!!! The target must be softly blurry and the sights in strong focus. Otherwise, you will lose Sight Alignment. This is critical. This is where most shooters develop consistent error. They are not aware that they are switching focus.

At this point I want you to continue the natural Point of Aim exercise with Sight Alignment and Shooting Sight Picture as your main focus. Make sure that you achieve full relaxation without muscle support first, then concentrate on your sights.

Practice, practice, practice and then after you practice some more we will add breath and Rifle Trigger control. We are almost ready to fire!!! Keep it up. I look forward to your feedback and questions.

Sage Peak Outfitters offers Mule Deer Hunting Trips and Ranch Elk Hunts during rifle season in Montana.  Contact Us for any information.  We’re happy to talk hunting!

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