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Old 10-05-2014, 10:29 AM
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Fundamentals of Marksmanship



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I've been meaning to do some sort of write up on the Fundamentals of Marksmanship. The following is that write up. These are the absolute basics but also the essentials and the foundation upon which all good marksmen are built. If anyone has anything to add, please do. This is just to serve as a guideline for the beginners who have questions on their shooting positions, trigger control, etc. These are all things that the shooter can practice in his or her home and at the range. Hope this helps some of you out.
Elements of a Good Shooting Position:
a) BONE SUPPORT
1. The weight of the weapon should be supported by bone rather than muscle because muscle fatigues whereas bones do not.
2. The shooter must establish a strong foundation for his rifle by utilizing bone support. This will enable the shooter to relax as much as possible while minimizing the movement of the weapon due to muscle tension.
b) MUSCULAR RELAXATION
1. Muscular relaxation helps the shooter hold steady and increase the accuracy of his aim. Muscular relaxation allows the shooter to use maximum bone support which creates a minimum arc of movement and consistency in resistance to recoil.
2. There is no way the shooter can have muscular relaxation without bone support. During the shooting process, the muscles of the body should be relaxed as much as possible.
Muscles that are tense will cause excessive movement of the rifle, thereby disturbing the aim. When proper bone support and muscular relaxation are not applied, the rifle will
Never settle into an aiming point, thereby making it impossible for the shooter to apply trigger control to deliver a well-aimed shot.
3. Only through PRACTICE and achieving a natural point of aim will the shooter be able to apply proper muscular relaxation.
c) NATURAL POINT OF AIM
1. The point at which the rifle naturally rests in relation to the target when the shooter is completely relaxed.
2. Once the shooter is in position and aimed in on target, the method for checking NPA is for the shooter to close his eyes, take a couple of breaths, and relax as much as possible.
Upon opening his eyes, the scopes crosshairs should be positioned at the shooters desired aiming point.
3. Since the rifle now becomes an extension of the shooters body, it is necessary to adjust the position until the rifle rest naturally at the preferred aiming point on the target.
4. Once the natural point of aim has been determined, the shooter must hold his position in relation to the target to maintain his natural point of aim. In all shooting positions the NPA can be checked and readjusted periodically.
FACTORS COMMON TO ALL SHOOTING POSITIONS
These factors are common to supported and unsupported shooting positions. They involve building a SOLID foundation from which the rifle can be fired. Once the shooter is satisfied with the stability of a position, it should not change except for minor variations to accommodate different typed of supports.
a) PLACEMENT OF THE NON-FIRING HAND AND ELBOW.
The exact placement of the non-shooting hand and elbow will depend on the height of the support used. For a very low prone position, the non-shooting hand will grasp the rear sling swivel (rear bag) in a fist or it might lie flat on the deck. The elbow rests comfortably without strain.
b) RIFLE BUTT IN THE POCKET OF THE SHOULDER.
The shooter places the rifle butt firmly into the pocket of his shoulder. The proper placement of the butt helps steady the rifle, prevents CANTING, prevents the rifle butt from slipping in the shoulder during recoil, and lessens the effect of the recoil.
c) GRIP OF THE SHOOTING HAND.
The shooting hand grips the stock firmly, but not rigidly. (A firm handshake hold.) The thumb extends over the small of the stock to enable the shooter to get a good grip. A proper grip permits the trigger to be pressed straight back to the rear without disturbing the aiming process.
d) REAR ELBOW.
The placement of the rear elbow gives balance to the shooters position. Correctly positioned, the elbow helps form the shoulder pocket. The exact location of the elbow varies with each position.
e) STOCK WELD.
The stock weld is the point of firm contact between the shooters cheek and the stock. The firm contact between the head and the rifle enables the head and rifle to recoil as one unit, facilitating rapid recovery between rounds. The stock weld also enables the eye to be positioned the same distance behind the eyepiece (eye relief) of the scope each time the rifle is fired. This guarantees the same field of view with each sight picture, further assisting in accurate aiming.
SUPPORTED POSITION FUNDAMENTALS.
a) Avoid touching any part of the support to the barrel. This will interrupt the barrels natural vibrations, and can throw the round off.
b) Cushion the rifle on the support. This will keep the weapon from sliding around and steady the position.
c) Do not allow the side of the rifle to rest against the support. The rifle will recoil away from the support and can throw the round off.
SCOPE SIGHTING TECHNIQUES
a) Scope shadow.
During aiming, the shooter must ensure that there are no shadows in his field of view. He should see a clear black circle inside the scope. If the eye is to close, too far away, or off to
One side or the other, the shadows will appear. This will throw off shots fired. If a crescent shaped shadow is present, the eye is off center in relation to the scope. The shadow will
Have the effect of pushing the shot fired in the direction opposite of the shadow. The shooter must adjust his position until the shadow disappears.
b) Eye Relief.
Eye relief is defined as the distance the shooters eye must be positioned from the eyepiece lens for the scope to function properly. If proper eye relief is not maintained, recoil may cause the shooter to receive a blow to the head (scope bite, magnum eyebrow, etc.). Eye relief must be consistent for every shot.
c) Sight Picture.
1. Sight picture is the correct placement of the crosshairs on the target for the desired impact. For a correct sight picture, the point of intersection of the crosshairs is placed in the center of the target mass resulting in a quartered target.
2. THE SHOOTERS ATTENTION SHOULD BE ON THIS INTERSECTION OF THE CROSSHAIRS AND NOT THE TARGET. The shooter should focus on the crosshairs without straining his eyes.
Intense concentration will eventually cause the image to blur. If the shooter is having trouble focusing on or seeing the crosshairs, his scope may need to be refocused.
TRIGGER CONTROL
The ability to move the trigger straight to the rear allowing the hammer to fall without disturbing the sights. The shooter should fire the shot exactly when the rifle settles to his aiming point, but it should be a subconscious effort not to disturb the crosshairs. This way, if the shooter can move the trigger without thinking about it (subconsciously), he can concentrate on the crosshairs and getting his round on target.

2 TYPES OF TRIGGER CONTROL
a) Uninterrupted.
This is the preferred method. Once pressure is applied, firing of the shot is completed. The shooter is committed to an unchanging rate of pressure, no speeding up, slowing down or stopping.
b) Interrupted.
This method of control is used in when the rifle will not settle into position, forcing the shooter to fire the shot when the target comes into his aiming point. Also called "timing your shot.” The shooter takes up initial pressure and begins normal trigger control. He then holds his position until he focuses on his crosshairs. He then moves the trigger until the shot breaks. The shooter should not force his rifle by steering it into his aiming point. He should let the rifle move naturally toward and away from the target. If the rifle is moving towards the target, the shooter continuously applies trigger pressure. If the rifle is moving away from the target, the shooter holds his position until the rifle starts drifting back toward his aiming point. He then applies pressure to the trigger. If the shot breaks as the crosshairs are moving towards his aiming point, the shot will normally be inside his call.
FINGER PLACEMENT ON THE TRIGGER.
Finger placement on the trigger is correct when it allows the trigger to be pressed straight to the rear without disturbing the crosshairs. This will vary greatly from shooter to shooter and depends a great deal on the size of the shooters hand and his grip.
Errors in Trigger Control
a) Flinching. The shooters reaction to the anticipation of recoil of the exploding round.
b) Bucking. An attempt by the shooter to take up the recoil just before the rifle fires, by tensing up his shoulder muscles and moving his shoulder forward.
c. Jerking. An attempt by the shooter to make the rifle fire at a certain time by rapidly applying pressure on the trigger and disturbing the alignment of the rifle.
FOLLOW-THROUGH
The continuous application of the fundamentals of marksmanship after the shot has been fired. The shooter shouldn’t shift his position, move his head, or let the muzzle of the rifle drop until a few seconds after the rifle has been fired. Follow-through ensures that there is no undo movement of the rifle until after the shot has been fired. This will also enable the shooter to observe the strive of the round in relation to his aiming point, enabling him, if necessary, to adjust his aiming point and fire a second round.


BREATH CONTROL
a) Natural Respiratory Pause.
The point where the shooter is completely relaxed in his resiratory cycle. The point where the shooter takes a breath and exhales. This is shooters NRP. Normally last just seconds during normal breathing, but can be extended more for some shooters. This is the point at which you want to fire your shot. This pause should last as long as the shooter feels comfortable with it. It depends on the physical condition and the lung capacity of the individual. Obviously, holding your breath longer that what is comfortable will cause a lack of oxygen that can deteriorate vision and affect the shooters ability to focus on the sights.
Techniques for Natural Respiratory Pause.
a) Normal Breathing
The shooter breathes normally, and as he approaches taking the shot, he pauses, gets his point of aim, applies trigger pressure, and takes his shot. It is easier to obtain a good sight picture when breathing stops because the movement in the shooters chest, abdomen, and shoulder stops. This entire shot process takes place during the shooters Natural Respiratory Pause.
b) Decreased Breathing.
As the shooter approaches his shot, he applies his initial trigger pressure and decreases his breathing. He starts getting his aiming point as his breathing decreases to a pause. He can achieve his proper aiming point during shallow breathing because he is not moving as much. He then pauses, obtains a good sight picture, and applies continual pressure to the trigger until the shot breaks.
c) Cardiopulmonary Pause.
As the heart beat is transmitted through the body, it causes a corresponding movement to his rifle. This is particularly apparent in an unsupported shooting position and affects shooting at long ranges. The heart beat is noticeable by the vertical movement of the crosshairs in the scope. To shoot effectively, the shooter should strive to fire the rifle so the trigger breaks at the lull of the heart beat for each shot.
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Old 10-06-2014, 12:30 PM
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A good read. It's always good to refresh ones memory of the basics.

I do not put my trigger thumb over the stock, I let it sit along the stock on the trigger hand size. My trigger hand pushes the stock into my shoulder and cheek, and serves to position my trigger finger at a point where I can get a smooth straight trigger pull.

I put my trigger finger on the trigger at its most sensitive point, which for me is just outside the center of the pad on the finger.

Follow through for me also includes pulling the trigger all the way through until it stops.

A very good start! Perhaps we should move this to a more general shooting forum?
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Old 10-07-2014, 12:05 AM
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Uninterrupted trigger control, is that what I do in the offhand? I just thought I was able to do a controlled jerk (but let's keep that to ourselves, shhh!). And here I just thought I was good...

I see you are a Marine, Semper Fi Bro! 79 to 86 here; M-16A1 days.

It is interesting where we have gone. When did you serve? It is in some ways sad today. Last couple of years I have gotten to know some young Marines, fishing buddies. One a Grunt and one in the Arty. Talking with them about qualifying and the KD course of fire, things have changed. Sad.

Don't recall scopes and fundamentals in marksmanship ever having come up in conversation before, but my looking at the subject seems to be cast in Plaster of Paris like the Dinosaurs.

I will say this about the whole thing, a target trigger in that old A1 would have gone a long way to cutting a rug back in my day!

CC
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Old 10-07-2014, 03:47 AM
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Fortuitous timing of this post. Was on the range today with an old school friend who had recently got into rifle shooting and bought a Tikka in 243 with a 3-9x40 Bushnell scope (same as the scope on my 22lr Brno 2E delux). He hadn't used his Tikka yet so I wanted to assist him with running in the barrel and I took the 2E along with me as it is easier and far cheaper to explain marksmanship concepts with it. We were using bags on the 50m range.

Although I have done it a few times before I was going to ask how other people go about teaching people. Shooter65's post explains in excellent detail a lot of the basics we went through today. The concept of the scope sweet spot (and clear black circle) and the parallex associated with moving head just so slightly is something I end up spending a lot of time on.

He was putting a few shots dead centre of the target rings and then the rest would have a bit of a spread (1 - 1.5 inches OD). His last group was the tightest. I then drove the point home by loading up a clip of 5 shots and asking him to get comfortable and on target before taking his first shot. When he took the shot I asked him NOT to move his head at all relative to the scope and that I would cycle the bolt for him. Told him to take the shot at the original aim point with a careful squeeze and then repeated this till the 5 shots had been made. Target came back and it was more or less a one hole group which I could cover with one of our smallest coins (19mm diameter). Think it was a real eye opener for him and he said he really enjoyed it. Looking forward to heading to the range with him again in the near future.
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Old 10-28-2014, 09:59 AM
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I vote that this should be a "Sticky"
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Old 10-28-2014, 01:03 PM
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https://www.rimfirecentral.com/forums...oting+position

Wrote the above a few years ago when coaching, if it helps someone feel free to take what you can.
Take care,
warren
Ps: had to search position shooting
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Old 10-28-2014, 01:43 PM
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Awesome stuff here...

May I add this one...

http://www.shootingtimes.com/long-gu...s_mark_091306/
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Old 11-26-2014, 11:23 AM
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Very good synopsis.

The importance of sight alignment and trigger control are fairly obvious even to new shooters. Didn't say easy to master, just obvious.

In my experience the importance of Natural Point of Aim is not obvious even to people who have shot casually for a lifetime. When this fundamental is learned, performance improves a lot.

When using a sling correctly for support in sitting and prone the forward support hand can be removed and the rifle still points at the center of the target. Correct use of a sling would be a topic in itself.

It all boils down to: (1) pointing it at the middle, and (2) releasing the trigger so that it is still pointing at the middle when the bullet leaves the muzzle.

Or as Ray Chapman said: "Shooting well is easy. It just isn't simple."

Last edited by NMC_EXP; 11-26-2014 at 11:27 AM. Reason: additional info
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Old 11-26-2014, 11:38 AM
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I read this a month ago when I first saw it. I was (well still am) new to all this.

Re-reading it again today a month later, and it's like reading it for the first time again. My time spent at the range, reading articles and practicing at home really has transformed this post from words that read very well and gave me a place to start... to a month later... being able to read this and say... ahh! that's what I have experienced in that situation, and that is what is causing it!

I guess I'm trying to say.. thanks for posting this and thanks for bumping this one back up to the top. I'm going to go ahead and read it again in another month or so
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Old 11-26-2014, 11:41 AM
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This video may or may not help BUT it's D### enjoyable...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?featur...&v=jIwokYOdpag
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Old 11-26-2014, 04:06 PM
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Great video, easy on the eyes
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Old 12-13-2014, 04:16 AM
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Man, where were all the hot girls shooting when I was growing up?!?

Nice video and information nonetheless.
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Old 01-09-2015, 10:59 AM
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Thank you...like dimner...will be reviewing again...great read...lots of good information here. Breathing and follow-through...yep that is what I need to work on...among other things.
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Old 01-16-2015, 02:08 AM
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Thank you very much!

Helped me review what I am doing correctly and what I still have to work on. Really appreciate this post.

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Old 02-01-2015, 08:04 PM
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Thank you for writing this. I am a long time shooter but am just getting into the target shooting game and am trying to learn technique and how to do the most simple things such as using my sling correctly.
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