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ACCURACY 101 Or all you need to know to improve your shooting accuracy

It`s never a dull time to “sharpen up” mastered shooting techniques and start preparing yourself for a new hunting season. And however simple and obvious it does sound, but it is always a good idea to start with the “basics”, in order to improve your shooting accuracy and gain professionalism.  So how can you improve your shooting accuracy? If you ask for advice anyone professionally engaged in shooting/hunting business – they would answer, that “accuracy” – is a composite concept of quite a few basic techniques, which need to be mastered.  PODAVACH have closely investigated this question and gathered some best and efficient advises on the subject of ACCURACY.

 

ACQUIRING A STABLE POSITION

No matter what position you`re in – standing, lying or sitting –  you need to get as stable as possible. If you`re lucky enough to be able to be in a prone position, you can place yourself for shooting with a nice support of the rifle – on the bipod legs in the front of it and a sand bag in the back of the rifle, securing its immobility. Bipods are handy, but on different platforms whether you`ll be shooting off the table at your local range or off the ground – the rifle can bounce of the ground differently and give you different results.
 
Second important thing what comes to say about rifle proper placement, is that if you have a bubble level on your rifle – you gotta use it! Before you take a shot or even set up for a shot – glance for a bubble. Because if you don’t - your gun will be tilted off, as you fire it. When you`re on a hill, the rifle can drift right or left impacting the accuracy of the shot. Quickly have a look with a whatever eye, and just make sure the bubble level is perfectly “level”, if not - adjust your or rifle`s position.
 
After you`ve set your rifle stably, it is time to acknowledge the importance of shooter`s personal comfort and proper body-rifle alignment. Everything connected to shooting your gun must be in a system and be REPEATABLE. Your shooting accuracy can be increased by YOU being in a repeatable, stable, and what`s important - comfortable body position, as you have to deal and take those impacts from the recoil: gun goes back, hits the body, and it should NOT make you move off to the side into weird positions. Because if it does, your body misplacement to the sides effects your ability to track the impact of the fired shoot and not allowing you to track it`s direction.
 

Standart prone position: lay the body straight besides your rifle, gun is sitting right in a little pocket of your shoulder. 

 

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Here is a nice tip to get a proper body position whether you`re standing, sitting, kneeling or lie in an ambush. Have someone – your shooting buddy, friend, instructor – “fire corrector” to check out your placement, while you`re shooting, and to take a picture from behind you. Because you might think you`re straight behind the gun, but in the reality, you`re are actually kicked off for a pretty good angle. So, after you`ve analised your mistakes, ask someone for assistance to help you reinforce and correct your body position – to kick off your feet, hands, align your body with a gun, etc.  
 
One more thing regarding shooter`s personal comfort: it might be a good idea to get yourself a “cheek rest shooting pad” to adjust a proper cheek height placement on the rifle, so your head is comfortable and you`re able to look through the scope straightly.
  

SIGHT ALIGNMENT TECHNIQUES

Once you get the most stable platform, in the position you`re are in, you need to worry about sight alignment and sight picture. If you set the scope properly on your rifle, you should be able to rest and relax completely on the rifle in a stable position and be able to look through the scope properly. A lot of people think, that you don’t need a sight alignment with a scope and that it only applies to iron sights. That is just NOT TRUE. Setting the parallax correctly and having a proper sight alignment in a scope – might be the most crucial thing you can do to improve your shooting accuracy, otherwise, your sight alignment could be canted and the reticle could look like it`s on the target, when it is not. 

What is parallax?! Parallax is the error you see when the focal plane of the target and the reticle are not on the same plane, it can be seen when you move your head while looking through the scope and the aim point on the reticle moves around on the target. Reticle needs to be EXACTLY where you want it to be ON THE TARGET.

 

Okey dokey, so how to detect it? First of all, you need to look at the scope`s shadow! When you`re looking through your scope and move your eye off the center – you`ll start to see black spots on one side or the other. Don’t worry - those things are helpful, as they let you know whether you`re looking through the scope straight or not, and you need to make sure you are!  Sighting in or zeroing your rifle means aligning the sights, so that your aim is as accurate as possible. Be sure to take the time to sight in your rifle every year before you head out for a new hunting/training season. 

National Shooting Sport Foundation gave a valuable explanation for how to zero a rifle in an easy two-shot system, that can help you get right on target. 

 

  1. First, use a solid benchrest (shooting from the prone position also works) and sandbags to cradle your rifle, so that it points toward the target naturally. Use additional sandbags to secure it (if needed) so that rifle rests on its own and cannot be easily moved.
  2. On bolt-action rifles, remove the bolt. For AR-style rifles, remove the lower receiver from the upper receiver (the barrel assembly) entirely and lay the upper receiver in the sandbags. Remove both scope turret covers and place them in a safe spot.
  3. If you have a large target (like a big cardboard box with a quarter-sized bullseye drawn in the middle) – place it at 25 yards. Look through the barrel and get the bullseye centered as precisely as you can in the bore, then lock the gun in position with the sandbags.
  4. While keeping the rifle perfectly still and looking through the scope, rotate the elevation turret (up/down) until the crosshairs are on the same level vertically as the bullseye (bullseye aligned in the center of the bore). If you have a helper, have that person make the adjustments, as you look through the scope. Tell your “fire corrector” how more “clicks” to make with the elevation adjuster until the crosshairs are moved close to the bullseye. Then repeat the process for the windage dial until the crosshair is directly on the bullseye. If the rifle moves while doing this, re-center it on the bullseye and then check the scope again. Crosshairs should be close to the bullseye, but if they’re not, that’s OK— that is why we are doing this procedure in the first place – to align them. Replace the bolt (or reassemble the rifle if it’s an AR) and TAKE A FIRST SHOOT at the bullseye. If your bullet lands somewhere on the target and you can see the hit - it is time to back up and begin zeroing process, as you are now “bore sighted”.

  1. Once you’ve taken the first shot, get your crosshairs right back exactly on the bullseye without moving the rifle to any direction. And as I have mentioned before a few times, it`s good to have a buddy that would proofread your shooting, and particularly now having someone around to help set the rifle`s aim properly would be quite helpful.

 

So, explain to your friend/instructor the picture of the shot you seeing in the scope and guide him/her verbally with the directions to make clicks/adjustments on the scope elevation and windage regulator, so the crosshairs of your scope will be set right on the bullet hole you’ve just made on the training target.

Now you have that scope crosshairs perfectly centered on the bullet hole. Its time now to take the second shot.

 

  1. So, TAKE THE SECOND SHOT right on the bullseye and you will be surprised – this shot is going to hit the mark right in the center. This is all there is to the two shot system, use it!

 

 

Although, sometimes it can be difficult to focus between the target and the reticle even with the parallax adjusted properly. In that case, professionals recommend you focus only on the reticle – reticle is something you can control and take care off. Focus on a crisp clear reticle in a stable platform, and all there is left regarding improving rifle accuracy – is trigger control.

  

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TRIGGER CONTROL DRILLS 

Now trigger control. It is pretty straightforward as long as you think of it, as a continuous process, and not just one thing that happens. To give a visual example – imagine you drawing a line in a dirt. To do it, you have to apply a constant pressure to your finger, as you`re drawing the line straight back. The same analogy with pulling the trigger: you`re in a stable position, lined up with good side alignment, focusing on the reticle and you place the part of your forefinger on the trigger, start that steady build of pressure till the rifle goes off and… continue adding that pressure for a few more seconds – then you can release.  So, as the rifle goes off, continue “to draw that line”, adding some constant pressure to trigger even after the shot was fired. This technique ensures a good follow-through you need for the shot accuracy. That FOLLOW-THROUGH does:

  • ensures that you don’t jerk the trigger in the first place, because it keeps you thinking about steady continuous process;
  • as the trigger breaks, there`s still a little bit that needs to happen in the rifle. Even though everything happens quickly, if you jostle the rifle or let go too soon – you run the risk of bringing a rifle back off the target, as the bullets trying to get out of the rifle.

Apart from everything, getting yourself a “gunpowder afterburner” is a validated tip for increasing shooting accuracy.

In out-of-field conditions to master a decent follow through, practice DRY FIRING! So, firstly, always make sure your GUN IS UNLOADED. Keep in a shooting position as you would, have your proper hand placement on the side, get into the gun and slowly press your trigger. You have to get used to recoiling process. Here is a COOL TIP to make dry firing practice not so boring: take a quarter or a dime, put it on the end of the barrel, get your gun into position and try to execute that trigger, while making sure that quarter/dime does not fall off the back of the barrel.

 

And just keep dry firing... Why? Dry fire practice is going to help you have a proper hand placement and a steady trigger pulling – things that primary affect the accuracy of the shoots you make.

 

TRAINING CONDITIONS 

And the last advices for today will be regarding building fast and effective sight alignment and conditions to put yourself while training for improving your shooting accuracy.

 For an experienced gun owner and a shooter is it clear, as a sunny day, that establishing effective sight alignment FAST – is important. It is “basic”, but when it comes to locking your target really fast, as it is on the move, there won`t be an extra time for you to think about the wright head position, hand placement and gun alignment – all of it must come HABITUALLY and by foremost – PROPERLY. You don’t think how to hold a spoon while eating, right? The same thing with a gun. And there is no better thing to do to establish the proper rifle handling as practice, practice and practice. But while practicing, you gotta GIVE YOURSELF CONDITIONS. Now, what does it mean: it`s not hard just to stand and simply shoot a target – anyone could do it. If you don’t give yourself conditions to train for – are you actually getting better at anything? Accuracy is a such thing, we should always train to higher standards of, but it is also not right to dwell only on accuracy, while bypassing the idea that we need a speed to go along with it. It is as simple as that – fast accuracy will always beat slow accuracy. Yes, time – accuracy - speed are contextual, but the “GOLDEN BALANCE” needs to be found between how fast you shoot and how accurate that is.

For example, set yourself a goal to shoot a certain target at certain distance in a few seconds, than just simply stand and shoot - try to push your speed and have a balance of speed and accuracy. Or give yourself some moving conditions, for ex. running up 50 or 100 meters, getting into a position and taking your shots.  Whatever it the “condition” is – be purposeful, give yourself an objective, identify that one thing that will lead you to becoming a better shooter and focus on it. So, start giving yourself conditions of accuracy, speed, ammo, your gun being set up properly, movement conditions to get better at shooting. Pay attention to those things in particular, push yourself to the next level and you`ll become more accurate shooter faster, if the conditions you giving yourself are realistic and apply. 

 

EYE – TRAINING TECHNIQUES

And lastly, TRAIN YOUR EYES. A good hunter is an accurate shooter with a nicely developed marksmanship, which means you can hit your target accurately and consistently. Experienced shooters/hunters are able to quickly isolate one bird from the whole flock, and hold their attention on to it (the bird) or even concentrate on its beak. Such exercises improve your eyesight, and an eye, like any other muscle – can be trained.  Here are some eye training techniques. Next time when you`re training and, for example, shooting some glass plates – try to concentrate on the edges of the plate, not on the whole thing. Walking along the street or a farm, at a convenient occasion, make a visual 'lead' of a pigeon, crow, goose, while concentrating your attention on their beak area.  

Shooting with both eyes open is also a great eye - training technique. Doug Koenig, a champion shooter, simply explains that shooting with both eyes open gives you a depth of perception and a speed for target to target acquisition. There is nothing wrong with shooting traditionally – closing off one eye and aiming with a dominant one, but when you`re shooting fast-moving targets – it takes a while to refocus. So where does the focus goes? The shot is going to dictate where the vision focuses and it obviously is – on the target.

 Marksmanship is a skill that can be developed and must be maintained. Proper fundamentals, technique and practice will make you a better and accurate shooter, and that is what the Podavach BLOG sincerely wishes for you.

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