The art of shooting is something that once you master, can be a fulfilling life-long skill. Some of us were introduced to firearms as children, others through military or law enforcement training, and still others may have picked up firearms much later in life through friends, or one of hundreds of other possible ways. Despite different backgrounds, most shooters will often struggle with similar issues at some point.
We’re going to look into these 4 common issues and offer some tips to help you in increasing accuracy and consistency when shooting.
Common Shooting Errors That Hurt Your Accuracy
1. Poor Sight Alignment: Be it iron sights or through an optic, if your eye isn’t lined up properly, you’ll struggle to get hits on target in any shooting position. This can be caused by poor eye relief from your chosen aiming device, from your optic being too far forward or rearwards on the upper receiver, or even a butt stock that is too long. It can also be caused by an improper cheek weld on the butt stock, with your eye never indexing on the same position each time you mount the rifle.
2. Rushing Your Shots: This is pretty straight forward. If you’re just hammering that trigger without worry or care of fundamentals like sight alignment, sight picture and trigger control, you’ll see your miss percentage creeping higher - especially as distance to target increases.
3. Anticipating Shots: This is most pronounced at longer distances. As you’re slowly working through the slack on the trigger, you may find yourself flinching when you think the rifle should fire. If this is done just prior to the rifle going bang, the round will hit low on the target or miss altogether.
4. No Follow Through: Often times shooters shooting bench, prone, or other supported positions will pull the trigger, then immediately “pop-up” over their sights and attempt to determine if the round has impacted. Stay on target until the round has impacted the target. Remember the bullet doesn’t leave the barrel instantly. Any motion on the rifle will change the point of impact of the round until it has cleared the barrel.
Tips for Improved Shooting Accuracy and Performance
1. Dry Fire, Dry Fire, and Dry Fire: Dry firing is free and can be done at home. Work on mounting your rifle from various shooting positions to hone in on proper cheek weld, sight alignment and trigger control. Dry firing can be repetitive, but it can create consistency if it’s done often. One can also work on reloads, malfunction clearances and transitions in this manner. Prior to any dry firing exercises, ensure your firearm of choice is unloaded and cleared. Any magazines being used should be empty or filled with training rounds only.
2. Focus on the Fundamentals: Start slowly and make a conscience effort to hit all the wickets of Proper body Positioning, breathing, cheek weld, sight alignment, sight picture and trigger control. As your competence level increases, you’ll be able to pick up your speed in both acquiring and getting effective rounds on that target.
3. Trigger Control: At longer distances, we tend to see rounds all over the target from shooters slapping the trigger when looking to get precision shots. Instead, focus on pulling the trigger steadily rearwards until your rifle fires. After you’ve fired, part of your follow through should include slowly letting the trigger out until you hear the trigger reset with a sound similar to a hollow “thunk”. This allows the trigger to fire again, while no longer having to squeeze through the slack in the trigger. This is especially apparent if you’re running a Mil-spec trigger.
4. Shoot with a buddy: If you’re struggling to get hits or wanting to improve how you run your rifle, have a buddy watch as you go through drills or strings of fire. They can help you identify deficiencies thereby setting up your training plan for the future.
Hardware Upgrades For Better Accuracy
Now I believe that in order to shoot a platform well, one should start with the most basic version and then work up into the “high-speed” versions once the fundamentals are up to par. Once you’ve reached that level here are some things you can upgrade to aid in your endeavors.
1. Free Floating Handguard: As we stated in our article, The Best Handguard And Barrel Length Combinations, a Free Floating Handguard can see improvements in accuracy between .5 MOA to .75 MOA. This upgrade pays huge dividends especially if you shoot from supported positions, or from rail mounted bi-pods.
2. Adjustable Butt Stock: Butt Stock length influences the overall Length of Pull, which is basically the distance between the trigger and the butt of the rifle. This affects how quickly you can mount the rifle, how comfortably you can keep that rifle shouldered, and your eye relief from your optics. All of these can slightly change based on your shooting position. This is why a good adjustable buttstock is vital. Allowing you to adjust the rifle to best fit your needs on a given day or shooting position.
3. Aftermarket Trigger: While the good ol’ Mil-spec trigger will get the job done, it can be a rather harsh trigger compared to some of the aftermarket trigger jobs on the market - be they direct replacements, or drop-in trigger control systems. These are available in a wide array of trigger weights, allowing you to tweak the trigger to fit your needs and shooting level. Most shooters will look to have the trigger pull lightened. This is especially helpful if you’re rifle is a long range platform.
Again hardware isn’t a solution to poor marksmanship, rather a “force multiplier” for a shooter that can already shoot. So get out there and practice and train.
Did I miss anything? Let me know down below which tips you use to increase your accuracy!