Marksmanship is a fundamental skill – for both hunting and recreational shooting. According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, “Marksmanship is one of the most important skills that every hunter should develop and work toward improvement over an entire lifetime.” Novice and experienced hunters can equally benefit from brushing up on their accuracy and precision through ongoing practice. On top of practice, it’s important to become acquainted with a quality rifle. Even those looking to buy a rifle, but don’t quite have enough money on hand to purchase, can look into the many options for firearms financing.
Good marksmanship is the result of a multitude of factors, but the top three are proper sight adjustment or patterning, proper shooting technique and practice. To start – aim is dependent on proper sight alignment, as it helps reduce the risk for angular error. The process aligns the rear and front sights onto the target, producing the sight picture. It’s essential to sight-in your rifle in order for the bullet to hit the target. In the process, ensure that you are using your dominant eye for precision.
As far as proper shooting technique, steadiness is key. This is achieved by holding the weapon the exact same way for each shot, as if the rifle is a non-movable part of your body once it is mounted in your shoulder pocket. Novice-level shooters are taught the supported prone position – or laying on stomach with a backpack or sandbag supporting the weight of the rifle – as it is the most stable. The next most stable position is the supported sitting position, but many practice this position unsupported as well. Kneeling and standing positions are also popular – but far less steady since the shooter is higher from the ground. Standing shooters can use trees, rocks, long bipods or tripods for extra support. Once the shooter assumes the stance, they should feel comfortable enough to remain steady without undue physical effort. Many hunters also believe that breathing control is important, and that the shot should be made during the pause after exhalation, though not all hunters agree on this.
Finally, the third and perhaps the most important component to marksmanship is practice. The above tips and techniques are useless if you don’t apply them in real life. When practicing, ensure that you practice from each position. If you always practice from a supported standing position at the shooting range, it may not translate when you are in the prone position in the woods. If there is a stance you plan on utilizing, you should be practicing each one at length. Also, make sure that you thoroughly understand your weapon and know how to produce edge-to-edge clarity on your target. Colorado Parks and Wildlife explains that “using reactive targets that are sized similarly to the vital area of the animal you like to hunt will help you make the most of your practice.” While rifle-rated steel targets are considered the best, paper targets are sufficient.
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