Any shooting enthusiast who wants to improve their shooting accuracy should always remember the four fundamentals of basic rifle marksmanship. These skills are taught to new soldiers in the US Army and Marine Corps. In just weeks, inexperienced civilians are transformed into expert marksmen.
It doesn’t matter the optics used, these four fundamentals always apply, and will drastically improve your shooting accuracy. The four fundamentals of marksmanship are:
• a steady position
• proper aim
• controlled breathing
• smooth trigger squeeze
In Hollywood, weapons are fired from a standing position or from the hip. However, this is exactly the opposite way you should shoot. There is a reason why steady position is the first fundamental that new soldiers are taught.
A steady position is also known as a rest. Rests could include a tree branch, car, or anything that doesn’t move. This allows the shooter to solely focus on the target instead of worrying about holding their weapon in place too. You could do everything right, but without a steady position, it is very difficult to have consistent shooting accuracy.
This marksmanship fundamental includes all optics no matter if it is iron sights, red dot, or a rifle scope. The principle is to seek the same sight picture regardless of the optics used. Therefore, if the shooter is using a rifle scope or red dot optic, they will practice placing their eye the same distance from the scope every time ensuring the sight picture is consistent.
This fundamental also includes eye focus and tiredness. New shooters usually close one eye when aiming. This causes rapid eye fatigue, and the sight picture becomes blurry. It is better to open both eyes and practice focusing on the target with the dominant.
This particular shooting fundamental just takes practice. New shooters have a habit of holding their breath. It is far better to breathe through the trigger squeeze during the natural pause between breaths. Many new soldiers find this is the hardest of the four fundamentals to master, but the more they practice the easier it becomes and makes a significant difference in their accuracy.
This last fundamental is very important. The new shooter can get everything else correct, but in the moment of truth, if they jerk the trigger, the shot will pull left or right. As a rule, a controlled steady squeeze using the front of the finger between the first joint and the end of the finger is best.
How to Know What to Work on
First, use paper targets to know where the shots are landing. If the shots are all over the place most likely the problem is steady position and proper aim. Once the shooter has a decent shot cluster if the outliers are above or below the shot group the issue is breathing. If the outliers are left or right of the shot group, then the problem lies with trigger squeeze.
Follow the four fundamentals and you will improve your shooting accuracy.