Becoming a better rifle man takes practice and knowhow and we can only provide you with the second part of this cocktail. So, read on and learn.
1. Ditch the flinch
For many shooters, “flinching” can cause poor accuracy. This involuntary reaction comes in anticipation of the shot and rifle’s report. This could be anything as small as a flick of the wrist to a jolt as the trigger is pulled. This will invariably lead to poor grouping and will make long-range targets almost impossible to hit.
I witnessed the extent of this issue when working with a rookie rifleman. His safety was on while he taking the shot, so nothing was fired. But, the flinch was still there to rock the rifle and demonstrate the errors of his shooting technique and his incapacity to achieve proper grouping.
The best way to detect the smallest flinches in your technique is to have a friend load a snap cap or “blank” into your magazine. When the trigger is pulled and blank fired, it will be quite obvious to yourself and anyone watching if you have a flinching problem. Snap-caps are a fairly inexpensive ammo and a half dozen will cost about as much as a case of regular ammo –– plus they are reusable.
Being a flincher is not terminal and the condition can be cured. One of the best remedies is opening awareness of this flaw by adding a few blanks to the magazine and surprising yourself by shooting dummy rounds and observing your flinch or lack thereof. Even just retraining your mind by practicing with dummy rounds until your trigger pull is smooth. This is a good way to improve your capacity for long-range shooting with a rifle.
If this doesn’t seem to be doing the trick, you may consider using less powerful ammo or even a smaller caliber rifle, at least at first. If switching your gun for a smaller option is pout of the question, you may consider adding a moderator or muzzle brake to your piece. Any of these suggestions will reduce the recoil and possibly ease your flinch.
Remember that the trigger is to be pulled slowly straight backwards with the pad of your index finger. Don’t use the tip of the finger or the joint section.
2. Pulling the trigger
You may think that after traversing miles of terrain, fording rivers and crawling miles on your belly and finally arriving at a suitable spot for a kill shot that pulling the trigger will be the easiest thing in the world. Yet the slightest unnoticed inconsistencies in pulling the trigger can undo hours of waiting and miles of travelling.
It is essential to take the time to make the perfect shot. Placing any oblique pressure on the trigger or jerking it backwards can throw the rifle’s aim ever so slightly, but in the end this makes all the difference.
Poor trigger technique can easily be detected on the range. This error is typically evident in loose grouping and most often in the lower left quartile of the target –– or the lower right for those with left hand orientation.
If you notice this tendency in your own shooting, either through careful observation or by studying your grouping, pay special attention to the position and movement of your fore-finger as you are taking the shot in practice. This is another place where dry-firing blanks will allow you to observe your technique very carefully and develop a natural and intuitive shooting technique.
For the best results your index finger should be positioned with its top section flat against the trigger, not the very tip of your finger and not too far to the joint. When you are taking the shot, slowly squeeze the trigger directly backwards and along the center path of the rifle –– your finger nail should be completely parallel with the trigger’s face.
If you notice your shots aren’t improving, another thing to try is to reduce the trigger weight. Many shooters, both experienced and beginner, find that releasing some of the lightning the trigger pull can provide a degree of accuracy by requiring less pressure to pull.
Most modern hunting rifles will come complete with adjustable triggers for this purpose, but if you aren’t sure you could visit your local gun shop.
The pulling of the trigger is not the end of the shot, actually it is only the beginning. It is essential that you maintain your position, with the stock against your cheek and your sights on target. Maintaining your proper position until you have seen the shot hit the target is called the follow through.
Proper trigger technique will also come into play here, after the trigger has been pulled and the shot made, you will keep the trigger pulled for a full second. If you are to quickly remove your finger from position after the shot, it will surely affect your accuracy.
Taking the disciplined approach to the follow through avoids a world of bad habits. For example, it is a tendency to lift the head and view the target over the sight. This is a bad idea because it will reduce your chances of making a follow up shot if needs be.