Whether shooting pheasant, Pigeon, hare or rabbit, certain techniques can help you steady your aim and make that shot. Some people seem to be naturally gifted when they shoot, whereas others consistently struggle. Most of us are somewhere in between. No matter where you fit in, there are methods and practices that can help you. The following techniques are tried and tested, and while they are not an exhaustive list of tips, they will provide the basics of getting away a good, aimed shot, and just as importantly a consistent shot.
Body position and grip.
Whether you’re lying down in a hide or standing up in the open, your body position must be correct. When lying down try to keep a line going from the end of the barrel all the way through to your feet. This will give you a secure base. Recoil should then travel backwards, and be absorbed through you. Higher calibre rifles can push you backwards, and having a secure position will keep your shots consistent throughout. Your grip or hold should be firm but not excessively so. An oxymoronic maxim is “firm but loose”. You should hold on to the rifle but only enough to control it. Too firm a grip will result in stress on your muscles and thus a bad shot.
Natural aim and physical effort.
Any contorted bodily position soon becomes uncomfortable, and if it is held for even just a short while, you’ll find that your muscles start to shake. This is called a stress position, and it will make steady aiming almost impossible. Try to find a natural way of positioning your body that allows you to hold your rifle without putting that stress on your muscles. When lying down find something to rest your rifle on, and move your body around until you find yourself most comfortable. When standing, keep your body compact and distribute the weight of the rifle as evenly as you can. Staying in the aiming position while standing can be difficult after only a short time, so adopt the aiming position only when you need to. Once your position is correct, the rifle should point naturally at the target without your having to force it to do so. The more you hold your rifle the more your body will get used to it. Your muscles will build up, and your hold will become easier. Practice and time with the rifle will certainly help here.
Alignment and picture.
Once you take aim there are a couple of factors that you should take into account if your shot is going to go where you want it to. These are the alignment of the sight, and the sight picture.
As you look over a normal rifle or shotgun, there are four things that need to line up correctly; when looking through and optical sight there are three.
To avoid confusion; in this case we will look at a normal rifle or shotgun without an optical sight. The four things to consider are your eye, the rear-sight, the fore-sight, and the target. If you imagine a line running from your eye, all the way through to the target you will begin to understand the principle of this tip. Once all of them are lined up properly you will have a greater chance of your round, or shot hitting where you want it to. Basically you join yourself, the rifle, and the target together in one straight line.
The picture refers to the image that you see when you look through your sights. The image should be centred so that your target sits neatly in the middle of it. First you imagined the line from your eye to the target; now you make sure the line goes straight through the middle of your sights by centring sight picture.
In the case where the firer is using optical sights, then just remove the reference to foresight and rear sight, and replace it with the single pointer on the optical sight.
The shot and the follow through.
Once the principles above have been put into practice then the next step to consider is the shot. Trigger discipline is important in that one does not simply snatch at the trigger to fire. If a deliberate, aimed shot is taken then the breathing should be slowed down. A couple of natural breaths should be taken to oxygenate the blood, and then the firer should hold their breath and fire; only breathing again a second after the shot has gone.
The finger on the trigger should find the first pressure, and then when ready, the second pressure should be applied, and the shot fired. Once the rifle has fired, the trigger should stay depressed for around a second, and then the trigger should be released. This allows the shot to be followed through smoothly and naturally. Snatching the trigger causes erratic shots, and the recoil of the rifle can disturb the position that the firer has taken.
These are just a few tips to help you to fire a better aimed shot. While there is a lot to consider when it is written out many people will find that they naturally observe most of the principles. Having a checklist of proven principles will allow a firer to analyse their shooting and improve it. Shooting is considered by many to be an art, and whether you shoot game or you shoot for competition, practice certainly makes perfect.