Expert marksmen who have been instructing students in the use of firearms constantly reinforce the principles of marksmanship. These principles are pretty basic, really.
- Sight picture
- Sight alignment
- Bone support
- Trigger control
- Steady position
That position can be either standing, sitting, kneeling, prone, or supported. It doesn’t matter so long as it is a position that affords you a degree of steadiness.
But there’s really not a lot to the basics. Yet, every time we go to the range, we may see a variety of results taking place on those paper targets.
We train how we intend to fight. If you, as a concealed carrier, are completely satisfied with sloppy shot grouping, then this article will bore you. If, however, you want to take your responsiveness up a level, we have three quick points of marksmanship that often get overlooked.
It sounds so simple that we sometimes have to remind ourselves that breathing controls more than just the flow of air entering our lungs. It can have drastic effects on our cognitive mood, our awareness, and even our stability. Learning how to breathe properly for marksmanship is important because during stressful events, our breathing tends to get erratic. Knowing how to control our breathing extends into controlling our bodies’ impulses.
When practicing at the range, practice slow, steady breaths and just watch how your sight alignment and sight picture change depending upon where in the breathing cycle you are in. For your own educational purposes, fire an entire magazine without trying to control your breath. If you notice a natural figure-eight pattern emerge in the shot grouping, this may give you a better idea of how your breath changes where the bullet lands.
Find the part in your breath cycle that produces the most accurate, dependable results, and then aim your breathing to achieve that end. This will help you more consistently put shots in the black.
In all the training videos, we always see concealed carry instructors square off against a potential paper target adversary. In training, this may be good but in actual real life, this isn’t a good idea. Take cover and use your body’s natural strengths to stabilize your shot groups. Propping up an elbow or putting an elbow on a knee can all be simple ways to increase stability. This translates to tighter shot groups.
More importantly, in a self defense situation, your body will likely be shaking. Using bone support and hard surfaces can help you control your body’s autonomic response to stress.
The first pad of your first finger in a clear, straightforward back motion — that’s how people should pull a trigger. Using the middle of the first pad of a trigger finger guarantees a gliding motion straight backwards. Any deviation and the gun’s front sights can be deviated to the left or right. When seconds matter, fractions of an inch can count.
A technique that a lot of marksman use to hone their trigger discipline is the tea cup grip. This is a one-handed grip on the pistol with a supporting hand underneath the magazine well. The supporting hand is just there to stabilize the weight of the gun but the primary hand is the one pulling the trigger and controlling the gun.
The reason why this technique is so useful is because it reinforces proper trigger discipline. Firing one-handed, you should be able to see how your trigger finger pulls — either to the left or the right — and correct accordingly.
It takes practice to break bad habits and develop new ones. Don’t get down on yourself for bad results at the range. Buckle down and refine the basics.