Tips for Good Shooting - I

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Tips for Good Shooting - I

Post by TenX » Sat Jan 31, 2009 4:14 pm

Here are some tips and information of five basic topics for good sports shooting. The below will cover important aspects like
1. Breathing Technique and Rhythm
2. Aiming - target sighting
3. Body muscle/mass
4. Trigger operation
5. Follow Thru

Let us now cover these points in detail.

1. Breathing Technique and Rhythm

Getting in line:
When in position, assuming all other variables to be consistent, when you breathe in and breathe out, the target aim should shift down and up, respectively (6 'O Clock when you breathe out, and 12 'O Clock when you breathe in). When you breathe in, the aim should go vertically down, and when you breathe out, it should shift vertically up. Breathe slowly and check this out. If this does not happen, you will have to ensure that the butt is sitting firmly on your shoulder, that you are having a proper grip on the rifle (not too tight, not too lose), use of sling is not very tight, and weight of most of the body should be on the left elbow (For a right handed shooter - one who pulls the trigger with his right hand). Correct all these variables and you will have a proper breathing-rifle motion. This is quintessential for good shooting.

Getting the Rhythm:
Now that you have the technique right, you will have to develop a rhythm. For this, get into the natural position without concentrating on the target, but positioning yourself in a general line of the target. Close your eyes and breathe in a few times, ensuring that none of your muscle groups are held very tight. Now open your eyes and see where you are aiming. If you are aiming left, move your waist to the right and vice-versa. If you are aiming up, move your waist forward and vice-versa. These movements should be done without changing your elbow or any other body position (NOTE: The elbow position should be a constabt thru out the match. If at all it moves, it could get a little dirty on the sheet). Everytime you make a waist adjustment, close your eyes, breathe in and out a few times and double check if you have the right line of aim.

Once this is done, you will have to develop a proper timing and constant proceedure of breathing. Here is a good one, that works for most people. Breathe in and out once in a general breathing pace. Do it again in a slower pace. Do it the third time, in an even slower pace. The challenge is to notice where exactly your aim is passing the target and be able to immediately hold your breath without any change to the aim. The third or probably the fourth time, you will notice that you are inhaling and exhaling lesser. This is good. It means that your body is not 'excited' and your breathing is in control. What you should now be doing is to breathe as slowly as possible, and hold your breath when you think you have the right aim, and the released shot will puncture the absolute middle of the target.

You should always hold your breath in the same direction. That is, if you feel you have better control when you are breathing out (which is most suited), then everytime, you have to breathe in (the fourth time), and slooowwwwly breathe out until you get the proper aim. For some people, breathing in gives better control. But whatever way you adapt, you have to use the same rhythm everytime... EVERYTIME. Every shot should have the same breathing technique and rhythm. This will also give you a proper timing for every shot, which adds to having the overall rhythm, which is much needed in a match.
Mostly, this should suffice for a good grouping.

2. Aiming - target sighting

What is aiming:
Aiming constitutes to a much larger part then what the word seems to convey. Relatively, to shooting, especially the rifle events, what a shooter needs to do, is consistently get the same tight grouping on the target. By adjusting personal and other rifle/equipment variables, one can get this group to the center, and have a high score. To do this, one usually follows two types of aiming - the Open and the Peep sight. Most shooters know what the diference between the two is. But for those who have any doubts, the next sections will explain. Apart from understanding what these types of sighting are, one has to know well, where the line of focus has to travel, where the focus has to rest (while taking the shot), what the Picture should be, how youe Eyes should be, and how to ensure all this is a Constant.

Peep Sight:
Like in most rifles, one has a fore sight (at the tip of the barrel) and a rear sight (just after the bolt action area). The rear sight and foresight adds up to be the markers of the rifle barrel. And both these will essentially be a pair of rings, thru which one sights the target. Therefore, the shooter will have to get the two rings (Or the rear/foresight) in a concentric manner and in line with the target. So the shooter will be able to see the rear sight ring, within which, the foresight ring is seen, exactly in the center, and within that, the target is seen, again in the center. Any slight variation to this concentric line will change the placing of the shot.

Open Sight:
Of the more common sighting methods, the Open sight comprises of a Rear sight - the one that sits with the 'V' closer to the shooters eye, and a Fore-sight - the one that sits with the '|' on the tip of the barrel. No adjustments can be made, generally, for the fore-sight, unless there is a huge variation and the foresight needs to be filed. Essentially, the shooter has to get the rear sight and the foresight, in alignment to the target. What is most frequently and successfully used is to have the tip of the foresight in line with the top of the rear sight notch. This will result in something like \|/, where \/ is the rear sight notch, and | is the fore sight tip. One must be sure that an imaginery line drawn from the top ends of the notches touches the tip of the foresight. Some thing like


Where does the target come in?
... Well, now that the sighting concept is clear, lets get on to placing (aiming) the open sights to the target. For different targets, different shooters have a different place on the target to aim. Some shooters aim at the center of a target, while most aim at the bottom edge of the target. But what suits one's vision is something that the shooter will have to find out thru means of checking and experimenting. Here are a few tried methods with what needs to be kept in mind.


You will see there are 4 types of aiming detailed above.

(1) This is usually not advised for target shooting, as you will see that the foresight kinda gets lost when its against the background of the black bull. Since you can only make out the bull as a black dot, if a shooter tries to get the sight alignment inside the bull, all will be lost.

(2) Here, we discuss the sights just below the bull, at its exact base. This is usually pretty inconsistent and the shooter may never actually aim at the exact base of the target. As shown in the diagram, what happens in most cases is that, owing to the focussing of the eyes and how the contrasting is understood by the mind, the bottom portion of the bull sometimes vanishes. This is not only inconsistent, but will render the shooter incapable of giving the right judgement. What the shooter thinks is the exact base at 6 'O Clock, may not exactly be so.Any small varation at this will give the shooter shots varying in the vertical line. Therefore, this kind of aiming can be avoided.

(3) Here, we see an aiming which is pretty much down the bull. This is also not advised as small variations in the gaps will go unnoticed. This level of accuracy is seldom got.

(4) This is so far the best method, wherein the shooter keeps something like the absolute minimum distance between the tip of the foresight and the base of the bull. The best way to judge this would be to slowly move the aim in the vertical line of the bull, and notice the change in how the perception of the bull varies. The shooter should get to aiming at just below the base of the black dot, in such a way that any more up and the target diminishes, and any more down shows a larger gap then usual. How much ever I try to explain this here in words, one will get the idea only after trying it out a few times. In certain cases, as I have discussed with several other shooters, the right distance just below the bull, will also reveal an interesting whiter halo around the base. Somehow, this makes the foresight tip show up more prominent. I guess this is because the foresight is completely out of the black back ground (target), but just below, so that the contrast makes the gap kinda shine more. Sometimes, I think this could also happen because of one of light's properties - bending around the corner. Whatever it may be, if a shooter observes closely, and tries this out well, it will greatly improve his/her grouping. The correct distance between the base of the bull and the sights will surely stop any spread in the vertical line of firing.

Ensure that the rear sight groove and the fore sight strip are black and dull. If not, any shining part may reflect light and mar your aiming.

Lets now discuss the other important aspects.

The Eyes
You must be aware that the eyes, functioning together, renders a 3-D effect to human vision. If one sees only with a single eye, the depth of vision is lost. In shooting, loss of this depth can be used as an advantage. Without depth, the aiming of the backsight, foresight and the target can actually be independently focussed a little faster. Having known this, the next fact about our eyes are that both the eyes, together and in tandem, pass on information of what it sees to the brain. The brain converts this signal into making us know what we are seeing. Now, if a shooter blinds the non-shooting eye, there will be less or no light entering the non-shooting eye, and normal light entering the shooting eye, which is open and not closed. Because of this indifference, the brain may receive imbalanced signals, which may actually make our own sighting a problem - it can become difficult with time, or may not be exact.

To avoid this inbalanced behavior, the shooter must mostly use a translucent blind. This will allow as much light to pass thru the non-shooting eye as possible, and yet help in concentrating with only the shooting eye. The ideal blind would be one that is exactly in line with the non-shooting eye and only the target. If you use your right eye to shoot, put on a blinder made of white thick translucent plastic, and place it about an inch away from your eye, such that a lot of light can pass. Also, ensure you have a blinder which is small enough to block only the target. This will not only let in equal light into both eyes, but your vision in all other angles other than sighting the target will also be fine. That way, you can even use the non-shooting eye to view thru the scope, etc.

The eyes, develop fatigue over a period of time, especially when the blood is not in its completely charged state of nutrition. Sometimes, focussing only on the target and sights will strain the eye, sans the complete movement of the eyeball. This may not only reduce blood supply to the eye, weakning the eye muscles, but will also lead to another 'brainy' phenomenon. The brain, which is omni-intelligent, is sometimes smarter than you think (What an infinite loop of a thought this must be!). It runs your heart all your life, without your consent, alongwith several other non-voluntary activities. A similar non-voluntary thing happens in shooting. When you keep seeing an image very often, and when the eyes get a little undernourished to take the strain, the brain may receive weaker signals, but it is smart in using its memory to make up for what you dont see. Sometimes, you may even think you are seeing a proper (if not clear) target picture, when you are actually not. To avoid these problems, I would advise a shooter to blink a lot. One should also take the focus away from the target, once in a while, and see far off green stuff, like trees, to relax the eyes. It is also a good idea to close your eyes, when you are doing routine things, like during the one second of closing the bolt and taking up your position, just after you reloaded. This will give your eyes a bit of relaxation, and also let you concentrate on your body position, so that you can feel it better without distractions from an open vision.

Line of Focus
The line of Focus, in here, is about how and where the eyes should focus while taking a shot. As you know, the eyes can focus on only one distinct selection - the rear sight, the fore sight or the target. When you focus on any one of them, the other two fall into a 'no-focus' vision. This is unavoidable. If you dont agree and feel you can focus on more than one of them, then its time to get your eyes checked ;)

Having said this, have you ever wondered what you should be focussing on, while taking the shot. If you focus on the sights and the target becomes a blur, you may feel you are unsure about your aim. If its the other way round, any changes in the sights itself may go unnoticed. What I would advise is this. When you are moving the sights up and down the target with controlled breathing, try to focus only on the target. You should begin with focussing on the rear sight, move focus to the fore sight, aligning it, and then rest the focus on the target. Mind you, this is done while you are still in the initial breathing rhythm. Now, as you get to the exact 'below-base' of the target, as explained above, you will start to hold your breath and ensure that you are now ready to take the shot. Just after this, I would recommend that you bring back your focus to the foresight, then to the rear sight, then back to the foresight, then further away to the target, and then back to the foresight. Now is the time to take the shot - while your focus is on the foresight. Any changes in vision in the sight focus area makes greater changes in the line of the bullet. So, its better to have the focus at the foresight. Since the rear sight is a little larger, and chances of the rear sight moving away from proper aiming is lesser, focusing on the fore sight is the way to go. Hold this focus while you start to squeeze on the trigger. (I have explained trigger operation in another post, and some details below). Ensure your focus remains on the foresight, even as you follow thru. I suggest a shooter writes this down, memorizes it, keeps the checklist next to him, reads it before every shot. Once you make this a standard protocol, it will get induced into your shooting rhythm, seem less confusing, and get better results.

The Picture
Take the picture!
If you get a perfect shot, a Ten-X, that means you aimed well, and shot well. Now, all you have to do, is repeat the same another 59 times in a row :)

Getting about doing that, requires control of over 120 variables for the Prone position, several more for other positions. One of the important things is to get the right picture in your sights. This picture, is essentially a well balanced sight aligned to the target. See this picture, know it, and thrive on it. Make this picture a constant cross-checking proceedure in your mind. You should adapt to this picture so well that any change in what you are seeing and what you should be seeing, should be noticed by you. I am talking extreme concentration here. If you were to take a snapshot of the right aim (like in (4) above), every time you get to aim, you should want to see only this picture. Thats what it takes to get the right level of consistency for great shooting.

The Constant
From the above topics of Sighting, aiming, eye-ing and focus, you should dedicate good concentration to make all this work seamlessly well, and also ensure it is the same for every shot. As complicated as it sounds, that is what we do, and that is the best way to get a good score and grouping.

3. Body muscle/mass
The Human body and its glorious muscle groups are a great creation of nature. All of them work hand in hand to create the excellence that we all thrive to achive. Co-ordination in split milli-second accuracy, combined with an infinite gear system to deliver exact proportions of muscle-power and pressure, bring about a fantastic machine that converts chemical circuitry of thoughts into motored reflexes and actions. yet, most of these muscles are extremely minute and capable of pin-point accuracy. There are some muscles in your palm, which are thinner than your hair. The wonderful nerves, and so much of it, that you have, can deliver impulses and messages back and forth to the brain in lightning speeds. The nerves in a human, when spread out, is long enough to go around the world twice. Now this marvel of a network requires greater balance and control to get about doing what it needs to. All these muscles depend a lot on oxygen to keep going, apart from much nutrition that the blood supplies.

These muscles, in the event of shooting, take abnormal strains and imbalanced movements. A shooters body is certainly in an unnatural position, with varying pressures and strain on different muscle groups. This tends to develop improper blood supply to some mucle groups, which may result in fatigue. Sometimes, some muscle groups become tensed without your knowledge. If you shoot a series of tens, your neck and face muscles may become more alert than required, leading to a change in your stance. This stance is an extreme necessity to be kept a constant all thru your match. It is advisable to close your eyes and consciously feel your body before every shot. Always advocate necessary measures to lighten up your tensed muscle groups. You dont know what one wrongly tensed muscle can do to your shot. It may suddenly relax soon after the shot, and spoil your follow through. It may make you grip some part of the rifle tighter than required, adding extra pressure in an unwanted angle; it may wear out and lessen in stamina before the match gets over....

For some people, excess mass in muscle may drain out the oxygen in their blood faster, making them feel the strain and fatigue earlier. Others may have trouble in overall agility and stretching of the body, which may be required to comfortably suit different postures that shooting requires. An Air-rifle shooter tends to move his/her back in an angle away from the body's normal line of center of gravity, thus compressing one part of the back, while pulling another. Such imbalances require the muscles to be hardy enough to take the posture effortless and also have the required stamina to endure the match. One has to dedicate a lot of time into adapting the body to match the required stance. When you go to sleep, sleep like you are in position for a Prone match. When you watch TV, take the kneeling position... what you will essentially be doing, is getting your body to adapt to this inconsistent level of shooting stances.

Next, it is important to ensure that your frame of mind and your body energy levels are right. Never shoot in a bad frame of mind. If you are too happy or sad, or even plain angry, your shooting may get inconsistent. Ensure that you practice a constant, balanced and proper frame of mind while shooting. Meditation may help some, music for others. But find out what is required to balance your mind and put it in the right frame for a great score.

Blood nutrition will also matter. If you are tired or excessively charged up, your shooting constant will vary and so will your groups/score. Sometimes, over eating will result in improper blood supply and tire muscles. Some other times, even coffee may get to slightly increase your heart beat and mar your shots. One should observe what you eat, how much before shooting, etc., to get into the right consistency. I have even heard of shooters blame a lost match on bad traffic while on the way to the range. Know your limits, know yourself, and always ensure you are in your best required form - physically and mentally.

4. Trigger operation
One of the most essential procedures of shooting in H.A.T. (Holding-Aiming-Trigger Operation), is how one squeezes the trigger and lets the bullet fly out to the bull. In a short and sweet way, you should be holding the grip of the butt of the rifle just sufficiently and only with your thumb and the last three fingers. At any given point of time, your fore finger should be free from any movement of any other finger. This fore finger, which is the one that you place on the trigger, should always rest the same part of the trigger and always at the same place on your fore finger. Close your eyes, and feel where you place your finger on the trigger. Feel the point of contact and always ensure it the same for each and every shot. When you take the shot, you should never jerk the trigger even in the minutest way. One must squeeze the trigger, that is, slowly apply and keep on applying pressure on the trigger to take the first pull and consecutively, the second and final pull. The squeeze should be such that the shooter should not be able to determine when the shot was fired. The gradual pressure on the trigger will enforce this, and also provide the exact amount of pressure required to take the shot. And very importantly, the line of trigger pull must be in the exact line of the barrel. Any side pressure to the trigger may make a change in your grouping. When you hold the rifle, practice this with some dry shooting. Close your eyes and place your trigger finger well on the trigger. Open your eyes, and gradually increase pressure on the trigger. Take your time... take atleast a few seconds to complete the first stage. All the while, observe any movement on the rifle, caused by your trigger pressure. If your aim shifts even a little, you will have to correct your trigger operation. Once you think you have the right line and pressure, repeat the same, but in a jerking manner. This will let you know possibilities of the occasional bad shots, otherwise known as 'fliers'. When you jerk, you will notice the change in aim, and the next time, when in a match, if you get a flier in the same area, you know it may be because of loss of complete control on Trigger Operation; you probably 'jerked' the trigger.

Improper trigger methods will surely change the shots. When not in a proper rhythm, a shooter may well provide inconsistent pressures on the trigger, and may even change the position of the forefinger on the trigger - the trigger contact. Such unnoticed variation will effect your shots and may even get you to think something else is wrong. Like I said earlier.. shooting is only about getting a perfect bull once, and repeating it 60 times in a row. You need to get into a quality and excellence that will make you a constant in all aspects of possible variables, thru out the entire match.

5. Follow Thru
The next part after the H.A.T. is the Follow Thru, which is equally important.

Basically, this means that you continue the shooting consistency beyond the shot. This does not simply apply to not changing your position while the bullet/pellet is exiting the barrel. This will provide you with that extra bit of patience and remarkable accuracy that is very much required. When your sights are aligned with the target; when you are comfortable holding your breath; when your body is relaxed, ready to take the shot; when your focus is on the fore-sight; and when you have started to apply pressure on the trigger with your fore-finger, you are in a rhapsody of sorts. There is a mind that is running, and calculating and expecting the shot to pierce the absolute center of the black; there are threads of thought that see you on a podium; and some others that bring about various feelings and emotions of fear or happiness, etc. Despite all this, a large part of your concentration rests on two sights and a target several meters away, ensuring that you get a proper line. You have taken atleast a few seconds to get the shot in place, but somehow, you cant wait to immediately see where it went, just after squeezing the trigger.

Dont you see the disconnect?

It is best to keep your focus on the foresight & keep holding your breath all the time during the trigger operation; and continue the same for atleast a half a second or more after the shot.

When you know that your have taken the second pull of the trigger, and when you see the rifle bounce up or around the point of aim, it will be undergoing a small explosion of the bullet or a release of the spring or compressed air/gas, to hurl a small peice of metal in the direction of your aim. All thru this, retain your stance and frame, and be a willing spectator noticing the reactions that happen to your point of aim. Once the ordeal is over, within a fraction of a second, the rifle will again rest on the target. See where it is now aiming. This is what I call theFollow-Thru Point. One must ensure the recoil and the change (if any) of the aim, after the shot is released, is the same for every shot. That is, you should get the same Follow-Thru-Point for every shot. This is the completion of the Follow Thru. If you make this as part of your rhythm, you will be ensuring that you do the follow thru and also do it correctly, every time.

Now, you may see where it hit, smile, and get back to doing it all over again

All the very best :)
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Post by nagarifle » Sat Jan 31, 2009 5:42 pm

best one yet, you have outdone yourself.

outstanding work

am going to use this for newbie.


if you say it can not be done, then you are right, for you, it can not be done.

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Post by fantumfan2003 » Sat Jan 31, 2009 10:01 pm


Nice, very nice. Make a downloadable pdf doc if possible with pics.


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Post by nm » Sun Feb 01, 2009 2:17 am

EXCELLENT wite-up!!!
Very useful.


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Re: Tips for Good Shooting - I

Post by pkjeetesh » Wed Feb 04, 2009 9:39 am

Good work Tenx...

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Re: Tips for Good Shooting - I

Post by sanjeev.chhabra1978 » Wed Feb 18, 2009 9:21 pm

:agree: :cheers:
pkjeetesh wrote:Good work Tenx...

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Re: Tips for Good Shooting - I

Post by p_sircar » Fri Mar 06, 2009 8:17 pm

Dear Abhijeet,
I can not find the wonderfull writeup.
I saw the article only once, on the night, it was posted.
As you had said earlier, that it will be up dated in the knowledge base, I kept on trying, but to no avail.
I was planning to send it to my son.
Has it been restored yet? Any chance of it being restored in near future
Is there something wrong with my browser?
Thanks for the wonderfull/useful artricle. not only the How to, but the theory behind the method.

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Re: Tips for Good Shooting - I

Post by lazybones » Fri Mar 06, 2009 9:38 pm

I've removed the .pdf I'd posted here earlier. I think it's better to have it on the site itself and to have enthusiasts come to the site and read this classic :) Thanks again TenX.
My pleasure Prabir. Keep the pdf for your personal use and and point all seekers to IFG :)

Last edited by lazybones on Sat Mar 07, 2009 10:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Tips for Good Shooting - I

Post by p_sircar » Sat Mar 07, 2009 11:14 am

Dear Lazybones,
Thanks a lot for your time and effort.
Your kind gesture is apreciated. :D

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Re: Tips for Good Shooting - I

Post by raj » Mon Mar 09, 2009 7:57 am

this write up helped me rule out my errors in 50mtr prone shooting.great information give by Mr.TenX.
thank you sir...

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Re: Tips for Good Shooting - I

Post by Olly » Mon Mar 09, 2009 9:19 am

Very useful tips there.... thanks for posting...


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Re: Tips for Good Shooting - I

Post by dev » Thu Mar 12, 2009 5:50 pm

Excellent work, need to print it out and keep it handy for the practise session. Some time after the c' wealth games...when they will allow peasants back on the range.

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Re: Tips for Good Shooting - I

Post by uznabee » Fri Oct 08, 2010 5:46 pm

Being a new comer in Shooting as well as to this forum, convey my Hello to all its Members. Specially thanks to you for giving valuable tips to the new comers. Hope they will definitely improve their score by following tips given by you. Would like to have more tips in the future too.
Thanks once again.

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Re: Tips for Good Shooting - I

Post by vivekasia » Sun May 08, 2011 11:11 am

Fantastic! Admire the patience and care you took to explain these! :)

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Re: Tips for Good Shooting - I

Post by MoA » Fri Nov 25, 2011 11:13 pm

Concentrate on the foresight, and make sure your sling fits you properly.

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