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Looking to consistently connect way out there with a rifle? Start with this simple step-by-step guide. Then practice—a lot
Hitting your target with a rifle at long range, on the range or in the field, is simply a matter of performing a sequence of steps correctly and in order. Like with any shooting discipline, consistency is the key to success, and the only way to achieve that is to get on the range and burn a lot of lead. So grab your rifle and a bipod, get out there, and practice these 10 steps.
Step 1: Get into the prone position.
A basic premise of rifle shooting is that the closer your rifle is to the ground, the better you’ll shoot. You also want to be straight behind the rifle to minimize and control felt recoil, and to establish a consistent platform for every shot.
Step 2: Dig the bipod legs into the ground.
This helps firm up your platform and allows you to “load” the bipod with shoulder pressure, so that the rifle is supported only by the bipod and your shoulder.
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Step 3: Set the parallax adjustment.
This is imperative when shooting at distance. Don’t trust the range indicators on the dial. Instead, with the rifle solidly supported, move your head side to side behind the rifle and make sure the reticle does not move on the target.
Step 4: Make your elevation correction.
To do this correctly, you will need to know the range to the target and consult your drop table or a ballistics program. Don’t forget to include temperature and elevation, and other related atmospheric and geographic concerns.
Step 5: Make your windage correction.
The factors impacting your elevation adjustment remain reasonably constant, but the wind can—and probably will—shift direction and speed at any moment. That’s why windage is the last correction you make. Wait until you’re ready to take the shot before you move that dial.
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Step 6: Take the safety off.
But not until you are absolutely ready to shoot, and always remember these four rules of firearm safety. (1) All guns are always loaded. (2) Never let the muzzle cover anything you don’t intend to shoot. (3) Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target. (4) Always be sure of your target.
Step 7: Support the butt of the rifle stock with your off hand.
Alternatively, a small sandbag works well if you have one available, especially one that you can squeeze with your support hand to help fine-tune your hold on the target.
Step 8: Take a deep breath.
Accurate shooting and breathing cannot be accomplished at the same time. Just before you shoot, breathe in deeply. You’re going to need that oxygen supply to fuel your muscles so you can hold that rifle steady.
Step 9: Gently exhale.
Some shooters like to pause during the exhale, and break the shot with the lungs half full. Others like to empty their lungs completely before pressing the trigger. Find the technique that works best for you, and then do it the same way every time.
Step 10: Press—don’t pull—the trigger.
Describing the proper way to pull a trigger is complicated. Some believe that when the shot breaks you should be surprised, but trained snipers will tell you they know exactly when their rifle will fire. The best advice: Gently press straight backwards, and with a whole lot of practice, you’ll gain enough trigger control to know when that trigger will break—and will send your bullet way downrange and on target.
Written by Richard Mann for Field & Stream.