This topic contains 21 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  Sgt. Mike 3 years ago.

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  • #22473
     Sgt. Mike 
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    The intention of this is to offer the information to equip average women and men with the fundamental skills and knowledge to become expert Rifle shots.
    Natural Point of Aim in partnership with a good field position allows the shooter to deliver rapid, well aimed fire. For now, be patient and do not cut corners. You will only be cheating yourself. Once a proper position is built, the shooter has the foundation to good shooting. However, the concept of Natural Point of Aim must be understood to make full use of a proper position.
    Natural Point of Aim is a concept that must be understood if one intends to master Rifleman-type shooting. Natural Point of Aim is the place where you and your rifle point naturally. Naturally means without muscle and a relaxed body. However, natural point of aim is not always on target. Therefore, you must shift your body / barrel/sights as one to align with the target.
    To find your Natural Point Of Aim, in the prone get into position (actually any position this includes the bench with a rest or the standing it makes no difference) and follow these steps:
    1. Close your eyes
    2. Relax your muscles
    3. Breathe in, breathe out
    4. Open your eyes
    5. Shift if necessary
    If you are completely relaxed, this will be your natural point of aim. Ninety-nine percent of the time you will not be on target. This is fine. Your body, must move in order to bring your sights on target. Do not use your arm muscles to move the sights onto the target.
    Your support elbow stays planted. It does not move. Your support elbow is your pivot point. Do not move your elbow!
    Instead, shift your hips. A slight shift in the hips is enough to change your natural point of aim. If you need to move your sights to the right, shift your hips left. This angles your body in point of aim that is closer to your target. A shift requires you to lift your hips off the ground and place them somewhere else. Typically a shift will only be a few inches. After you shift, remember to relax again. Remember to repeat the steps above to validate you’re in the correct natural point of aim position.
    Finding Natural Point of Aim recap
    You lie down and get into the prone position. You lay down in the general direction of the target with your body angled approximately 30 degrees towards the trigger side of the target. However, you are not (at this point) concerned with exactly where the target resides.
    You are in position. Now, RELAX! This means consciously think of your body parts. You relax your support hand, your support arm, bicep, shoulder, back, neck, trigger hand, everything. Then, you close your eyes. While they are closed, breathe in and breathe out. Open your eyes. Now, where is your front sight? Remember, 99% of the time it will not be on target. This is okay. If you are relaxed and in a stable position, your sights are pointing in their Natural Point of Aim.
    Say actually, this time, your sights are below the target and to the right. No problem. You keep your support elbow planted as a pivot point and you shift your hips. This time, you shift your hips slightly to the left. This brings your Natural Point of Aim somewhere back right toward the target. Then, you shift your hips back a little. This will raise your Natural Point of Aim. Now, go through the Natural Point of Aim test steps again.
    1. Close your eyes
    2. Relax your muscles
    3. Breathe in, Breathe out
    4. Open your eyes
    5. Shift if necessary
    This time, my front sight is still below and too far left. I must not have shifted for enough elevation and too much wind age. So, I shift my hips back a tiny bit to raise my front sight. If shift my hips right a little bit to bring my front sight back to the right. I go through the Natural Point of Aim test steps again, and finally, I am on my target. My target sits just on top of my front sight since I am using the Six O’ Clock hold. I breathe in and watch my front sight dip below the target. I breathe out and watch my sight raise right back to my Six O’ Clock hold.
    At first you will need to shift many times before your natural point of aim is on target. This is okay. Over time and with practice you will not need to shift as many times as you develop the skill.
    Remember I will say this again. For now, be patient and do not cut corners. You will only be cheating yourself.
    While I have used the prone position to demonstrate Natural Point of Aim do not close your mind here. These steps and methods are used in all positions. Standing sitting kneeling and the bench rest positions it make no difference if we are talking hunting, or target shooting these are the basics that are built excellence in marksmanship are built upon.

  • #24880
     Doc Highwall 
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    The only thing I can add to this Sgt. Mike is about stock weld/cheek position and sight alignment. For people that don’t know what stock weld/cheek position is, it is the natural position of your head on the stock, and when you are looking through the sights, your eye is centered in the rear aperture, and the front sight is centered in the rear aperture.

    Get down into prone position with your sling and get comfortable. With your eyes closed (REMEMBER TO KEEP YOUR EYES CLOSED) go through your breathing of inhale and exhale and dry fire a shot, now operate the bolt and repeat your breathing and dry firing a couple of more times. (What this does is it allows your body to relax to a normal position with no stress.) NOW WITHOUT MOVING YOUR HEAD……..OPEN YOUR EYES SLOWLY, if you are not looking perfectly through the rear sight with the front sight perfectly centered your cheek piece on your rifle has to be adjusted. If you only have to slightly raise your eye to look through the sights this means you have to raise the cheek piece. If your stock does not have an adjustable cheek piece you can tape pieces of card board to raise it, yes I know it does not look good but it works.

    You have both sight alignment and target alignment/natural point of aim. Knowing the difference between the two and which is more important is of great value.

    Sight Alignment: When front and rear sights are perfectly aligned.

    Target Alignment: When the sights are perfectly on the target.

    Example: you are shooting a rifle where the front and rear sights are 36 inches apart, and your are shooting 100 yards, this is a ratio of 1:100, sight distance to target distance.
    What this means is for every .001″ (one thousands) that you misaligned the front and rear sight the bullet impact will move .100″ (one hundred thousands or 1/10th of an inch) at 100 yards. So if your are off by .010″ with your sights your bullet will be off 1″ (one inch) at 100 yards. At 300 yards everything will be off three times as much.

    Example: your sights are perfectly aligned and your natural point of aim is off 1/2 inch, your bullet will be off only 1/2 inch.

    Both sight alignment and target alignment are important with sight alignment being the most important. Getting the rifle to fit you helps with your sight alignment. What you want is your cheek bone on the stock, not your jaw bone that can move about.

  • #24883
     Sgt. Mike 
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    LOL Shoot Doc, there is more go ahead and fill the masses in on position buliding.
    The head postion should be as straight (erect) as possiable based on the shape of the stock, shooting position, build of person, location of sights etc etc. .

  • #24889
     dverna 
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    It is interesting that many of these principles are routinely applied in setting up the stock for trap shooting. My trap gun has an adjustable butt plate and a cheek piece that can be adjusted for cast and height as well as angles (such that the gun recoils away from the cheek bone in both the horizontal and vertical planes). With a shotgun, the eye becomes the rear sight, so it is imperative that it naturally come to the exact same position each time the gun is mounted. Yet we do little or nothing to set up a rifle stock

    Don Verna

  • #24898
     Doc Highwall 
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    I have done a lot of research on shooting both mental and physical. I read a article about setting up a rifle for prone shooting where the shooter gets into the prone position with their rifle and the front sight is attached, but no rear sight is attached. Sounds crazy at first until you really think about the mechanics of it. What you do is have the shooter set the length of pull, the hand stop length along with the sling length, and cheek piece height so they feel comfortable and relaxed while in position. When they have that set up they now actually get a natural point of aim on their target and actually fire shots at it. Say the shots hit low and to the left, this means the cheek piece needs to be moved up and to the right just like a rear sight. When they have their rifle hitting in the center of the aiming black they can now attach the rear sight and refine the group.

    Just as in shot gun shooting the rifle has to fit you, to sum it up in one word……ergonomics.

  • #24913
     Goodsteel 
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    Doc Highwall;n3173 wrote: I have done a lot of research on shooting both mental and physical. I read a article about setting up a rifle for prone shooting where the shooter gets into the prone position with their rifle and the front sight is attached, but no rear sight is attached. Sounds crazy at first until you really think about the mechanics of it. What you do is have the shooter set the length of pull, the hand stop length along with the sling length, and cheek piece height so they feel comfortable and relaxed while in position. When they have that set up they now actually get a natural point of aim on their target and actually fire shots at it. Say the shots hit low and to the left, this means the cheek piece needs to be moved up and to the right just like a rear sight. When they have their rifle hitting in the center of the aiming black they can now attach the rear sight and refine the group.

    Just as in shot gun shooting the rifle has to fit you, to sum it up in one word……ergonomics.

    Agreed. This is what makes an excellent rifle.
    The same principles apply even more from an off-hand position.

  • #24992
     uber7mm 
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    Jim Carmichel had an article with this concept years ago. If I can find it, I’ll post the link.

  • #25815
     Velocette 
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    Natural point of aim is quite important in target shooting, Its value increases as the bullet velocity gets lower. That is, the lower the velocity of your round, the more important natural point of aim is. In smallbore prone competition, the normal bullet velocity is about 1050 fps. Long barrels are also commonly used to gain a longer sight radius. Thus the follow through after the shot is quite important. Good follow through depends heavily on a good natural point of aim. Further, if you are muscling the rifle into position, instead of a natural point of aim, you cannot be consistent in your hold, that is you will be holding the rifle a little bit differently every time you drag it back on target.
    good rifle fit is important but attaining a good natural point of aim even with a poorly fitting rifle will help your group sizes and consistency.

  • #25829
     Dick 
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    I look for my natural point of aim to be in my natural respiratory pause. When I step on the line I assume a good firing position whether it be the standing, kneeling, sitting, or prone. I then shift my body around until my sight/reticle is close or where I want it on the target. Then I close my eyes, breath in, breath out, breath in, breath out. In between breathing in and out is your natural respiratory pause, and I open my eyes during the pause to see where my sight/reticle is on the target. If it’s not where I want then I shift my body until it is and repeat the process. Once I am satisfied my sights are where they need to be during the respiratory pause, then that is my natural point of aim.

    A lot is going on during that pause. I am verifying I am on target and pulling the trigger. Depending how I feel I may use an uninterrupted or interrupted trigger pull.

    Also, lets not forget the importance of a good sling!

  • #30974
     Waksupi 
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    When I build a rifle for myself, I close my eyes, mount the gun, and then open my eyes. I want to be lined up exactly with the sights. If not, I go to whittling wood again. I love it if a customer is local and I can spend time with them to accomplish the same thing. I’ve considered making a “try stock” for years to be able to send off to get measurements from customers further away.

  • #30977
     Goodsteel 
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    I sure agree with you on that one. Only problem is, they probably wouldn’t get it right. Very few people know what a properly fitting rifle feels like. I can tell immediately if a rifle fits someone after watching them put it to their shoulder once, but I say “yeah, gotta take off another half inch” they look at me like I’m nuts.

  • #31335
     Reg 
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    Waksupi;n10944 wrote: When I build a rifle for myself, I close my eyes, mount the gun, and then open my eyes. I want to be lined up exactly with the sights. If not, I go to whittling wood again. I love it if a customer is local and I can spend time with them to accomplish the same thing. I’ve considered making a “try stock” for years to be able to send off to get measurements from customers further away.

    This is exactly what Dick Kroeckle pounded into our heads back at CST in the late 60’s. Close your eyes ( the customers eyes ) relax and mount the gun quickly then open your eyes. Note where you are off on the sights and whittle some wood. A proper fitting stock is very comfortable but often you have to make a compromise in that the fit is totally different from wearing a T shirt to wearing a heavy winter coat. Also, the stock that fits off hand will not be correct in the prone position, we have necks you know. Often a compromise is the only way out or if the customer has plenty of bux you get to make him several stocks to fit the time of year and how he is shooting !!!!
    Never found that guy though !!!!

  • #33255
     Robroy 
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    When I shot 50 ft smallbore my coach helped alot with getting me to find my natural point of aim. Later with the help of a try stock and a fellow student I got my measurements and used them in building a stock for a push feed m70. In off hand that rifle comes right to my eye. Too bad the piece of Bastogne walnut I whittled it out of had a real muddy colored section on the right side. The left has beautiful color. If I can remember I’ll post pictures in another thread.

    My thinking is that all stocks on custom rifles should fit the shooter so that finding NPA is nearly instinct. i firmly disagree with the idea that since a rifle is more “deliberately aimed” it doesn’t need to be fitted like a shotgun. The problem is that as you change position the fit can change. In a 3 or 4 position rifle length of pull can be changed quickly as can cant and cast. I kept notes and adjusted LOP as I changed position. No change between off hand and kneeling. Small change between kneeling and sitting and again a tweak into prone. I left cast and cant alone once I found what worked.
    I just remembered that I also changed drop at the heel between positions as well as lop
    ​​​​​​

  • #33263
     Goodsteel 
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    I agree with you.

  • #33282
     Scharfschuetze 
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    I appreciate your good writes ups on marksmanship SGT Mike.

    I must be about the most generic body size extant. Most factory stocks, particularly the M1 and the M14 fit me like custom stocks. Lucky I guess.

  • #33286
     JPHolla 
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    Many great points here, but I think it also needs to be said that a more well-rounded marksman needs to be able to adapt himself to the situation. It’s nice to have a well-fitted rifle, but that’s not always what’s at hand. Say you have a nice, old, collectible rifle: do you start whittling away to make it fit you and destroy its value? Say you have to borrow a rifle from a friend or guide, or are issued a rifle by the government… I also feel the same way about shooting slings. There’s no doubt they can make you shoot better, but I feel they are simply impractical for most real-world situations outside of competitions. I feel doubly so about “slinging in” with a carrying strap. I see a lot of people do it thinking it really helps, but in my personal testing, I see no discernible difference. If anything, it probably hurts them because most guns simply are not designed to have a strong sideways force exerted when firing (especially when they sight in the gun from a bench sans strap).

    Acquiring a natural point-of-aim is good, but many times it simply is not possible. If you have five seconds to make a shot, all the accuracy in the world is useless if it takes six seconds to accomplish it. From many real-world positions, you simply cannot have a natural point of aim. Say that deer sneaks in behind you and is heading your way. If you do not take the shot within about twenty seconds, he will be too close and get spooked. Now, not only do you have to switch weak-handed, but you also have to lean and reach around the tree to your back to get him in the sights. You have about three seconds before your muscles start to quiver from the strain. All the while, you keep a constant eye on him to make sure you don’t spook him with movement, constantly check behind him for a safe back-stop, calculate his body angle to hit the vitals, figure amount of lead needed, watch for saplings in between you and him…At times like this, all that matters is knowing your gun, physical fitness, mental discipline, and practice, practice, practice. Natural point of aim should always be at the back of one’s mind, but definitely not always at the fore-front.

  • #33287
     JPHolla 
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    I can tell if a rifle fits me perfectly because when I put it to my shoulder and my cheek hits the stock, I get a warm, fuzzy feeling inside…

  • #33293
     Goodsteel 
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    JPHolla, what you say is true, but is geared more towards practical riflemanship. However, I still hold that having a rifle that is cut to fit you properly will enhance your performance in all of the situations you mention.
    Personally, I can shoot my daughters Davy Cricket well enough to take down most squirrels etc, but it is a bit of a struggle to get in the groove. Unlike my Remington Speedmaster which snaps to my eye like its a part of my body. Having a rifle that fits me so perfectly in a comfortable shooting position simply makes it that much easier for the back part of my brain to get married up to it, which is what it’s all about when you have to make a shot in an uncomfortable position/situation.
    It’s all about getting to know your rifle, but how well can you really know something that doesn’t fit you? It’s true, one of the best parts of being human is our indomitable ability to adapt, but I find it gives you an edge if you don’t lean on that too hard when choosing a rifle, then lean on it like a fiend once the bullets start to fly. Kind of like selecting a horse, you’re very skeptical of it till you saddle up, and then its an “all in” proposition because you have to work with that animal to get where you’re going.

  • #33295
     JPHolla 
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    I agree completely, Tim. One can always do his best with his best, but what I was pointing out is that sometimes we can get so wrapped up in tailoring practice to be conducive to printing the tiniest groups possible, that we forget the real world is not generally so forgiving. If I practice with only the best, I will be wholly unprepared when I am handed anything else. How well can you really know something that doesn’t fit you? Well, I would have to surmise that millions of soldiers in history have shown us that you can know something that doesn’t fit you pretty darn well. But I’m sure they would have done even better if their rifles had fit every one of them perfectly, but that wasn’t an option. People don’t always get to choose a rifle. I’m not trying to say we should swear off any gun that fits and only shoot ones that do not. But if we spend the majority of our time shooting something we already know we can shoot well, we are not really proving anything, and are definitely not growing as a marksman. If I was going into a situation where my life was in danger, I would want to take the best rifle for me and the situation, but if I am casually hunting or shooting targets I will often shoot a rifle I know is not the best, because I like the challenge, and I like rifles. How many of us here only own one rifle? I’m sure some here will not own a rifle that doesn’t fit or shoot well, but that’s not me. I just drug out the Arisaka with a .317 groove to see if I can improve accuracy with paper-patching. It definitely does not fit my 6′ frame, but I will still try, and if successful, I may use it in the competition at Knob Creek come April. In any case, I will have fun and more importantly will learn. And it always feels better to see your name with a cheap, gimpy gun posted above all the nice 03’A3’s, Swedes, K31’s, etc. in the final standings.

    Just to be clear, I did not intend my previous post to sound argumentative or like I was poo-poo’ing Sarge’s work, if that’s how it came across. I have the utmost respect for him (and everyone else here). Just trying to add some perspective I didn’t see posted yet.

  • #33296
     Goodsteel 
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    JPHolla;n13961 wrote: I agree completely, Tim. One can always do his best with his best, but what I was pointing out is that sometimes we can get so wrapped up in tailoring practice to be conducive to printing the tiniest groups possible, that we forget the real world is not generally so forgiving. If I practice with only the best, I will be wholly unprepared when I am handed anything else.

    Actually, I find the opposite to be true.

    JPHolla;n13961 wrote: How well can you really know something that doesn’t fit you? Well, I would have to surmise that millions of soldiers in history have shown us that you can know something that doesn’t fit you pretty darn well. But I’m sure they would have done even better if their rifles had fit every one of them perfectly, but that wasn’t an option.

    This is true, but then again, they have infinite resources to train a man to adapt to any rifle, and at the end of the day, 99% of the time, 4MOA is considered excellent battle precision. Also, it’s worth noting that they usually train with ONE rifle style, and all their rifles are more or less identical in LOP, etc etc etc which lends a great deal of consistency to the equation.

    JPHolla;n13961 wrote: People don’t always get to choose a rifle. I’m not trying to say we should swear off any gun that fits and only shoot ones that do not. But if we spend the majority of our time shooting something we already know we can shoot well, we are not really proving anything, and are definitely not growing as a marksman.

    I would respectfully disagree.

    JPHolla;n13961 wrote: f I was going into a situation where my life was in danger, I would want to take the best rifle for me and the situation, but if I am casually hunting or shooting targets I will often shoot a rifle I know is not the best, because I like the challenge, and I like rifles. How many of us here only own one rifle? I’m sure some here will not own a rifle that doesn’t fit or shoot well, but that’s not me. I just drug out the Arisaka with a .317 groove to see if I can improve accuracy with paper-patching. It definitely does not fit my 6′ frame, but I will still try, and if successful, I may use it in the competition at Knob Creek come April. In any case, I will have fun and more importantly will learn. And it always feels better to see your name with a cheap, gimpy gun posted above all the nice 03’A3’s, Swedes, K31’s, etc. in the final standings.

    This is true, and fun is fun, but personally, I still consider myself a “one rifle man” but that rifle is the one that’s best for the job, and being that I’m in the line of work I am, there is absolutely zero reason for a rifle to be anything but perfect for me. Also, many of the members of this forum are using rifles that I have built specifically for them to the finest detail. Kind of bends the discussion ya know?

    JPHolla;n13961 wrote: Just to be clear, I did not intend my previous post to sound argumentative or like I was poo-poo’ing Sarge’s work, if that’s how it came across. I have the utmost respect for him (and everyone else here). Just trying to add some perspective I didn’t see posted yet.

    As well you should. I respectfully disagree with you on some points, but I suspect (as with so many things in life) there is a solid line of truth in both of our points of view. Im just honed so keenly for the cut I am buried in, it’s hard to see things a different way.
    For me, I have been on a very motivated quest to be able to pick up any weapon and make it perform nearly as well as the man that owns it an knows it very well. This is a very very important skill to have in my line of work, and I think I’m pretty good at it. That said, I never got the feel of it till I built a rifle that fit me like a glove and shot from a position that forced me to experience what a proper shot feels like. Once I had done this, and leaned heavily on it for some time, I gradually started removing the training wheels, and I found that I can usually “catch that groove” very fast with almost any rifle. Let me take two shots into the berm to get the feel of the trigger, and I’m ready to stack a group.
    That’s backwards from what you would think it would be, but I am absolutely convinced that I learned to shoot all rifles by spending a lot of time with my custom rifle.

    The biggest component to rifle precision is the brain of the guy behind the trigger. You have to get your mind to catch that groove. Well, perhaps some learn this better by practicing with a plethora of janky rifles, and perhaps the military has the natural advantage that all their rifles are nearly identical, and perhaps some people like myself need to see what a pure, perfect system feels like and ease back into the main stream holding onto that which was learned.
    I feel the latter is the very best way, (After all, everybody should have at least one MBT custom rifle heh heh!!!) but it’s probably more important that whatever you do, you do it consistently.

  • #33298
     Scharfschuetze 
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    I think that where stock fit is most important is with shotgun stocks. As noted earlier, a marksman can adapt well to any reasonably designed rifle stock, but shotguns… that’s a different story when a covey of quail flushes or when shooting at almost any of the shotgun competitions. With no sights other than a front and maybe a mid bead, the fit of the stock is paramount. When I’m shooting a shotgun well, I don’t ever recall seeing the bead.

    As noted in my previous post, I’m lucky as most stocks fit me well given my perfectly “average” build, but if you want to look at extremes, then compare an M1, M14, Winchester match stock, etc., to an M16 rifle. Even with the extreme differences between them, marksmen can still shoot all of the above into the 10 ring at 1,000 yards from the prone position (with sling) if they know what they are doing.

  • #33300
     Sgt. Mike 
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    JPHolla;n13961 wrote: …….
    Just to be clear, I did not intend my previous post to sound argumentative or like I was poo-poo’ing Sarge’s work, if that’s how it came across. I have the utmost respect for him (and everyone else here). Just trying to add some perspective I didn’t see posted yet.

    JP, no way I would take it that way my friend.
    Scharfschuetze, Thank you sir for your kind words, it means a lot coming from you, as well as others on here.

    While I’m not posting much in this topic it has went the way I desired it to. Much earnest and candid discussion between adults attempting to better themselves while helping others.

    With that I would like to thank everyone whom has participated in this thread.

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