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    • #22463
      Sgt. Mike
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      There are Nine Steps to a Shot. While learning, you should go through each step consciously until it becomes natural. Perhaps while you are learning, write these down on something so you can see these while in position and putting them into action. Each shot should be fired with all of the nine steps performed correctly.
      Nine Steps to Firing the Shot:
      1. Sight Alignment
      2. Sight Picture
      3. Respiratory Pause
      4. Focus Your Eye on the Front Sight
      5. Focus Your Mind on Keeping the Front Sight on Target
      6. Trigger Squeeze
      7. Follow Through
      8. Call the Shot
      9. Trigger Reset

      1. Sight Alignment
      The first step to firing a shot is known as sight alignment. This is where one simply lines up the rear and front sights in the correct way. For peep sights, one must make sure the front sight post is in the center of the rear aperture. There should be the same amount of space on either side (left or right) of the front sight post while being visually within the rear aperture. Also, the top of the front sight post should be vertically in the middle of the rear aperture.
      The peep sight has two components: The rear sight and the front sight.

      Figure 16. Rear Sight

      Figure 17. Front Sight
      Your rifle will only be accurate if aligned in proper and consistent sight picture.

      Figure 18. Correct Sight Alignment
      The front sight post is in the middle of the circle. The front sight “wings” help one to gage the lateral center of the circle. A common mistake is to only focus on lateral sight alignment. One must make sure to develop a consistent vertical sight alignment as well. Proper Cheek Weld and Turkey Neck help with consistent vertical sight alignment by solidifying your face in a constant position. Make sure the front sight post is in the same position in relationship to your rear sight aperture. If not, you will not be consistently accurate.
      While the peep sight is the most common sight for majority of military style rifles, other sight options exist.

      Good sight alignment: Front sight in focus, rear sights slightly blurred. Focus on the front sight, not the target.

      Buckhorn rear sights
      Buckhorn rear sights were actually popularized in the American West in the second half of the 19th century. But they became very trendy around the 1920s, and the trend lasted well into the late 1950s — past the time when they made any real difference to shooting and were more of an adornment that some shooters expected to see. Though they were originally mounted on single-shot muzzleloading rifles, they are perhaps best-known as the sights for Western-style lever guns.

    • #22470
      Sgt. Mike
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      A buckhorn sight is very distinctive.
      When you see a full buckhorn rear sight, you instinctively know it was created for some specific purpose, though there’s very little literature that actually explains it.
      A buckhorn rear sight is a ranging sight. What that means is that it’s a sight that can quickly be “adjusted” to shoot at different ranges without touching the sight. All you do to change the distance is change the sight picture. There are three clear sighting options when you sight through a buckhorn. The sight is nearly always associated with a post-and-bead front sight.
      The bead can be held in the small notch at the bottom of the buckhorn for close shots. Suffice it to say this is the closest range at which the sight can be used without any adjustment.
      When the muzzle is elevated until the front bead appears in the center of the hole described by the arms of the buckhorn (sort of like using a large peep sight), you have the middle range. And when the muzzle is elevated so the bead is between the points of the horns at the top, you have the longest range at which the sight can be used without adjustment.
      All three ranges are achieved without moving the rear sight — by simply elevating the front post in relation to the buckhorn. You should bear in mind that when the buckhorn was invented, men typically had just one rifle and they learned it well. It wouldn’t take long to become accustomed to the ranges for which their own rifle was sighted.
      Now for the bad news. Most riflemen dislike the buckhorn, finding it crude, obstructive and generally not useful. Townsend Whelen was very outspoken against it. But it looks very cool.


      Semi-buckhorn
      It was even more common than the buckhorn and appeared on most rim fire rifles of the 1940s and ’50s because of its popularity. It’s not a ranging sight like the buckhorn. It was popular at the same time the semi-beavertail forearm was considered necessary.

      The semi-buckhorn rear sight is just a stylized rear notch with two long arms that add nothing to the functionality.

      The scope is a common sight for the rifle. Proper sight alignment is accomplished when the entire circle of the glass is bright and visible. If there are dark regions around the cross hairs, this is improper sight alignment. Move your face or adjust the scope in the distance to the pupil or adjustable objectives.

      You may have to modify your rifle to acquire proper sight alignment. You may need to build up your stock, raising your cheek weld, to raise their eyes into your sights. Do not be afraid of duct tape and random materials. A raised stock can be made with rags and duct tape. The idea is to keep your head as erect as possible.
      2. Sight Picture
      Sight Picture is the accomplished by bringing the proper Sight Alignment on target. There are two main sight pictures.

      Figure 19. Six O’ Clock Hold AKA “Navy Hold”

    • #22471
      Sgt. Mike
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      Figure 20. Center of Mass Hold
      Each sight picture has practical uses. The center of mass hold is generally used for closer distances (up to 200 yards). This is because the target is big enough to not be obscured by the front sight. Also, this has a lot to do with trajectory (the bullet’s flight path), which will be covered later. Scopes will always use the center of mass hold since the cross hairs mark exactly where the bullet will go.
      The Six O’ Clock sight picture puts the target on top of the front sight post. For this reason, it is often known as “pumpkin on the post.” The main advantage of the Six O’ Clock hold is visibility of targets at far distances. When a target appears small, it is best to use a Six O’ Clock hold so that the target is not covered up by the front sight post.
      For most Riflemen-type situations, the Six O’ Clock/pumpkin on the post sight picture is preferable. Consistency is key to accuracy. Once a rifle is zeroed (sighted in) for a certain sight picture, one must always use it for distances equal to or further than their zeroing distance.

      3. Respiratory Pause
      In proper position, you will notice that breathing affects your sights. With each breath, your sights will move vertically. When you inhale, your diaphragm pushes off the ground, raising your shoulder and lowering your front sight. When you exhale, the diaphragm empties and your front sight raises to where it rests naturally.
      You want to fire the shot when you have exhaled. This is for several reasons. First, it is a consistent place as once you have exhaled, there is no more air to raise or lower the front sight. Also, holding an inhaled breath requires muscle. Since the use of muscle is contrary to firing a good shot, the exhaled state of breath is preferred.
      I personally use the half exhaled as it does a couple of things one is a state that the body goes through. Fully exhaled state will or rather could cause your body to panic and want to breathe “NOW” half will allow a good compromise use which ever works best for you however once you pick it use it throughout your shooting session do not deviate
      At this point, the shooter will acquire Natural Point of Aim, using the technique that was discussed in another post as a guide.

      4. Focus Your Eye on the Front Sight
      When aiming, there are three things your eye can potentially focus on.
      1. The target
      2. The front sight
      3. The rear sight
      Your eye can only focus on one thing. It should focus on the front sight. The front sight should appear crisp and clear while the target blurry, and the rear sight hardly noticed. By now your do not need to see the target. You should have found your NPOA on target during step three.
      One must focus their eye on the front sight as this is what determines where the bullet will actually end up. The shooter is aiming the rifle, not the target. Therefore, focus your eye on the front sight.
      5. Focus Your Mind on Keeping the Front Sight on Target
      Firing a rifle is requires the attention of your whole being. Like your body, your mind has a specific job. This step requires that the shooter focus their mind on keeping the front sight on target. This means that the shooter should think only about keeping the front sight on target.
      While the front sight is visually focused upon, the mind should repeat over and over “front sight on target, front sight on target, front sight on target.” While one is saying this to themselves, they should . . .

      6. Trigger Squeeze
      . . . Squeeze the trigger. This does not mean yank, jerk or even pull. Firm steady pressure should be applied to the trigger. It should be squeezed steadily and straight back. Once the shot is fired, hold the trigger back for a second or two. A yank, jerk, pull, or flicking your finger off the trigger once it has been squeezed will throw your shots off.

      7. Follow Through
      After the shot breaks, the shooter must hold the trigger back for a moment. This allows the bullet to leave the barrel before any extra movement affects the shot. Also, Follow Through requires you to “ride the recoil.” The positions taught in this book are built so when a shot goes off, one’s body position will absorb recoil yet stay solid. If your position is built correctly and you are truly firing with your natural point of aim on target, recoil will settle your sights back on target. Technically, steps 8 and 9 are part of follow through, though they are important independent actions.

      8. Call the Shot
      Feedback is important to the Rifleman. One should take a “mental snapshot” of where your front sight was when the shot was fired. This allows you to know instantly whether or not your shot was a hit. If you front sight was on target when the shot went off, then you can call the shot “good.” If the front sight was not on target when the shot went off, then you can call the shot “a miss.” However, if you called it “a miss,” then it is not a wasted shot. Also, watch for downrange feedback, such as a splash in the dirt. Or in the case of my first M1 Garand tree tops falling because the barrel did not have any real lands and grooves. Use this information to correct your next shot, or in my case buy a barrel.

      9. Trigger Reset
      Once the shot went off, your finger should have held the trigger back. This allows time for the bullet to leave your barrel without disturbance. After completing steps 7 and 8, slowly guide your trigger forward again until you feel a “click.” This click is your sear resetting. Keep your finger on the trigger, maintaining slight pressure. Do not remove your finger from the trigger while your sights are on target.

    • #22472
      Sgt. Mike
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      Firing a Shot recap—-

      I get into prone position (actually ANY POSTION will work I just like the prone). I chamber a round and remove my safety. I relax. I intentionally think to myself, “Relax my forearm, my hands, my shoulders, my back, my diaphragm.” When I am relaxed, I go through the Nine Steps to Firing the Shot.
      Sight Alignment I make sure my front sight is in the correct place relative to my rear sight. I am conscious of my turkey neck and cheek weld, making sure they are in my consistent spot. I again relax.
      Sight Picture. I bring my sights onto my target. I do this by moving my hips. This is a general direction move, we will fine tune later. I now place the tip of my trigger finger on the trigger. Respiratory Pause. Here I become conscious of my breathing. I breathe in and watch my sights dip below the target. I breathe out and watch my sights rise back underneath my target (since I am using a 6 o’clock hold).
      During Respiratory Pause, I check my Natural Point of Aim. I close my eyes. I relax my muscles. I breathe in, breathe out. I open my eyes. I ask myself, “Where is my front sight?” 99% of the time it is not on target. This time it is high and to the left. My support elbow is planted. It will not move during my shifting. I shift my hips a tiny bit left. This brings my front sight a little to the right towards the target. I shift my hips a little forward. This brings my front sight down a little, more towards the target.
      I close my eyes. I relax my muscles. I breathe in, I breathe out. I open my eyes. I ask myself, “where is my front target?” This time I am “on” horizontally. However, my front sight is covering the target. I am aiming too high. I shift my hips a bit forward. I repeat the process.
      Close my eyes, Relax my muscles, Breathe In, Breathe Out, Open My Eyes. I am right on target with my proper sight picture.
      At this point, you Focus your Eye on the Front Sight. Since your Natural Point of Aim is on target, all you have to do is remain in position and relaxed and you will remain on target. There is no more need to focus on the target. You focus your eye on the front sight, making the target blurry and the front sight black and crisp.
      Once your eye is focused on the front sight, You Focus my Mind on Keeping the Front Sight on Target. This is where mind controls matter. If you will a good shot, it will come. You say to yourself, while keeping your front sight visually in focus, “front sight on target, front sight on target, front sight on target.” Over and over again. You clearing your mind and focusing it on the task.
      While you are repeating, “front sight on target” to yourself, you Squeeze the Trigger. Once your mind has decided to squeeze the trigger, it should not continue to think about the act of squeezing. While you are squeezing you continue to say, “front sight on target, front sight on target, front sight on. .”
      BANG! You have just fired the shot. It surprised you. Good. you want to be surprised by the shot. If you are surprised it is because your mind is focused on keeping the front sight on target. Your mind will not have mental space to consider recoil, therefore making you buck or flinch in anticipation of recoil.
      Follow Through. After the shot is fired, I hold the trigger back. Recoil moves my barrel around. Since I have a well-built position and my sling is snug and in use, my sights settle back on target. My body settles back into its Natural Point of Aim.
      During this time, I Call the Shot. This means I keep my eyes open during the shot, taking a mental snapshot of where my front sight was when the shot went off. My front sight was on target at the time of the bang so I will call the shot “good.” If, say, I took a mental snapshot of the front sight off, target when the shot went off, I would call it “bad.” If I called the shot but it did not hit the target, it is still a good shot. I would use the miss as a learning opportunity to make the next shot successful. No shot should be wasted.
      Finally, it is time for Trigger Reset. After the shot went “BANG,” I held the trigger back. Since it went bang I rode the recoil (follow through) and called the shot. Now I slowly guide the trigger forward until I feel it click. This click is the sear resetting. Do not remove your finger from the trigger at all while you are firing shots. This is what makes good trigger control which makes good accuracy.

    • #22851
      nagantguy
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      Equal light equal height, that’s the phrase we use to describe the excellent illustrations you used.

    • #24015
      IllinoisCoyoteHunter
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      Nice write up! Lots of good info! Thanks for doing this.

    • #24036
      Harter
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      Shotguns screw up all of this …… ask a trap/skeet shooter that shoots groups .
      It can improve the field shooting. …..after many years .

      Practice, practice, practice .

    • #24056
      chutesnreloads
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      Nice tutorial.Want to simplify it a bit to teach the kids .

    • #24127
      dverna
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      When teaching anyone anything keep this in mind. Most people can only deal with two things at a time. If you tell them 6 things that need to done to make the shot their minds will overload. Your job as a coach is to determine the two items a student needs to improve on the most. At the next session, you may introduce two other (or maybe only one or none) depending on their progress. By continually practicing the correct methods muscle memory will eventually make certain actions “natural”.

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