Proper practice and training are essential to master any skill. How do you make the most of the trigger time you have to gain the necessary muscle memory? That’s the big question. Proper training goes way beyond grabbing your gun, throwing some rounds in it, and sending them towards the target.
Consistency, operation under pressure, composure and accuracy when the adrenaline is flowing, that’s what any shooter needs to develop. In this article, we’ll take a little time to look over some simple techniques to help you get on target, and stay on target, even when the pressure is on.
Train How You Shoot
So here’s what we mean by “train how you shoot.” We see it all the time with new hunters for example. They get their new setup, i.e. gun, scope, pellets, etc. They take it to the range, drop their gun in a vice and start trying to dial in the scope. After a while, they are dead nuts accurate at whatever zero they were looking to achieve. Then hunting day comes up. They grab their gun and their brand new hollow point hunting pellets, and head to the woods and miss every shot they take!
So what happened? Everything was good to go at the range and now the gun or scope must be bad, right? Not necessarily. You need to “train how you shoot” which means that however you’ll be shooting in the woods, is how you need to practice at the range. Getting your rifle and scope zeroed at a particular range is just the first point. Now you need to take it out of the vice and shoot in the same way, whether that’s braced against a tree, off shooting sticks, off a tripod in a blind, does not matter.
Whatever your preference may be, that’s how you need to practice. Also, most shooters don’t want to use the expensive ammo for practice, they use the more affordable generic pellets. This can also be a real issue as different pellets fly very differently and that is exaggerated the longer the shot.
So however you plan to use your hunting rifle, i.e. shooting system, pellets, scope, range, etc., make sure that you are training as close to the real scenario as possible, that way when you get out into the field and need to make that perfect shot, it’s all second nature to you.
This applies to personal defense situations as well. If you find yourself in a situation where you need your personal defense weapon, learning to be confident and proficient with a personal defense firearm does not happen overnight. Fortunately, many manufacturers have created 1 to 1 replicas of many of today’s modern carry options, providing an easy path for training. This allows shooters the affordability and the convenience to “train like you shoot” without the need for live fire at the range. So what can you do?
Step 1 – Know Your Gun
Every gun owner needs to know their gun inside and out. How to load and unload the mag. How it works when it’s working flawlessly and how to clear a jammed round safely when things don’t go right. This should all be done in that perfectly lit and controlled environment to the point that every action is 2nd nature and can be done without thought. If you are a firearms owner, this means that you’re going to need to spend some time at the range and do whatever it takes to gain the proficiency that’s required for responsible gun ownership.
Step 2 – Grip
This next section is where you’ll learn to love the affordability and convenience of your replica airgun. There are some great training aids and videos on the web. There’s also something to be said for getting some one-on-one training so that you are practicing the right technique from the start. Whichever path you choose, approach it with the knowledge that there are folks out there who know a LOT more than you do. Listen and learn from their experience.
The grip is your connection to your weapon. If it is off, it’s going to throw off everything. You’ll have a more difficult time getting a consistent target acquisition and trigger pull. Additionally, a proper grip is essential for managing recoil for your next follow-up shot. There are going to be some different schools of thought, but try the various techniques and see what works best for you. Use your airgun with a large shoot-n-c target about 15 feet awƒay as you learn the consistency, so you don’t even need to think about it.
Step 3 – Target
Personal defense targeting is NOT the same as 10-meter precision shooting. You need to be able to pull your weapon, acquire your target, and fire with accuracy all in a single motion. Using the same holster as you do with your firearm may help. To add pressure to the situation, in a safe way, add a shooting timer to your training mix. This will put pressure on you to perform and also get you a measure to see how you’re improving. Essentially you’re going to be learning the art of point shooting, really not even using your sights other than general reference. Some teachers will tell you to simply focus on the front sight, while others may have a different approach. Again, experiment with the different methods until you find one that resonates with your particular style.
Step 4 – Control
With the right grip and targeting down, it’s time to squeeze the trigger and send lead downrange. This is the point of no return and also where the most critical mistakes occur. The way to overcome trigger pull issues is to first, seek counsel on the problem. If you are always shooting low, you may be anticipating the recoil or breaking your rest. If you’re right-handed and are constantly pulling right, you may have too much of your finger on the trigger. Also, grip issues may be contributing to the problems. The point is, don’t just aim higher to overcome a poor trigger pull or grip issue. Solve the issue and that will solve your accuracy problem. Again, there are a lot of resources online that can help you work through these and many other common problems.
Step 5 – Repeat
Your evolution into a true marksman is going to take a lot of time at home and on the range. The more constructive trigger time you can make for yourself, the faster you’ll gain that muscle memory so that you’ll be ready regardless of the situation. Airguns are a great means to help provide more affordable and convenient trigger time so that you can make the absolute most of your time on the firearms range.
If you are looking for some products to help you in your training regimen, then please don’t hesitate to reach out to us here at Airgun Depot. We’ll work to help you get on target quickly and affordably.