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Becoming a Better Shooter

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1 Becoming a Better Shooter
Instruction, tips and checklists to make you a better shooter--what you can do to improve your skills and become a champion shooter JROTC Marksmanship Instructor Course (JMIC) Section IX, BECOMING A BETTER SHOOTER This section of the JROTC rifle marksmanship curriculum is for cadets who want to become better shooters. This section is especially important for cadets who are JROTC rifle team members and who want to improve their skills and scores so that they can perform well in competitions. It is especially important that instructors and cadets use the information in this section correctly. Before examining any of the information in this section, the basic rifle marksmanship instruction provided in Section VII must have been covered and practiced. Ideally, cadets should have mastered all three positions and have practiced them extensively. Cadets should also have earned the Expert Qualification Badge before they start work on this Section IX material. This section provides a series of slides with notes that teach skills that must be practiced and mastered in order to advance and climb to championship levels. There is no specific order in which to cover the slides and accompanying notes. You may wish to review the entire section so that you are familiar with the material that is here. After that, use only one slide at a time with the team or with individual cadets. A good way to do this is to print out single slides with notes so that a cadet can study the notes with each slide and then focus on practicing that specific topic. Each item of instruction in this section must be studied, practiced and mastered one step at a time! Section IX, Revised 22Aug10, CMP

2 How to Become a Better Shooter
Understand the Fundamentals of Marksmanship Practice—Work Hard—Train Keep a Shooter’s Journal Learn to Call Shots and Follow-Through Improve Your Shot Technique (Consistency, Preparation, Focus) Improve Your Position Stability (Check lists, balance & relaxation) Train Your Mind Too (mental training) Go to Matches--Learn from the Best Shooters Set Goals—Strive to Achieve Your Goals 9.1 Becoming a Better Shooter This slide summarizes the topics covered in this section. Improvement begins with understanding and mastering the fundamentals of marksmanship. Improvement is achieved through training and the analysis that comes from keeping a Shooter’s Journal. Improvement requires learning skills like consistency, preparation, calling shots and following-through on each shot. The details of stable positions require the use of position check lists. Great shooting requires setting goals and training the mind as well as the body. Finally, great shooting needs to have opportunities to prove itself in competition. That is the true test of marksmanship.

3 Fundamentals of Marksmanship: Stability-Alignment-Control
Rifle STABILITY a. Position Structure b. Bone and Sling Support c. Breath Control Relaxation Balance Rifle-Target ALIGNMENT a. Sight Alignment b. Natural Point of Aim c. Sight Picture Shot CONTROL a. Initial pressure/slack b. Visual Focus c. Coordinated Smooth Pressure Shot call Follow-through 9.2 Master the Fundamentals of Marksmanship To advance as a shooter, you must master the fundamentals of marksmanship. But what are the fundamentals of marksmanship? In over-simplified terms, the fundamental building blocks of rifle marksmanship are STABILITY, ALIGNMENT and CONTROL. To be a great shooter, 1) you must be able to hold the rifle still while in a legal firing position (STABILITY), 2) you must precisely align your position with the center of the target (ALIGNMENT) and 3) you must control yourself and the rifle’s trigger so as to fire the shot while the rifle is held still and is aligned with the target center (CONTROL). Anyone who has fired even a few shots at targets knows how difficult it is to perform these fundamentals when the target ten ring is a miniscule 0.5 mm dot that is ten meters away. But if you understand what the components of Stability, Alignment and Control are, you will know what you must work on during your training to become a better shooter and, indeed, a great shooter.

4 Sportsmanship & Etiquette
Know and follow the competition rules Stay in your firing point/area No talking on the line except to Range Officers Don’t disturb other shooters No acting out Do your part to make the event a great experience for all! Respect the Rules and Other Shooters 9.3 Sportsmanship and Etiquette Sportsmanship and etiquette are a foundation of our participation in sports competitions. Respecting the rules of the sport and other competitors is part of every sports experience. When participants practice good sportsmanship and display proper sports etiquette towards other competitors, the experience becomes great for everyone. Some ways to practice sportsmanship and etiquette are: Know and Follow the Rules. Not following the rules can be cheating, an attempt to gain an unfair advantage. This does not belong in sports. Show Courtesy to Others on the Firing Line. This means keeping your position and equipment within your firing point, not talking on the firing line and not doing anything that disturbs other shooters. No Acting Out. Angry displays, throwing equipment or making loud comments after bad shots or scores is disturbing to other shooters and damaging to your own shooting. Always keep yourself under control no matter what your last shot was. Be a Positive Participant. True sportsmanship requires all participants in competitions to do their part to make the event a great experience for all. Follow the rules, treat other competitors and match officials with respect and courtesy and keep yourself under control at all times.

5 Practice—Work Hard--Train
TRAINING TIPS: Do positive repetitions—how much and how well you practice is the key to improvement Use dry firing or aiming exercises to increase repetitions Priority--practice standing and kneeling the most Time management—manage your time to do more practice Training Plan—plan each practice session (set goals/identify problems to solve) 9.4 Practice—Work Hard—Train One of the things that makes shooting such a great sport is that practice, not natural ability, size, strength or speed, determines how great a shooter you will become. Practice is repeating proper shot techniques in each of the three shooting positions, it is making positive repetitions. How effective your practice is depends upon two things, 1) whether shots are fired correctly and 2) how many practice repetitions you make. The more correct repetitions you make, the better you will become. There are lots of things you can do to make your practice more effective: Dry fire or do aiming/holding exercises as often as you can to get more repetitions. Standing and kneeling positions are more difficult so spend more time practicing those positions. Find ways to manage your time so that you can spend more time at the range practicing. Plan your practice sessions so that you spend as much time as possible shooting. Identify things you don’t do well and spend part of each practice session working on doing those things better. Set short term goals for each practice—what do you want to accomplish with today’s practice? THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ORDINARY SHOOTERS AND GREAT SHOOTERS IS HOW MUCH AND HOW WELL THEY PRACTICE!

6 Keep a Shooter’s Journal
A Shooter’s Journal is a written record and analysis of each day’s shooting Shooters should record: Scores Equipment used What they Learned—things they did well Problems to Solve—things to work on in the next practice or competition 9.5 Keep a Shooters Journal A Shooter’s Journal or diary is a written record and analysis of each day’s shooting, whether it is practice or competition. Keeping a personal Shooters Journal is a great way to make your practice and competition experiences more effective. The CMP provides a starter Shooters Journal that your Instructor can request free of charge. You can also make your own Shooters Journal by using a loose leaf notebook for this purpose. Things you should record in your Shooters Journal are: Date and location of each day’s shooting. Scores fired in each position. Any other type of training completed such as dry firing or physical training. Information about the rifle, equipment and pellets you used. Try to record at least one or two comments about things you did well in that session. This is a way to reinforce your positive actions. Also try to identify one or two things that you could have done better. These should be problems you need to solve; working to fix those problems can then become goals for future practices.

7 Call Your Shots SHOT CALL: A mental picture of your sight picture at the instant the shot is fired. Call each shot according to a clock scheme—the top shot call would be a “7 at 10:30.” How would you call the other two shots on the left? Calling your shots helps you focus attention on your sight picture and improve your follow-through. High, left ?? 9.6 Learn to Call Your Shots Calling your shots means forming a mental picture or snapshot of your sight picture at the instant the shot is fired. At first try to say whether the shot was high, low, left or right. Next try to say what the value of the shot should be. After some practice in calling your shots, you should be able to call a shot like the sight picture illustrated on the top left as a “7 at 10:30. Experienced shooters use a clock system to describe the direction of the shot from the center. When you call your shots accurately, this helps you follow through after each shot. Good shooters try to relate the location of their shot call with the actual location of the shot. If the shot call and shot location are the same, the rifle is properly zeroed and you fired the shot correctly. If the shot call and shot location are not the same, this may indicate that you made a mistake while firing the shot (incorrect shot technique) or that the rifle is not properly zeroed. Exercise: Look at the other two sight picture mental snapshots made at the instant shots were fired and say how you would call those shots. ??

8 Follow-Through After Each Shot
Why: There is a delay between trigger release and shot departure from the muzzle Follow-through ensures that the rifle will remain steady while the pellet moves through the barrel Follow-through aids in Calling your shots Maintaining consistent shot technique FOLLOW-THROUGH: Continue to aim and maintain trigger pressure after the trigger is released until the shot leaves the muzzle and recoil occurs 9.7 Follow-Through after Each Shot Follow-through is continuing to aim and maintain trigger pressure after the trigger is released until the shot leaves the muzzle. Follow-through is important because the pellet does not instantly depart the muzzle when the trigger is released. The trigger releases an air or CO2 charge that requires a few additional milliseconds before the pellet is driven through the barrel and out the muzzle. Follow-through ensures that you do not disturb the aim or move the rifle between when the trigger is released and the pellet leaves the muzzle. How long should you follow through? Some coaches advise shooters to continue to aim and maintain trigger pressure for at least one second after releasing the shot. Another way to judge follow-through is to continue to aim and maintain trigger pressure until you hear the sound of the pellet hitting the backstop. Follow-through is an important part of good shot technique. Follow- through helps shooters call and analyze their shots more precisely. Follow-through also helps shooters maintain more consistent control over the rifle and how it recoils. To learn proper follow-through, set aside one or two practices where your goal is to continue aiming and maintaining trigger pressure until you hear the impact of the pellet hitting the backstop for each shot you fire.

9 Consistent Shot Preparation
Consistency: Doing each step in preparing to fire a shot the same way for every shot Pay special attention to: Butt-plate in same location on shoulder Left elbow in same location on hip (standing) or knee (kneeling) Same pressures on rifle (hands, sling, cheek, shoulder) Approach target from same direction 9.8 Consistent Shot Preparation One of the best ways to fire many accurate shots in succession is to be absolutely consistent in the steps you take to prepare to fire each shot. Consistency in shot preparation means doing each step in preparing to fire a shot exactly the same. Here are some aspects of shot preparation where paying careful attention to consistency will pay off. Butt-plate Location in Shoulder. The photo on the slide shows an international class shooter looking at his shoulder as he fixes his butt-plate location. He does this while shouldering the rifle for every shot he fires because he wants to be sure the butt-plate is always in the same spot. Try to be just as consistent in placing your rifle butt-plate on your shoulder before each shot you fire. Left Elbow Location on Hip or Knee. If the left elbow is not in the same location on your hip/side (standing) or knee (kneeling), this will change your balance and make your position less stable. Pay special attention to placing your left elbow in exactly the same spot prior to each shot. Pressures on Rifle. One of the most important ways to ensure consistency is to pay careful attention to how you hold the rifle. Make sure the pressures you place on the rifle with your hands, cheek and shoulder are always the same. Target Approach. When you bring your aligned sights onto the target to begin firing a shot, it is especially important to bring your sights onto the target or bull’s-eye from the same direction for each shot.

10 Make a Shot Plan—Follow It!
A Shot Plan is a step-by-step check list for firing a shot—from shouldering the rifle to follow-through A shot plan describes: Shouldering the rifle Pre-shot checks (balance, relaxation) Approach to target Trigger pressure pattern Visual focus Shot call and follow-through 9.9 Make a Shot Plan—Follow It! A shot plan is a step-by-step check list with details about how you fire each shot. The plan begins when you load and shoulder the rifle and should take you through each step of the shot until the it is fired and your follow-through is complete. Write your shot plan in your Shooters Journal to help you learn to follow it. Steps you should include in your shot plan are: Shouldering the rifle and getting into position: How do you make sure the butt-plate is in the same place? How do you make sure your left elbow is in the same location? Pre-shot checks: Do you take time to check your balance, body relaxation and mental focus? Approach to target: How do you bring your aligned sights onto the target, from which direction? Trigger pressure pattern: When do you take up the trigger slack? When do you start to apply final pressure? How do you do that? Visual focus: Where do you focus your vision when attempting to fire the shot? On what do you focus your thoughts and attention? Shot call and follow-through: How do you finish each shot? The key to benefitting from a shot plan is to always follow your shot plan for each shot. There is no such thing as a perfect shot plan. There is only your shot plan that is perfectly and consistently followed for each shot, whether in practice or in competition. Jamie Beyerle, USA Olympic Team, 2008, 4th in women’s air rifle event: Beyerle begins her SHOT PLAN by making sure the butt-plate is placed in exactly the same location for each shot.

11 Keep Shot Groups Centered
Centered shot groups get the highest scores Think shot groups even when firing on 10-bull targets Anytime a series of shots are consistently off center in one direction, make a sight adjustment Your zero (correct sight adjustment) in each position will be slightly different Your zero may change during one position (10 or 20 shots If your shots are consistently off call in one direction you may need to make a sight adjustment 9.10 Keep Shot Groups Centered A common mistake made by many inexperienced shooters is to continue firing even though their shots are consistently off-center in one direction or another. When your fire a series of shots on the 10-bull targets, try to form a mental picture of what the shot group would look like if all those shots were on one single bull. When your imaginary, composite shot groups are not centered, it is important to recognize this and make sight adjustments to move your shot groups to the center. The highest scores come from shot groups that are centered. An important skill for shooters to develop is the ability to visualize how your shots are forming a shot group and to make sight changes necessary to keep those groups centered. As your ability to call shots accurately improves, you can also make sight adjustments when your shots are consistently off call in one direction or another. While learning to always keep your shot groups centered, you will discover that correct sight settings are different for different positions. You will also learn that correct sight settings may even change while you fire in one position and that small sight adjustments may be necessary anytime to keep you perfectly zeroed.

12 Pre-Shot Routine Olympic gold medalist Katerina Emmons After shouldering the rifle, pause before beginning to aim--CHECK: BALANCE—is my position balanced correctly? RELAXATION—is my left arm totally relaxed? Is my body relaxed? ATTENTION—am I thinking only about this shot? Begins to aim 35 seconds after START 9.11 Pre-Shot Routine The shooter in the two photos on the slide are of Katerina Emmons of the Czech Republic. They were taken during the final round of the 2008 Olympic Games women’s air rifle event where she became the first gold medal winner of the Beijing Games. In a final round (10 additional shots for the top 8 shooters), finalists have 75 seconds to fire each shot. The clock in the upper left corner started counting down from 75 seconds. Note that at 51 seconds, Emmons has not lowered her head to the stock because she is still going through her pre-shot routine. For each shot, she did not lower her head to the stock to start aiming until seconds remained. That means she spend 35 seconds going through a pre-shot routine to get ready to fire each shot that was fired approximately 10 seconds after she started to aim. Taking 35 seconds to do a pre-shot routine may seem extreme, but the fact that the best shooters in the world use lengthy pre-shot routines suggests that if you take 5-10 seconds between the time you shoulder your rifle and start to aim to prepare your position better, you will get better scores. To start using a pre-shot routine, pause after you shoulder your rifle. Do not immediately lower your head to the cheek-piece to aim. Instead, think about how your body is balanced; shift your weight slightly forward or rearward or to either side until you feel perfectly balanced. Then think about your left arm (support arm) and body; relax your arm and body so you don’t feel any tension. Next focus your attention on lowering your head to the stock, aligning the sights, letting your breath out, taking up the trigger slack and bringing the aligned sights onto the target. Even a simple pre-shot routine will make a difference in your scores.

13 Trigger Control 9.12 Perfect Your Trigger Control
The Trigger Control Chart provides a more detailed diagram of the trigger control process. To understand correct trigger control, think of this process in three stages: 1st Stage: Start-Up Actions. To properly initiate the firing of a shot, three actions must be taken at the beginning of the shot sequence. First, actual aiming at the target begin. At the same time, the last breath cycle is taken and after exhaling, breathing stops. While this takes place, the finger is moved from outside of the trigger guard onto the trigger to apply pressure to take up the trigger slack and add about one-third of the pressure necessary to fire the shot. 2nd Stage: Stabilizing the Sight Picture. As soon as the start-up actions are done, visual attention must be focused on the sight picture as you center the front sight movements over the bull’s-eye. In standing and kneeling, the front sight ring movements should be centered over the bulls-eye. In prone, the bull must be perfectly centered. 3rd Stage: Firing the Shot. The third stage involves the actual release of the trigger. With the front sight movements centered over the bull’s-eye, smoothly and gradually add pressure to the trigger until the shot fires. This may take two or three seconds. Continue to keep the front sight movements centered until well after the shot fires; this is follow-through, a necessary part of shot technique.


15 Standing Position Checklist
Head is erect Upper body bent back slightly to counterbalance the weight of the rifle Hand-wrist raises rifle to target level with the left arm & shoulder relaxed down on the side Hips are aligned with feet, not turned; hips may be level, or tipped up Left elbow is directly under the rifle 9.13 Standing Position Checklist This slide provides checkpoints to use in evaluating the most important features of your standing position. Each of these position features are part of an ideal position structure that will give you the most stable hold on your target. To use this check list, work on only one item at a time. You may wish to keep a print-out of this slide with you on the firing line. As you consider each item on the check-list, decide whether you are doing that item correctly. If so, good, go on to the next item. When you come to an item on the check-list that you are not doing correctly, plan to dedicate a practice session or several practice sessions to doing that checkpoint correctly. For example, if you are turning your hips towards the target so that they are not in line with your feet, begin each shot by consciously thinking about your hips and how you must not turn them, but rather keep them lined up over the feet. Keep working on that point until you automatically align your hips over your feet without having to think about doing it. You may want to have your coach or instructor observe your shooting to make sure you are keeping your hips in the correct position. Knees are straight, not bent Left hip is directly under the left elbow and rifle Feet are turned degrees away from target/line of fire, foot width is optional Weight is balanced over both feet

16 A Standing Key—Support Arm
Place elbow directly under rifle Relax arm and shoulder completely—support rifle with bones, not muscles Keep hip directly under elbow and rifle—look for straight line of support from rifle down to elbow to hip to middle of foot 9.14 A Standing Key—Support Arm Support Arm Location. After you have completed enough standing position practice to feel comfortable with your position and the idea of resting the left arm or elbow on the side of the body, it is time to go back to this point and make absolutely sure you are doing it correctly. This is because one of the most vital keys to standing position stability is using the left arm, wrist and hand to properly support the rifle. If this is done correctly, the left forearm and hand function as an inert brace that holds up the rifle; the muscles in that arm cannot used to support the rifle. Pay attention to these points: Elbow Location. Make sure the left elbow is located directly under the rifle, never to the side. Some shooters may need to push this elbow forward in order to be sure it is directly under the rifle. Some shooters will be able to rest their elbows on their hips; some shooters will rest their upper arms on their sides; either solution is correct. Muscle Relaxation. When placing the rifle in position in preparation for firing a shot, pay particular attention to the muscles in the left shoulder and arm. Try to relax them completely so that the arm just falls on the side of the body. Hip Location. The hips should be positioned squarely over the feet, not twisted in any way. The left hip must be directly under the elbow so that a straight line can be drawn from the rifle down to the elbow through the hip and to the center of the feet.

17 A Standing Key--Relaxation
RELAX YOUR BODY DOWN: Steadiness comes from relaxation, not muscle tension When you exhale before starting to aim, let your body relax, try to feel it sink down 9.15 A Standing Key--Relaxation Body Relaxation. A second key to standing position stability is learning to properly relax the muscles of the whole body so that only the minimum amount of muscle tension needed to keep the body in position is used. Shooters must learn that steadiness comes from relaxation, not muscle tension. To properly relax the body in preparation for firing a shot, do these things: Start with Breathing. Proper relaxation starts with breathing. During the last few breaths before starting to aim, try to use each exhalation as a cue to relax. As you breathe out or let air go, also think about letting a muscle group go or relax. Relax the Left Arm and Shoulder. Use one or two exhale cycles to let the muscles in the left shoulder and arm let go or relax. Feel the Body Sink Down. Then use one or two exhale cycles to let the muscles in the chest and stomach relax. Try to let these muscle groups feel like they are sinking down. Later you will learn that this feeling is the start of what advanced shooting coaches call the “inner position.”

18 A Standing Key--Balance
BALANCE YOUR POSITION: Balance the weight of your body and rifle directly over your feet Before you begin to aim, think about how your weight is balanced on your feet—make sure it is balanced the same way for each shot Check your balance before each shot (pre-shot routine) 9.16 A Standing Key--Balance Balance Your Position. A third key to standing position stability is balance. The position must be balanced and it must be balanced exactly the same for each shot fired. To properly balance your body-rifle system over your feet, do these things: Correct Balance—left and right. Start by balancing the weight of your body-rifle system equally between the two feet. Many of the best shooters in the world distribute their weight equally between the two feet. Many other champion shooters shift as much as 70% or 80% of their weight to the forward foot (left foot for a right-handed shooter). Either solution can be correct. The important thing is to do it the same way for every shot. Correct Balance—forward and rearward. Start by balancing the weight of your body-rifle system equally between the toes and balls of your feet. Some shooters shift their weight a little more forward so that perhaps 60% of their weight is on the balls of their feet. Again, the important thing is to balance your position the same for each shot. Checking Balance. Before you begin to aim, learn to take a few seconds to check how your weight is balanced on your feet. Decide how you want to balance your weight and check to be sure your weight is balanced that way. Champion shooters make this check before every shot. Pre-Shot Routine. Learning to check your balance before starting to aim on each shot is part of what advanced shooters call a “pre-shot routine.”

To hold the rifle really steady, focus your attention on the sight picture Concentrate on trying to get the target bullseye movements to stay within the front sight ring 9.17 A Standing Key—Sight Picture Focus Visual and Mental Focus. Another key to standing position stability and higher scores is where you keep your visual and mental focus while attempting to fire the shot. The question to answer is “where do you focus your attention?” “What do you concentrate on while attempting to fire a shot?” To achieve proper focus while firing the shot, do these things: Focus on Sight Picture. Once you begin to aim, you first need to place your index finger on the trigger and take up the trigger slack. Then focus as much mental and visual attention as possible to centering the front sight ring over the bull's-eye. Some shooters say they concentrate on seeing the bull's-eye in the front sight. Some say they think or focus their attention on their sight picture. By concentrating full attention on the sight picture and on keeping the bull's-eye centered in the front sight, the rifle actually begins to hold steadier and this steady hold lasts for longer periods of time.

20 Prone Position Checklist
Head is reasonably erect, eyes look forward, not up Butt-plate is well up in shoulder, lies close to neck Sling supports all of the weight of the rifle and upper body Left hand is relaxed, fore-arm rests at base of thumb Left elbow lies directly under left side line More upper body weight is placed on the left elbow Look for straight line from left hand to left foot Shoulders and spine form a “T” 9.18 Prone Position Checklist This slide provides checkpoints for you to use in evaluating the most important features of your prone position. Each of these position features are part of an ideal position structure that should give you the most stable hold on the target. To use this check list, work on only one item at a time. You may wish to keep a print-out of this slide with you on the firing line. As you consider each item on the check-list, decide whether you are doing that item correctly. If so, good, go on to the next item. If not, stop and dedicate one or more practice sessions to performing that prone position checkpoint correctly. Body is rolled slightly to the left, more body weight rests on the left side Right knee may be drawn up or straight Left foot is turned up or to right, not out to left Right foot is turned out to right

21 A Prone Key—Sling Support
Check the sling—make sure it is tight enough to do all the work of supporting the rifle and upper body Relax the arm muscles as much as possible so that the sling, not arm muscles support the rifle Before the shot, try to let the left arm muscles relax completely (“let go”) each time you exhale Look for vertical plane formed by left arm 9.19 A Prone Key—Sling Support Sling Support. After you have practiced the prone position long enough to feel comfortable with the position, you will be ready to learn some important ways to improve or ensure the stability of the position. A good prone position, in fact, should be so stable that the movements of the front sight are barely visible. The first step in developing a truly stable prone position is to use the sling to support the rifle so that the muscles of the left shoulder, arm and hand are completely relaxed. To do this correctly, pay attention to these points: Sling Tightness. Make sure the sling is tight enough to support all the weight of the rifle and the upper body that is pressing on the rifle. It is important that sling support remain the same for the duration of a shooting activity. If it begins to slip down, you may need to reposition the sling so that sling tension remains consistent from shot to shot. Muscle Relaxation. Start to check muscle relaxation by considering the position of the left arm and hand. Keep the left wrist straight, not bent. Then draw an imaginary line from your hand to your left heel (a coach or assistant range officer needs to check this) . An imaginary plane drawn through the left arm should be vertical and the left elbow should lie directly under this plane and line. If the weight of the rifle and upper body goes directly into the elbow, it is easier to relax the left arm. Use Breathing to Relax. Use your breathing to help you relax, just as you did in standing. As you prepare to fire the shot, each time you exhale, think about letting the muscles in your left arm go, let them relax.

The NPA is where the rifle points most naturally when the position is relaxed Find your NPA by closing your eyes and relaxing your body Open your eyes and see where the sights point Rotate your body on the pivot point to shift your NPA left or right Push your body forward or pull it back to shift your NPA up or down 9.20 A Prone Key—Natural Point of Aim Natural Point of Aim. One of the most important ways to ensure stability and consistent, high scores in the prone position is to center the natural point of aim (NPA) on the target. The NPA is the location on the target where the sights point most naturally when the rifle is in the correct position and the body is relaxed. To attain the highest possible results, the NPA must be located on the target bull's-eye. Follow these steps to check and adjust the natural point of aim of your prone position: Checking NPA. To find the NPA for a prone or kneeling position, get into position, check to make sure everything is correct. If possible, dry fire a few shots to get settled. With the rifle in position, close your eyes (or look down) and let the body relax so that the rifle points where it naturally wants to point. Open your eyes to see where your NPA is pointing in relation to the target. Position Pivot Point. All position adjustments must be made by pivoting the body left or right and forward or rearward on a pivot point. This pivot point, the left elbow, is the one part of the position that does not move. Horizontal Adjustments. If the NPA of your position is left or right of the target, lift your hips and shift the body slightly to the left or right as required. Replace the feet. Check the NPA again and readjust as required. Vertical Adjustments. To move your position’s NPA up or down on the target, use your feet to push your body forward (NPA goes down) or to pull your body rearward (NPA goes up). Check the NPA again and readjust as required. Note: NPA is also an important concept to apply in kneeling position shooting. Pivot Point—the pivot point must not move when adjusting NPA

23 Kneeling Position Checklist
Head is erect Shoulders are relaxed down—back is curved, not erect Sling supports weight of rifle Shoulder and hips are aligned Left elbow on or behind knee Body weight rests on heel, roll rests under ankle Balance body weight over heel Lower left leg vertical or slightly forward 9.21 Kneeling Position Checklist This slide provides checkpoints for you to use in evaluating the most important features of your kneeling position. Each of these position features are part of an ideal position structure that should give you the most stable hold on your target. To use this check list, work on only one item at a time. You may wish to keep a print-out of this slide with you on the firing line. As you consider each item on the check-list, decide whether you are doing that item correctly. If so, good, go on to the next item. If not, stop and dedicate one or more practice sessions to performing that kneeling position checkpoint correctly. Sit on heel, keep foot vertical

Let shoulders and upper body relax down—keep weight back on heel 1: BALANCE The weight of the body and rifle must be balanced over the two heels 9.22 Kneeling Keys—Balance and Relaxation Once you learn the fundamentals of a stable kneeling position, there are two keys to kneeling position stability that must be mastered. Balance. Like the standing position, the kneeling position must be balanced. The weight of the body and rifle should balance over your two heels. There should be little or no weight pressing down on the right knee. Learn to feel your body and how it balances over the two heels. Like standing, it is important to take a moment to check balance before beginning each shot. Eliminate Body Tension. One of the common causes of instability in kneeling is muscle tension in the back. Try to position the body so that imaginary lines drawn through the hips and shoulders are parallel. Roll the shoulders down so that no muscle tension is used to keep the body erect; your shoulders should slump down. By relaxing the body down, eliminating twisting or tension in the body and balancing the body rifle system over the two heels, kneeling positions can produce holds that are as steady as prone position holds. Keep the shoulders and hips aligned—avoid twisting the torso

25 Mental training is part of every great athlete’s development
Train Your Mind Too Have a Shot Plan—Follow it! Focus on your sight picture and making the bulls-eye sit still Accept responsibility for every score you fire Always stay cool no mater what happens Control your emotions— no acting out when things go wrong Be positive—believe in yourself Stay in the NOW 9.23 Train Your Mind Too Becoming a great shooter involves more than training your body to hold still and fire accurate shots. It also involves training your mind to keep you performing at the highest levels at all times. The first steps you can take to make good mental or psychological performance part of your shooting are: Your Shot Plan. Having the self-discipline to follow a shot plan is using your mind to control your shot technique and keep it consistent. Mental and Visual Focus. Discipline your mind to always shift your mental attention (concentration) or visual focus onto your sight picture and holding the front sight as steady as possible over the bull’s-eye during each shot. Responsibility. Never let yourself resort to excuses. Accept responsibility for every bad shot and bad score that you fire. Learn to look at them as learning opportunities. Think: What should I have done to make that shot or that score better? Then try to accomplish that in the next shot or next series or next practice. Stay Cool. Great shooters don’t let anything bother them. Stay in Control. Always keep your emotions and anger under control. Getting visibly angered and acting out has no place on the rifle range and no place in the actions of great shooters. Be Positive. Never tell yourself you can’t do something. Instead, keep saying that I am going to keep working on this until I get it right. Believe in yourself. Stay in the Now. Keep your mind and actions focused on the shot you are firing, not on good or bad shots you have fired. And even if things are going well, do not allow yourself to think about awards you are going to win. Just keeping thinking about the shot you must fire NOW. Mental training is part of every great athlete’s development

26 Shooting in Matches Be prepared—obtain and study the match program—practice the match course of fire before the match Be prepared—have an equipment check list—make sure your equipment is in top condition Strive to shoot the scores you have been shooting in practice— just try to shoot your average Make nervousness your friend—not your enemy Try to do what you do in practice—the same routine, the same positions, the same shot plan Enjoy the experience—new friends, an exciting challenge in a different setting, a chance for recognition if my training has been good enough 9.24 Shooting in Matches Competitions are the true test of a shooter’s training and skill. To further your development as a shooter, try to attend competitions whenever possible. It is important to find some matches where there are shooters who are better than you. These are often the competitions where you learn and grow the most. In order to do well in matches, keep these things in mind: Preparation. Good preparation means good competition! To get ready for your next competition, obtain a copy of the match program so you know the course of fire and any special rules. Practice that course of fire at home. Make an equipment list, have all your equipment is in good condition and be sure it gets to the match site. Plan to Shoot Your Average. If you go to a competition and fire a score that is within the range of scores you fire in practice, you have had a successful match. Shoot against yourself and your average, not against anyone else. Nervousness Can Help. Don’t be afraid of being nervous. Decide you are going to enjoy the heightened feelings that come from being at a match. Being nervous can actually make you more alert and focused. Do What You Do in Practice. A key to dealing with nervousness and match pressure is determining that you are simply going to do what you have been doing in practice. Have a shot plan and resolve to use the same shot plan that you have been practicing in the match. Enjoy the Experience. Going to a match is an opportunity to demonstrate how well you have prepared, but it is also a chance to meet new friends, see new cities and live experiences you have not had before.

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