When you’ve spent the time and money to build out the gun you want, you need the shooting skills to get the most out of it at the range, in the field, or when called on to use it for self-defense. Much more than just improving accuracy, becoming a better shooter means developing the situational skills needed to not only hit your target but be able to create tight shot groups while operating safely, whatever situation you find yourself in with your weapon. We’ll take a look at some of the most common and most commonly overlooked shooting skills and a few tips to help you improve your weapon and capabilities.
What Are Shooting Skills?
Shooting skills go beyond what happens when you pull the trigger to make the gun go bang. Whether you carry in the line of duty, enjoy hunting, or simply believe in your Second Amendment right to be secure in your own person and property, you’re a better shooter and a more responsible gun owner when you take the time to develop proper gun usage habits.
Gun safety should always be a priority. Guns are dangerous tools when mishandled, and mistakes can cause damage, injuries, or loss of life. Safe shooting skills need to be constantly cultivated for the safety of you and those around you. Even old-timers can learn a thing or two to help them handle their weapons more safely, whether it’s a technique for the range or proper storage when grandkids are visiting.
Accuracy is all about placing your shot as close to the aiming point on your target as possible, a key part of marksmanship. Improved accuracy keeps your bullet where it’s supposed to be instead of heading where you don’t want it to go.
Repeatable results are always the goal, and precision means putting your rounds close together shot after shot. When paired with accuracy, it means higher scores at the range, more food on the table when hunting, and gives you the edge in tactical situations.
Whether you choose to open or concealed carry, where allowed by your firearms laws, you need to develop the shooting skills that protect your weapon and keep those around you safe while maintaining its readiness.
Fieldcraft is a broad term that covers a range of skills used to move, engage, disengage, and navigate in the field, whether it’s a hunting situation, tactical skills training, or a burglar who has entered your house in the middle of the night. While carrying is about transporting your weapon on your person safely and effectively, fieldcraft shooting skills are the bridge between simple transport and firing a round.
Upping Your Gun Game
When it comes to improving your shooting skills and abilities, you have several paths forward. While any one of these strategies can help you step up your game, improving accuracy, your weapons skills, or the weapon itself, to maximize your results look for opportunities in all three areas.
Training gives you more theoretical knowledge to apply to your shooting skills. In many jurisdictions, gun safety courses or hunter education courses may be required by law when purchasing a gun or game license, and states that offer concealed carry permits usually require a class before issuance. Even if not required, however, these classes can pay for themselves by giving you more tools to work with when using your firearms.
You’ll receive training developed by firearms professionals, often with the input of industry advocates who review and recommend course material. Your instructor, an experienced and certified trainer, will present the class material while also offering their own hard-won experience and advice on getting your shooting skills to the next level. While some classes will have a range component, even those focused on “book learning” to pass a written test will have information that can be immediately applied to enhance your shooting skills.
Build a Better Gun
Upgrading or customizing your firearms gives you better tools to work with when focusing on your shooting skills. Creating a gun tailored to your preferences or with high-performance internal mechanics can make it easier to focus on your own mechanics when training with your weapon or using it in real life.
- Internal Components – There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to modern firearms, and replacing stock components with aftermarket alternatives can help your gun feel better in your hand while smoothing out rough edges in its cycling or improving its response. Popular internal component upgrades include new trigger groups with a lighter weight or crisper break over, stiffer recoil springs to better manage recoil, and ambidextrous upgrades that adjust releases and levers to be more accommodating to the shooter.
- Precision Sights – High-performance optics can help speed up target acquisition, give you an easier-to-find and use aiming point, and offer tight precision even to newer shooters who may struggle with marksmanship using iron sights. Modern red dot sights use LED technology to overlay a red aiming reticle on the target, aiding both accuracy and precision.
- High-Performance Barrels and Slides – Barrels and slides are popular upgrades for those who want to improve accuracy with their weapons while extending their capabilities. Ported barrels use some of the expanding gasses from a fired round to control muzzle flip. Integral rails give you more mounting options for sights and other accessories, while cutouts can help improve airflow and reduce weight.
Drills and Practice
While theoretical knowledge is great and customizing your gun is fun, there comes a point where it’s time to buckle down and put in consistent effort to improve your accuracy and shooting skills.
- Dry-Fire Training – Excellent for working on your trigger-pull mechanics and anticipation, dry-fire training involves using an unloaded weapon that you’ve verified is made safe to hold aim on a target point while pulling the trigger. While this can be augmented with systems that mimic recoil or cycle your weapon, at its simplest, these drills can be done almost anytime and anywhere, allowing you to perfect mechanics without spending money on ammo.
- Mirror Work – Your closet mirror can help you improve your shooting stance, get better at concealed carry, and improve draw mechanics. Unload the weapon and ensure it shows clear and safe before using the mirror to check your form, much like a bodybuilder at the gym. This can be combined with dry-fire training for a two-step shooting skills improvement exercise.
- Range Time – In the end, there’s nothing to it but to do it. Get to the range and put in the work to improve accuracy, develop a familiarity with your weapons, and learn how to use them better. Depending on the range setup, this can include tactical drills, hunting simulations, or traditional marksmanship exercises, putting rounds through paper, one after another.
Quality Parts Build Better Guns
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