Phill Price rec­om­mends con­scious re­lax­ation to im­prove your shoot­ing skills

Con­scious re­lax­ation is a lit­tle-known tech­nique with big ben­e­fits, says the ed­i­tor

Air Gunner - - Contents -

Many peo­ple think that aim­ing a ri­fle is easy, and quite frankly, an ob­vi­ous thing to do well. How­ever it’s any­thing but; poor stance, be­ing off- bal­ance or too tense can all work against hold­ing the aim prop­erly. Nat­u­rally, this re­duces your abil­ity to hit your tar­get con­sis­tently, which is frus­trat­ing and de­mo­ti­vat­ing. Dur­ing a re­cent dis­cus­sion on this prob­lem, a col­league showed me a tech­nique that I’d never heard of – he’d been taught long ago. He de­scribed it as ‘con­scious re­lax­ation’ us­ing a mus­cu­lar tech­nique that forces you to be aware of ten­sion so that you can con­trol it.

He said that if you just shoul­der your ri­fle and try to steady your aim, you might well have ten­sion of which you’re not aware. The tech­nique is to go on aim us­ing your best tech­nique, and then con­sciously pull the ri­fle hard into your shoul­der. Then re­lax all the mus­cles that are now tight, with full pres­ence of mind. You can quite clearly feel them re­lax and any re­main­ing ten­sion stands out, this will al­low you to in­ves­ti­gate the cause of it, then no ten­sion will be ap­par­ent and you can get on with the shot.


It takes just sec­onds to do, and with prac­tice can be­come an in­te­gral part of your mount­ing habit. Clearly, you must not shoot with the ten­sion ap­plied, es­pe­cially with a springer, but you don’t need me to tell you that. As I’m sure you know, springers need to be held very lightly to achieve con­sis­tency be­cause if you vary the grip-ten­sion, shot-to-shot, the zero will be af­fected in a neg­a­tive way.

In­trigued with the con­cept, I tried it out when run­ning gun tests and a lit­tle bit at the range. I think that there’s some­thing in it; I be­lieve it fo­cuses my mind on my body briefly, rather than purely at the tar­get. Now, I know tar­get fo­cus is im­por­tant as well, but the shoot­ing process needs sound foun­da­tions and this re­lax­ation is part of it. I’m go­ing to stick with it for a few months to see if I can sense an im­prove­ment. It might well cut down on misses that in the past I’ve been un­able to di­ag­nose. You can check that your sights were ze­roed and you can check the gun’s ve­loc­ity af­ter a miss, but you can’t recre­ate your hold to see if that’s where the er­ror came from. Per­haps elim­i­nat­ing this source of prob­lems could be the next step up in my per­for­mance.

“us­ing a mus­cu­lar tech­nique that forces you to be aware of ten­sion”

ABOVE: To be­gin, pull the ri­fle back into your shoul­der hard

LEFT: Let­ting the mus­cle ten­sion go com­pletely helps you to aim steadily

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