The Art of Lon­grange Shoot­ing

AN ARMY SNIPER PRO­VIDES 10 TIPS TO EN­HANCE YOUR SKILLS

Firepower - - CONTENTS - TEXT BY BEN­JAMIN RE­DUS | PHO­TOS COUR­TESY OF BEN­JAMIN RE­DUS

A re­tired Army sniper pro­vides 10 top tips to build your shoot­ing skills

“Don’t get frus­trated when you don’t shoot as well as you think you should; learn from the mis­takes.”

Imag­ine, for a sec­ond, that you’re back in high school. You’re in the midst of a tor­rid love af­fair … with the hard­wood of bas­ket­ball. At the out­set of the fall se­mes­ter, the school is host­ing a spe­cial guest to teach a one-day sem­i­nar. In a mil­lion years, there’s no way you’re go­ing to miss a chance to train with Lebron James.

Now, you’re back in the present day. Seem­ingly for­ever your life has re­volved around the shoot­ing sports. To­day, we’re host­ing a spe­cial guest to teach a one-day sem­i­nar on long-range shoot­ing. In a mil­lion years, you bet­ter not miss a chance to train with Ben­jamin Re­dus, a for­mer Army Sniper with com­bat ex­pe­ri­ence who is cur­rently a po­lice SWAT sniper in Texas and a long-range shoot­ing in­struc­tor. In the fol­low­ing story, Re­dus will pro­vide 10 ways to im­prove your marks­man­ship. Let’s roll. — Ed­i­tor 01. FUN­DA­MEN­TALS Prac­tice the shot process fun­da­men­tals un­til they have be­come mus­cle mem­ory. Yes, there is de­bate over the term fun­da­men­tals; how­ever, at the end of the day, if you work on the foun­da­tion of marks­man­ship skills, then you will be­come a bet­ter shooter.

I’ve stuck to the tried-and-true sniper fun­da­men­tals, which are steady po­si­tion, aim­ing, breath­ing, trig­ger con­trol, fol­lowthrough, call­ing the shot and B.R.A.S. (Breath, Re­lax, Aim, Squeeze).

You need to work on all of these in­di­vid­ual fun­da­men­tals in depth, and they de­serve their own at­ten­tion on the range to de­velop and even­tu­ally mas­ter. 02. DRY FIRE DRILLS With a safe and clear weapon, prac­tice do­ing your shot process with dry fire drills. Con­trary to old wives' tales, this will not harm your

weapon (out­side a rim­fire ri­fle). Mod­ern day ri­fles are built strong, so treat them for the ma­te­ri­als that they are. You can learn a lot about how you’re af­fect­ing the ri­fle be­fore the shot by pay­ing at­ten­tion to what the crosshairs do when you dry fire. 03. THE ROLE OF CON­FI­DENCE Have con­fi­dence in your abil­i­ties, not ar­ro­gance, and do not sec­ond-guess your­self. Make ad­just­ments as needed. Some­times, you will over ad­just. When this hap­pens, make an­other ad­just­ment and move the point of im­pact where you want it to be. The more you make ad­just­ments and an­a­lyze ev­ery shot, the bet­ter you will be­come at mak­ing ad­just­ments. 04. THE FUN FAC­TOR Have fun and en­joy what you are do­ing. Don’t stress on misses. Use the data to ad­just and make the next shot a hit. En­joy the chal­lenge of bat­tling the un­known. Think of shoot­ing as an art form. Don’t shoot to the point where you be­gin de­vel­op­ing bad habits. Ev­ery shot should be con­trolled and well-placed. When you be­gin shoot­ing with bad habits or lazi­ness, you will be­gin miss­ing and en­joy­ing it less and less. 05. DON’T STOP LEARN­ING Al­ways con­tinue to learn. Once you stop learn­ing, you be­gin to strug­gle. No­body ex­pects you to know ad­vanced physics or bal­lis­tics overnight. Ed­u­cate your­self where you un­der­stand enough and keep learn­ing, do not get frus­trated by not know­ing what the bul­let is do­ing and why.

Don’t get frus­trated when you don’t shoot as well as you think you should; learn from the mis­takes. Think of it this way: What can be im­proved, what ex­ter­nal fac­tors are af­fect­ing you, the gun or the bul­let? 06. TOP GEAR The best equip­ment does not pro­duce the best shooter. Most high-end tricked out ri­fles are de­signed to elim­i­nate as much hu­man/ shooter er­ror as pos­si­ble. In­stead, learn on a stock off-the-shelf gun that is less than ideal. It will show you your flaws and al­low you to work on them in­ex­pen­sively. Once your fun­da­men­tals are solid, then move up into a ri­fle that aids the shooter. 07. OB­SERVE AND LEARN Spend time out­doors, ob­serv­ing the wind and

“Think of shoot­ing as an art form. Don’t shoot to the point where you be­gin de­vel­op­ing bad habits. Ev­ery shot should be con­trolled and wellplaced.”

the way it moves with na­ture. Learn to watch the wind at dif­fer­ent dis­tances and note the dif­fer­ent ef­fects. The wind is your big­gest en­emy and af­fects the bul­let the most when shoot­ing long dis­tance. Wind is cal­cu­lated by shooter judg­ment, ex­pe­ri­ence and know­ing the equip­ment you’re us­ing. 08. VER­IFY When learn­ing some­thing new, ver­ify or vet ad­vice for au­then­tic­ity. Gim­micks and tricks or hacks will never be bet­ter than fun­da­men­tals and range-forged skills. When I in­struct new shoot­ers or some­one who has been shoot­ing for decades, I harp on the ba­sics and the fun­da­men­tals. Any­one try­ing to short-cut good shoot­ing skills is lead­ing you astray. 09. SEEK HIGHER GROUND Train with peo­ple bet­ter than you. By do­ing this, you are bound to learn some­thing new or in the very least, rise to a level of shoot­ing you would not be able to reach train­ing by your­self.

Al­low other, bet­ter shoot­ers to ob­serve your shot process and cri­tique your fun­da­men­tals. They may see some­thing you can­not or did not think was an is­sue but could help your shoot­ing a great deal.

Go to shoot­ing com­pe­ti­tions and watch the best shoot­ers. Learn from all of them. You may not want to do ev­ery­thing you see, but you can also learn what not to do by watch­ing other peo­ple shoot. 10. GROUP­ING When I train, I shoot noth­ing less than three to five shots ev­ery time. I’m look­ing for a group of im­pacts. If the group­ing is spread out, I’m do­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent in my process, or there is some­thing ex­ter­nally wrong with the ammo or gun, mean­ing some­thing needs to be fixed im­me­di­ately. If the group­ing is tight, I know I’m do­ing the same thing ev­ery time I shoot.

Re­gard­less of where your group is in re­la­tion to your point of aim, the group can be moved with scope ad­just­ments to your de­sired point of im­pact on the tar­get.

“The wind is your big­gest en­emy and af­fects the bul­let the most when shoot­ing long dis­tance.”

If you shoot with bad habits, you will be­gin miss­ing … and en­joy­ing shoot­ing less and less.

Re­dus says that the more you make ad­just­ments and an­a­lyze ev­ery shot, the bet­ter you will be­come.

If your group­ing is tight, you’re do­ing the same thing ev­ery time you shoot.

When start­ing out, learn on a stock off-the-shelf gun. This will show you your flaws … with­out spend­ing a ton of money on an ex­pen­sive ri­fle.

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