The Art of Longrange Shooting
AN ARMY SNIPER PROVIDES 10 TIPS TO ENHANCE YOUR SKILLS
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.