Seeing as there is some interest in firing positions, I thought I'd write down some thoughts on that pesky fourth marksmanship principle - namely that "the shot should be released and followed through without disturbing the position". This is actually the point where you can wreck any good work done by following the first three principles, so here's the bit that most people get right - the trigger moves one way, and that is backwards. Let's have no blinking, flinching, or snatch and release efforts please.

If you're a bit more aware, after you've done your follow-through, you'll release the trigger, and be feeling for the "clunk" in the trigger that means that the weapon has recocked correctly. If you don't feel the clunk, you're straight into your IA drills.

But what is "follow through"? The most common explanation is that you watch the recoil of the rifle to allow you to call the shot, and this is why you keep your eyes open throughout. This theory (offered by a lot of target shooters) holds that you look at where the rifle ended up after the recoil effects, and that this is where the shot went. Unfortunately, it doesn't hold up to scrutiny. Even when I'm strapped into a target rifle setup, and only using 0.22 Rimfire, the rifle doesn't recoil back to exactly where I was aiming - but I can still call the shot within the bull. How?

The answer is in your reaction time. Just like that classroom exercise where you get a partner to release a ruler, and you find that you can only grab it when it has already dropped a few inches, there's a time gap between "you see the perfect sight picture and decide to fire, and your brain starts sending signals down your nerves" and "the muscles in your trigger finger finally contract, and the rifle goes bang". This gap is between 0.2 to 0.3 seconds. Maybe a fraction less if you practice a lot. Once the hammer falls, the bullet is out of the barrel in milliseconds, so your body has barely started to react.

The problem is that what sticks in your mind is the sight picture at the moment of decision, not the sight picture at the moment of *bang* (this is the real explanation for a lot of claims about "ammunition X is useless, I had a great shot and he didn't drop" kind of thing - the firer is utterly convinced that they had a perfect aim at the moment of firing). What you're actually trying to do when you call the shot is to become aware of what the sight picture was at the moment of firing, not the moment of decision. It doesn't take long to get good at it, but you have to concentrate - this is something for the zeroing range, and is the reason why you used to hear about "declaring a shot"

This is also the key reason why some people are "good shots". They are able to hold the firearm still enough for the quarter of a second between decision and firing, so that the two sight pictures are close together.

Next question - why bother? It's not so that the precious types can wibble about how they should magically "declare" that snatched shot that opened out their group and made them look like a numpty. Nope, it's so you can have confidence where your shot should have struck. If you know it should have hit but doesn't, you start adjusting for wind or range. If you know from the follow-through that it shouldn't have hit, you can attempt the same point of aim all over again. Either way, you start putting holes into Her Majesty's enemies all the faster.

If there wasn't a collimator to hand, and I was on a gallery range with a stop-butt, I could zero a SUSAT in four or five shots (normally after some f&ckwit left the windage screws undone, and the sight wobbling in the wind, due to inadequate preparation for firing). Given a collimator, it's down to one or two shots. Aim at something distinctive in the sand between the targets; fire one shot, follow through, and observe strike; and adjust. Repeat a couple of times, job done. With a decent follow-through, you avoid all of that messy chasing-the-error stuff that has you taking two practices and forty rounds just to get a barely-tolerable zero.
snatch and release efforts please.

Oh god. Training that out of someonewho thinks he can shoot (but the effect on target proves otherwise) is AWFUL.
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
Mugatu The NAAFI Bar 102
Signallers The Intelligence Cell 5
stoatman The NAAFI Bar 3

Similar threads

Latest Threads