When he realises he’s doing something wrong when shooting, the editor has to go back to school

A while ago, I asked a rifle instructor what the most common mistakes he sees that cause people to miss. In return, he asked if I would take a few shots so he could observe my technique.

As a lone hunter, I’m not used to being watched and I felt terribly self-conscious and under pressure. How would it look if the editor of one of the UK’s biggest shooting publications had bad technique?

I tend to hit what I’m aiming at, and have done for decades, so I’ve never really thought about how I do it.

Crept in

Luckily, he approved of the way I shoot (and I did hit the target), but he noted that an old bad habit had crept in. What’s more, he could show me as he used the video function of his smartphone and recorded my technique. What I did was completely subconscious and I had no awareness of it at all.

As the trigger breaks, I quickly flick my finger forward again.

This serves no purpose at all and adds unnecessary movement to the shot cycle. Flexing muscles in your forearm to control your fingers could push the rifle around and is best avoided.

Practice drill

He soon had me running a little practice drill from the bench, in which the rifle was pointed safely downrange toward the back stop, but not aiming at anything particular. All my attention was focused on maintaining contact between my index finger pad and the trigger blade until I heard the pellet strike.

This doesn’t mean pressing it hard or even applying much pressure, just maintaining the contact. This means your finger hardly moves at all as the shot is released.

It should be a natural part of the follow-through technique, which means staying on aim, as still as you can, for several seconds after the rifle fires. This is a key component of any successful shot.

It soon began to feel natural and with practice, I hope to drill it into my muscle memory. Who says you can’t teach old dogs new tricks?


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