Precision and accuracy in shooting with your rifle are about more than just practice. It can be tough to break bad habits once they are established.
A solid foundation begins with the proper equipment and accessories. Combined with a methodical approach to perfecting your technique, each practice session can bring you one shot closer to mastery in target acquisition.
Let’s delve deeper into each tip to help you achieve dead-on consistency in your rifle shooting.
1. Clean Your Rifle
This is an obvious, yet often overlooked, aspect of consistently achieving accuracy. Your rifle must be properly cleaned after each shooting session or hunting trip. Maintaining a clean rifle can impact the bullet’s trajectory and precision.
How Often To Clean Your Rifle
Your rifle is exposed to the elements in the field, including dust, debris, and weather conditions. Maintenance of your weapon system is critical, especially if it comes into contact with said external factors.
While the elements are less of a concern at the range, you should still get into the habit of at least doing a light cleaning if you shoot more than a few dozen rounds through it. The more shots fired, the more in-depth cleaning that will be required.
Moisture is never beneficial for your rifle, so your rifle should be cleaned even if it’s only in storage. Once or twice a year should do the trick if it’s stored in a case in a climate-controlled setting. Properly oiling your gun will keep the rust and other deterioration away.
How To Clean Your Rifle
Be sure your rifle is completely unloaded before you begin cleaning. If your rifle’s manufacturer has specific cleaning instructions in the manual, follow each step of their process.
When you are removing springs or other elements of your rifle, set all parts aside in a container. You will need brushes, soft cloths, a cleaning solution, a lubricant, and paper towels.
If you have a boresight, this can help you examine the barrel to check for any damage and achieve a more comprehensive cleaning. Lubricating cloths can be a great option to reduce the amount of excess residue.
Over-oiling your rifle can be a problem, too. Find that balance. Anywhere there is metal-on-metal contact will require lubrication. Anywhere there is exposure to the elements will also appreciate a coat of oil.
While cleaning your rifle, be sure to remove all debris, residue, and fouling. Focus on the barrel, action, receiver, and bolt.
There are different cleaners for different types of fouling. Your standard cleaning solvent will take care of most things, but there are specialized cleaners to remove things like copper residue or rust.
Acquire the right cleaners as needed. Before reassembling, wipe everything down with a clean, dry cloth. The cleaning process can require zeroing your rifle again. These adjustments should be relatively minor if your rifle was accurately zeroed before cleaning.
2. Use Quality Scopes, Mounts, & Rings
Regarding the accessories you will use with your rifle, this is not the time to be cheap. Using improperly fitting or low-quality scopes, mounts, and rings will impact the accuracy of your shots.
Rifle scopes can vary widely in price. When you are shopping for a scope, consider the magnification, objective lens quality, reticle style, focal plane, and turrets.
All Rapid Reticle scopes are variable scopes meaning the magnification is variable. If the scope is listed as 3-12×42, that means the magnification level can vary from 3x-12x with a 42mm objective lens. This versatility offers flexibility in different environments and situations.
The amount of magnification you will need depends on the distance of your targets. For less than 100 yards, up to 4x magnification will suffice, while shooting at a distance of more than 500 yards will require a higher magnification for proper target identification and confirming impacts.
Remember that more is not always better. Excessive magnification, especially on closer targets, will reduce your field of view, peripheral vision, and ability to get on target for a second shot quickly.
Objective Lens Quality
The objective lens is the lens at the end of your scope. A larger lens is the brighter your image will be on top of having a wider field of view, but you must also consider the weight that is being added and the type of environment you will be in. In the example above of 3-12×42, the number after the x provides the diameter of the lens.
Next up is the reticle style. There are several styles of reticles, including the MRAD, MOA, and BDC.
All our scopes offer our patented proprietary BDC reticles. This is more of an all-purpose reticle that can estimate the calculations necessary for precision shooting.
MRAD and MOA reticles are based on a unit of measure and can be used with any rifle, whereas a BDC reticle is tailored for a particular ballistic travel. They also require you to know important information, like the muzzle velocity of the specific bullet you are using with your particular rifle, in order to properly and consistently calculate your impacts.
This is called DOPE, and it requires quite a bit of training to master in addition to making turret adjustments for your shots. Our patented BDC reticles have the calculations already done in a visual format so that you can get on target faster without clicks or calculations.
FFP vs SFP
The next aspect you will want to consider is first focal plane (FFP) or second focal plane (SFP). All PFI reticles are FFP; we want the user to have full capability at any magnification level.
A BDC reticle in FFP will increase and decrease in size relative to the magnification setting, keeping the holdovers true. A SFP optic will require you to shoot a target at any distance at a particular magnification setting if you are shooting beyond 100 yards, whether the reticle is in MOA, MRAD, or a BDC.
Elevation and Windage Turrets
Last but certainly not least are the turrets. These knobs adjust for windage (left to right) and elevation (up and down) and are the key to accuracy and precision.
You want to look for knobs with an audible click and smooth reliability as you make different adjustments. A quality turret will have positive clicks with a zero-stop so that you can easily return the turret to its zero position. Each click should make a consistent change to your reticle’s position.
You can always test this with a box test at the range. This is something you can do after you zero your rifle. The basic concept is for you to make a set adjustment in each direction to verify that your optic is mounted properly and that the adjustments are consistent.
Mounts & Rings
In addition to the quality of the scope, you will also want to use high-quality mounts and rings that are designed for your rifle and scope. Any looseness or movement allowed in mounts and rings will impact the accuracy of your shot.
You must choose durable mounts and rings and ensure they are firmly secured and tightened before zeroing your rifle.
3. Zero Your Rifle Scope
Zeroing your rifle scope simply means aligning where you aim to the actual point of impact at a particular distance. We offer in-depth instructions on how to zero your scope in our owner’s manuals.
While it can take a little longer the first time it is done, it is vital for accuracy. You may need to make small adjustments over time, particularly if you do anything that adjusts how the scope sits on the rifle, such as tightening the mount.
When you are zeroing, it is important to use a stable base such as a table, rifle rest, or sandbags. Be sure always to use the same ammo weight, as changing the weight can impact the accuracy.
4. Maintain the Stability of Your Rifle
To maintain stability and hold your aim, practice controlling your breathing, adopting a stable shooting stance, and minimizing any unnecessary shifts.
Control Your Breathing
To control your breathing during shooting, pay attention to your rate of respiration. The faster you breathe, the more instability you will introduce into your shot. Slow your breathing and practice squeezing the trigger on your exhale.
Some will also succeed in exhaling about half of the breath and then pausing. During that pause, squeeze the trigger. This can eliminate any movement due to your breathing but may take some practice to perfect.
Perfect Your Shooting Position
Next is finding the right shooting position for you. Everyone is different in the position they prefer. You want to find a position that provides a stable base and is comfortable.
You should be able to hold the position for the amount of time it takes you to acquire the target and make any adjustments. Experiment with different stances, including standing with feet at a shoulder distance apart, one leg in front of the other with the weight balanced, kneeling, or prone.
Minimize Unnecessary Movements
When minimizing any unnecessary shifts, you want to focus on your trigger control. An easy way to negatively impact the accuracy of your shot is by pulling the trigger instead of squeezing it.
Avoid any jerky movements and apply consistent pressure during the squeeze. You should use the pad of your trigger finger when squeezing. This can help to eliminate any jerking motion that will throw off your aim.
After you take the shot, remain still instead of immediately releasing your stance. You can influence the bullet’s path if you release or move too soon.
By incorporating these tips to improve your accuracy, you can make a powerful impact on your rifle shooting skills. A consistent effort in practicing your skills can result in a compelling impact on your precision in the field.