Shoot Better: The basics of rifle shooting

PUBLISHED: 17:55 12 November 2015 | UPDATED: 17:55 12 November 2015

oct shoot better

oct shoot better


Andrew Venables of WMS Firearms Training provides us with 8 basic rules of rifle shooting; 4 for safety and 4 for accuracy

oct shoot betteroct shoot better

Today there is an increasing tendency for people to buy an instant solution to an apparent problem, rather than seeking the answer in training followed by practise. One of the problems with the current trend of using shooting aids in all positions is that rifle shooters can actually get away with having poor basic shooting skills. Why is a pistol grip called a pistol grip? Because you’re meant to actually grip it to control the firearm in recoil, not subcontract the task to a bipod and a posh suede bag full of sand.

oct shoot betteroct shoot better

Interestingly, correcting these basic errors in shooting is the most important part of what I do on a day to day basis. Training someone to set of for along shot in a cross wind of “X” is pointless if they can’t discharge the shot without undue movement, blinking, flinching, losing sight of the target in recoil or snatching the trigger.

There are two sets of four rules that I use when alluding to The Basics. One set for safety and one set for accuracy.

oct shoot betteroct shoot better

The 4 Basic Safety Rules

1) All guns are always loaded. Treat them as such, regardless of their ‘declared condition’, and you won’t go far wrong.

2) Never point the gun at anything you are not willing to destroy. Imagine the firearm in your hands is like a light sabre and will slice through anyone you swing it through.

3) Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target (and you have made the decision to shoot). Breaking this rule is the reason for most negligent discharges and, combined with breaking Rule 2, most deaths and injuries caused by firearms.

4) Be sure of your target and what is beyond it. Don’t shoot at anything you have not fully identified as your target/quarry and be certain where your bullet will end up.

(Various firearms professionals have distilled these wise words into their current form, with the above version credited to the late Colonel Jeff Cooper of Gunsite fame.)

oct shoot betteroct shoot better

Safety duly considered; these are the 4 fundamental rules of good rifle shooting, as distilled by the British Armed Forces over the years…

The 4 Basic Accuracy Rules

1) The shooting position must properly support the weapon.

2) The weapon must point naturally at the target.

3) The sight alignment must be correct at all times.

4) The shot must be released without undue movement.

oct shoot betteroct shoot better

On a basic level, if you observe these rules you would never miss, right? Actually it’s more complicated than that but these principles stand through the whole process, even though that process can vary depending on position, type of sights, shape of rifle and so on.

Keep an eye out on the website and our Facebook and Twitter pages for more articles from Andrew as he works his way steadily through techniques and skills, building on these basic foundations.

Latest from the Sporting Shooter