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You can’t buy your way into being a great shooter. Sweat equity is where your become a better shooter, not in a new scope or different ammo load. In this comes your fundamentals and your mastery of these simple skills that will mean missing wide or missing small downrange. Guess what: if you shoot like crap at 25 yards with a .22LR and don’t have any atmospherics to worry about, imagine what you are going to shoot when you start reaching past 500.

Your first fundamental skill that you need to get comfortable with is your shooting position. While the majority of shotgun and handgun shooting, both in sports and defense, is done in a standing position, long-range rifle marksmanship at ranges past 200 yards while standing is farcical– especially if you are shooting at varmints who have a kill zone the size of a grapefruit.

Perhaps the best-loved and most used position by serious rifle shooters is prone. In this, your entire body below your elbows is making firm contact with the horizontal plane. Not only does this produce a very stable platform but it also makes the shooter hard to spot which is ideal in hunting scenarios as well as others.

In the prone position, make sure you orient your rifle to where you can keep the buttstock of the gun placed naturally in the pocket of your dominate eye’s shoulder. This is where items like sandbags, bipods, shooting packs and socks will come in handy and we will talk about that more below. If not, the bones in your arms and upper body will have to clock it to provide this support. A sling, if used properly, will help steady the rifle and provide an artificial support.

Your non-firing hand should have a comfortable grip on the rifle’s forward handguard while your non-firing elbow is positioned under the rifle for support. Your firing hand should use slight rearward pressure to keep that stock pressed firmly in the shoulder while your firing elbow should be level with your non-firing one. Keeping your heels close to the ground and your feet a comfortable distance apart will help.

Keep a good weld between your cheek and rifle stock that allows you to maintain a natural sight picture for extended periods without really having to work on it. If you can’t do this, you may want to change out your stock, add a cheek comb, or otherwise adjust your position.

If your recoil sends the rifle directly back into your shoulder, and the crosshairs of your reticle pop immediately back into view without you having to wiggle yourself and the rifle stock around, then you are right on when it comes to your position, grip and alignment.

Should you see dark edges around your sight picture when looking through your glass, known as scope shadow, it means either you are bad off alignment to your gun or your scope itself is out of alignment to your muzzle. Either is bad but fixable.

In field conditions, you may not be able to get into a prone position especially in a high grass or marshy area. This is where a sling comes in handy to help provide stability to the rifle if you are shooting in a kneeling, sitting, or standing position. Of course, the likelihood of a making those long distance shots go out the window if you are weaving, bobbing, or moving at all when you are attempting to fire.

Moving past this, you get into your breating, trigger control, atmospherics, MOA, and other considerations, but without the strong comfortable position as a foundation, none of them matter.

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