What Are the 7 Fundamentals of Marksmanship?
By The Range 702 February 22, 2022
Marksmanship is a precise skill that requires focus, practice, and routine steps for safe and accurate shots. Learning to handle a firearm properly and refining your craft will help you become a safer, more precise gun handler. Our certified firearms instructors share the fundamentals of marksmanship and why each is important.
Gun Safety Comes First
Before you learn to shoot a gun, there are some critical gun safety rules to follow every time you hold the rifle. Whether you’re heading to an indoor shooting range or outdoor target practice, always keep these basic safety measures in mind:
The 7 Shooting Fundamentals
If you’re new to shooting, you’ll be learning about the seven fundamentals that make up a good shot. Each of these elements should be followed for every attempt to improve and maintain consistency. Here’s what you need to know:
Stance is the first fundamental for every shot. Stance refers to the position of your feet and body in relation to the target. All other shooting fundamentals are built upon a steady position when firing. Different shots require different stances, including:
When it comes to grip, the most important thing to remember is that you want to grip with enough strength to prevent the pistol from moving during the shot but relaxed enough so that your hand doesn’t shake from the pressure. Here are some tips for better gun grip:
Sight alignment refers to the process of lining up the rear and front sights on the gun. For a well-aimed shot, the shooter must pay attention to the rear sight aperture and how it lines up with the front sight, with most of the focus on the front sight post. The actual target will appear blurry if done correctly as the shooter’s attention is focused on the front sight post.
Not all guns have sight-aligned requirements for accuracy, such as red dot sights, which emit an illuminated dot, or a prism sight where the sight places target objects in a circle for aim. If there are no sights to align, the shooter then focuses on a sight picture to prepare the shot.
Any shooter who wants a well-aimed shot must have the correct sight picture1. The sight picture is the image seen when the sights align with the target. This is true for all types of sights when holding a rifle, handgun, or any other firearm. Sight picture does not rely on the natural ability to shoot. Instead, the shooter utilizes a precise system to center objects in preparation for a shot.
In any type of shooting, breath control is extremely important. In general, it’s good to keep a calm, regular breath throughout your preparation, aim, and fire. This helps to:
The optimal moment to pull the trigger is when your breathing cycle reaches a natural pause, like at the end of an exhale. Your aiming breath should be calm and consistent, and the ideal shot fits into your breathing rhythm.
It’s not a good idea to hold your breath in or force your breath out. This can create unnecessary tension in your chest muscles or make your body feel like it needs to gasp for air. Working with your natural breathing rhythm allows for a more relaxed shot with less tension and movement in the body.
Trigger control involves pressing the trigger to complete the shot without upsetting your sight alignment. There are two main issues when it comes to proper trigger control:
The ideal trigger control position allows for independent movement of the index finger with trigger contact on the finger’s pad. This part of the finger is most sensitive and allows for accurate control and discharge of the gun.
Once you’ve discharged the gun, you want to be sure to follow through with each shot. Follow-through is when you end the shot by keeping the trigger finger fully depressed until your gun has completed recoil and the shooter’s sights are back on the target. Once your sights are back on target, then you can release the trigger.
Follow-through is especially important when more than one shot or sustained fire is the goal. With each follow-through, focusing on trigger control, breath, grip, and aim prevents the shooter from abandoning the shot too early, as well as returning to a pre-firing position to prepare for the next shot.