on all orders over $1000
on all orders over $1000
Here’s a secret no optics dealer is going to tell you, that high-end rifle scope you just bought doesn’t matter. Those countless hours you’ve spent researching for the perfect modifications to your rifle build don’t matter. The only thing that matters is physics and physics doesn’t care if you just spent $2,000+ on the latest Swarovski, it doesn’t care about your new completely custom rifle build. Physics only cares about the interaction of variables, and unfortunately you are one of them.
Luckily you are the cheapest variable to improve! If you consider yourself a decent shooter at 300 yards but start to feel fairly unconfident ranging out to 600 or so yards you’re in the perfect situation to double your shooting distances virtually free! No other piece of equipment will give you that return on investment. All that is asked is a time investment in yourself. By mastering your rifle scope, learning how to build a platform, and establishing a shooting ritual you will become a better shooter.
Think of the last time you tied your shoes, you probably can’t remember it. It’s become so thoughtless and effortless that your body automatically gets it done. You can be having a conversation with a buddy about your sweet new Leupold rifle scope, notice your shoes are untied and retie them without a break in stride. The simple skill is obviously credited to sheer repetition. That is how you should feel handling your rifle scope.
There aren’t many aspects to a rifle scope that you need to master, but putting in the time to feel confident every time you touch the dials is crucial. First, learn how to use your elevation turret - you’d be surprised at the number of shooters I’ve met who had the highest quality optics on the market with 6x magnification but had no clue how to adjust for elevation. LOLWUT.
Here’s what you need to know for confident handling
All of these interactions need to feel effortless from multiple shooting positions. An important aspect of shooting confidently is being able to handle your rifle scope from any position. Whether prone, kneeling, standing or sitting, if handling your rifle scope causes your field of view to alter you do not have a stable shooting position. Here’s how to build one.
A shot at a big game animal almost never goes as desired. More than likely, you’re uncomfortable, limbs are falling asleep, or your body is sloped to an awkward degree. It doesn’t have to be that way and to be frank it shouldn’t be that way. You should be able to hold your position for long periods of time, and have a stable rifle to the point where you barely have to engage with it.
Building a proper shooting platform is critical to taking a confident, accurate shot. The goal of a shooting platform is to be able to sit/stand/kneel in an optimal position so as little muscles are engaged as possible. Engaged muscles lead to fatigued shaky muscles which lead to shaky shots.
To eliminate fatigue use lightweight shooting bags (usually filled with styrofoam pellets), jackets, packs or rocks to wedge beneath your knees, between your elbows and core, and at the small of your back if leaning back. Once you’ve set up your wedges you should feel comfortable enough to sit there for hours if necessary without any limbs falling asleep.
It’s counterintuitive to believe that the firmer your grip the less stability you have over your target. Ideally, the only hand on your rifle is your trigger hand. I realize that is not always possible but always strive for this using bipods, tripods, boulders etc.
With my trigger hand I like to gently, I can’t stress this enough, gently rest my palm against the hand grip and lay my thumb where it naturally falls. I recommend not wrapping your thumb around the stock. This will make you grip down while squeezing the trigger, potentially torquing your shot at the last second.
If you’ve built your wedges properly you should be able to get your eye into your rifle scope and lay your trigger hand on your gun without affecting the field of view at all. Then it’s time to start the ritual.
Like any other skill, developing a pattern is crucial for success. The less you have to think about what you are doing the more you can focus on the target. Everybody’s shooting pattern is going to be different but I like to share mine with new shooters or shooters looking to improve their accuracy at a distance.
Check in with yourself
Once I’m comfortable with my shooting position and platform I do a quick mental check for any tension in my body. Starting from my toes, up through my legs, into my core then ending at my shoulders and neck. If I feel an excessive amount of tension then I go back to building my shooting position.
By this point distance should be known but a quick confirmation is recommended. Once confirmed, reach for the dial and make your elevation adjustment.
Eye on the target
Relax your head and eye into position ensuring you’re not having to do any straining with either your neck or eyes. Keep in mind you may have to sit in this position for long periods of time.
Hand on your trigger
As light as you can place your shooting hand onto the rifle, thumb laying naturally parallel to the barrel.
Once you’re ready to shoot, take a breath and exhale 2/3s of your capacity. You can hold your breath longer this way than a fresh inhalation and hold. Squeeze the trigger and rejoice.
Set elevation adjustment back to zero
Build this into your shooting ritual. Adjust back to before getting up to celebrate or change distance. I’ve seen this more times than I should, shooters are ready to throw their rifle into a ditch not knowing why they’re missing all the while being a full revolution off proper elevation adjustment.
The quality of your rifle scope does matter. It’s another variable in the game of physics. The amount of light a rifle scope lets in and how it interacts and manipulates those photons lead to a clearer image, which leads to clearer shots. You don’t necessarily need to know how a rifle scope works, but you do need to know how to work one if your looking for the right rifle scope. Becoming a better shooter isn’t about having the best gear, it’s all about the person behind the gear.
Shoot on an exhale
We’re taught to shoot at the end of an exhalation after you’ve exhausted the air from your lungs, however, this gives you a fraction of the time you can hold that position if you exhale 2/3rds of your capacity and hold.
Look at your surroundings as well as the target’s surrounding
In order to have the most educated wind call, look at trees, shrubbery and grasses at both your shooting location, the target’s location and the area in between. It is very likely the wind is heading in opposite directions and will affect your wind call.
Don’t rush a shot because your legs are falling asleep. Make sure you’re comfortable in the position you’ll be shooting from. Use bags, gear, rocks or anything you have available to wedge beneath your limbs in order to hold them upright without straining your muscles.
Practice positioning beforehand
Knowing whether or not you’re capable of shooting prone, slouched, on a single knee or sitting back beforehand allows you to pack effectively and make up in gear what your body lacks in flexibility or stability.
Use an app and get familiar with it
The calculation tables generated by a ballistics app will make your shot calculations next to mindless. These apps allow you input your exact ballistic data, update weather data and give you exact corrections you need to make on your rifle scope.