Tactical Shooting Techniques and Methodology

Tactical Shooting TechniquesUS Crow – by CMF Contributor

An essential skill required to survive disaster is the ability to effectively use your firearm against hostile forces. Learn to control the situation by making each visit to the range purposeful, while advancing your skills. After reading our Firearm Safety Guide you should know above all, to respect your weapon. Work with other shooters, and humbly accept helpful tips while offering some of your own. Avoid feeling intimidated; instructors are just like any other business…  If you decide to attend tactical shooting classes, be honest with the instructor and take their advice.  

Prepare yourself mentally and physically, special operators have mastered what’s known as ‘muscle memory’. Muscle memory is a term used to identify subconscious body movement. However, you have to separate from previously programmed instincts to a certain extent to prevent misfires. Sound complicated? It’s not.

Sights get loose, trigger springs fall out, and locking blocks break. No one likes missing a day of training for a broken weapon. Cleaning and maintaining your weapon can prevent these problems.

Rifle Maintenance and Adjusting

  • Examine your weapon after clearing the chamber and mag
  • Disassemble your weapon
  • Use lubricant preservatives (Breakfree) to degrease all metal
  • Use a non-abrasive brush to clean any residue left in the barrel and mechanisms after discharge
  • Use a rag to thoroughly dry your firearm after cleaning to prevent dust and grease build up
  • Trigger pulls should be adjusted to achieve accurate field shooting
  • Ensure safe rear engagement by closing the bolt hard on an empty chamber
  • Install the scope, ensuring base screws are firmly tightened, when possible replace 6-48 screws with 8-40 screws to combat stiff recoil
  • Zero out your rifle after bore-sighting by sighting in on a target a mile away, turning windage and elevation dials until the reticle quarters your target, continue making dial adjustments after test fires with a two inch grouping as your goal

Tactical Shooting Guidelines

Shooting at public ranges is a common practice but it is not an optimal location to practice long-range firing exercises. Private land, or public land that allows shooting would be more effective, allowing for custom distance setting and the use of multiple targets composed of different substances.

A good deal of engagements are done within approximately twenty feet, this means three quarters of your range time should be dedicated to close-range firing. Alternate your targets timing, distance, and movement to simulate live combat.

Ammo is not cheap, and you can only shoot a finite amount of rounds at the range before the cost punches a hole in your wallet. Use dry firing to save on ammunition; dry firing is firing a weapon that has no rounds chambered. It’s just like shooting rounds, minus the recoil. Doing this builds basic shooting techniques and fundamentals when shooting from various positions to train your muscles and hand-eye coordination.

Firing and Patrol Stances

For rifles, when patrolling there are four primary stances used when your rifle is not in use, these are known as ready positions. The use of proper ready positions during patrols is essential and should be included in your tactical repertoire. Realistically, you will not be in a shooting position at all times during hostile engagements. Avoid stiffening up by staying in the ready;

  • Low Ready Positioning is the most common position when patrolling for targets that are likely to be in front of you. This ready position is the most efficient and expedient form of patrol, allowing for a smooth target engagement.
  • High Ready Positioning is not as common as low positioning because of the safety concerns it poses. The advantage of high ready positioning is the freeing of your support hand to perform other functions.
  • Sling Ready Positioning has become more popular with the use of assault slings, taking strain off the operator while allowing for quick and safe engagement.

Several standing active shooter positions should be practiced at all times, each firing position has a specific use and purpose. Combat presents variables, with each variable there is a solution. To better prepare for these variables, learn the proper solutions;

  • The traditional offhand position aids in unsupported accuracy at medium ranges while preventing a wide swing and fluid mobility.
  • The modified offhand position is a natural position that offers less body mass for your targets to engage. This position offers liquid mobility and 180 degree swing.
  • Universal fighting positions are commonly used by SWAT and Special Operators who are equipped with Body Armor, presenting your chest to the target.
  • You need to practice lying on the ground. Your stance on the ground should be as such: lie on your belly, and then roll slightly to the firing side. Place your support knee and elbow down on the ground. You will be slightly sideways, but your firing arm will be completely flush with the ground with your head resting on it looking down the sights. This allows burden-free breathing and a very stable platform.
  • Crouching (Rice Paddy Prone) gives you a stable and covered platform for accurate shooting by putting your firing leg behind you and essentially sitting down on the heel of your foot. Your firing knee will be on the ground. Rest your support elbow on your support knee. You will be in a tripod position (support foot, firing toe and firing knee), and now in an arrangement where you can move quickly.

Controlled Breathing and Sighting

By now you should have recognized the need for patience and relaxation when firing your weapon. When sighting in you need to be breathe slowly, relax and sight your target. Most shooters will tell you they find themselves focusing on the front sight versus the rear. Do not focus on the target; focus on the front sight, creating a mental picture of what you are sighting. Control your breathing by not forcing the air in or out.

Downrange Firing Guidelines

Stay loose! When downrange, and preparing to fire a couple rounds off, close your eyes just before sighting in use your mind’s eye to mentally sight in your target. After feeling you are properly zeroed on the target, open your eyes. If your reticle is not over the target your natural point of aim is off, which will cause you to muscle your target when you should be firing in a relaxed state. Continue this process until you properly sight in on your target.

Have patience and keep a calm state of mind, do not allow an off shot to affect future discharges. Deal with your failure by not allowing it to dishearten you. Your mental focus simply needs to be free of any stress, doubt, or self-consciousness if you wish to accurately hit your targets. Stay positive at all times, positive thinking leads to positive shooting.

Learn to control your trigger pull, sloppy triggers pulls lead to misfires. Remember, ammunition shoots differently for different guns. Enhance your capability by using a variety of ammunition types and accommodating for those changes.

Do not assume one bull’s eye hit is anything to be proud of when your remaining fourteen shots are all over the target. Focus on having a tight grouping. Use the data available by recording the effects of weather, lighting, wind, and etc. on your shots. Compensating for each deviation and making the needed corrections. Corrections can be made by noting the location of where the bullet landed (high, left, low, right and etc.).

Deviations like these could be caused by arm sway, sights not properly calibrated, timing and other miscellaneous factors. If your shot lands to the left, and you’re right handed, you are most likely squeezing the gun and not the trigger. When landing to the right you are applying too much pressure on your trigger. When a shot lands low/high you are most likely squeezing the trigger too hard and fast, or you’re over-compensating for recoil. Recoil anticipation and over-compensation is a common culprit for poor bullet grouping. To eliminate recoil anticipation, focus on your trigger pulling technique, squeezing the trigger slowly and evenly, tricking your mind into not expecting a break.

Movement and position repetition should be continuously practiced. Snap-in to each position while checking sling tension, hand and foot placement, body alignment and support. Consistency in your shooting technique and positioning is the key to firing accuracy.

When downrange and enhancing your rifle accuracy targets should be gradually moved from 50 yards all the way up to 200 yards. Range estimation should be a focal point in your training; camouflage, obscure targets, and backlit areas can cause a misfire. Use a range finder to aid in the proper estimation of target distances during practice, the more you use a range finder the more likely you will be able to estimate distances without it. Remember, bullets do not follow the contour of the ground, nor is it affected by gravity.

SNS Sympathetic Nervous System

SNS is the effect on operators during firefights that causes tension on their nerves and adrenaline. It is a physical change caused by the autonomic nervous system that will produce fear and panic in the operator. SNS is a challenge to any individual that is not a total sociopath because it will induce the fight or flight response system. The only way to effectively overcome SNS is through experience, repetition and practice. Honestly, combat and war is frightening and horrific to its core but the human condition cannot be legislated, it can only be properly addressed with an adequate application of force.

In closing…

By no means is this guide to replace a licensed and experienced firearms instructor. If you have the money to attend classes, do it. If you don’t have the money, ask other experienced shooters to aid in your training (most experienced shooters will be more than willing to help). When the shit hits the fan you will need to be able to handle a weapon properly and effectively. The ability to effectively use your weapon and defend yourself will save you and your family’s life. Remember…two in the chest, one in the head.
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