For those who remember the alternate shooting-position videos, I decided to go a little more in-depth with some of the most common shooting errors that I’ve seen on the range. These errors do not solely apply to the alternate shooting positions, but to precision shooting in general.
Shooter confidence will play a huge role in alternate positions. The mere lack of confidence can push a shot off target. Most, if not all of the shooters that I talk to say that alternate positions are just too hard and uncomfortable—the reason they don’t practice them.
My usual response to such a statement is, “How comfortable is it to comb your hair with your right hand?” Typically the answer is, “Very.” I use this example to illustrate the fact that no one is born excelling at a task; you simply practice it over years and years until it becomes second nature. The same rule applies to alternate shooting positions.
The key to practicing alternate positions is not to use live rounds on the range. The best shooters in the world do not shoot as many live rounds as they dry fire. The key to confidence is practice through dry fire.
Anticipation is one of the most common errors that I see in precision shooters who shoot using alternate positions. You can typically see the anticipation before the shot even breaks. Once again, a lack of confidence and lack of dry-fire practice can contribute to this.
I stress dry-fire practice because it’s scientifically proven that it does work. It trains our brains to expect that when the trigger is squeezed to the rear, we’ll only hear the click of the trigger and see that the reticle remains on the target without any lateral or horizontal shift. This rules out shooter anticipation when a live round is fired.
Natural point of aim (NPA)
If we ignore our natural point of aim during an alternate position, we will experience one of two, or both, results: The shooter will either experience a miss due to muscling the rifle on target, or will not able to reacquire the target after the shot is fired. When the shot is fired, if the rifle rises straight up and then back down to its point of origin, the shooter has a good NPA.
If we hold our breath while in an alternate shooting position—when our diaphragm may also be compressed, reducing lung volume an additional 30 percent—we are only exacerbating a problem. Always remember that the first thing compromised while shooting and holding your breath is eyesight. The eyes will begin to flutter, shift, and tunnel vision will set in if holding one’s breath is taken to its extreme (holding breath longing than than five seconds).
The flutter in the eyes is then transferred to the facial bone structure, which is then transferred to the rifle. The rifle will begin to jump with the rhythm of the heart if breath is held for a prolonged period. Given that the lungs are similar to balloons when fully inflated, and the heart is located in between the two, the ‘thump’ of the heart will be felt more powerfully when the lungs are inflated than when they have less or no air in them.
Now get out there and practice.