Before even picking up that shiny new rifle you just purchased, let’s take a moment and talk about the four fundamentals of marksmanship. These aren’t going to make you a trick shot or a sniper on day one, but they underpin everything you need to hit your target, whether at 50 meters or 500.

There are many schools of thought for this, but here is an easy one for everyone to remember: Steady Position; Aiming; Breath Control; and Trigger Squeeze.

For this article, the shooter will be in the prone or laying down position.


1) Steady Position

The first marksmanship fundamental has to do with your position. The rifle handguard should rest one heel of the non-firing hand in the V formed by the thumb and fingers. The grip of the non-firing hand should be light, do not squeeze the rifle.

Place the butt of the rifle in the pocket (just above the armpit) of the firing shoulder. This will reduce the effect of recoil and help ensure a steady position.

The firing hand grasps the pistol grip, having it fit in the V formed by the thumb and forefinger. The firing finger should be placed on the trigger, so the rifle’s lay is not disturbed when the trigger is squeezed. Basically, you don’t want the rifle to move right or left when you pull the trigger. The remaining three fingers apply slight rearward pressure to ensure that the buttstock remains in the pocket of the shoulder so that it minimizes the effect of recoil. Nobody wants to get shoulder punched by a rifle.