Last month, I ran down my advice for picking out the gear you need to start your precision shooting career. That was a beast of subject, and I didn't even get to a lot of the peripherals. This installment will be shorter but no less valuable, you'll agree.
Once you've assembled all your gear, you need to play with it and tweak it. Practice teaches you firsthand what works for you and what doesn't. You'll learn how your gear works and how to use it best, what's useful and what's not.
The important thing about practice is making it count. We're all busy, and there are few shooters who get in all the practice they could want. We need to use our limited practice time shrewdly to get the most out of it.
Here's what I do and what I recommend. Take these tips to heart, and you'll see the difference. As with last week's write-up, I'm assuming you're new to precision shooting, but not new to shooting.
I'm not going to go into trigger squeeze, grip tension, cheek weld and the other basics. You should know these things if you are capable of firing small groups. Suffice it to say, they are all very important.
GET OFF THE BENCH
Once you've got your rifle sighted in, stop shooting from a bench. Bench shooting does not prepare you for field shooting.
Precision shooting is about using your tools and improvising to get as much stability as you can. That means shooting:
Everything should be done braced, off your bipod or off the bare ground. Whatever weird positions you can think of, find a way to make them produce results for you.
Good technique and familiarity with your gun and load in the field will put you ahead of 50% of your competition.
PRACTICE SHOULDN'T BE COMFORTABLE
If it is, you're not taking it seriously.
In this sport, serious practice means facing any conditions nature or a match venue might throw at you:
In the last article, I mentioned the brutally cold Mammoth Sniper Challenge that all but robbed me of my spotter. That's not out of the ordinary.
As much as you can, practice under each of these conditions. The more of them you can stack, the better. Remember, you need to shoot under these conditions, but you also need to be prepared to endure them yourself.
Even your own body can be an obstacle to overcome. That's why I try to practice shooting with an elevated heart rate. I also deliberately put myself in an uncomfortable position to break a shot.
Whatever you can think of, you might have to face some day.
LEARN THE LANGUAGE OF WIND
This could just be part of shooting under real world conditions, but it's important enough to be its own point.
Wind is your biggest challenge. You need to get good at reading it through mirage and in the environment. This gives you the information required to get hits.
A wind meter will give you wind speed where you are, which is useful. But remember, you need wind speed where you are, where your trajectory will be highest and at the target.
Not only do you need to read wind, you need to "speak" it. You need to turn that information into action. This means knowing your scope and the dialing or holding method you've committed to.
Nothing but field time will teach you wind.