Western Rifle Shooters Association

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Basic Rifle Marksmanship Series: Part III - Breathing Control

Before we begin today's lesson, please take a few minutes to review our previous discussions on safety, the use of open sights, and the use of aperture sights.

As suggested by the illustration above, one of the key parts of firing a good deliberate shot, especially at intermediate and long range, is breaking it during the pause between inhalation and exhalation.

At most, you have from three to five seconds during that trough where your sight picture (and hence your shot) will not be affected by your body's movements as you breathe. If you have been exerting yourself, that 3-5 second pause becomes maybe one or two seconds before your brain says, "Time to inhale!"

To make the most of that short period, here are a few tips:

1) If you can, take a few deep breaths before you settle into position for that shot. More breathing means more oxygen in your blood, and that means more time for your respiratory pause.

2) If you find yourself running out of breath, STOP! Your tendency will be to rush your shot, and your accuracy will suffer. Instead, take a deep breath or two, put your sights back on the target, and create a new respiratory pause so that you can make that shot count.

3) If you have really been exerting yourself (say, for example, by running for your life), you may want to use Dave Grossman's autogenic breathing technique:

...The breathing technique that is being taught to SWAT teams, police departments, Green Beret battalions, and other elite forces around the world (sometimes referred to as “autogenic breathing”) consists simply of a deep, belly breath: breath in for a four-count,hold for a four-count, breath out for a four-count, hold for a four-count, and repeat three times.

This technique will both calm you and replenish your bloodstream with sufficient oxygen so as to make a steady shot more possible.

4) Your dry-fire practice will pay dividends here as well. The more practiced you are at assuming a firing position, establishing your sight picture, and firing an accurate dry-fire shot, the better you will be at the range or in the field.

Thanks for stopping by; our next topic will be trigger control.


Blogger deMontjoie said...

Awesome series. Succinctly and effectively written.

I am saving them in a single file and will give them to my students of my NRA Basic Rifle Classes.

Of course, this is with attribution to your site and with your permission.

January 17, 2009 at 2:20 AM  

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