How To Shoot A Rifle Accurately

Forget what you see in movies and video games: learning how to shoot a rifle accurately requires lots of preparation, practice, safety, and in most cases, maintaining a proper form.

We’ve all heard stories of legendary marksmen making shots that are dead on target from 1,000 meters. Well, they all started somewhere, right from the very basics.

In this article, we’ll outline the tricks that pro hunters and marksmen use to hit the target every time. Best part, we’ll teach you how to develop accuracy from not one, but any position.

Make Safety Your Top Priority:

Having peace of mind is crucial in making accurate shots, and it all starts with safety, both yours and those around you.

So, what safety measures do you need to keep in mind?

Well, here are 7 safety tips for successful hunters and marksmen:

  • Understand that different rifles operate differently. Therefore, it’s crucial that you first learn how to load and unload the type of rifle you’re using.
  • Make sure the safety lock is always on to prevent negligent discharges from a loaded rifle.
  • Treat the rifle as if loaded at all times to prevent accidents.
  • Always fire rifles in areas with sufficient space for shooting. The area you choose should have a clear display of what’s behind the target.
  • Choose an appropriate target. Most common targets used are paper and steel. For paper targets, use a backing, preferably earth-mounts to trap the bullet. Steel targets should be set at an angle and it’s advisable that the shooter wears safety goggles to protect against ricochet injury.
  • Select appropriate ammunition for your rifle. Ensure that the size of the cartridge matches the internal diameter of the barrel.
  • Gun safety is all about good practices and proper safety equipment. That said, ensure you have protective equipment in place at all times.

Get To Know Your Gun:

For the very new shooter, you must be able to get to know your rifle. Get the feel of your rifle by getting to know its weight and balance. Plus, ensure that you get comfortable on the cheek weld.

Consider having your barrel floated for consistent and accurate shots. Furthermore, you should consider a rifle with a longer barrel to help eliminate flinch and improve accuracy.

And before we forget,

Get to know the range of your rifle. You don’t want to place a target further than your rifle’s shooting range. As a beginner, it’s advisable that you start putting rounds through close-range targets, preferably at the 25-meter line. In so doing, you’ll be able to see how well you’re shooting.

Tips For Shooting A Rifle Accurately:

So far, we’ve looked at information pertaining rifle safety and familiarity. Now we focus on the competence part, more specifically, making that accurate shot.

For starters, rifle accuracy is more about consistency and eliminating external influences that might limit your rifle’s capability.

But how do you eliminate outside influences?

Well, the trick is to practice target shooting on a calm day, preferably in the morning. At this time, the temperature is at its lowest. Furthermore, there’s no distraction caused by mirages. Plus, don’t let bugs come between you and that perfect shot. That said, consider adding some bug spray to your gear.

Now, down to taking that shot.

There are five fundamentals for making a great shot: breathing, relaxing, aiming, slacking, and squeezing. But for the sake of a deeper understanding, let’s provide a stepwise instruction on how to make that happen.

Step 1: Hold Your Rifle Steady:

Steadiness of the rifle starts with the shooter. That said,

  • You first need to develop your steady shooting position. Do this by practicing different positions to find the one that’s comfortable for you. If you’re right-handed, ensure that the rifle rests firmly against the pocket of your right shoulder and use the non-firing hand (left hand) to support it. For left-handed users, the rifle rests against the left shoulder and the non-firing arm (right hand) supports it.

Creating a steady handgrip using the non-firing hand is achieved by,

Allowing the rifle to rest in the “V” between the thumb and forefingers. The grip needs to be light, more like a bad handshake.

But then, you need to remember that,

Eye dominance is quite crucial in shoulder-fired weapons. So, in the case of a dominant eye, make sure it lines up with the rifle.

  • Keep your elbows down and in regardless of your position. Doing so allows the elbow to support the weight of the rifle.
  • Now that you have developed a steady rifle position, it’s time t relax your body, most importantly the neck. Maintain a consistent cheek-to-stock weld for a more natural alignment.

NB: One of the most effective ways of maintaining a steady rifle position is by using a stable bipod or a heavy bench rest.

Step 2: Shooting With Accuracy:

  • Realign yourself, if necessary, to achieve a natural point of aim. For starters, a natural point of aim refers to a relaxed steady position achieved without a lot of effort.
  • Once done, align the rifle sight. Reposition your neck slightly in case the sighting post doesn’t align in the aperture.

But what if you’re using a scope?

Well, the principle is essentially the same. However, ensure the scope if far enough from the eye to avoid recoil.

NB: When using a spotting scope, make sure the target isn’t reflective to ensure proper sighting. Take care of this by using a matte or blackened target.

  • Focus your eye to ensure perfect alignment with the target. In the case of a scope, make sure the crosshairs and the target are in perfect alignment.
  • Control your breathing and squeeze the trigger. Ensure that you maintain your position all the way through the shot.

Mistakes To Avoid When Making Accurate Shots:

  • Unstable rest
  • Improperly mounted scope
  • Shooting in bad weather conditions
  • Inconsistent shoulder pressure
  • Too much barrel heat
  • Inconsistent trigger pull
  • Using the wrong ammunition
  • Lack of focus and follow-through


Simple mistakes can easily rob rifle accuracy. Stay safe and transform from a newbie to a pro marksman using the above tips. Any additional tips are welcome, so don’t feel shy to share in the comment section.

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