Firing a weapon might seem like a simple point-and-click exercise, but hitting the target is a whole different kettle of fish.

The following steps are paramount in achieving better rifle marksmanship and thus are vital for self-defence and survival.

Chief ranger and owner of Marksman’s Nest, Geoffrey Coetzee, has spent many years training men and women in rifle marksmanship – both in the military and privately at Marksman’s Nest Firing Range.

He said, “There are a number of common mistakes to eliminate. The first of these is to be too proud. This is especially true of those who learnt to shoot at an early age and they get upset when a bad habit is pointed out. People who haven’t learnt to shoot are clean slates and therefore easier to train. The best rifle marksmen never stop learning and are always seeking to improve.

“Not controlling your breathing is another common mistake when practising rifle marksmanship. When breathing our chest expands, causing the rifle barrel to rise. This causes the bullet to strike higher than intended. Conversely, on exhaling the barrel dips, often putting the round in the ground. The simplest way to resolve this is to control your breathing. When exhaling, there’s a natural pause. This is when you should fire your shot. It definitely will eliminate the up-down pattern of shots. But don’t wait too long during that pause to fire because your muscles will begin shaking and your sight picture won’t be consistent.

“Finally, don’t anticipate the shot. This bad habit is noticeable from the random pattern of bullet strikes on the target. You might be anticipating the noise and the recoil as you pull the trigger, closing your eyes and cringing. Don’t do this. Pull the tension out of the trigger before pulling it back and your rifle marksmanship will be spot-on.”

Be aware of the above, practise and soon you’ll be a hotshot at rifle marksmanship.

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