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5 Shooting Tips for Beginners

Just bought a firearm and ready to shoot?


But before you do anything with that firearm, read these shooting tips for beginners first. It’ll help you avoid common beginners mistakes (and a black eye). 

Let’s get started!

A Hunter’s Mind (Growth Mindset)

Everything starts in the mind

If you show up to the range for the first time expecting to stack perfect holes at 50 yards, then don’t go. Seriously. 

You’re going to fail. When you shoot, your shots will be off. No doubt about that. But you will become better through practice.

So, the first thing you need to do is adopt a growth mindset. Accept that you might not be good in the beginning, but through practice and dedication, you’ll become an aspiring shooter. 

Now that your mind is primed, it’s time move on to the other essential shooting tips for beginners…

Start Small (and breathe)

Like everything else in life, always start small.

Don’t be ambitious and start shooting at the 100-yard line. You won’t perform as good as you think.

It’s exactly like lifting weights for the first time. If you storm into the gym and try lifting a 100-pound dumbbell, what’s going to happen? I’ll let you answer that.

Instead, you want to start small and work your way up (25 yards is a good starting point). 

But before you start shooting, you need to understand shooting position (which I’ll cover down below) and your weapon. 

Know your firearm. The weight, feel, balance, mechanics (reloading, activating safety, trigger, etc.), recoil and cheek weld. Master your weapon. In fact, I recommend watching a beginners video for your firearm.

For example, if I’m using the AR-15 for the first time, I’d watch a video like this:

Once you primed your mind and internalized your firearm from top to bottom, it’s time to get in position…   

Beginner’s Shooting Position

There are multiple shooting positions: standing, sitting, prone and bench.

I definitely recommend starting off with the prone shooting position since it’s the easiest and most comfortable (for beginners). Another position I see a lot is bench shooting.

The most important thing you need to know here is when you place your firearm on the table, it’s crucial to have a rest for stability. You can use sandbags, rifle rest, elongated bag, bipod or something alike. 

Whatever you use, the point is to get the rifle as steady as possible. You don’t want the weapon to wobble around when you fire. 

After placing a steady rest, the sight should be eye level, allowing you to maintain a relaxed, erect head position without straining. 

Also, don’t lean heavily into the rifle to avoid forend pressure. Just make sure the butt of the firearm is nicely snugged into your shoulder. Lastly, have a firm grip so that the weapon doesn’t move around. 

Here’s a great video to watch to help understand proper shooting position:

(And if you’re using a handgun, read this article about proper handgun grip)

Now that you are in the proper position, let’s touch on something that most people don’t understand…

Cheek Weld 

Do you know how you lay your cheek on top of the weapon’s stock? That’s cheek weld.

Good cheek weld should allow your dominant eye to comfortably look straight into your sight without straining your neck. To achieve good cheek weld, firmly engage your cheek onto the stock. 

A common issue, however, is that people use scopes for their weapon and depending on the scope, the eye alignment can be thrown off. If your scope is higher than your eye level, then place your supporting hand on top of the stock to raise cheek weld.

Talking about scopes, I highly recommend a rifle scope if you want to increase your accuracy. Don’t know where to start? Read this guide: how to choose a great scope.  

By now, you’re fully aware of adopting a hunter’s mindset, starting small, shooting position and cheek weld. What about actually firing the gun?

Pulling the Trigger 

It’s not as easy as clicking a button.

Matter of fact, before pulling the trigger, you need to be in a state of calmness. Jerking the trigger can shift the gun, causing you to miss.

To avoid any possibilities of jerking the trigger, it’s important to get comfortable with the gun mechanics, especially the trigger. 

You want to know exactly where the trigger is without moving your eyes away from the sight. It should become second nature (and it will be through repetition).

Before firing, make sure to focus on each and every single shot. Take your time, breathe and focus on the target. Don’t try pumping out bullets like fireworks. Instead, make each shot count.

Take one last breathe, slowly exhale and then apply steady pressure to the trigger until the gun fires. Continue squeezing to avoid jerking the gun before the bullet leaves the barrel.

You’re Ready! 

You’re finally ready to go to the range and start practicing.

Don’t forget that you’ll miss the first couple of shots you take. But as you keep practicing, adjusting and testing, you’ll become a pro in no time! 

If you follow these 5 simple shooting tips for beginners, you’ll be off to a much better and successful start — I guarantee it!

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