Shooting Accuracy – 3 Things a New Hunter Should Consider

What Will Increase Your Shooting Accuracy?

Shooting accuracy is a skill that can developed over time. But there are 3 things you need to consider before you head to the practice range.

You may be one of those fortunate people who are just naturally gifted when it comes to shooting, that’s awesome if you are. You may be like I was and struggle with jerking the trigger and have a fear of recoil. Regardless of your current shooting skills, this article will help you increase your shooting accuracy.

Does Your Dominate Eye and Rifle Shoulder Line Up?

It really is interesting to see if you are actually shooting your rifle correctly in relation to your dominate eye. What does that mean? It means that the shoulder you place the butt of the rifle against is on the same side as your dominate eye.

How can you figure out what is your dominate eye? Let’s walk through a couple simple steps.

  • Locate a small point on the wall across the room from where you are now.
  • Extend your arms full length and bring your hands together making a very small triangle in the middle of your hands.dominate_eye_triangle
  • Center the point on the wall in the middle of your triangle with both of your eyes open
  • Begin to slowly draw your hands toward your face until they touch your nose
  • Which eye is looking through the hole in your hands? This is your dominate eye.

Is your dominate eye on the same side of your body as the shoulder you rest the rifle against? It should be if you want to shoot accurately. If your dominate eye is on the opposite side of your shooting shoulder, you need to consider a change in your shooting style.

How to Shoot with Your Dominate Eye

There are 2 options here.

One is to use a pair of shooting glasses and black out the side your dominate eye is looking through. This will allow you to continue shooting your rifle with the same shoulder, but train your non-dominate eye to be your shooting eye.

My choice though is to learn to shoot with the gun on the other shoulder and not spend time trying to retrain your eyes. I understand that it may feel awkward at first, but this will allow your dominate eye to do what it was meant to do. Stay focused on the target.

I have helped many people work through this process. If you are left eye dominate, you should shoot with the rifle against your left shoulder. If you are right eye dominate, you should shoot with the rifle against your right shoulder. This will help your shooting accuracy tremendously.

Resting Your Rifle – the Bipod Advantage

You will not hit the same spot on your target with 5 shots from a standing position as accurately as you will with 5 shots from a prone position. I know, common sense right? Well it is amazing how often I see people shooting their rifle and not shooting from a prone position or finding a way to rest their rifle for a comfortable shot.

roscoe_shooting_bipodsShooting accuracy increases when the barrel of the rifle moves less, so find a way to minimize barrel movement. This is why everyone in our house has a set of bi-pods on their hunting rifle. Bipods give our rifle an adjustable support system at the mid point of the barrel. In some cases this eliminates the need to place a hand on the forearm of the stock. For me this is much more comfortable when I don’t need to extend my left arm.

rifle_bipodWe use our bi-pods on the practice range as well as in the field. As my kids shoot using the bi-pods at the range, their confidence in their shooting skills increase. When we are hunting, we are constantly looking for a resting point for our rifle as we consider where an animal may appear.

This simple step can make a world of difference in your shooting accuracy.

Breathing and Heart Rate – Reducing the Internal Distractions

You need to be as comfortable and as calm as possible each time you shoot. How do you accomplish that in the heat of the moment? That big buck is right in front of you and the opportunity could be gone in seconds.

Well, how should you prepare for that moment? It is a skill that can be learned at the practice range. Follow this exercise and you will be training yourself for this situation. Let’s talk through some steps.

  • Be aware of your surroundings and what is in front of and beyond your target. (Use a rest when possible)
  • Quickly bring your shoulder against your rifle and focus the crosshairs on your desired impact point. (Do not focus on the whole target, only the point you want to hit the target.)
  • Take a deep breathe and exhale slowly 2 times keeping your crosshairs focused on the desired impact point.
  • Take a 3rd deep breathe and release it slowly as you squeeze the trigger while holding the crosshairs on the point you plan to hit. (Your rifle should fire before the 3rd breathe is completely released)

This will not simulate all the aspects of that big buck standing right in front of you. But practicing this will train your mind and body to work together when the opportunity comes.

When you consider and practice these aspects of shooting, your accuracy will improve. Give yourself the advantage when the moment of decision comes and you need to make the shot.

If you have questions or comments about this article, please email me at

Quick Tip – You can practice these skills with a pellet rifle as well as your hunting rifle. Ammunition for the hunting rifle is expensive, so we use our pellet rifles sometimes to practice good shooting skills.

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