ONLY THE SHOTS THAT HIT COUNT
How often we hear some shooter say, "I wonder why I missed", usually followed by, "Do you suppose some one's been fooling with the sights?" Not always, but in the majority of cases, the miss is due neither to any fault of the rifle, or its sights or their alignment, hut to improper aim. The proper co-ordination of keen eyesight, quick mental activity and steady nerves is necessary to accurate aim; and not always do we get the proper coordination of these constituents. Sometimes it is the eyesight at fault, sometimes it is the nerves that fail to do their part properly and sometimes it is nothing other than sluggish mental activity that sends the bullet wide of the mark. Only when we have harmony in all these activities do we have favorable conditions for proper aim.
Among the many causes of poor shooting are flinching at the moment of firing, pulling the muzzle of the rifle or pistol from the line of sight by undue strain of the hand and arm at the moment of pressing the trigger, concentrating the eye-sight on the sights rather than on the target, failure to align the sights properly with the target and failure to hold the gun parallel to the plane of the perpendicular, called "rolling" the arm. The accompanying figures show how the last two causes mentioned above will place a bullet wide of the target. Of course, flinching and unsteady nerves are, perhaps, the cause of most missing. Poor eyesight probably comes next with sluggish mental activity closely following. Some of the causes of poor shooting enumerated above are due only to faulty and sluggish mental activity. There are other causes, as the improper calculation of the drift of a bullet, or of the drop of a bullet, when shooting at long ranges.
It is not good policy to hold sight on the target for any length of time before firing. Good shooting is not done this way. If you will notice the good marksmen you will see that they fire the instant the sights aligned on the target. Usually the sights are first aligned on the target at a point a few inches below the spot to he aimed at, then brought upward until the bead of the front sight just covers the snot where the shooter wishes to place his bullet, and at the instant the sights cover this spot the arm is fired. Prolonged sighting is usually objectionable, and not to be cultivated. Nothing is gained by holding sight.
Much poor shooting results from faulty methods of pulling the trigger. The writer has seen shooters press the trigger quickly, almost with a jerk, then wonder why the bullets went wide of the mark. Good shooting is not possible when such methods of firing are used. Pressure should be Gradually applied to the trigger as the line of sight is brought up to the spot to be aimed at. With the view of releasing the hammer at the instant the sights cover this spot. Usually it takes some little acquaintance with an arm to enable the shooter to know just how much pressure is required to release the hammer. This is one reason why the shooter is usually unable to do his best shooting with an arm he is unaccustomed to using. Every arm has' individuality all its own when it comes to the trigger-pull and also in a general way. The shooter who would learn to shoot well with any arm must study this individuality of the arm.
Flinching at the moment of firing is another cause of poor marksmanship. Of course, if the flinching is due to poor nerve functioning, the remedy is to build up the strength of the nervous system. But not always is flinching due to weak nerves. Much shooting with the shotgun will often cause flinching when shooting the rifle or pistol. Especially is this true if heavy loads are used in the shotgun. Prolonged aim is apt to bring about flinching at the moment of firing and long continued muscular ^train is extremely apt to cause more or less flinching. A shooter cannot hope to do good shooting when over-tired, either in mind or body. When flinching can be traced to any of the above causes, the remedy is easy but when it is due to poor nerves, then not always can it be so easily corrected.
Usually, however, a shooter can greatly improve his marksmanship by keeping careful watch over his habits of shooting. There is a right way and a wrong way to aim an arm and a little observation and self-analysis on the part of the shooter will readily show him if he is right or wrong.
Hunter-Trader-Trapper. October: 1921,
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