Practice Makes Perfect (part one)
It is well known that shooting is a very perishable skill; if you do not routinely and correctly perform the steps involved, it will not be long before bad habits begin to appear and the speed and accuracy to which you were previously accustomed will diminish. For this reason, it is very important to practice shooting your AR-15 and to practice with it correctly. For most people involved in a sport or skill, practice is not always the most enjoyable part; for those involved in the shooting sports, it can be. The next two posts will suggest some “drills” and activities that can be both fun and beneficial to your skill set.
Unless you plan to use your AR-15 exclusively for benchrest or other static, accuracy specific competitions, there may not be much benefit to going to the range and sitting at a table sending lead downrange. While this is necessary for “sighting in” your weapon, optics, or a significantly different ammunition choice, there are many other fun and beneficial ways to keep up your learned skills. It seems like anything you do with or to your AR-15 depends on application (how you are most likely to use it most of the time), and range time is no different. Whether you plan on using it for general “plinking”, hunting, or in the unfortunate need for defense, shooting your rifle from various positions and in ways specific to your application should be your goal during practice. Many public shooting ranges may have strict rules regarding how you shoot, and if this is the case it is probably best to find an alternative place where you can perform these activities safely. Those in a rural area have a much greater advantage in this respect. Whatever your location, always remember the basic safety considerations when handling a weapon. Always treat a weapon as loaded unless you verify it is not. Keep your finger outside of the trigger guard until you are on target. Be aware of your target and what is beyond it, and always be aware of your muzzle when you are not on target.
Most manufactured paper targets are not expensive and can be purchased at any sporting goods retailer. There are some that have a layer of white or fluorescent coloring under the black exterior of the target so you can see where your rounds are going in between sets without going down to check your target. While these are great for sighting in and general practice, there are many other options that can likely be found in your home already. For some of the drills we will mention in our upcoming post, having some 3X5 or 4X6 cards or even small disposable plates from your kitchen pantry will provide an adequate target that can add a different dimension to your practice time. Also consider “targets” you can buy that may be more fun and just as beneficial to sharpening your skills. A box of trap/skeet clay “pigeons” is a great item to have for practicing CQB or vital area shots (most are about 4-5" diameter); these are great because they are a responsive target and clean up is easy--most are biodegradable. The BB/pellet gun manufacturer Daisy has marketed some smaller clay targets (about 2" diameter) that are even less expensive than the standard clays. Both can be simply taped to or hung on a larger cardboard backer target, or the larger clays can be suspended by a paracord line. A quick internet search will provide you with many other brilliant ways in which those involved in shooting have improvised targets and target stands to make practice more enjoyable and beneficial to the way they shoot.
Remember to practice like you play (or may be forced to play). Focus on doing things correctly even if slowly at first. When starting out or warming up, slow is smooth and smooth is fast. If you can develop a safe way to shoot that makes “range time” an activity that lends itself to anticipation rather than dread, your skills will sharpen and you will be physically ready from repetition and mentally ready from confidence for the “real thing”... whether that is harvesting a whitetail, competing in a 3 gun match, or protecting yourself or your loved ones. In our next post (December 2011), we will suggest some simple drills where these targets can make time at the range fun and beneficial. Thanks for reading our blog. Check back often for more news and information pertaining to the AR-15 platform and feel free to contact us anytime with any questions you may have about the AR-15 and our products.