Sample chapter from the upcoming book, Fundamentals of Rifle and Pistol Marksmanship for Hunting and Self-Defense
by Colorado Pete
“Good shooting is good execution of the fundamentals. Great shooting is great execution of the fundamentals.”
I heard the coach of the Colorado state junior highpower rifle team say that at a highpower rifle bullseye clinic. Fundamentals are not some basic things you breeze by on your way to something more exciting. Rather, they are the foundation of everything you do when taking every shot. No matter what kind of shooting you do, if your fundamentals are incomplete or poorly performed, your shooting will suffer.
Whether beginning shooter or experienced competitor, you will find plenty of useful information here, since much that will be covered has not made it out into the general shooting population. Let me also state that this book is not about tactics, nor concealed carry, nor close- quarters battle techniques, nor various shooting sports, etc. This book is about marksmanship: how to hit with consistent accuracy, and to do so quickly. It is also not about going from say, expert level to master level – though it might help some. It is about making sure that your foundational skills are complete and correct, giving you a solid platform from which to pursue further progress.
The pistol, conceptually, is a low-powered, short-range, reactive, self-defense arm intended to be worn on the person at all times, leaving the hands free, in general anticipation that something bad might unexpectedly and suddenly happen. The rifle is primarily an offensive arm allowing devastating power to be delivered, with range and precision limited only by the power of the cartridge and skill of the user. With this in mind, the purpose of this book is to teach the fundamental skills of rifle and pistol shooting to those who have not been formally trained in or otherwise exposed to the techniques described herein. These techniques are basic to all types of rifle and pistol shooting, but I apply them here with certain types of shooting in mind.
For the rifle section, the skills and techniques covered are designed for the hunter of large or small game with either centerfire or rimfire rifle, accentuating the use of field positions and taking into consideration the pressure of time, out to reasonable distances (about 300 yards). I will also touch upon ballistics and trajectory, sighting devices, the effects of wind, selection of the proper bullet, and practical accuracy requirements so that a well-rounded understanding of the intended task may be acquired, and errors in practical application avoided.
The pistol section leans towards the use of a full-sized, powerful pistol in close-range self- defense scenarios, accentuating a balance of speed and accuracy, gunhandling, and mindset.
While the shooting technique of the pistol in defense underwent revolutionary changes in the latter half of the twentieth century thanks to the efforts of a select group of people led by Col. Jeff Cooper, the use of the rifle in the game field by the average hunter seems to have moved rather in a backwards direction. Certain techniques have been long forgotten, ignored, or have never made it into general knowledge, especially with the present tendency of so many rifle shooters to either never leave the shooting bench, or to depend entirely on bipods or shooting sticks when they do. It is my intent to bring both the newer techniques of pistol shooting and the full blend of old and new rifle techniques together in one reference work for the aspiring rifle or pistol shottist so that these will be less likely to fall through the cracks of time as they have in the past.
The skills and techniques covered here will be useful for almost any other type of shooting, however, because they heavily emphasize the basic fundamentals of grip, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger control, loop sling, and position. This is not a specialized tome on either target shooting competition or the use of the rifle in battle, though it borrows heavily from the former’s principles of precision shooting and may provide some useful insights for the latter purpose. These techniques have been gleaned from years of experience in both smallbore and highpower rifle bullseye competition, IPSC/USPSA practical rifle and pistol shooting competition, formal training in both hunting rifle and defensive pistol usage by Col. Jeff Cooper, much discussion with fellow competitors and students, and a select bit of reading. For rifle, they are the classic fundamentals of rifle marksmanship long recognized by position target shooters and the Marine Corps as being what works. For pistol, they are what Col. Cooper taught me combined with what I have learned from other competitors in IPSC/USPSA and students of other trainers. I realize that there is more than one way to skin a cat, and some readers may have come up through a different system, but it has been my observation that all the good systems I have yet seen share the same basic fundamentals and the differences are mainly in the small details. If you have come up through an incorrect or incomplete system, or no system at all, and have an incorrect or incomplete understanding of fundamentals, then this book is for you.
I make no claim to having invented anything presented in this book; that credit belongs to the competitors and trainers who have striven and sweated and questioned over many decades. However, I may have my own slant when explaining certain aspects of the content. One of those slants is an inherent conservatism and caution which readers of the opposite tendency may find amusing. All I can say is, we are all victims of our experience, and I have had just enough to make me lean that way. Your mileage may vary. The target and the clock are always the final judges.
While there is no substitute for being trained by a proper coach, my goal here is to present this material in sufficiently clear, complete, and ordered form so that the reader can not only understand and perform these techniques, but also gain a good practice regimen to be able to improve and judge these skills, and be able to self-diagnose any problems that might arise. I want you to learn to handle your firearm safely, efficiently, quickly, and smoothly, and be able to place consistently accurate shots on your target, near or far, with the maximum amount of speed possible for your existing skill level – and to be able to continuously improve. Most importantly, I want to help you get your thinking about firearms and shooting oriented in the correct way. Whether for the use of the rifle for quick and accurate field shooting, or the use of the pistol for quick and accurate defensive shooting, having the correct mindset and knowledge in your head will both prevent major mistakes and help you perform at your best.