Rifle Marksmanship 101

A space for those that wish to offer insight into developing marksmanship fundamentals.


Great topic. Pistols and carbines in the same thread? One is bigger than the other.


Good point, I’ll start another for handguns.


When scoring your target always take the highest ring score as long as the bullet “Cuts” the line.
Your target looks like it was moist when used and not crisp. The holes are not clean. The outer edges of the hole show perpendicular tears towards the line.
Your hits that you think are on the line are not and cannot take the higher score.
Hope this helps.
When in doubt, adjust your aim and hit. Also note that when shooting competition, run clean patches before and after your string or during the string when possible. Your barrel is dirty which also affects your hits. The bullets are depositing the excess carbon on your target fouling your holes.


@DrumsGunsBMX @Teddy_the_Beer @Mack


Interesting notations on the black halo caused from powder… I didn’t know that.
Also that it can cause deviations on targeting and the paper dampness can cause changes.
And, I did attach a bipod to my rifle sighting it in and I took it off, wasn’t stable enough for me anyway. I was thinking of going with the bags, maybe not now that you mentioned.


Brother @Moosecall … brother @Mack speaks like a benchrest type shooter. His commentary holds merit, but it IS next level commentary. If his targets match the game he talks, @Teddy_the_Beer might have to stop handicapping to stay in the game.

But … the ban on rear supports might loop him a bit - looking forward to finding out.


I love all you guys. Always shoot for the clean and clear. Reading a target should not strain your eyes. It’s nice when if on the line as long as the judgement is obviously. Always shoot for clean and clear and don’t wrap yourself around a questionable hit.
Did you use a spotter and an optic to read the hits?
When I played I spent 20-30 minutes going through the drill, always spend time on the dress rehearsal.
Early on I would waste shots to align all my fundamentals.
Later on I learned to do the dry rehearsal. For each dry shot, focus on the numbers(each step of each fundamental) at the followup do a complete debrief in your head and bring the notations to the next shot. I do this with each of my firearms and twice if I must swap or change to a second or third gun. Guess what, each gun has its own balance, sight picture and grip. Swapping guns is also a major part of your debrief. Pistols are the most difficult for me and I spend lots of time in the dry fire mode working on smooth switches. For consistent grips, always use the two hand pick up and keep your life and death grip on the pistol completely through its use. The number one fault in these episodes is a relax of your grip between shoots. That is what will cost you the competition.
Well guys, look at the fist hit, take the information onboard and plan for the next shot.
The environment is the worst competitor on the range. Without breaking down the wind speed, direction and computing your holds and making note of moving sun and temperature, it doesn’t matter. All together you do a calculation once and take the shot at the best time. That’s it. Instead of waiting on the breeze to stop which it never will at your location, at the targets location or at any distance in between you and your target it doesn’t. Take the data, compute the hold and then focus only on your body. That’s it.

All of your hits were very good. They are all perfect shots at the time they were taken. Take your five best shots on day 1 and run a few patches. Do it again on Day 2 at the same time, and run a few patches, then repeat again on day 3. As long as your sights were set and unchanged you then shot 15 identical shots with the same ammo from the same spot to the same distance during the same timeframe. The hits on the target will only change due to wind speed, direction, density and temperature changes. You can compute the shot, but, you cannot control the elements, unless shooting on the inside of a vacuum,
Every shot ever made will hit at a different point. That’s all there is to it.
Going through the process of tuning your gun is only reliable for one bullet with the same load. Every different bullet weight and load combination will have to be individually tuned and is why you started asking about different rounds, loads and calibers. The difference between a 55 gr 223 and 5.56 is quite different on different levels. The greatest difference being the volume of the powder load. A new manufactured 223 uses a thinner walled case and different bullet set. This is exactly how the 223 and the 5.56 are two separate calibers. This also applies to the 308 win and the 7.62x51. If you do reloads, after a time of wear and tear and expansion and re-sizing, I have found that 223 cases at some point will actually tear apart just below the shoulder. Don’t throw all the cases in one tray for rebuilding. Do not load a 223 case to a 5.56 load.
I have not had one of my reloads rip apart on extraction, but, I have had two cases rip apart from Freedom Munitions. They were reloads that I purchased and no longer order the 223 reload. There is no way to guesstimate the usage. It is possible that at one time or another the 223 cases were used for 5.56 loads. On my reloads I track mine by measuring for trimming to length and log all the info.
Ok, climbing out of the weeds. Sorry.
Shooting different calibers with different loads after your firearm is set for one caliber and one load will print differently on the target. If you tune once and then shoot different loads then expect the different prints. The only thing you can do is to take note for different holds or put two sets of iron sights on your rifle and set each set for a different caliber. That’s if you have the room. Maybe do one set at a 45 degree angle if you are also running one or two different optics.
I hope I didn’t mess up anyones mind.
Just take your time and have a lot of fun. Don’t worry about the lines. Worry about the next shot. Not that it hits clear and clean, but, that there is no question of the score. Use the lines as ditches like on the road and concentrate on the middle ground between the lines.
Think of fly specs in the soup as pepper.
Have a great shoot this weekend.
I bought a Bond Derringer Rowdy 45LC/410 for my wife and scored a box of cartridges at Optics and a couple of 410 8 shot at Academy. My wife is excited to practice with it this weekend. We built a pistol and rifle range on my sons property. We can shoot out to 300 yards either on level ground or form an incline or decline. I never thought of it before myself, but, it’s a great training range to learn to use a range finder that sets up your shot on the angle. My daughter in laws cousin asked me to help her improve her tree, bow shots. I had my son at 10 years old in the tree using two sticks. The range finders today are fantastic and are getting much cheaper.


Wow great read., thanks for the info. It would appear you’ve been put on notice. Looking forward to seeing your targets. Sounds like this weekend will be a fun time.



Use a cardboard backer for paper target and the bullet holes will cut crisper.
I recently shot a f-class tr .223 and got a 4 shot group at 100 yards of 0.12 inch. That is the best I have done with a .223 or .308.


I try to use poster board backers, especially at the range where targets hang freely. It makes far crisper holes. I then use colored poster board behind the target when photographing for contest submission.


I won’t write much as im getting sleepy (damn night shift). But take a appleseed! That will help you out a ton, regardless of your experience.

Project Appleseed

K nap time lol.


I spent some time with them years ago, yes great training. Something akin to what the USMC gives their recruits. I found out about them in the “Shotgun News” Fred’s was the place it all started. He is quite a patriot. If you ever have the fortune to spend some time with the Army’s AMU, they also administer some intensive marksmanship training. Most any other course cost more $. I went to Gunsite while the Col was still instructing. Our Uncle paid. I really appreciated the opportunity. I am with CatFood, Appleseed is a great network, I would highly recommend them to any level of shooter who wants to improve their skill set.