Everyone has varying opinions on which of the fundamentals of marksmanship is the most important. Mine is Natural Point of Aim. I base this on how I was trained, shooting experience and experience with observing other shooters in training and operations.
Natural point of aim is defined as where your reticle naturally rest when your body is in a relaxed state. By its definition alone, you can gather where I am going with this.
The common mistake shooters make when setting up a shooting position is moving their rifle to align their reticles at their intended target instead of their body. This causes many issues with their shooting position. Understand that how significant the issue depends on the shooting position itself. A shooter can get away with a lot when shooting from the prone but not with the sitting, kneeling and standing.
You cause muscle tension when you move your rifle instead of your body to align your reticle. Muscle tension defeats two of the fundamentals of marksmanship; muscular relaxation and bone support. Your “reticle bounce” will be much more pronounced and will continue to worsen the longer you try to hold the position without proper natural point of aim. This then cause you to “chase the reticle” and jerk the trigger.
Furthermore, depending how far you had to move, your body alignment may be off as well. Your ability to mitigate the recoil will diminish if you are not directly behind your rifle.
These are just some of the issues improper natural point of aim can cause. Now let’s briefly talk about how to ensure you have proper natural point of aim.
Let’s start by ensuring you shift your body not the rifle to align your reticle to your intended target. This could mean moving your hips, knees, elbows, legs etc. Once you have good sight alignment and sight picture, close your eyes, breath in and out and open your eyes at the natural respiratory pause. You have proper natural point of aim if your reticle is still on the target. Repeat the process until you have proper natural point of aim.
This simple check can pay dividends down range. Understand that this process will become second nature and you will become faster checking for natural point of aim the more you deliberately practice it. That is it for now.
Be Deliberate. Be Precise,
Yago – Head Sniper Instructor
I teach NPA in all classes of pistol, shotgun, and rifle. I’m not sure its the most important one but keeping the natural body form just makes sense.
Thanks for point it out.
A very good article. You focused on the basics and then hit a home run on important factors.