by Concerned Marksman

I have seen numerous posts and websites about prepping and survival and even more posts about shooting and some great pictures of firearms.

However, one thing I have yet to see is a post that will help the new prepper with the fundamentals of shooting or a refresher for the experienced marksman.  So where should every good marksman begin?  With the Four Firearms Safety Rules.

  1. Treat every weapon as if it was loaded at all times.
  2. Keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to fire.
  3. Never let your muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
  4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond.

Next lets take a look at some of the fundamentals.


You will not be able to hit consistently what you are aiming at if your don’t know how to properly aim your weapon.  Scopes and optics are a great tool, but I believe every good marksman should be able to fire their weapons accurately with open or iron sights.  When shooting a pistol or rifle with blade type sights keep the front sight level across the top of the rear sight and centered from left to right.  Then place the front sight center mass on the target.  (See Example 1)  Also included in the example is what the sights should not look like.  For rifles with a peep sight again you will want to place the front sight centered both horizontally and vertically in the rear sight.  Then place the top of the front sight center mass on the target.  (See Example 2)  Also include again are what the sights should not look like.

Also remember the eye can only focus on one thing at a time.  Because of this the only object when shooting that should be perfectly clear is the front sight.  Both the rear sight and target should be blurry.

Example 1                                         Example 2


Natural point of aim is placing your sights on target and then closing your eyes and relaxing.  If when you open your eyes your sights are still on target you are aligned properly.  If not, you need to reposition your body vice muscling the weapon on target.  This is not as crucial when shooting targets at close range but when making long distance shots it can greatly affect the impact of your shot.  This is because after you pull the trigger your body begins to relax which causes the weapon to move while you are in the follow through of your shot.

So if you are in the prone position your pivot point to place your sights on target would be your elbow that is in contact with the ground.  In the kneeling position it would be your front foot like there was a rod through your heel.  And in the standing position again it would be one of your heels.

Now obviously you will not be able to do this during a self-defense situation but practicing on the range will make it more natural during any shooting you do.


Breath control is crucial for accurate shooting.  There are many schools of thought on what to do with your breathing while shooting.  The most widely accepted and best that I have ever used is during your natural respiratory pause.  This is just after you have exhaled the 4 to 8 seconds you have before you body tells you to take another breath.  This is ample time to make a well-aimed shot.  If you notice your bullets are impacting in a semi straight line up and down on the target if might be your breathing that is causing the problem.


You are not going to be able to place a well-aimed shot if you are jerking the [email protected]#$ out of the trigger.  When you are pulling the trigger straight to the rear it should be a slow steady squeeze until the trigger breaks and the bullet goes down range.  The shot should almost surprise you every time.  A great tool to use to find out if you are squeezing or jerking the trigger is with snap caps.  When you almost point the barrel at your toes because your jerked so hard with no shot going off, you will look around to see who else saw you do it.  Your finger placement on the trigger should be when your have a high firm grip where it rests naturally on the trigger.  It doesn’t need to be on the very tip or the first knuckle.  It’s just where it feels natural to the shooter.  Trying to put to much or too little in will affect the shooters grip on the weapon.


Whenever your grab a weapon that has a pistol grip your want to have a high firm grip, similar to a handshake.  By doing this you will be able to rest your trigger finger naturally on the trigger.  With that firm grip and keeping a stiff wrist you will avoid getting stovepipe stoppages on handguns.

When shooting long guns you will want the butt stock firm in the pocket of your shoulder.  Then place your cheek down on the butt of the weapon.  When you do this correctly it will push your cheek skin up and give you consistent placement each time.  This will also make sure your eye relief to the rear sight is the same each time.

This is not an all-inclusive list but a start for the new shooter or a refresher for the experienced one.  I know some of these things you will not be able to think about in a self-defense situation but if you practice them all the time on the range they will eventually become natural during any shooting situation.

And always especially if you have children keep your weapons secured so those little hands cannot get at them.

20 survival items ebook cover
Like what you read?

Then you're gonna love my free PDF, 20 common survival items, 20 uncommon survival uses for each. That's 400 total uses for these dirt-cheap little items!

Just enter your primary e-mail below to get your link:

We will not spam you.


  1. Really good post – I tend to forget that fundamentals are as important to experts as well as newbies.

    For further firearm training I recommend the following US Army manuals:
    FM 23-10 Sniper Training
    FM 23-35 Combat Pistol Training

  2. Very nice primer on shooting fundamentals. I kind of went Duh – there are some people that would benefit greatly from this.

  3. Concerned Marksman, Great post. If everyone followed the four firearm safety rules there would never be an ‘accidental’ shooting. I have posted much of what you said on other posts. It is good to see someone else post this information.
    Sight alignment – sight picture – trigger control are the three basic fundamentals of marksmanship whatever weapon is used. Breathing is not as important with a handgun and short distances. It can, however, make all the difference in long range accuracy.
    With a handgun the high grip is very important. The closer you can get your hand to the bore plane of the pistol will allow for better recoil management letting you get your sights back on target faster.
    On squeezing the trigger, I like to use the term “pressing”. Apply pressure to the trigger..more pressure..more..more until the shot breaks. As you said it should suprise you. I know it is a trivial difference in wording, but ‘pulling’, ‘squeezing’, and ‘pressing’ may be the difference in training someone new to shooting.
    I’m not trying to argue these points, just saying them differently. Again, great post.
    Keep safe and may God Bless

  4. Excellent post!
    I have been looking for something like this to show my 14 yr old grandson, who is really interested in shooting.
    He was having trouble with the sight picture on the AR-15, and this will help clear up the explanation I was trying to give him.
    Dave O

  5. Great post. Sounds like someone’s been to a Project Appleseed shoot. This is exactly what they teach in two day, low cost events.

  6. Great post. As an NRA Instructor, I come across lots of people who just don’t get these fundamentals. Even older guys who have been shooting for 40 years! A very high percentage of my students see a marked improvement in their accuracy and precision because of how much I stress these principles.

    I would like to mention one thing though: assuming that the first set of sights in the picture is a pistol and the target is at normal engagement ranges (3-10 yds.), ANY of the pictured sight alignments would likely produce combat-effective hits. I have demonstrated to classes before that a quickly-acquired sight picture like that will still keep rounds in the heart/lungs region in most real-world shooting situations. We should shoot for accuracy AND speed when our lives depend on both. At the same time, there are situations where surgical shooting is required, and it’s a good idea to know how.


Leave a Comment