Snipers are idolized by firearms enthusiasts and hunters across the world as the ultimate level of expertise among shooters. Snipers became popular in the United States during the Civil War despite the rifles and muskets of that time having poor accuracy. Today, snipers endure rigorous training in the harshest conditions and learn to master the physical and mental aspects of being a true expert long range shooter.
Learning to shoot like a sniper is now easier than it has ever been with the help of online resources in the form of articles and videos. Most hunters likely grew up hunting wooded areas around their area and rarely ever have to pull off a shot more than 150 yards where it really doesn’t take a bonafide sniper to hit a target with a sighted-in rifle.
How to Shoot Like a Sniper
If you want to hone in your skills for hunting, target shooting or simply impressing your buddies by hitting a target at nearly 1,000 yards, here are seven of the best tips to help you shoot like a sniper.
Get to know your rifle
You don’t have to spend a small fortune to purchase the biggest and baddest long range rifle on the market to shoot like a sniper. However, it is important to have your rifle properly sighted in and make sure that everything is in good working order.
The most crucial point we can give you here is that you use a rifle you’re comfortable with. Working to optimize your shooting ability to become an exceptional marksman can be done with any kind of rifle you choose.
If you’re trying to shoot a rifle that has better distance or greater accuracy but you aren’t comfortable with it, you might be better off finding something different.
In regards to cleaning your rifle, military snipers typically “shoot dirty,” which means they don’t clean their rifles after every single use. It’s acceptable to go 250 or more shots without cleaning your rifle.
Seasoned shooters already know the reason why snipers prefer to shoot a dirty rifle. After you shoot a rifle that has been fully cleaned, there are small deposits that are left behind in the barrel. Your next shot will be affected ever so slightly and there will be minute differences in your barrel with each shot due to these unique deposits that are left behind.
It is only after a few dozen shots that a sniper would consider your barrel to be “seasoned” or in other words your bullets will have less differentiation in the path they travel through your barrel since most of the deposits have built up evenly inside your barrel.
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Let yourself relax
Have you ever noticed how some of the most accurate shooters always seem to be so relaxed when they are at the range? That’s not a coincidence.
Snipers are taught to let themselves fully relax in order to avoid any jerking or other movements before they place their shot. If you’re like most shooters, it’s hard to quell the surge of adrenaline you feel as you maneuver to get on target. So how exactly are you supposed to relax?
Through proper breathing relaxation techniques, you can help still yourself and limit your bodily movements to a minimal degree. Practice is the key. The more you practice, the more comfortable you feel and making an accurate shot at great distances won’t seem so tough.
Shoot at the right moment
If you’re like most amateur shooters, you probably have never been given professional training in the proper way to shoot a rifle. One of the key tenants for shooting like a sniper is knowing exactly when to send that bullet down range.
You might have heard that it’s acceptable to hold your breath right before taking a shot, but that is actually the opposite of how a trained sniper actually shoots.
First, you’ll want to control your breathing and take slow, deep breaths while you work to keep your crosshairs on the target. Next, you’ll want to work on shooting once you’ve fully exhaled. This is typically when your body is most relaxed and there isn’t any air in your lungs to cause subtle movements.
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Control your recoil by maintaining form
One of the key differences between your average shooter and trained snipers is their ability to control recoil. This is one of the more intricate tips as there is a lot that goes into maintaining proper control over your rifle without keeping a death grip on it.
Believe it or not, one of the most important parts of your shot actually takes place right after you pull the trigger. By properly maintaining your shooting form and staying laser-focused on your target, you’ll be surprised at how accurate you can be, especially at long ranges.
Know your rifle’s kick
By understanding just how much of a recoil your rifle is going to deliver, you can adequately expect just the right amount of kick. Would you hold a .22 rifle the same way you might shoulder a .308 and brace for a shot? Probably not.
Practice, Practice, Practice
In order to shoot like a sniper, you’re going to have to practice and train the way a sniper does. Simo Hayha, also known as “White Death” is known as one of the most deadly snipers in history. He tallied more than 500 kills during World War II while serving in the Finnish army—all while using a bolt-action rifle with no scope.
The reason Hayha was so successful in his efforts is that he used the same type of rifle he had used for years when he hunted game in the fjords in his home country. He knew his rifle well and trusted its ability, as well as his own.
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That’s a Wrap
Learning to shoot like a sniper takes dedication and you won’t be pinging 1,000-yard targets overnight. However, with the right amount of discipline and focus, you can have scary-good accuracy become an expert marksman.