The Rifleman Part 1: The Shooter

The Rifleman Part 1: The Shooter

What defines a rifleman?

  1. The Rifle
  2. Skill with basic principles of marksmanship
  3. Knowledge of ballistics

It is the application of these principles together that form the basis of a Rifleman.

At what distance or skill does the art of the rifle define a rifleman?

In my opinion, the distance a rifleman can shoot will be at the very least 100 yards. Some might say that sets the bar very low. Indeed, it does. Under 100 yards, the target is very forgiving and  large. A man-sized silhouette is easily hit in spite of poor technique. A red dot, or even irons, offers point and click shooting under a hundred yards. Flinching may not even throw the shot enough to miss the target at this range.

As we increase the distance, we begin to see the cohesion of the Rifleman’s three principles and how they affect his or her ability to hit the target. If a man has any given rifle and knows the essentials of good shooting, but does not understand the ballistics of that cartridge, he will have a limited effective range. If a man has knowledge of his cartridge but has not mastered the basics of shooting, then that knowledge cannot be applied and he will miss the target. If a man knows the ballistics of the cartridge and the fundamentals of shooting, but is not familiar withthe weapon, he will have a handicap with the weapon. Cohesion of the three principles together will allow a shooter to hit a target as far as can be seen.

Why is a rifleman a rifleman and not a sniper?

A rifleman is a versatile individual. He can shoot from a position of concealment and certainly mimic the capabilities of a “Sniper”, but his
equipment is not specialized enough to hit a very small target at 600 yards with the first shot. Can he? Sure, but a sniper will set up and eliminate more variables to ensure that the target is hit the first
time. Ballistic calculations, turret adjustment, range estimation all factor in to a good shot for a sniper. The Rifleman is different. Approaching the same target, he will need to identify the target and set up to engage the target quickly. A Rifleman can estimate range on an educated level but not with the precision of the sniper. His knowledge of marksmanship principles and his projectile allow him to set up quickly and pour accurate fire on to the target. This should take seconds, compared to a sniper’s more calculated procedure.

There-in lies the difference. The Rifleman is quick to engage the target with accurate fire at any distance. Not precise fire like a sniper at 600 yards, mindyou, but accurate fire. And if he misses? That is why we have Semi-Automatic weapons. If the target closes in to a danger zone, the rifleman can still hold the target at bay and will be far better off defending themselves than a sniper. Versatility and skill at arms are
keys to the Rifleman.

Lets discuss some of the basics in a Rifleman’s self skill toolbox:

The utilization of his immediate environment:

The ability to manipulate the immediate surroundings of the Rifleman are important. If I want to shoot a target at any distance with accurate fire, I look for a stable platform from which to shoot. For instance, I
can throw my pack in front of me to set my rifle on. Much faster than slinging up. Much more stable then simple prone. Setting up against a pole or other hard surface with my left hand against it and the rifle to steady a standing shot is not cheating. It’s knowledge. It is not lack of skill, it’s eliminating as much of yourself as a variable in your shooting. National Match shooters with their jackets and slings are competent Rifleman, but their techniques do not let us engage the target quickly. The key to steadying your rifle is to let something else steady it for you. Eliminate your wobbly arms as a variable as often as

This is why I prefer 20 round magazines in my AR15. I can use lower supports when prone and they are, in general, less in the way of my shooting.

The proper application of shooting fundamentals:

We all know the basics. Hold your breath. Focus on the front sight (or not if your using a RDS or optics). Squeeze the trigger until the shot comes as a suprise. ECT. A Rifleman should shoot often and master the
basics, obviously, for without proper application of the knowledge of marksmanship, he will add variables to the situation. I no longer slowly squeeze the trigger until it surprises me… no, I command it to discharge the weapon. I know my trigger from thousands of dry firings at home and then from time on the range. It is slick and well worn in. Years of use and frequent manipulation of the weapon with dry fire practice aid in upkeep of this basic skill. If you have no one to spot you or teach you it is not impossible to master the basics of shooting. Make sure you concentrate on what you did right and what you did wrong with each

Most importantly – go shooting. At first, you were scared to drive your car and now it is not a second thought. Get comfortable with your weapon and practice with it. Flinches will go away with concentration and experience… especially since the .223 is about as scary to shoot as a baby duck is to look at.

Shooting from a position of advantage:

A Rifleman also uses his knowledge to choose positions of advantage. Distance is one advantage. Not everyone can shoot far in this day and age. Even hunters have shown a marked decrease in skill over the last
century. Urbanization has diminished the shooting ability of the general populace. If you can hit a target repeatably at 400 yards you have a marked advantage. If you set yourself up from a position of concealment… your advantage is even greater. If you have put the sun into the targets face, yet another advantage is yours. If you are firing from a stable position that allows you to see and cover a greater area with your rifle, another. If a battle can be picked, take advantage of it. A Rifleman takes advantage of every opportunity to eliminate variables against him and his accurate shooting. Develop the skill,
apply the skill, and your hits on target will come as easy as breathing.

(revised 3/24/2013)

Written by lothaen

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