Bad habits for new shooters to avoid.

Hi All,

As some of you may know, I am a new shooter. I have come into the hobby/sport/religion with basically no knowledge whatsoever.

Whilst I have done my research, I am a bit paranoid about building bad habits when I am at the range. My approach is little more than point it at the target and pull the trigger. The 22 is OK, I can get a sub-inch group at 50 meters but not consistently. The Swedish Mauser is a different story, 7 out of 20 shots on an A3 piece of paper at 100 meters. And not necessarily near the center of the paper either.

So, what advice do you have for someone new to shooting? What are some pitfalls new shooters should be aware of? What resources (Youtube, books etc) are out there to teach good habits and proper form?



Assuming you are shooting with iron sights (of course!) and factory ammo and everything is fine… Especially with open sights, I find myself doing this sometimes when shooting fast - I focus on front post and forget about the rear sight. You’d be surprised how many times you can miss at 10m (a lot).

Pretty hard to diagnose a habit, but chances are it’s not the gun and it’s not the ammo (probably). Could be the way you look at the sights, could be the way you pull the trigger, could be the way you shoulder/holding the gun (inconsistently between shots), could be flinching. Could be the radiation from the sun warping the target frame and the barrel, making everything seem random.

All issues are magnified at distance. Setup at 25m where you can see the hits and shoot at that. You will immediately see (and feel) cause and effect. Then move out to 50m, then 100m. Don’t start at 100m. You said you are consistent with 22, so probably it’s not the technique. Maybe focus on sights and flinching?

Best thing you can do is find some more experienced shooters to shoot with, they can usually see what your doing wrong and advise you. Quite a few people from this site shoot at little river and might be able to help out. Failing that I’m not that far from Ballarat, not that I’m a great shot or anything but I don’t mind an excuse to Chuck a target up in the paddock.
Another thing to remember with your Swede is that the sights start at 300m, so with full power loads your gun will be shooting quite high. The 7 out of 20 on the paper could be the ones you shanked instead of the other way round.
I like to set up a large backboard for my targets too, I use pallet dividers that are roughly a meter square and tape a target to the middle of that which gives you more feedback than just hit or miss on your A3.

Yeah, I think I might give the Mauser a rest for a bit and use the old 22 as it is still set up with the open sights. I figure that takes recoil out of the equation and is just all-round easier to handle.

Yep, realised that about shooting high the first time I shot it when I failed to hit the paper at all. This time the 7 hits were all in the upper half of the target so I’m still not aiming low enough.

Once you start reloading you can load lighter loads that will shoot straight at 100m
I had a good load for mine using trailboss powder and cast projectiles.
It had no recoil, was pretty much bang on at 100m and was dirt cheap to shoot all day.

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Seriously though, these gunaws are to blame. If you were allowed a belt fed tripod mounted machine gun, you’d be able to walk it in and see exactly what’s going on!

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One thing that can get some new shooters is jumping from a small .22 to some large caliber and then forming a bad habit such as flinching. If you have not had much experience with large centerfires then start off small with something like a 223 and slowly work your way up to the caliber that you want.

I thought 223 was what people work up to in WA?

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Only those who have small hands


Starting with something like a 223 is good advice. I was chatting the other day with a guy who bought a light weight 30-06 for his first rifle and was complaining about the recoil… :slight_smile:

Not a brag just some references :+1:
I have won a couple of amatuer competitions shooting Milsurps. I don’t claim to be an expert in anyway. I can however drill a 16inch plate at @300m with 90+% hit rate. From a bench. And about 70% unsupported.
I also own a couple of Swedish Mausers.
Ideally, you want a lollypop sight picture.
Front post level with notch, equal daylight either side of notch. Top of front post will ideally be POI. Assuming target is round you form a lollypop shape with front post and target. A 6 o’clock hold if you will. You generally don’t want an aim point above a target, adjust your sights accordingly.

Before you even fire a shot, practice getting a good sight picture and consistent cheek weld.
Try laying your thumb along the side of the stock rather than wrapped around the wrist.
Trick is, different points of focus.
Start with target acquisition and roughly line up your rifle.
Next focus rear sight, front sight blurred.
Get correct sight picture.
Focus front post, target blurred, rear sight blurred. By this point you should have correct sight picture. Front post should indicate point of aim. Move head with rifle for correction. Do this at most three times and fire on the bottom of a breath cycle.
For trigger pull, Milsurps are often a bit rough. Imagine a centreline down the rifle, try and pull the trigger along that line with linear force. No sideways force.

As you get better you will start with a better sight picture and less correction. Too much fiddling, lift the rifle and reset. Don’t get all bent out of shape correcting your aim. Go for a natural relaxed pointing posture.
Be aware of your feet if at a bench. Make sure your feet are grounded and bracing you. Be surprised how many people you see with their feet all tucked up weirdly with no support.
How you look across the sights is different for everyone. As long as you do it consistently.
Dry fire the rifle , calm yourself, be relaxed when firing, keep your eyes open and your body relaxed. Do the same with live ammo. Get someone to watch you, be honest if you have a flinch and work to correct it.

TLDR: sight picture is everything, sort that out and it’s just a matter of pointing the rifle in the right direction. As in your eye is correctly lined up and it shoots to the top of the front post.

Pps that’s a tiny rifle , not giant medals :+1:


Thanks for this. Some great advice.

Have you seen this?


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And this, found it helpful. Not the one I have seen, but they are all similar.

All of it comes with a looooot of practice, slow is smooth and smooth is fast or some shit like that. My nemesis, speed (7 and 8 o’clock).

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Both very useful diagrams. Thanks guys. Last weekend I only used the 22 and got OK groups so that was reassuring. Just need to practice practice practice!

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If the Swedish Mauser is a typical military rifle it will have a metal but plate. Almost designed to be painfull on the bench.
Try wearing a thickish jumper or jacket. Also try shooting off hand. (if you can use a vertical post for support) Shooting off hand the body moves back with the recoil, reducing the felt recoil.

And shoot the 22 a lot more.

Isn’t that specific to pistols?

Yes, but pretty close :slight_smile: