Rifle-Firing Techniques: Practicing the Five Fundamentals

Practicing the Five Firing Fundamentals: There are five fundamental elements of rifle firing—aiming, breath control, movement control, trigger control, and follow-through. All of these elements work together as one process and should be practiced together in this way. Practicing the five fundamentals is paramount to understanding rifle-firing techniques.

Related Reading: Why You (Yes, You) Need Basic Gun Training

  • Aim: Align your sight with the target. Follow two guidelines when you aim.
    • Keep both eyes open to ease focusing and reduce eye strain.
    • Keep your aiming time brief. You can’t maintain the firing fundamentals effectively for long periods
  • Control Your Breathing: Your breathing can move the firearm just enough to throw off your shot. These tips will help you to adopt the correct technique more easily.
    • When you’re ready to shoot, draw a deep breath and exhale about half of it.
    • Hold your breath as you squeeze the trigger.
    • Bear in mind that if you hold your breath too long, your heart beats faster, which increases your pulse and causes the firearm to move. If you notice this happening, take another breath and start over.
    • At times, the excitement of spotting game will make it more difficult to control your breathing. Try to relax and follow the correct procedure.
  • Hold Your Aim: Learning to hold the firearm steady is a challenge. Rather than attempting to eliminate all movement, concentrate on two actions.
    • Focus any necessary movement on the target.
    • Minimize the area of movement.
  • Squeeze the Trigger: Jerking the trigger or abruptly clenching the trigger hand can move the gun enough to cause a miss. To avoid these motions, hold the gun comfortably.
    • Grasp the wrist of the stock firmly.
    • Position your fingertip comfortably on the trigger. The trigger should rest on the end of your finger—between the first joint and fingertip.
    • To squeeze the trigger without jarring the gun, simply apply slow, steady pressure until the gun fires.
  • Follow Through: After the bullet fires, be sure to continue the squeeze or follow-through to avoid jerking the gun before the bullet leaves the barrel.


One commonly used shooting technique for muzzle loaders is the B.R.A.S.S. technique. It stands for:




Squeeze the trigger

Squeeze more (for follow-through)