In the world of modern marksmanship, far too much attention and money is paid to…stuff.
At the risk of upsetting many people in the industry, I would also argue that far more emphasis is being placed on getting “training”, referring to the latest and greatest combat/defense type carbine, or handgun, or shotgun tactics. Don’t get it twisted, I will forever advocate that people get the best training possible from the most knowledgeable sources they can with every platform they possess. However, I’m not entirely certain when this change came about, but in my opinion there has been an industry wide lapse in emphasis on the core fundamentals of basic marksmanship.
Growing up, I began my journey through competitive marksmanship with 3 position smallbore rifle and Bullseye pistol matches on Friday nights with my instructors from the 4-H rifle club in my home town. My coach, a shop teacher at the high school, and Coast Guard shooting team member in the 80’s, instilled a profound appreciation and understanding for the raw fundamentals of precision marksmanship that I still to this day hear in the back of my mind before every pull of the trigger. “Breathe. Don’t hold that shot so long. Close your eyes. Open them. Adjust. 2 clicks *pause* left.” I couldn’t possibly imagine a more direct, no BS approach towards instilling a complete and deep understanding of marksmanship as I was given during those years. Establishing a natural point of aim and understanding what that mean was a pivotal part of “building” that perfect 10/X shot. While learning it, natural point of aim seems like a somewhat ridiculous concept that should be common sense. Once you ACTUALLY learn it, you’ll realize its immense value. You can fight your way into breaking a shot that scores much higher than it probably should have, but with a perfectly established natural point of aim, you will be amazed at the consistent, repeatable, results you are capable of! You have to lay the foundation before you can build the house and paint it. Marksmanship fundamentals are no different. If your foundation is all jacked up, the rest will not come as easily as it could and should.
Today’s technology is partially to blame for the neglect towards fundamentals. Parallax free sighting systems, and increasingly forgiving firearms technologies like the Tracking Point system make “forcing” that perfect shot all but foolproof which I think is all well and good as long as a shooter understands that their equipment is doing most of the work. All in all, natural point of aim is undoubtably a factor of accurate shooting that very commonly goes overlooked, and shouldn’t because of its inherent accuracy inducing effects.