There are obviously a lot of situations where shooting from a static position is preferred, but this can be limiting if you require something a little more dynamic. Learning to effectively shoot while on the move is essential for some, and a good skill to have in threatening situations.
If we look at the types of shooting activities that require a quiet, static posture for the best results, you would include long-range or sniper work, hunting and certain forms of competitive shooting. In these cases, it’s the absence of movement that is the key. However, for dynamic shooting competitors, those in the military or law enforcement and for personal defense scenarios, being able to stay calm and steady while moving, aiming and firing is critical. Static range training is great for building fundamentals, but it will prove to be one-dimensional if you have to travel.
Clearly, maintaining stability while moving tactically with a firearm is crucial for accuracy and control.
Hitting targets is tough enough as it is, especially if they’re moving too. The last thing you’ll want is to be bouncing up and down as you sweep rooms/areas or change locations for better protection or to improve a vantage point.
Here are some tips that can help:
Always Prioritize Safety
It’s easy to get distracted or sloppy when you’re mobile. As always, keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot, and ensure that your firearm is pointed in a safe direction at all times.
Laying the Foundation
Like in most sports, we keep our legs slightly bent or ‘soft’ to be able to absorb and create energy as a dynamic base of support. This is done to facilitate stable movement and to create a ‘quiet’ environment for the head and torso. Keep your center-of-gravity low and think of your legs as shock absorbers that will help to provide you with a smooth ride.
We’ve all seen this countless times on TV or in the movies where cops or the military are moving actively in pursuit of bad guys. They don’t run, but rather employ a heel-to-toe rolling motion (or the opposite for going backwards) with the feet about shoulder-width apart, weight balanced and pointing in the direction of travel. Taking smaller steps also helps for better control. Essentially, you are keeping your feet in contact with the ground as much as possible to avoid any jerky motions and to minimize vibration or movement up top. This technique makes it less likely to trip, to navigate uneven terrain more effectively and be able to keep your sights aligned for greater accuracy.
The key here is to let your legs do the work while you keep your upper body relaxed. Being rigid or holding tension through your muscles doesn’t work well with shooting generally, and definitely not when you’re on the move.Tension can affect your balance and stability, and can hinder your ability to react quickly. Be sure to relax your shoulders, arms and grip while keeping your core engaged. There should be a sense that your firearm is almost ‘floating’ in front of you, insulated from the surrounding movement. Maintaining a firm and consistent grip will also help with stability and recoil control.
Assuming that your body is doing what it needs to do to produce the best possible shot, don’t sabotage yourself with a jerky pull of the trigger. As always, apply consistent pressure until the shot breaks, and then follow through with the trigger reset. You can also consider firing in short, controlled bursts, which will allow you to assess the situation and make any adjustments if necessary.
Controlling your breathing through your shots is common practice at the best of times. When you’re moving dynamically, and potentially under stress, it becomes even more important. Beyond the timing that will minimize movement as you fire, sometimes you have to have to remind yourself to breathe in the first place. Holding your breath while active, even subconsciously, will ultimately lead to increased fatigue and a build-up of tension in your body.
While maintaining proper sight alignment, be sure to adopt good habits for visually scanning and threat /target assessment while on the move. This will help to facilitate quicker decision-making and allow for better reaction time as the situation develops while engaged in an active situation or on a competitive course.
How you practice will obviously depend on what your intended function is. Competing on a set course with a shot timer vs. being involved in potential hostile/defensive actions will define your practice efforts and help to keep them specific and focused. Be aware that static range work has benefits, but avoid thinking that shooting while on the move is just an extension of the same activity. How hard could it be, right? Tactical or dynamic marksmanship is a different animal, and it should be treated as such.
Note that a lot of ranges don’t have the facilities or the level of instruction required for this type of thing, so you may need to seek out a specific venue. Start slowly and deliberately, and gradually increase your speeds and distances over time. The intention is to develop muscle memory and consistency through repetition so that your movements translate well in real-world situations. Be sure not to ignore lateral and forward/backward movements, along with directional changes.
Shooting on the move can be challenging, but like any physical or shooting activity, you should be able to become proficient enough with it through professional training and diligent practice. It’s a good skill to have, even if you aren’t an elite competitor or a member of a special ops team.
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