Did you recently acquire an AR-15 rifle for a hobby? Are you looking for ways to improve your marksmanship in the firing range? Do you want to learn how to shoot an AR-15 the right way?
Many factors affect shooting accuracy. Some involve hardware malfunction. Others stem from poor technique and incorrect handling.
But knowing about your mistakes is only half of the battle. You need to correct these errors accordingly.
You need to learn the essential techniques that will help increase your accuracy.
Check out our comprehensive guide to shooting the AR-15 rifle in the most efficient way possible.
The AR-15 and Its Popularity
The appeal of the AR-15 is the result of the rifle’s neat features. It offers flexibility that makes it an instant favorite of newbies. In the same manner, veterans also love the AR-15 for its many uses.
They can use it for hunting small animals. They can fire it in the range. They can equip themselves with the rifle for defending their homes.
These and many other factors are the reasons why the AR-15 became “America’s rifle.”
And if we look back in history, the AR-15 also boasts of a rich one. The rifle’s first iteration came about in the 1950s. The U.S. Continental Army Command, particularly General Willard G. Wyman wanted to develop a .224 caliber round.
And as follows, this caliber required an appropriate rifle.
The first rifle concept featured 5.56 caliber and sub-6-pound. It will also showcase a magazine. After some tweaking, the rifle evolved into the AR-15.
As for the “AR,” it is an abbreviation for “Armalite.” Furthermore, some AR-15 rifles also carry the logo of Colt. But why does the rifle carry both brandings?
This is because Armalite first manufactured the AR-15 but sold it to Colt Manufacturing. This happened when Armalite succumbed to financial turmoil. In turn, they sold the lock, stock, and barrel extension of the rifle.
Today, it is the go-to rifle of Americans. It is so versatile that you can even build your own AR-15.
How to Shoot an AR-15 More Efficiently
Now let us discuss how to shoot an AR-15 rifle more efficiently. As we mentioned earlier, there are techniques that you need to learn to increase accuracy. Let’s break them down one-by-one below:
1. Holding It Properly
Since there are four different positions you can assume when firing your AR-15 (more on this later), your shooting stance will likely vary. However, there are basics in gripping and holding your rifle that remain the same.
Upon assuming your position, put your firing hand high on the pistol grip. Put your thumb over the three fingers on the grip. You want your thumb wrapping around the three fingers.
Doing this will give you a firmer grip on your rifle. This, in turn, will keep you from making any unnecessary movements, particularly with your trigger finger.
As for your non-firing hand, wrap it around the handguard. You want your fingers to curl naturally around the fore-end. But make sure not to hold it too tight.
Next, position the butt of your rifle’s stock against your body. You want to place the stock on your shoulder pocket. This position helps increase your accuracy while allowing faster recovery after firing.
If you do not know where your shoulder pocket is, hold your shooting arm straight and out. Take your other hand and look for the high point of your collarbone’s front part. Slide your hand outwards toward the direction of your shoulder around the collarbone.
When you notice your fingers slip down and inward, it means you already located your shoulder pocket. This is where you want to position the heel of your AR-15.
Thereafter, place your cheek over the stock’s comb. This is what we call the cheek weld.
2. Understand Your Positions
As we mentioned earlier, there are different positions for firing your AR-15 rifle. These are the standing, kneeling, sitting, and prone positions.
If you wish to enjoy more mobility while firing, assume the standing position. If you want to keep a lower profile, the kneeling and sitting positions are your best bets. But if you want optimum stability at the lowest possible point, go for the prone position.
To increase your accuracy, you need to use the position that is appropriate for the situation. Are you taking your rifle for some hunting? Then an erect standing position will suit you best.
But remember that people have different body types. What is comfortable for others may cause discomfort to you. Thus, learn to make some adjustments until you achieve a comfortable firing position.
3. Use Your Iron Sights
You also need to learn how to use your rifle’s iron sights. This is the main sighting system of the AR-15. They also come in different forms.
But for learning purposes, let us use the standard front sight block and a standard fixed rear sight. The front sight features two “ears” that nestle an adjustable post.
Meanwhile, the rear sight comes with two apertures. You have a large aperture and small aperture.
After securing your position, grip, stance, and cheek weld, zero-in your sights. Look through the rear aperture. Try to center the top portion of the front sight post on your target.
The key is to look through the center of the aperture while keeping the point of impact at the sight’s center.
4. Mind Your Breathing
Though much of the action involves your hands, fingers, and eyes, you cannot neglect the importance of your breathing. Controlling your breath is crucial as your sights move whenever you inhale and exhale.
To keep your breathing from disrupting your accuracy, you must learn to fire on “empty lungs.” To do this, focus your sights on your target while breathing normally. After exhaling and before inhaling anew, you want your point of aim to be on target.
Once you inhale, you will notice your sights moving. This is OK, as your sights will return to the position where you want them to once your exhale. Thus, you will gently squeeze the trigger upon exhaling, when your lungs are empty.
But be mindful not to hold your breath for extended periods. This may result in more pronounced variations in your aim. The key is to breathe naturally without putting too much pressure on yourself.
5. The Right Trigger Touch
Even the way you pull the trigger can affect your marksmanship. If you think about it, pulling the trigger seems to be the simplest step in the entire shooting process. Hence, most rifle owners tend to overlook it.
What people fail to realize is that there is a proper way of pulling the trigger. The rule of thumb is to secure the right grip and move only your trigger finger. If you move your other fingers as well as your body, you will likely lose the proper position for your sights.
Upon squeezing the trigger, do not anticipate the recoil and report. Instead, keep a firm grip during the firing motion and keep your position in place.
As for the actual trigger pull, you want to use your finger’s pad, specifically its center portion. Take your time and do not jerk the trigger quickly to the rear.
6. Proper Mindset
Firing a rifle is more than getting the right angles and positions. It is an exercise that requires a strong mental game.
Most of today’s AR-15 rifles come with high-capacity magazines. Some can carry around 20 or more rounds. Because of this, some shooters become complacent.
Since they know that they have several rounds to spare, they fail to focus on their shots.
Hence, you need to develop a mindset wherein all you have is a single shot and nothing else. This will help you become more aware of your stance, grip, aim, and all the other important factors.
7. Some Nice Upgrades
Last but not least, you may consider investing in some nice upgrades. As you progress and develop your skills, you can start beefing up your AR-15 with some small items. You can get an AR-15 muzzle brake to reduce recoil.
But if there is a single most important upgrade that will improve your accuracy, it has to be the optic. This is the perfect upgrade especially if you no longer have a 20/20 vision.
Keep in mind that there are different kinds of optics available. You need to get an optic that is appropriate for your rifle use. If you are into small-game hunting or tactical shooting, go for red dots or compact prism scopes.
Red dot sights allow you to keep both your eyes open while zeroing on your target. They can help you retain consistency in your point of aim. They also improve your situational awareness and peripheral vision.
Before buying any upgrade, consult with your mentor. They can offer more insights and suggestions on the best upgrades to buy.
Become the Best Shooter You Can Be
Learning how to shoot an AR-15 requires patience, hard work, and determination. By following the tips we discussed above, you can improve your marksmanship faster. But becoming a great shooter also requires continuous learning.
Check out our other articles on rifles and gun use. We offer tips and share important topics that can help you become the best shooter you can be.