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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,
First off, I am an infrequent shooter (unfortunately). I learned years ago at scout camp the technique of slowly breathing out and squeezing the trigger when taking aim. This worked for me at the time. However, I recently went to a rifle club for some instruction and target shooting and was told that the best way to do it is to breath in slightly and then hold my breath and squeeze the trigger. This obviously ran counter to what I ad learned in the past. Furthermore, I tended to tense up when doing this.

Has a new school of thought developed in the last 15 years that leans towards holding your breath when taking aim? If so, what are the advantages?

Does anyone here feel strongly about either of these tactics or have an alternative method to suggest?

Thanks!
 

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The Army field manual (FM22-5 The integrated act of shooting) says to fire in the respiratory pause. After you let your breath out completely, hold it and fire. Every sniper school I've attended taught us to take in half a breath, hold it, then fire. It doesn't really matter, it's whatever produces the best groups for you. I had a bad guy in my scope while I was prone and I knew the green light was coming. My heartbeat was making the scope jump everywhere. If I could just eliminate my heartbeat.......wait.
 

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Personally, . . . I believe the evidence is on the side of those who use the breathing pause after exhaling, . . . timed between heart beats, . . . method.

You don't really "hold your breath", . . . you just intentionally delay taking in the next breath, . . . long enough to take the shot.

The best practice for this is on your living room floor, . . . prone position, . . . dry firing. You can get the mechanics of the breathing, trigger pull, heart beat in the comfort of your living room, . . . listening to the Steelers whoop up on the Browns again (or whatever your passion is).

It will take a while, . . . and should be done in short episodes, . . . as frustration and aggravation will booger up your breathing and heart beat, . . . making progress hard to get.

May God bless,
Dwight
 

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I think what Mikey is trying to say here is that breathing causes a natural movement of the chest and corresponding movement in whatever weapon you are holding, be it rifle or handgun. This of course means your sights will be moving as well, regardless of what system you are using... to minimize this movement and the effect it can have on your aim a lot of teachers recommend learning to control breathing and how to extend the natural pause you take during breaths. This can be adapted for taking rapid shot by utilizing small short breaths, using the pause in between each to take your shot. Holding your breath too long is counter productive as it may lessen your ability to maintain focus on your sights, so it's good to practice this often until it becomes second nature.

At least I think that's what he's trying to say, but I might be paraphrasing a little.
 

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I've learned if I don't breathe I pass out! :oops:
And add increased heart rate, adrenaline, etc in a high stress situation. What can you do in this situation? Control your breathing and fall back on your training. I highly recommend everyone read David Grossman's book "On Combat" that goes into great detail on this topic.

Amazon.com: david: Books grossman on combat
 

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The guy who taught me to shoot long range was an NRA instructor. He had a lease in the Big Bend area of Texas (750 acres) and taught me shooting between mountains, straight across then up and down natural grade.

He taught me that, if you have time, take a deep breath through your mouth, let it out through your nose under a controlled exhale pace, and when you were at the end of the exhale, pause, stay still, and squeeze the trigger...as soon as the crosshairs are stable on your point of aim.


You have about eight seconds before you need to breath again. Train yourself not to panic during the natural respiratory pause.

That works fine in a static situation and position.

The real test is to get your heartbeat up - I do this by jogging back from setting a target at the range - no one cares if you hustle then. If the range has a no running policy, fast walk. Then try and get a good shot in while your pulse walks your crosshairs across the landscape.

And as MeanGreen mentions - throw in some additional stress like someone coming at you (you can imagine it but as close as it gets until you face the real thing) and add in an adrenaline dump, and then try and shoot...difficult to learn, challenging to master, as the wise saying goes....

I overcome as much as possible by practicing the same routine. I can bring a rifle on target moving onto the target and get a shot off cleanly most of the time.

Then add in movement, wind, humidity, spin, drop, long distance and the game gets very interesting.

Add in enough distance and the Coriollis effect comes into play - the deflection caused by a moving object crossing in a rotating frame of reference - literally, dealing with the rotation of the Earth over a finite amount of time and space....

That is why there is no substitute for meaningful trigger time....

I use the natural respiratory pause, if I have that luxury.
 

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I have a tendency to take a half breath in then hold. It's more comfortable for me. Sometimes I will exhale, hold , then shoot, but only if I'm ready to take a quick shot. I just do what works for me at the time. I do prefer to have some air in me while taking time to make a final set before I squeeze. If you are a "breather-inner", don't take a breath like you're going under water. Otherwise you'll watch your rifle bounce around with your heartbeat. With a handgun, even a shotgun, like Meangreen said, just breath normal.
 

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I posted the Video cause this is the basics you need to learn first, then after the basics is learned it comes to technique learning when to actually pull the trigger. I always took two normal breaths to and during the 3rd i would equally apply pressure squeezing through the trigger with the pad of the index finger to keep a natural rhythm going and almost surprising myself of the shot never anticipating the shot..always waiting for the site picture become clear right after the natural exhale.. I was hesitant posting this cause everyone has their own way of shooting and no matter what you say someone else has their idea or way of doing it. one last thing know yourself and know your weapon, practice will only make you a better marksman.. Just my 2 cents
 
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Divers that do not use air tanks oxygenate their blood prior to diving. taking several quick deep breaths. This way they don't need to surface as soon. The way I shoot is take a deep breathe, let half of it out, pause, and while I'm taking aim, feeling my pulse through my trigger finger, timing the scope bouncing due to my pulse, very slowly let the rest of the air in my lungs out. This "letting the rest of the air out" psychologically keeps me from needing to take another breath so soon. If I manage to get the aim down right prior to letting it all out so be it.

But lets be honest, this is just target practice. If you have to shoot someone (home invasion or what ever) you are not going to go through these steps. You will not have the time and the distance involved it wont matter.
 

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Im sorry I couldnt resist
I use hi power scopes a 6x18 is the lowest power I own and 10x40 is the highest power I own I Shoot fclass and I really never no when I fire I feel it out when the cross hairs settle and it feels right I fire without knowing I should also mention trigger control and a GREAT 2 stage trigger is what I think makes you or breaks you.
 

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I learned to take two deep breaths. In through your nose out through "pursed" lips - then take a third deep breath through your nose and let it half out through your mouth. Start counting from one to ten while you squeeze the trigger. If you haven't fired by the time you get to ten start over.
Breathing in deeply through your nose and exhaling through your mouth is called a cleansing breath. It super oxygenates your blood, lowers your heart rate and blood pressure. It also serves to quiet your mind so concentrating on the target is easier. People who meditate use cleansing breaths before they begin to quiet their body and mind.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thank you all for taking the time to share your knowledge with me. It has given me a lot to think about next time I go to the range. I will try both methods and see what gives me better groupings.

Also a great call to practice the technique on my living room floor, will give that a shot.

Thank you all again, the wealth of information given as well as the eagerness to share is amazing.
 

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Whoever titled that video, using the words "gun" and "Marine" together made me laugh. Chesty Puller's spirit is going to come back from wherever it is Marines go when they die and haunt him.:mrgreen:

Back when I was in, you know, back when Moses was a corporal, Army doctrine called for taking a normal breath, letting half of it out, and squeeze.
But as already noted, when the chips are down and your adrenaline level is off the charts you don't really think. That is why military training is so repetative, and why you are trained to make instant decisions.
 
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