The Five Fundamentals of Accuracy with a Rifle (Plus Some Other Added Tips)

The Five Fundamentals of Accuracy with a Rifle (Plus Some Other Added Tips)

22nd May 2024

Some shooters believe (mostly erroneously) that the gear makes the shooter. It doesn’t. Sure, a rifle can or can’t be inherently accurate, and a precision tool; there are high-end, low-light scopes that offer a crystal clear sight picture, and highly symmetrical long-distance, match-grade ammo like Federal Gold Medal Match ammo.

These things, however, only help. They don’t do the shooting for us, and if we haven’t mastered the fundamentals, it won’t make a lick of a difference.

So let’s start at, well, the start.

Acquire the Target

First, you need to find the target; then either align your sights with the target or level the reticle or red dot at your intended point of aim.

Don’t hold the aim too long. You just want to find the target and get your crosshairs on it.

Breathing - and Breathing Control

Harsh, heavy breathing makes your whole body move and will screw up accuracy. That’s why the biathlon is such a challenge.

When you’re ready to shoot, take a deep breath, then exhale about half or a little more than half and hold your breath for a few seconds.

Don’t hold your breath too long. If you do, your heart will beat faster, which can also make your sights or reticle bounce around.

Hold the Aim

While your breathing is paused, focus on the target. Rather than trying to be entirely still, focus on keeping movement minimal and on keeping all movement concentrated over the target.

Squeeze the Trigger

Don’t jerk the trigger, and don’t clench your shooting hand dramatically as you prepare to make the shot. Gently squeeze the trigger till it breaks.

Yes, it’s called pulling the trigger, but dramatically pulling your finger against it can torque or cant the rifle off the target.

Just apply slow, steady pressure until the trigger breaks and the rifle fires.

Follow Through


This is one of the most important pointers for rifle shooters, and one that is often forgotten. To be fair, it’s forgotten by handgun shooters and shotgunners, too.

Keep your rifle on target until you see the target drop, hear the ring, or see the point of impact on the paper. Don’t jerk the rifle immediately after pulling the trigger.

Be still and patient, until you’re sure of contact.

Putting It All Together: B.R.A.S.S.

There is one quick, effective mnemonic device that may be useful for shooters learning the ropes: BRASS.

Brass stands for:

  • B: Breathe
  • R: Relax
  • A: Aim
  • S: Squeeze the trigger
  • S: Squeeze (keep squeezing, follow through)

This device can help you keep a short list of the five fundamentals of rifle shooting, as outlined here.

But we have a few more tips to round the whole thing out.

Additional Tips

                   Additional Tips

Want some more suggestions that may be able to help you improve your rifle shooting, at both intermediate and long ranges? Consider these.

Try New Ammo

Honestly, if your rifle isn’t shooting accurately, it’s probably something you’re doing. But if you’re already a tack-driver and we’re talking about exceedingly minimal aberrations, then shooting boat-tailed match bullets or match-grade ammo like Federal Gold Medal Match may make a difference.

For instance, Federal Gold Medal Match grade ammo is made with OTM (open-tip match, sometimes erroneously referred to as hollow point) bullets that have a jacket with a higher degree of radial symmetry than standard FMJ bullets. That is, they are more accurate at greater ranges.

Switch Up Your Platform

There is, of course, also the chance that your rifle is not exactly doing you any favors. If you can’t get the gun to pull tight groups at 100 yards or closer, regardless of what you shoot through it, then yeah, it’s probably the gun and you have a bigger problem than remembering to keep still!

Keep the Gun Clean

Believe it or not, a lot of lead or copper fouling in your bore can throw accuracy off slightly. Make sure you keep your rifle’s bore spotless. This will also help forestall or entirely prevent pitting and corrosion.

Take a Few Shots, and Let the Barrel Cool

A hot barrel is not an accurate barrel, and as few as three shots in relatively rapid succession can make a barrel hot right quick. Unless it’s cold - like below freezing - take only 3 to 5 shots and let the barrel cool for a few minutes before shooting again.

Try a New Position; Get Comfortable

Whether you sit, stand, kneel, or shoot prone or at a bench, being comfortable and exerting as few muscle groups as possible is one of the keys to accurate rifle shooting. If you aren’t comfortable or aren’t experiencing success in the position you’re shooting in, try a different one.

Touch Your Rifle As Little As Possible

In a perfect world, you wouldn’t have to contact the rifle at all. In this world, you want to pull the trigger cleanly without twisting or jerking the gun. Don’t keep it in a death grip, either; anywhere you’re putting pressure on the gun, you may be forcing the scope/sights off target.

Get Ready with Match Grade Ammo Here

Hopefully you found these rifle shooting tips helpful and will be able to put them into practice relatively soon. For our part, we can keep you ready with match-grade ammo like Federal Gold Medal Match ammo, loaded with Sierra MatchKing bullets and brass casings, and perfect for long-range shooting. Stock up here before you hit the range again!