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MARKSMANSHIP BASICS - Natural Point of Aim

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Unread 10-09-2007, 10:14 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: May 2001
Location: NC
Posts: 352
The best example I've seen to show someone how important NPA is... is the following:

When going through USMC bootcamp our Marksmanship Instructor had us remove the charging handle from our M16A2 rifles and tie a boot lace around the gas return on top of the bolt. The end of the boot lace would come out the back of the action right where the charging hadnle would normally be. You would get down and snap into whatever position you were going to fire. Get all set with what you thought was your NPA etc etc.... and say ready.
The instructor would take a peice of black construction paper and put between your eye and the rifle and you would dry fire the rifle. A platoon buddy would hear the click of the dry fire and pull on the boot lace to cycle the action and simulate recoil and cycling of the action(an re-cock the rifle). You would "fire" and 3 rounds this way. Then the instructor would use a mirror to see where your NPA really is and then remove the peice of paper to show you where your NPA really is.
When done properly your sights should still be centered on the target after 3 "blind" shots. If you have any left or right drift your group will go in that direction everytime. Rapid fire targets will show this flaw very clearly. Shooters tend to adjsut out bad habits of NPA during slow fire strings.



P.S. - I lost the Company High Shooter award due to mis-aligned NPA on the 300yd rapid fire string. My "group" moved just enough to the right to let one shot bleed out of the black off of the right shoulder of the target. I lost by 1 pt! The tie breaker would have been your score for pre-qual day and I won that by 7 pts. Oh well. Did I say NPA was important!!
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Unread 03-28-2008, 07:10 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Chatham, VA
Posts: 436
I am new to this site and new to long range, but I have sent tens of thousands of rounds downrange in my biggest shooting pastime, USPSA/IDPA pistol shooting. I have had pretty good success there, and it tends to be a very analytical game when you get to the higher levels. You really need to be able to asses what you are doing, why, and if it is effective/efficient.

Shooting a pistol this way NPA becomes a big deal, you need to know exactly where it is in order to know how best to quickly and accurately engage the relevant targets. It should be a very muscle neutral position without excessive tension in your arms,shoulders, hips, and certainly not hands.

I define it as where the gun comes to when you have your arms extended and eyes are on the sights as necessary. Do this with no particular target in mind and I have to think about it off hand for it to make sense to me. I do it with my eyes closed with a pistol and then open them to see if I am on target. If I am not I know I need to rotate the entire structure until the sights are where they should be. You know how you want your feet, now you know how your arms naturally point the gun, freeze everything and rotate everything until the gun is on target wherever you desire.

Now how this transfers to the bench I am not sure because I have not tested it. It seems to me that you would want to setup yourself to the gun on the bench or prone in a similar position, though your NPA might change a bit with the forced change in body position?

2cents from a run and gun guy...
"My greatest fear is that after my demise my wife will sell my guns for the price I told her I paid for them"
-don't know where it came from...but true
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Unread 03-30-2008, 03:48 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: land of the great lakes
Posts: 171
My understanding of NAP.

Get into your shooting position and when you are ready to fire (ie on target and where you wish to send the bullet) close your eyes and take a few seconds then open your eyes. If you are still on the same point on aim you have found your NAP. If you hae drifted then you need to make a correction in your posture.

I tend to drift a little to the right when in prone and a very small change to my right leg's (some thimes just my foot) position is all it takes.
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Unread 07-23-2008, 03:34 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 6

Being a competitive shooter NPA is an absolute must. It is achiveable in all positions, even standing.
#1- get into position
#2- aim at target
#3- close eyes
#4- relax
#5- open eyes and observe results
#6- adjust
repeat #1-#6 until you can open your eyes with sights aligned.

Yes I do actually if I have it just right I can close my eyes and hit 9's and 10's in prone. 10M Airgun, 50Ft and 50M smallbore
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Unread 12-21-2008, 07:04 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 297
Re: MARKSMANSHIP BASICS - Natural Point of Aim

that is somthing ive known about for a long time but after reading all of this I understdand it ive ben doing it for a long time and didnt know it. I bought my hunting rifle for that reason only with a scope on it I pulled it up and every thing lined up I didnt beleave it so I didit 5 more times then with my eyes closed when I opened my right eye (yes I know use both eyes but I cant focus on target I close 1 eye the left right befor I shoot) it was right were it should be Ive gotten deer with rifle with only a few sec 2 mabe 3 just pull aim shoot the last deer was a hart shot. The bow I got last spring is another time after the pro shop set it up I slid the peep up and down so when I opened my EYE it was right there then adjusted the sight sight (gang adjust) at 20Y to center it it worked great i am better with my bow than rifle at 60Y I can and will hit a 5" circel dam neer ever time . I got a 8 point buck this year with my bow at 35Y away 20 feet up a tree NO STAND (kind of remined me of a VC sniper)only had secs. to shoot I realy dont know how I did it the posion I was in form was throun out the window I just went into shoot mode so there it is NPA if U dont got it fix it sorry this got so long it is somthing I strongley bleave in

Last edited by cva54; 12-25-2008 at 08:16 AM.
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Unread 01-04-2009, 06:35 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Hanna, Wyoming
Posts: 15
Re: MARKSMANSHIP BASICS - Natural Point of Aim

I agree with most of the above, but especially with CVA54.

Your upper body will always point a weapon to the same place, whether a hand gun or a rifle, etc. They will be different between the types, but always consistant.

The body can be trained to compliment the above, but takes practice. Here's how I learned it.


***** Safety first! This DOES NOT require a loaded weapon. *****

1. Look at your target (doesn't matter if its high, low, or in front of you).

2. Close your eyes.

3. Bring your weapon up to point where you think the target is, allowing your body to move naturally.

4. Open your eyes.

5. Is the weapon on target?

6. If not, move your body until it is, without forcing it (make it comfortable), while looking through the sights. Continue to look at the target for several seconds. Don't study the target, and let your body stay relaxed. Do not fight the gun, or your body, into pointing where "you" want it. .....RELAX ............... It will point itself.

7. Lower your gun.

8. Turn slightly so your body must move, or stand square to the target (when there is a question of safety).

9. Again, look at your target.

10. Close your eyes.

11. Bring your weapon up quickly (>1 second), DO NOT think about it (make it to fast for that).

12. Open your eyes.

13. If it's on target, that is your "natural point of aim" that you have adjusted for use with that weapon, and your body will learn this. (Practice until you can do this without thinking)

14. If not repeat #6 above.

***** Safety first! This DOES NOT require a loaded weapon *****

With practice, you will find that your body will automatically point correctly.(muscle memory) And after more practice, your will find that it will apply in any position because your body will adjust, from memory, to get your upper body aligned to point "on target". It will work whether on flat ground, uphill, downhill, or even with bows out of trees. And after even more practice, you will find that you'll only have to do the above steps once or twice when you change weapons.

This is what a good snap/offhand shooter does (uses his NPA) even though he may not know what it is called.

And, thanks for the question. I have never actually thought this through. I know I do this, but I hadn't ever had to explain. Not even while on active duty as a range NCO for the US Army.

Hope this helps someone.
If you're reading this, thank a Teacher.
If you're reading this, in English, thank a Veteran.

C'ya, John. (LRH #16)
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Unread 08-30-2012, 07:17 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Western states
Posts: 27
Re: MARKSMANSHIP BASICS - Natural Point of Aim

I do not employ "Natural Point of Aim". I shoot straighter when I see his boiler room (heart, lungs, liver) from broadside or quartering away, or perhaps a base of the skull (cerebral cortex) shot. The only 2 thoughts I allow are "what's he gonna do next?" and "Yes/No" on the shot?

Bust off enough rounds at the range, and you start doing things right pretty automatically, even several seconds beyond comfortable.

With game in your sights, waiting for the right time is the game, and passing it up always haunts you.
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