MARKSMANSHIP BASICS - Natural Point of Aim

Discussion in 'The Basics, Starting Out' started by Ian M, Sep 3, 2007.

  1. Ian M

    Ian M Well-Known Member

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    #1 Do you understand the concept of the Natural Point of Aim? If so please describe it briefly.

    #2 Do you employ the concept of the Natural Point of Aim in various field shooting positions.
     
  2. Rogue

    Rogue Well-Known Member

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    Natural Point of Aim.

    A natural point of aim can and should be acheived in any firing position.
    1. Get in to the firing position.
    2. Aim at the target.
    3. Keeping the weapon pointed at the target, close your eyes, relax - do not hold any tension on weapon, take 3-4 breathes. Open eyes. Wherever the sight rests is your natural point of aim.
    4. Repeat until the sight is on target.
    Note: When opening eyes do not attempt to adjust the weapon.

    This is a very breif description.

    Yes, I employ a natural point of aim in the field when possible. I have killed one elk and one pronghorn firing off hand. Both animals were running at less than 50 yds. Had no time to employ it then.

    Randy
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2007

  3. royinidaho

    royinidaho Writers Guild

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    My definitions: Natural Point of aim: When rifle is setup in the shooting position with full grip (all set to trip the trigger) and the shooter completely removes himself from the rifle, shoulder from butt, hand from rear bag and cheek weld AND the reticle center is remains on the point of aim.

    Simple to do at the range or out busting rocks. Less easiy to do when there's hair in the scope but definitely achievable. Not even thinkable when off hand.

    BTW, I bet there are books written (if not there ought to be) addressing the interconnections/relationships between Ian's Basic Marksman Ship questions.
     
  4. Buffalobob

    Buffalobob Writers Guild

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    Only when it comes to a shotgun, do I understand “natural point of aim”. Actually, I will spend a lot of time prior to dove shooting leveling up the ground and getting my footing just exactly correct. When I have taught boy scouts and girl scout to shoot skeet, that is where I start- foot placement. I can get a bad shot to look great by simply moving their feet to the correct position. A kid that just has to shuffle his feet after every shot and can’t maintain foot position is really a pain to get to shoot well. The principle that I work off of is that the body bone structure needs to be aligned and the minimum amount of muscles under tension.
    Didn’t you see all of the dead doves? I also have some perversions and actually like to shoot at running deer with a bow or a gun and have some small successes at it. I can teach a kid to shoot a bow well by getting their feet correctly lined up (or throw a baseball). Most people think good shooting is holding the gun correctly but it isn't. It is placeing the feet so the body is held correctly.:D
     
  5. BountyHunter

    BountyHunter Writers Guild

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    Ian

    to make it short, agree with rogue and buffalobob for both rifle and shotgun.

    I am NRA rifle, pistol, shotgun, Master Hunter Ed instructor etc and routinely teach all the above. This is an easy learning skill that if the student will master will help them tremendously with both rifle and shotgun.

    Rifle is easy for them to see why and how do adjust, shotgun is a little more difficult to grasp sometime. I use the "winding a spring" analogy for shotgun. We help them set their feet to be comfortable and stable base at point of impact. then go to the point of where you want or need to break the target and then wind back up to the house or where you expect to see the target. Everyone understands that the more you wind a spring the tighter it gets while unwinding it is easier and the same in shotgun shooting. If you wind up going to the house you will unwind going to the bird. 90% of most missed shots are behind because shooters do it just the opposite and slow down tracking the bird.

    BH
     
  6. Bravo 4

    Bravo 4 Well-Known Member

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    To me, natural point of aim is just that-where your hand/eye coordination points the muzzle of your weapon. When I pick up a hand gun,which is a last resort or only good for fighting your way to a rifle, I want to be able to take a grip where my trigger finger will point straight down the barrel. If you are up close your "natural point of aim" will take over and the sights become second nature. They will automatically line up on target. With a rifle in an urban environment you will do most of your firing on the move. So good foot placement is out the window, and so is trying to line up your sights. You will point and shoot, with both eyes open....your natural point of aim. The same with a shotgun. Now if you are stationary (standing or prone) it is much the same,except you get into a good stance or a steady prone position. You look at your target with both eyes open and bring the weapon up into position and you should have your intended target in view of your sights, open or scope. That is when you can line up the sights properly and engage, with one or both eyes open. Like I said hand/eye coordination,and the more you practice the better and faster you become.
     
  7. Bravo 4

    Bravo 4 Well-Known Member

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    To me, natural point of aim is just that-where your hand/eye coordination points the muzzle of your weapon. When I pick up a hand gun,which is a last resort or only good for fighting your way to a rifle, I want to be able to take a grip where my trigger finger will point straight down the barrel. If you are up close your "natural point of aim" will take over and the sights become second nature. They will automatically line up on target. With a rifle in an urban environment you will do most of your firing on the move. So good foot placement is out the window, and so is trying to line up your sights. You will point and shoot, with both eyes open....your natural point of aim. The same with a shotgun. Now if you are stationary (standing or prone) it is much the same,except you get into a good stance or a steady prone position. You look at your target with both eyes open and bring the weapon up into position and you should have your intended target in view of your sights, open or scope. That is when you can line up the sights properly and engage, with one or both eyes open. Like I said hand/eye coordination,and the more you practice the better and faster you become.
     
  8. Steve Shelp

    Steve Shelp Well-Known Member

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    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.

    VERY IMPORTANT!!!

    Steve

    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!!
     
  9. Forester

    Forester Well-Known Member

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    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...
     
  10. Niles Coyote

    Niles Coyote Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  11. Anschutz8002

    Anschutz8002 Member

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    Yes

    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
     
  12. cva54

    cva54 Well-Known Member

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    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: Dec 25, 2008
  13. wyojeepeer

    wyojeepeer Member

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    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.
     
  14. gunsmith

    gunsmith Active Member

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    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.