How do I get rid of tension?

Orange Dust

Well-Known Member
Oct 23, 2015
I shot benchrest in the '70's and when I attended my first LE sniper school, focus was on the reticle instead of the target, accept that there will always be movement and don't press the trigger until the momentary pause when you fully exhale as you begin the press. Your lungs are as empty as possible which reduces tension in the chest/lungs. Air in the lungs amplify the transmission of every heartbeat and twitch to the scope which you will see and try to compensate for. Breathe, relax and allow it to happen. Think of releasing the trigger along with the tension and be surprised when it goes off..
I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with focusing on the reticle. Guess it depends on what you want to accomplish. First off, I will say I have never been to sniper school. Never had any interest in shooting humans. I have shot competition all my life and killed more than my share of game, some of it at distances best measured on a map. I still shoot between 30-40k rounds a year in different guns. Focusing on the reticle works perfectly fine as long as both you and the target are stationary. Same with focusing on the front site of a handgun, or the bead of a shotgun. Problems start when the target is moving. Whenever you take your focus off the target and apply it to whatever sight you have the gun will instantly stop. You can easily prove it to yourself. Next time you are at the range get up off your belly and stand up and shoot at steel at 500yds. Leave your scope turned up. Focus on the reticle and you will chase it all over the place. Focus on the target and watch it settle. Then go to the clays range. Try it with a shotgun with rifle sights, or a contender pistol. Focus on the front sight and try and measure the lead. Impossible to hit consistantly, and if you do manage to hit it, it will require excess lead because you are trying to shoot it with a dead gun. Focus on the target and you can consistently hit it. If you learn to focus on the target you will be become not only a better shooter in all situations. You will be faster getting the shot off. Matters with live targets.


Well-Known Member
LRH Team Member
Jun 12, 2018
Winslow Az
I have young shooters dry fire as everyone states above, also make the take the head out of the scope visual the target in their head put their head back in and squeeze.

Concentration and recoil anticipation screws them up all the time.
My shoulders are so bad that on a shot that counts it's not even on my shoulder and I eat the hit.


Well-Known Member
Jun 23, 2017
I reduced my MOA by fifty percent by spending a considerable amount of time Dry firing my rifle. You get a feel for the trigger and can anticipate the release after a period of time. After 2,000-3,000 dry fires, the trigger pull and release become second nature.


Well-Known Member
May 12, 2012
I'm working on fine tuning my "shot cycle" and have determined that I usually have tension build up in my neck and shoulder as I'm about to break the shot. This is preventing my ability to group shots into less than 1/2". I think my follow through is pretty good. I keep the trigger pressed back and my head on the stock through recoil. I find that having the rear bag firm is very important to avoid vertical stringing.

So, if any of you have had to work through lingering recoil anticipation problems, what did you do to cure it?

Something that happened this past weekend that made it painfully obvious to me that I have a problem. I was shooting 3-shot groups off the bench. ( 3 shots is about all I can do and keep it together at this time ) Starting the next group I did some dry fire practice then placed a cartridge into the ejection port and closed the bolt. I did my best to get calm and relaxed and break the shot at the bottom of the breathing cycle. I had to keep breathing and waiting until the tension wasn't building before increasing pressure on the trigger to break the shot. I felt that it was a good shot. I then did some more dry fire cycles and placed a cartridge into the ejection port. A friend had a question so I paused to chat for a minute. Then I went back to doing some dry fire. ( I forgot that i had placed a cartridge into the ejection port ) I closed the bolt, got relaxed and tension free and broke the shot at the bottom of the breathing cycle. Talk about a surprise break!! My follow through was good. I looked through the scope wondering where the heck that shot ended up. Well, it was basically in the same hole as my first shot. Wowzer! If I could do that each time I could get a good idea of just how well that rifle can shoot.
Well might need to check with your doctor, but some one once told me a couple of aspirins an hour before his golf game smothered out his swing. I had been down in my normal score in skeet and tried it and improved my score by 3 birds. He said it pulled out the tension in the muscle.

If there is or is not a physiological reason that it helped, I don't know, if it is a mental placebo I don't know. Point is if it improved my game, it improved my game.

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