209th West Hudson Detachment Marine Corps League Shooting Team

Tricks and Tips

B.P.'s top 10 tips

Bruce Piatt’s “Top 10 Shooting Tips”



Without a doubt, the most important element needed for accurate shooting. The trigger should be pressed with enough pressure to go straight back until the gun fires and go no more. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It is actually easy to do if you are not aiming at anything and you just watch your trigger finger move. Once we add the elements of maintaining a steady hold and aiming at a target, that simple finger motion goes out the window. In 90 percent of all shooters having trouble with their trigger control, they are trying to “time” their shots. They are looking for the perfect sight picture then they are trying to make the gun go off at that instant. The fact is that no one can do that.  Another fact is that no one can hold a sight picture perfectly still. Maintain steady pressure on the trigger as you continually correct your sight picture. This is commonly called your “wobble zone”.  During that wobble time, you’re on the target more than you are off it. Accept it and have the guts to pull the trigger correctly, no matter what your eyes tell you.




Each time you breathe, your body moves. During accuracy shooting, we are trying to minimize movement. While most instructors tell you to “hold” your breath, I like to think of it as a momentary “pause.” When your lungs are just beginning to exhale, “pause” your breathing long enough to make a good trigger press. If your trigger takes too long to break and your thoughts go to your labored breath pause, then you have “paused” too long. Breathe normally and start the process again until your shot is made. 




Depending on your discipline, your visual focus will vary. I’m not just talking about focusing your eye but a mental focus as well. As a rule, good shotgunners will undoubtedly tell you to focus hard on the target. Accuracy iron sight shooters (rifle & pistol) will want to focus on the front sight.  Scope shooters will vary between target and reticle focus. 


4. BE Firm…from the smallest of rimfires to the largest of centerfires


Grip firm, pulled firm into your shoulder, maintain a firm cheek weld. The combination of these three key points will keep you on target while you execute the trigger pull, increase your recoil recovery time and put you back on target for a quick following shot.




Every firearm recoils when fired and that is a fact. You can keep it to a minimum with some equipment and the use of proper technique, but everyone still has to accept it, do not fight it.  Practice to find the balance between a firm grip and being relaxed enough to allow the gun to recoil and return to the initial point of aim. Put a death grip on the gun and you will lose that delicate control of your trigger finger and induce trembling at the same time. 


6. FOLLOW THRU… Don’t forget to


Whether you are shooting rifle, pistol, or aerial shotgun, proper follow thru is vital.  Pistol and rifle shooters need to maintain the same grip tension, body position, and visual focus long after the shot is made. The gun should fire, recoil, and come to rest before you even think of moving. For shotgunners, a sure way to miss a target is to stop the gun when it fires. Track your target, make the shot and keep that gun moving as if you are going to shoot again. A good practice for skeet shooting is to move your gun the entire distance from house to house, even if you have already broken the target.


7. BE PATIENT…when it comes to making an accurate shot


Executing an accurate shot takes time. The harder the shot, the more time it takes. Get on target and accept your wobble zone. Keep correcting your sight hold while slowly increasing trigger pressure. Don’t make the gun go off, BE PATIENT…she will fire and you will have executed your best shot. 




Relaxed muscles will react faster and move smoother than tense muscles. If you are looking to increase your draw speeds, learn to be very relaxed and your draws will be faster. If you are trying to track a crossing clay bird, being relaxed and balanced will help you swing better and break more birds. 




Have a purpose to your practice. Rehearsing the same course of fire repeatedly gains you little. You should continue changing one thing each practice until you find what works best for you. Remember, what works for you one day, may not work the next. Continue to experiment and keep your shooting interesting and fun.




Know your gun, know your zeros, and most importantly, know yourself. Have no doubts in your head when it is time to step up to the line or walk onto the field. Being totally prepared with the physics of shooting will allow you to stay in the moment and focus solely on executing good shots.