Whether you’re a newcomer to the world of shooting, a seasoned pro who likes to compete, or a hunter who wants to improve long range accuracy to better prepare for days in the field, understanding the fundamentals of accurate shooting applies to all.

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Being able to better place your shots means safer, more controlled shooting and a greater sense of confidence when handling and shooting firearms. Here are five tips that can help you improve your long range accuracy and have you on your way to being a skilled marksman or sharpshooter.

Understand Point of Impact

Simply put, this refers to knowing where your bullet should land after the trigger is pulled. But as most shooters know, the trajectory of a bullet is an arc and not a flat line out of the barrel. If you’re shooting a handgun, take the time to shoot at targets at 3, 5, 10, 15, and 25 yards away.

Record where the rounds begin to group, and you’ll have a better understanding of the point of impact. A rifle – especially one with high-mounted optics like an AR15 – should be shot at ranges spanning 10-200 yards. This can help the shooter see the difference between the point of impact at near point-blank ranges – and much further out.

Invest in ammunition

One of the biggest ongoing expenses a shooter will face is the replenishment of spent ammunition. After all, with proper maintenance, a gun should last virtually forever, so the only real continual expense is ammunition. Forgo the latest in gadget add-ons to your gun and instead, invest in plenty of practice ammo.

While practice doesn’t always make perfect, significant time behind the trigger can help you better mesh with your gun. Don’t waste money on high-tech ammunition if you’re just punching paper. Instead, shoot the same weight bullet you’ll eventually use in your weapon during hunting season or for self-defense. For example, 180-grain .40 S&W round– use a full-metal jacket for practice and hollow points for defense.

Develop your Own Style

We’re not talking about your preferred camo pattern here, instead, work with a qualified instructor at a reputable gun range to create a repeatable stance, grip, and trigger fundamentals that will form the foundation for long range accuracy.

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Once you’ve done this, you can hone your skills – just ensure that you always keep those fundamentals in check. For handgun shooters, that may mean mastering a specific stance and grip on the gun. For rifle shooters, breath control and trigger manipulation are essential.

Find the ideal gun for your style

Yes, you can become a good long range shooter with a .44 Magnum revolver or .50 caliber handgun. However, most shooters, even veteran firearms enthusiasts, will find better long term accuracy potential by using a moderately powerful weapon as a training sidearm. 9mm pistols, especially those in medium to large frame sizes, are perfect for handgun enthusiasts.

Rifles in the .223 - .260 caliber range are generally quite easy to shoot, and their mild recoil can help eliminate bad habits like flinching and jerking the trigger. There is a reason our U.S. Servicemen and Women are trained on .223 caliber AR15s. They are accurate, not excessively loud, and have extremely mild recoil. An excellent way to find a gun that works for you is to shoot a variety of guns at a well-equipped indoor range.

Maintain your weapon

This philosophy varies from shooter to shooter, and from gun to gun, but most experts agree that the most accurate gun – and the one that will deliver the highest degree of accuracy when shooting at long ranges, is one that is clean. In general, guns that use a higher grade of materials in the barrel like to be shot cleaner.

Much of this is related to the tolerances in these finely crafted barrels. Other guns, like Glocks, AR15s, and Beretta pistols, have a pretty high tolerance for fouling and can be shot quite accurately, even when dirty. As part of the trial and error process, conduct range sessions with your weapon when it is in different stages of cleanliness. Be sure, however, not to let your gun get too dirty – that’s never a good recipe for good long range accuracy.

From proper posture to trigger control, weapon maintenance to ammunition preferences, there are countless ways to improve your long distance accuracy. To extract the absolute highest potential from your firearm, ensure that you train with a qualified instructor and get in plenty of range time – practice may not make perfect, but perfect practice will get you very close!