3 Vital Skills For Carbine, Hunting, & Precision Rifle

Missing what you’re shooting at sucks.  It’s embarrassing.  But it’s amazingly common for shooters to completely miss elk, deer, and paper targets with rifle inside of 100 yards…even with optics and scopes.

Whether you’re a novice or an expert, I’ve got 3 simple, easy drills that you can do to dramatically increase your speed and accuracy with a rifle…regardless of whether it’s a carbine or long gun.

This is a big deal this time of year for hunters, but it’s critical for anyone who owns a rifle for self defense.

Regardless of whether or not you’re a hunter, this is a great time of year to brush up on 3 vital skills for making fast, accurate hits with carbines and long guns.

Let’s start with the mount.

There have been times where I’ve hunted with friends and used their guns.  Guns that I wasn’t used to.

And when I had all the time in the world, I could shoot them just fine.

But when the speed of competition or speed and surprise of hunting came into play, I fumbled the mount.

I’ve lost good animals and missed easy shots because I was too slow, too jerky, or too loud mounting the gun.

Mounting the gun is when you put the butt against your shoulder, line the sights or optic up between your dominant eye and the target, and get your hands where they need to be to make a shot.

So the first drill that you want to practice is quickly and quietly mounting the gun from standing, sitting, and prone positions.

Get used to where your hands need to be and what the angle of your head feels like.

I like finding the correct eye relief position on a scope and then seeing how many of my support hand fingers fit between my forehead and the scope so I can find the right head position easier.

Try mounting with different amounts of clothes on…with and without gloves, if it’s cold enough for gloves.  (You may find that you want to push the gun out and pull the butt back to your shoulder rather than putting the butt to your shoulder and swinging the muzzle up)

Finally, practice mounting from different positions…slung, in your hands, gun on the ground, etc.

Just 2-3 minutes before a hunt practicing different combinations can make a world of difference.

Do it a few times a week, and your ability to mount smoothly and efficiently under stress will improve rapidly.


It’s very hard to hit what you can’t see.

When I got serious about vision training, I saw my distance vision go from 20/80 to 20/13.  The impact on hunting was dramatic.

I was able to see so much more detail at distance…and since I wasn’t wearing glasses, my field of awareness and field of view were wider.

In addition, my ability to shift from accurately seeing over/around the scope to accurately seeing through the scope sped up tremendously.

We cover how to see distant objects more clearly and expand your peripheral awareness and peripheral vision in the Tactical Vision Training course, and anyone who thinks they’re a serious rifle shooter owes it to themselves to go through this course, but let me share a drill with you to help you transition from seeing over the scope to seeing through the scope.

It’s amazingly simple, yet few people do it.

Unload your rifle…and better yet, remove your bolt or bolt carrier group. Mount your rifle and look over the top of the scope at something in the distance…then simply lower your head and look through the scope with your dot, chevron, or crosshairs lined up on that same object.

Do this drill a few times and you’ll create a “macro” of how your eye needs to be focused and how your visual cortex needs to suppress your non-dominant eye so you’ll be able to do it quicker and more accurately when time & excitement are factors.

Up for a challenge?  Try switching back and forth between looking THROUGH the scope with your dominant eye and AROUND the scope with your non-dominant eye without moving your head at all.  It seems impossible at first, but it’s not only possible, but the payoff is huge.  (This is one of the high-leverage skills that we address with the Self-Standing Dry Fire Target.

Trigger Press

Dry fire practice on a rifle is as important, if not more important, than on a pistol because of the distances involved.

Two of the most common errors that shooters make that ruin great shots are disturbing sight alignment while pressing the trigger and trying to look over the scope too quickly after taking a shot.

The drill I like to help with these 2 issues is to simply unload my rifle (or remove the bolt/bolt carrier group) look at an object in the distance with a safe backstop through my scope and practice dry fire pressing the trigger without disturbing sight alignment…and keeping my eye on the target through the scope for half a second after the press.

Here’s a pro-trick for you…on many bolt action rifles, when you remove the bolt, the trigger will have spring tension throughout it’s entire range of motion for easier dry fire.  It won’t “click” and there won’t be a wall, but you can practice articulating your trigger finger through the range of motion with resistance.  As a bonus, it’s much safer to do dry fire with the bolt out of the rifle.

On one hand, you probably know that you want to have a slow, surprise trigger break.  On the other hand, it’s much better if it isn’t too slow or too much of a surprise.  So, see how quickly you can run the trigger with an acceptable level of wobble.  Your slow, surprise press may take 4-5 seconds to hit a 1” target at 100 yards but maybe you can get to where you can hit a 4” target in under 1 second.  This is going to depend a lot on the quality of your trigger, but don’t be afraid to push your limits.

I like using the par timer on a shot timer to practice this.  I’ll set a long delay, get on target, start the timer with my support hand, and attempt to make the shot (dry fire or live fire) between the “go” beep and the “par” beep.

One of my goals when I’m shooting 12” steel at 400 yards is to use a shot timer with a 1 second par time and press the trigger and make the shot within 1 second.

Then I’ll do the trigger press drill combined with the vision drill with the shot timer starting out looking over the scope instead of through it, safety on.  This obviously takes longer.

Finally, I’ll add mounting to the drill and start with my rifle slung, in my hands, or on the ground with the safety on.  The goal is smooth, efficient, quiet speed and a precise first hit.  It never fails that people do this, they’re pretty shocked and embarrassed at their speed, but most people are able to cut their time IN HALF in 5-10 minutes.

Something you may want to do is to alternate practicing your trigger press with the safety on vs. off and with a dead trigger so that you know what you’re encountering if your gun doesn’t go bang when it should…if you can identify the problem without having to look, you can fix the problem MUCH quicker & quieter.


Here’s another one for you that’s critical…it’s a shoulder stability drill.

One of the biggest reasons why people miss in real-world conditions is that they do most of their practice with their gun supported and end up shooting off-hand or with a mediocre support in the field.

Here’s what I want you to do…

Take a Post-it note and put it on the wall.  I’d strongly suggest completely removing the bolt or bolt carrier group from your rifle/carbine or using an airsoft gun or inert trainer.  Don’t do this with a platform capable of firing live rounds.

Stand across the room from the post-it, aim at the post-it, then alternate between aiming 2-3 feet above the post-it and 2-3 feet below the post-it, pressing the trigger every time your sights come through the post-it.

Next, do the same thing horizontally…then diagonally in both directions.

Finally, try doing a sideways figure-8 so that the post-it is in the middle.  Do the figure-8 in both directions and attempt to press the trigger every time you go over the trigger.

What this will do is help develop the stabilizer muscles in your arms, shoulders, back, core, and hips so that you can create a more-stable shooting platform in non-ideal situations.  Ironically, it’s not really designed to help you shoot moving targets…although it can definitely help with that as well.

So, try these out for a few minutes before the next time you go shooting or hunting and let me know what changes you see.

And, if you bought a carbine, AR, MSR (modern sporting rifle) or pistol caliber carbine (PCC) that you haven’t had a chance to break in and run through it’s paces yet, I want to STRONGLY suggest that you pick up the Home Defense Rifle course.  It’ll get you more comfortable with your carbine then running through half a case of ammo at the range…AND it’ll make your next trip to the range a lot more fun.  Learn more now by going >HERE<

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  • Norbert

    Reply Reply September 9, 2021

    You and your trainings are some of the strongest arguments of why I regret not living in the US. If you ever venture to share your instruction/training/workshops in Europe, I’ll be the first to sign up!
    Keep up the good work!

  • Nick

    Reply Reply October 19, 2018


    Another great article, as per your usual. I have been through numerous advanced shooting courses between the military and LE that have made me an above average shooter amongst my peers. However, its your dryfire training that has kept me at the top of my game for the past few years. Keep up the great work!

    • Ox

      Reply Reply October 19, 2018

      Thanks, Nick!

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