It’s important before we begin talking about the fundamentals of marksmanship we take a few minutes to discuss setting up your rifle. This can be the difference between success or fatigue. The closer the rifle is tailored to your body type, the more comfortable you will be behind it. The rifle doesn’t care if you are comfortable, it will do the same thing every time base on your actions behind it.
Your mind and body, however, care how comfortable you are; the more relaxed, the better you will be engaging targets at long distance.
Many shooters are limited by the equipment they can afford. The closer to a bare bones rifles you get, the fewer adjustments you will find. This is okay. Many a good shooter can do very well with a budget system. But understanding ways to properly fit the rifle to your body will help you progress in your journey. There is nothing wrong with adding a bit of padding and duct tape to your stock to help with the fit. Looking at the images of Marines and Soldiers in combat you see a lot of tape helping them fit the rifle. They don’t have a choice, they are given an issued system and are forced to make it work. Adding a stock pad and using tape are all acceptable methods of fitting the stock to the shooter.
The Proper Length of Pull
Everybody hears a different answer on the proper length of pull and for different disciplines there maybe more than one acceptable answer, however we are talking about Tactical Shooting.
So what is the proper way to determine the length of pull on your stock ?
You measure from the inside crook of the arm to the trigger as though you were holding the grip of the rifle. If the stock was resting inside the crook of your arm, you should be able to naturally reach the trigger. Once this is determined, you want to subtract between 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch. Why? Because the tactical shooter is going to be shooting from more than one position. As you rotate from a prone position to other positions, such as the sitting or kneeling, the reduced stock length will help you maintain the proper eye relief. Remember, the tactical shooter is a one system fits and does all. So we want to be able to adapt the system to fit a wide variety of situations.
By reducing your length of pull, you will make this transition easier. If you know you will be using body armor, or operating under a variety of conditions like shooting during the winter months, this reduction will help account for heavy clothing.
Choosing a rifle with an adjustable length of pull will give the end user an advantage when it comes to fitting the rifle without costly modification. Another good option is ordering a stock made to fit. This ensures the rifle will properly fit; when we move on to trigger control you’ll see the benefits almost immediately.
Setting up the Cheek Weld
Choosing a stock with an adjustable cheek piece will further assist the shooter in setting up the rifle. This will, again, aid in comfort when it comes time to shoot. Additionally, it will help you get a consistent cheek weld from shot to shot.
Before we set up the cheek weld we have to mount the scope. The scope should be mounted in the rings ahead of time and may be attached to the rifle, but it should not be tightened in place just yet. In the section on sight picture we will talk about setting up the scope properly, but first let’s talk about where we need to position it on the rail.
We will assume the rifle has some form of picatinney rail on the action. These picatinney rails will help you set the eye relief, which will determine how we set up the stock. When setting the scope in the rail it is best not to put it in the last slot at the back. Give room, both in front and behind the rings, so you can move the scope either forward or backwards. It should also be said that you want to choose a set of rings that will allow the objective bell to clear the barrel, but at the same time be mounted as low as possible without touching. The lower the scope is to the bore, the easier it will be to adjust your head position.
Generally, you can determine ahead of time the scope’s eye relief from the literature available. Most have a 3 to 3.5 inch eye relief; this is the distance from the ocular lens to the shooter’s eye.
The proper way to set up the scope and the cheek weld is from behind the rifle. It’s best to have someone help you by moving the scope. This will help the shooter focus on the position of the body and head behind the rifle as well as determine if the there is edge to edge clarity with the sight picture. scope there should be instant edge to edge clarity. Shadowing will tell you which direction to move the scope or cheek piece on the stock. If you are looking through a donut with shadowing all around, move the scope forward or backwards in the rail. If you have shadowing at the top or bottom of the sight picture move the cheek piece up or down and repeat the process until the picture is clear.Sniper's Hide as been creating training videos since 2009, we go into as much detail as possible and will be bringing the Online Training Lessons to the Scout Network.