Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Natural Point of Aim

I was first introduced to Natural Point of Aim by the Army in the summer of 1973.  It's an interesting concept, so simple that many of us forget about it.  Basically, it's letting your body define where the bullet is going, through relaxed musculature.

Many of us get into a shooting position, and have to move the rifle to align with the target.  That's okay, as much as it goes, but there is one place where your relaxed body wants the rifle to shoot, and that's what we call the Natural Point of Aim (NPA).  If you know the position your body wants to relax in, that's the position you should use.

This guy explains it fairly simply.
The basic way to check your NPA is to get into your shooting position of choice to the point where you guess that you are aligned on target.  Now 1.) close your eyes 2.) take a breath 3.) relax completely 4.)  when you reach your respiratory pause, open your eyes.  Your sights should now be aligned on your NPA.
If your sights aren't aligned on your target, your body isn't properly aligned.  Make adjustments.  Then try it again.  When you get to the place where your relaxed body is keeping the sights on the target, you've found your NPA.

That works fine with rifles, but what about handguns?  I'm glad you asked.  This guy explains the same concept, with a handgun.
 1. Take up your natural relaxed shooting stance
2. Acquire your sight picture (sights on target)
3. Close your eyes
4. Take a couple of deep breaths to relax.
5. Open your eyes and see where your sight picture has moved to.
There are ways to adjust your stance to bring your handgun to the NPA, and he talks about them here.
You need to reposition your entire body so that you maintain your point of aim and get on target. In the standing position an adjustment of your rear foot position will allow you to do this. Moving it back will raise your sights, forward will drop them. Left or right movement of your rear foot will change your position on the target sideways. In prone or other positions you may have to rotate in relation to the target. Once you have done this recheck the above steps to make sure you are still in your natural point of aim and are on target. You may have to do this several times.
 You may ask why I'm taking you through this, and that's a valid question.  Simply, because I'm going through the same exercise in my head. I'm a CFDA shooter, you see.  We don't use sights, indeed, the front sight is optional in our sport.  It's completely extraneous.  However, as I've taken up this sport, I've had trouble getting 1) speed and 2) accuracy.  I've watched the good shooters, I've studied the videos, and I've talked shop with a lot of people who were willing to help.

In my particular case, when I line up on the target, I'm searching for consistency.  My target is a metal plate, 21 feet away and the center is 50 inches above the floor.  It should be fairly easy to hit.  But, I'm snatching the revolver out of the holster and tripping the trigger as fast as I can muster.   I miss a lot.  But, what I've noticed is that my shot group, (if you can call it that), is off the target, between 4:00 and 5:00 about eight inches from the target edge.  The group would generally fit on the target itself, it it were up about a foot, and left, about a foot.

So, I have to find that shooting position that will let me go as fast as possible, and keep my group on the target.  Sounds easy, right?  It's as much a mental exercise as anything, but it's got to be relaxed, and it must be repeatable.  I've got to practice enough to be able to stand at the line, get in position, and have that first shot hit the target.  And the second, and the third.  As fast as possible.  Because my competition isn't slowing down.

It's liable to be a long, hot summer.

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