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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-02-2015, 12:21 AM Thread Starter
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Heart beat help

Hoping some of you experienced shooters can give me some tips. I'm practicing my 300 yard shooting in prep for a once in a lifetime elk hunt this fall. 300 is the biggest range I have to practice at and I think is close to my personal skill limit. I've been doing OK but would like to do better. The one problem I seem to have is with my heart beat. The bump bump of my heart causes my crosshairs to jump slightly, which I know is normal. I concentrate hard to control my breathing and especially on squeezing the trigger. But I seemed to have this recurring scenario where I am holding perfect on target for the first bump of my heart and then off target (slightly) on the second bump. So as my heart beats, I'm on then off then on then off. As hard as I try to squeeze the trigger, I often feel that I jerk it slightly while trying to get the shot off when my heart beat is on target. Hope this makes sense. Any tips on how to handle the beating of my heart?
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-02-2015, 01:27 AM
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Re: Heart beat help

Well..... I'm sure we'll get some teasing on this one , but a sniper instructor that I mentioned this to , said to hold your breathing as you normally would just before the shot , then to slow your heart you need to tighten your core muscles . Tighten up like your constipated . This tightening & pushing of the abdomen causes your heart beat to slow down enough to get off a better placed shot . Works for me on long groundhog shots ....
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-02-2015, 02:52 AM
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Re: Heart beat help

Training....Training and more training. The better condition you are in the lower heart rate you will normally have. Trying to remember all the surefire tips you're going to get on here when your lining up a shot will not help.
Drinking that morning coffee or power drink or having a full stomachs will raise your HB to noticeable proportions.
Also using a lower scope setting will take some of the bounce out of your scope.
The breathing and getting in the best physical shape you can is something you can do anywhere. Just relax.
Good Luck and hope sometime this fall to see pictures of your trophy elk.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-02-2015, 08:20 AM
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Re: Heart beat help

Dry firing your rifle frequently may help.

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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-02-2015, 02:19 PM
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Re: Heart beat help

Ditch the coffee...and salt. Sounds silly but gospel. Practice dry firing in the am before eating or drinking. Most important..get it the best physical shape possible....I've witnessed a few unprepared honchos blow their chance because they simply were not physically prepared. Don't just go the gym...fill your day pack with water jugs and walk....up hills...put some miles on yourself.... Take it serious.

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-03-2015, 02:28 PM
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Re: Heart beat help

Quote:
Originally Posted by Poor Bob
I'm practicing my 300 yard shooting in prep for a once in a lifetime elk hunt this fall. 300 is the biggest range I have to practice at and I think is close to my personal skill limit. I've been doing OK but would like to do better. The one problem I seem to have is with my heart beat. The bump bump of my heart causes my crosshairs to jump slightly, which I know is normal. I concentrate hard to control my breathing and especially on squeezing the trigger. But I seemed to have this recurring scenario where I am holding perfect on target for the first bump of my heart and then off target (slightly) on the second bump. So as my heart beats, I'm on then off then on then off. As hard as I try to squeeze the trigger, I often feel that I jerk it slightly while trying to get the shot off when my heart beat is on target. Hope this makes sense. Any tips on how to handle the beating of my heart?
Maybe more questions than answers. The obvious question is from what position?

Where is it coming from, left hand, right hand, shoulder?

Heart rate usually isn't a practical factor at 300 yards. You may see movement at high magnification but usually it isn't a practical factor on killing an animal. If you're setting around 300 yards as your maximum distance and the crosshairs bump 1" at 300yds that isn't going to be a concern. If you're getting more than that then you are forcing something.

For longer distances you want a natural point of aim. That means the body is as relaxed as it can be while still maintaining a good sight picture. Results will vary depending on position because obviously some positions require more muscle tension than others to support the weapon but you should be able to close your eyes for a couple seconds and still be on target. If not then you are using muscle tension to force the crosshairs into position. You want to minimize muscle tension and eliminate it completely if you are using an artificial support.

Holding a full breath compresses the heart and can transfer pressure throughout the body. You want to practice squeezing off at your natural respiratory pause. When you exhale, at the bottom of the valley, there is a momentary pause before you begin to inhale. There is no pressure on your heart, you can deliberately extend this period if needed, but this is when you squeeze the shot. With experience it becomes muscle memory and you don't think about it. This is also the best technique if you have been running or climbing and need to make a quick offhand shot, hit your pause, start to squeeze and hold the pause for a couple seconds, if you miss the squeeze, take a deep breath and catch it on the next pause, you won't pass out.

In the Marines from around 500 yds and beyond without an artificial support, prone position, we would tighten a sling around our upper left arm to cutoff the brachial flow to the left hand, release it right after the shot. Don't know where you're at but if around western Susq Co I have a 400yd range you're welcome to try, at least in the next couple of weeks, don't like to shoot during the deer seasons.

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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-04-2015, 01:42 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Heart beat help

Thanks everyone for all the helpful comments. There is some really good info in your replies. You've definitely given me some things to think about. Not sure I can give up my morning cup of coffee though.

tundragriz--thank you for the offer to shoot, but I'm too far from you. And to answer your questions, I'm shooting right handed off a sand bag while sitting at a bench. I'm going to try to use the pause in my breathing, really good advice. Thanks again.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-11-2015, 06:46 PM
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Re: Heart beat help

poor Bob, I don't think any of the others have mentioned it and I don't know your age, skill level, or physical activity level but one thing I found for me was getting in better physical shape I'm fairly young so I like to run and do rigorous cardio activity by doing this cardio activity it lowers my resting heart rate considerably which gives me a longer time between heartbeats to squeeze off the shot
sitting at home on the recliner my heartbeat is about 50-56 beats per minute I understand that's not a hunting situation but it's just an example if my heart rate resting is 50 beats per minute that's going to be better than somebody who doesn't exercise at all and was hiking the same mountain that I just hiked so using exercise to slow your heart rate down combined with better breathing and natural point of aim and what the others have said above will all help good luck
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-15-2015, 01:18 AM
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Re: Heart beat help

tundragriz is spot on... follow those instructions and you will shot better!

The only piece of advise I'd add to that is... once on target...focus more on on your reticle than your target... This will keep your from chasing your bullseye and help you to tighten up your groups.

Good Luck on the Elk Hunt!

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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-24-2015, 11:08 PM
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Re: Heart beat help

I shot competitively in college, even though it was only 50 ft, once strapped into the sling, the only thing was that the front sight would bounce with heartbeat. About a month into the first college season the coach told us to run a mile after practice. HUH? Yep, he explained that he wanted us to be in better shape physically to reduce our heart rate. got to the point that my pulse was running about 50 at rest. I could actually shoot between heart beats. I kept up with the running. Got up to 4 miles per day. By the time I was a senior, I also took a couple of sleeping pills an hour before a match. The coach would have to wake us up to shoot our relays. My scores went up with the running, but went way up with the sleeping pills. A few years later when he found out what we had been doing, he tracked me down to let me know how POd he was.

I still do some competition shooting. Cut out the caffein, stay in shape etc. Even now at rest my heart rate runs between 60 and 64. If you shoot offhand, keep your upper back and shoulder strength up. I lift bales of hay every morning to feed the livestock. It helps.
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