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.