Breathing Techniques For Long Range Shooting

Posted by Team Osprey on Oct 26th 2020

Breathing Techniques For Long Range Shooting

Why Breathing Matters.

There are many rumors' on the best way to breathe while shooting. Do you hold your breath? Should you shoot on exhale or inhale? Should your lungs be half full? Do you breathe into your belly or your lungs? What's the difference and why does it matter? We are going to cover all these things as it really matters the further you want to shoot and the better you want your groupings to be. Every little thing matters when you start reaching out and touching something. At a mile you can see your heartbeat on the target so mastering breath is the first step in the journey to beyond a thousand yard shot.

Basic Breathing Facts For Targets

Firstly we need to remember that breathing comes naturally and we usually don’t think about it. In fact your body will fight against your brain to get its next breath. It is an automatic, non-concious activity. Secondly we have a naturally rhythm to our breathing cycle; Our diaphragm expands as we pull air into the lungs, we pause slightly before the diaphragm relaxes and forces air out of our lungs. The Break between breathing in and breathing out is called respiratory pause.

What is Respiratory pause?

Basically if you take a shot while you are breathing in or out you are shooting while you are moving. As you can imagine if you shoot while moving then this creates “wobble’ in your shot. This may not affect you if you are shooting close range at forgivable targets but when you start getting beyond the curvature of the earth you will find it impossible to get a good grouping. Respiratory pause is the moment between breathes. This is when to pull the trigger.

Pull The Trigger When Your Lungs Are (almost) Empty.

After you have emptied your lungs, during your respiratory pause this is the time to pull the trigger. There are a few reasons for this as opposed to shooting when your lungs are full. You can hold the pause longer when you have no air in the lungs. The length of time you can hold it depends on experience and your physical condition. Most shooters can get 8-10 seconds without too much problem. Beyond that you start getting visual impairment and your body and muscles beg for air making it hard to hold steady and even harder to concentrate. You can condition yourself to extend your respiratory pause and is essential to control this if you want to get into precision shooting.

How Empty?

You should have some air in your lungs. No one can tell you the exact amount as it is impossible to measure. The amount of air in the lung directly affects the vertical point of aim. Long range shooting is a lot of trial and error and developing correct technique at the start but the exact amount of breathe is something you will get a feel for.

Long Range Accuracy And Breathing Technique Are Related?

Lack of oxygen effects muscles; when muscles are deprived of oxygen they get unstable and eventually begin t shake. Obviously this will increase your wobble factor and throw off your shot, or more than likeley stop you frome being able to take the shot. So apart from extending your respritory pause, another technique to develop is the correct shooting position. The best shooting position is one the is “ skeletal”. By that we mean to leverage the bones as opposed to the muscles. There are many shooting positions, depending on your stule of shooting, but using one that relys less on the muscles means you are USING less oxygen and if you do run low on oxygen it will mean it naturally reduces any affects of muscle shake.

Calm Under Duress.

There is a breathing technique used by hunters and run and gunners quite frequently. Sometimes you cannot control your breathing. You have just ran up a hill or across a field before lining up your shot. If you are breathing heavily it can be impossible to take even a short range shot. If you find yourself in this situation the only option is to take a big breath, then hold it. It will get you a small widow of calm to take your shot. You wont get ten seconds but hopefully its enough time to take down that buck you have been tracking across the mountainside.

Long Range Shooting Relates To Freediving?

Another technique to practice is to over oxygenate your body. Freedivers, who free dive up to 700 feet, use this technique. Take deep rapid breathes to get as much oxygen into your muscles as possible, do this just before holding your breathe Think of it as overloading your muscles with oxygen. It delays the time it takes for your body to realise you are out of oxygen. Doing this frequently can extend your time in the pause giving you the time on target necessary to confidently pull the trigger.

Accuracy Comes When You Can Put It All Together.

Try the techniques listed here, experiment with the best shooting position for you and your style of shooting. Practice with experienced shooters and see what works for them. Breathing is an essential part of shooting but it is only one part. To get proficient at longer distances you need every element to be perfect. Breathing, position, calculation, trigger squeeze, recoil reaction and many other aspects so as I say to anyone getting into shooting or wanting to get better. Practice practice practice and see what works for you. If in doubt find someone better than you and see what works for them.