Question:I am having a problem getting my vertical natural point of aim when shooting silhouette. I tend to fall out the bottom of the target when I pull the trigger. How can I fix this?
Answer: For purposes of answering this question, we will assume that this is rifle silhouette shooting and will break it down into two parts. To find your natural point of aim (NPA), after ensuring that the rifle is cleared and no one is in front of you, get into the standing position, and aim-in at a blank background. Close your eyes, breathe, and relax into your position. Now, open your eyes, and observe whether or not you are looking through your sights naturally. If not, adjust the rifle position until this happens. Accomplishing this is the first step to finding your NPA.
The next step is to adjust the position in relation to your target. Starting in the standing position, aim to get your NPA. By only moving your back foot, adjust your NPA to the target without changing your position. If the muzzle of the rifle falls below the target, step back with your rear foot—it does not take much—to bring the muzzle up. If you are to the right of the target, adjust your back foot until the rifle moves to the center of the target, and vice versa if the rifle is to the left. Now, repeat the closed-eye exercise as stated above—you should be on target.
Some firing lines differ in elevation from the target area making this a challenge. If this is the case, you may have to adjust your forward hand to adjust the muzzle height. The goal in any shooting position is to be stable while decreasing the amount of muscle strain used to maintain that position. To master this is to master NPA.
This brings us to the second part of the question. If you are falling out the bottom of the target when pulling the trigger, you are likely muscling the rifle to the target in the beginning and relaxing into your NPA as you squeeze the trigger. This allows you to drop out the bottom of the target as the trigger breaks.
There may be another cause to your problem however. Many shooters become anxious for immediate results and look up during the shot process to see if they hit the target. This will also cause shots to drop out the bottom of the target because the rifle is dropped during the shot process. We advise remaining in position throughout the shot process. Many coaches recommend holding your position long enough for a second round to eject after you have pulled the trigger. This will ensure that the round has had time to leave the barrel before being affected by the shooter's movement.