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AR-15 style rifles have been selling at unprecedented rates since the talk of a new “assault weapon” ban has been the focus of Washington DC politicians. Shooting an AR-15 is different from the traditional bolt-action rifle so there are some basic tips to know. When I purchased my first Bushmaster AR-15 style firearm a year ago, I found it was fun to target shoot, but required some different skills from my standard Remington 700 bolt-action rifle.
Here are 10 tips to get you started for safe, fun shooting on the range.
1. Use Ready-Up Drills: Before you go to the range, practice at home. Practice your stance, practice engaging the target and practice firing in one smooth motion. This establishes muscle memory and gets you comfortable with the gun and the motions.
2. Set your Stance: You want to be square on the target, facing it directly. Non-firing foot should be slightly forward, knees slightly flexed. Lean forward slightly. If you feel like you are in a boxing stance then your are doing it right.
3. Get in Ready Position: Keep the butt of your gun tucked into your shoulder tight using your firing hand primarily. Angle the muzzle at a 46-degree angle down. Keep your head up, elbows tucked in tight. WEAPON IS ON SAFE, finger off the trigger.
4. Move to Firing Position: Practice bringing the weapon up smoothly and engaging the target. A mark on the wall, such as a piece of tape works well.
5. Squeeze the trigger: As you bring the gun to firing position, rotate the selector to semi and squeeze the trigger. After practice you should get a good sight picture, go to semi and squeeze the trigger in one smooth motion.
6. Dry fire your AR. In practice it is ok to dry fire your AR. It will not harm the gun.
7. Prep for the range: You’ll need a target, your AR and lots of ammunition and several magazines (ten round magazines are suggested)
8. Warm-up before live fire: Before fire live ammunition, do a series of the above ready-up drills to practice safe firing: Square to the target, weapon only on fire while engaging and immediately back to safe. There will be excitement to fire your new AR, so you need to calm yourself and make it routine to set your stance, engage your target, fire and return to safe. It will make your first shots more accurate and more enjoyable if you are on target.
9. Live fire slow and easy: Set your stance, shoulder the gun, get a good sight picture, go to semi and squeeze the trigger in one smooth motion. Never move faster than is smooth and natural. After firing the gun, keep the gun in the firing position with your firing hand and charge the weapon. Put the gun on safe and lower it back into the ready position.
10.Cleaning the AR: AR’s are fun to shoot and proven in the field, but they still require a good cleaning. When you return from the range be sure to give your new AR a thorough cleaning.
Enjoy your AR and the joy of shooting with it. It is a different experience than a bolt action and one you’ll find rounds out your firearms and shooting expertise.
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