Lesson from Project Appleseed: Natural Point of Aim

I knew I had forgotten at least one thing from that big rambling post… well… several things…

The three big things that the folks teaching the Appleseed clinic kept pushing were breathing, relaxing, and natural point of aim.  The breathing and relaxing are both pretty simple to explain, if you tense up, not only do you start shaking, but it’s also very difficult to replicate exactly where you were.  It’s one thing to be able to hit the bullseye once, but the trick is to hit it consistently.

The last bit is also pretty easy once you think about it.  Natural point of aim (NPoA) is simply the spot where the rifle wants to point when you bring it up to fire.  A large portion of proper form is to be able to have that be a constant spot.  The Appleseed folk’s philosophy is if that point isn’t where you want it, then move until it is.

We did do one drill on Sunday to check to see if we were doing this properly.  They handed us paper targets that were blank except with a single star in the middle.  We were to get into a prone position, set up so our NPoA was on the star, close our eyes, and pull the trigger at the end of our breathe cycle (full exhale).  Obviously, this is not a drill to do unless you’re on a tightly monitored range.  I knew I was, but intentionally firing a gun with my eyes closed was still… weird.

The thing is, it works.  I scored two hits overlapping each other, and the other 3 shots weren’t far off.  Which, of course, meant that I was shooting better blind than with my eyes open, but…

The odd thing is that the instructors told stories about how NPoA was something that isn’t taught much anymore, or, if it was, was considered an “advanced technique.”  This was the first time I’d gone to an actual rifle class, unless you count a summer camp elective back in middle school, so I can’t comment on the accuracy of that statement, but I found that odd.  I can say that I hadn’t really thought about it on my own other than getting “close enough” to basically be on target and then make adjustments with my arms.  I would think that this is something that should be taught as a fundamental of shooting accurately.

3 comments to Lesson from Project Appleseed: Natural Point of Aim

  • We’ve only taken a few rifle training courses. Two of them addressed NPOA. Only Appleseed did it well.

    It really is the key, and is very obvious once you think about it. Just another sign of the decline of marksmanship in this nation.

    Not as much of a deal in CQB type courses of course, due to speed considerations and distances involved. That might be part of it.

  • NOPA was the key to the training. I was shooting ok until I managed to incorporate the NOPA and then I was shooting excellently. I wouldn’t have believed it until I saw it. I thought it was just hype.

  • […] Now, I still do not grasp this, and despite shooting quite well (a 233) I never seemed to find mine, but the basic idea is this: when you are in a shooting position and lined up on the target, if you are in your natural point of aim, you should be able to close your eyes, breathe in and out a few times, breathe out one last time, squeeze the trigger, and be relatively close to your target, if not on top of it. This is the "natural" position for your body to be holding your rifle, where you are not having to muscle anything into place, or fight anything. Like I said, my NPOA was on an extended LOA, but Oddball did a great job getting acquainted with his. […]

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