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Long Range Competition Shooting Breathing Techniques: Everything You Need to Know


by: Natchez Shooting Supplies

If this is your first long-range competition, you may not know how important proper breathing technique is when it comes to winning. If you’re not paying attention to your breathing, then you won’t be getting the most accurate shots that you can. It seems simple, but it’s not. It takes practice and concentration to perfect the way that you breathe.

Of course, breathing isn’t everything. The quality of your scope and rifle are essential too. If you’re looking for the best long-range scope money can buy or the best upgrades for your AR-15, then check out these links. But if you’re looking to improve your breathing technique, then keep reading to learn everything you need to know to win your next long-range shooting competition.

What is Breathing Technique?
In the simplest terms, your breathing technique is the precise way that you control your breaths when you’re getting ready to fire your rifle. Exhale at the wrong time, and you’ll ruin your shot.

It sounds dramatic, but the way that you inhale and exhale, and more importantly, when you do it, is crucial to increasing the accuracy of your shots. When you inhale or exhale, your chest expands or relaxes. That causes your whole upper body to move. It happens all day long to the point where you don’t even notice it happening anymore. When it happens as you’re trying to aim your shot, though, you’ll start to notice when your shots aren’t hitting the target. In some cases, it may be your scope or mounting that’s off. More often than not, though, it’s going to be your breathing technique.

So Why is Breathing Technique Important?
Most people haven’t learned that there are different ways to breathe. Unless you were in band, choir, or something like track and field, you probably don’t know the difference. The majority of people associate breathing with your chest and lungs. That’s not wrong, but it’s not the whole picture. When you breathe with just your chest muscles, you’re getting more oxygen and more air than you should be. This causes short breaths that raise your shoulders. That’s the kind of stuff that’ll cause your rifle to move and throw off your aim. These short breaths can be refreshing, but they can also give you the jitters because of the sudden rush of oxygen to your brain. On the other hand, when you use your diaphragm to breathe into your stomach, you’ll have longer, steadier, and more calming breaths. Not only does that help you relax and focus better, but it stops your upper body from moving all over the place. That’s going to increase your accuracy immensely. It’ll also help keep you relaxed so that you don’t tense up right before pulling the trigger.

Getting those short, quick breaths from your chest isn’t always bad, though. Sometimes, especially after a long round of shooting, taking a few of those quick chest breaths can help energize and stimulate you. They can be beneficial if you feel overwhelmed or feel like you’re starting to lose focus. To prevent fatigue and get the best shots consistently, it’s important to know when to breathe which way. Just remember, slow and steady before the shot, quick and excited after you’ve nailed the shot.

How To Train Your Breathing Technique
So now you know how important your breathing is to your accuracy, it’s time to fix it. One of the first things you need to learn how to do is breathe from your stomach. First, make sure that you’re breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. This allows for more controlled breathing and filters and warms the air that you breathe in.

Now, there are two main schools of thought toward breathing techniques. The first one says that you shouldn’t hold your breath or pause your breathing at all. Instead, you should continue to breathe in and out as you line up your shot and shoot just as you usually would. The only difference in your breathing will be that you are breathing from your stomach and taking slow, deep, measured breaths instead of quick chest breaths. You’ll still have to focus on keeping your breathing even and measured, so it will still take some practice to master. Pay attention to your body, and you’ll know when it’s time to take the shot. This technique works for some long-range competition shooters and for taking regular shots.

The “relaxed shot” is the other breathing technique that is easy to learn and widely used in long-range competition shooting. For this, you’ll be breathing in cycles. Breathe in and out as you naturally would as you begin to line up your shot. During the pause in between breaths, you’ll hold your breath for 3-5 seconds. This is when you slowly squeeze the trigger and take the shot. Rinse and repeat. The idea is that when you fire during the pauses where you’re neither inhaling or exhaling, your body will be at its most relaxed. You’ll always be at your most precise when your body isn’t tense. There is an important caveat to this, though. Don’t try to find your shot while you’re holding your breath. So, when you pick up your rifle and you’re finding your target, that’s when you inhale. When your front sight is pointed at the target and you’re lined up, exhale and stop breathing until you have fired your shot. This pause in between breaths where you don’t breathe for a few seconds is known as the Natural Respiratory Pause or NRP. Try not to think of it as holding your breath, but rather as taking advantage of the break that your lungs take by themselves; you’re just going to be more aware of it.

Now, which breathing technique should you use? That’s up to you. Give them both a try and see which one works best for you. Changing your breathing technique isn’t going to be an instant fix for your accuracy, but the more you practice it, the more precise you’ll become. It seems like a straightforward thing but pay attention to how you’re breathing the next time you head to the practice range. I’m willing to put money on the fact that you shoot better when you control your breathing.

I’m Breathing Differently, Now What?
Again, it’s not going to be an instant fix. You’re not going to know exactly how to breathe the right way the first time you try. After a few times of actively trying to control your breathing, though, I guarantee that you’ll notice a difference. Keep practicing it every time you’re at the range, and soon it will become second nature.

If you’re still not noticing a difference after fixing your breathing, then it may be time to look at your equipment and make sure that you’re using quality gear. Make sure that you’re using the right kind of rifle for the shooting that you’re doing. You probably shouldn’t be using a break action rifle for intense competition shooting, for example. From there, make sure that you’ve got the correct optics, iron sights vs. red-dot sights, and any other accessories (such as a suppressor to reduce hearing damage) that you might want. Accessories aren’t one size fits all, so make sure that the one you’re eyeing is going to work on your firearm before you buy it.

From there, it’s all just trial and error and practicing until you’re great. Good luck and remember to breathe!



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