Here in MN we have kind of a reputation for producing good shooters compared to the rest of the US in biathlon. Now that said, each of us can improve our shooting…each of us!!
Without accuracy during base shooting, you will have difficulty hitting targets during combo training with a heartrate and lactates elevated, and even more so when fatigued in a race.
So herein, I want to concentrate on accuracy only for a moment. And of all the things involved in accuracy like a smooth trigger squeeze of the final trigger stage, and staying relaxed with a good rifle fit, natural point of aim etc, I want to concentrate on “sight alignment”.
With the mandatory open sights required for biathlon by the rules, there has to be two sights—front and rear, unlike a glass optical rifle scope. These, along with the eye getting light back through the sights from the target, all need to be aligned perfectly with the flight of the bullet. But at least three problems exist: 1] the eye can only focus on one plane at a time—call it close, nearby or distant; 2] the eye needs to be steady on the rifle – not moving around in either the prone or standing position and 3] the sights and the eye need to be perfectly aligned immediately when shooting instinctively or fast. Enter the adjustable stock with an adjustable ‘’cheekpiece”.
The rear sight aperture opening should be about 2” from your eyeball so there is a white ring around the front sight barrel in both positions, prone and standing. That ring is shown in the attached diagram.
To properly put your head on the stock, you should first move sideways onto the cheekpiece until it hits your teeth –then down onto the cheekbone. But not with excessive pressure sideways or down..just enough to lock your face onto the rifle. Once you have done that, your sight alignment should look like the attached diagram. Best is to do it looking at a white background with no target to divert your attention. Focus on the front sight as that is where your focus should be when shooting, not moving back and forth. That sight should be crisp and clear—the rear sight will be a bit fuzzy.
Now do that with your eyes closed, open the eyes and see if that white ring around the front sight barrel is perfect. Do it several times. If you have to push or lift your head to get alignment, you will never shoot a tight group!!
Your eye will pick up and correct your head for a very minor misalignment, but any more than that and it will ignore it—or you will loosen your head position to get it.
So start making minor adjustments to the cheekpiece until that white ring looks perfect. Perfect! Now check it in standing. It helps if the cheekpiece is aligned with the rifle—not at an angle to that line as your head position between the two positions will vary a little fore/aft so when you adjust the cheekpiece, keep it lined up.
Then when you get into prone position and put your head onto the stock—you will be ready immediately to shift your hips around that forward elbow and get your “sight picture” … to get your rifle aligned onto the target. In standing, you do that by more rifle adjustment of the butthook or forestock riser for vertical alignment and by slightly rotating your feet around the heel for horizontal alignment. It is not advised to rotate your feet completely into an “open” or “closed” position. Keep your toes lined up with the target.
Enjoy the Journey!
Bill Meyer, Coach