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Fundamentals of Breath Control

Breath Control and Shooting

To shoot accurately, especially in competition, one must become motionless. Breathing causes motion so it must be controlled. As an example, if you hold a gun in the Isosceles stance shown below and breathe in and out you will notice that the gun rises with inhaling and lowers with exhaling. This causes your shots on the target to be high or low if you are breathing while squeezing the trigger. The key to accuracy is to squeeze the trigger while holding your breath (in between breaths)! This is one of the last fundamentals to really practice, and to gain that last bit of accuracy.

Do You Hold your Breath, or Not?

If you just hold your breath you are robbing your body of oxygen. Lack of oxygen causes muscle fatigue and reduction of vision (in fact, the eyes are the first thing in your body to go when starved of oxygen!). To insure that you have enough oxygen in your system to last for the 10 to 20 seconds needed, you need to a aware of breath control.  When shooting it should only take you 10 to 20 seconds to complete several shots. Breathing while shooting should be very natural. Being aware of breath control will also keep you calmer while lowering your blood pressure. 

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Ready position

Ready position everything is set, firearm loaded, stance relaxed and set, grip set. Take 3 to 4 slow breaths in to the count of 4 and out to the count of 4.

Inhale as you come on target

Inhale as you bring your firearm on target. By the time you have the firearm at eye level and target in view you should have taken in a full breath. (This is the point in which you have a "natural pause between breaths").

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Pause Between Breaths

With the firearm at eye level, front sight in focus over target (during this natural pause in breathing) fire your shots now. Hold this position for 2 seconds, eyes still on the front sight over target. 

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Exhale Your Breath

Now slowly release your breath to the count of 4 as you lower the firearm back into ready position.

Physiology of Breath Control

Remember, your body is accustomed to pauses between breaths anyway. You can stay motionless in this state, even firing several shots, or until you begin to run out of oxygen. However, you should have finished shooting before you do run out. By focusing, you should also be able to align your sights on the target, and take your shot within 5 to 10 seconds of bringing your arms up.

If you are taking longer than 5 to 10 seconds to fire your shot, put the gun down and start all over again since you are either holding your breath too long or taking too long to focus on your sights.

This is the easiest shooting fundamental to master since your body knows involuntarily how to do it. You can learn to help the process by remembering to oxygenate first, and then leave the lungs and diaphragm in a relaxed state while shooting.

Remember if you always practice slow breathing, then it all becomes muscle-memory, and second nature any time you handle your firearm.

Breathing is the easiest shooting variable to master!

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