Thursday, June 13, 2013

Applying NPOA to snap rifle shooting......

There is a concept among riflemen called Natural Point Of Aim, or simply 'NPOA' for short.

The idea is pretty simple really, although it takes practice to get it into play.  There are a number of standard shooting positions rifleman use, typically known as Standing or offhand, Kneeling or seated, and prone.  Each has it's variations, but those are the three basics.

Each position has some factors that must come into play in order to be a stable platform for the rifle.  Arms and legs in the correct positions,  head and neck held a certain way, grasping the rifle correctly, trigger finger in the correct shape, etc.  Every riflemen works their way into these positions as best suits their own body, and believe me.... there is no end to the variations here.

Once in a good stable position with the body, the shooter turns attention to where their now positioned body is actually pointing the rifle.  If all is well with the world, the rifle should be pointed at the intended target naturally, without being forced there by muscle pressure.  This place the rifle points at once we are in position is known as the NPOA.

The rifleman checks NPOA by settling into position, closing the eyes, taking a few deep breaths, and relaxing.  When the eyes ropen, the sights should be on the bulls-eye of the target.  If the sights are NOT on the bull, the rifleman moves the entire body around the designated pivot point for that position (the left elbow, the left knee, etc).  The rifle is not pushed around.... the shooters body, still in position, is reoriented to the target with minute adjustments.

All things done correctly, the shooters rifle will naturally be aimed at the center of the target, and after each recoil pulse will fall back in line for the next shot.

If you want to know more about correct shooting positions.... and who wouldn't.... look up an Appleseed clinic in your area and spend a weekend learning from the best.

NPOA is incredibly critical for precision shooting from positions, and can make all the difference in the world between hitting consistently, or missing consistently.

After reading a blog post by Mountain Guerrilla  (SERIOUS language alert) where he discussed the idea of NPOA mattering even in tactical shooting, I decided to invest a little range time investigating the process.

To that end, I took myself off to a pistol bay at the club, along with the S&W 15-22 and some sillywet targets.  The individual pistol bay allowed me to move and try positions at will, and the rimfire 15-22 is a fairly close handling training rifle to match my FrankenAR house gun.

Lining up as I often do when snap shooting AR, I put myself into my usual position.  Getting there, I looked over the placement of my feet, my bodies angle to the target, how much I hunched into the rifle.... noticing as much as I could how my position was built.

Next, doing the close-the-eyes trick, I went from low ready sideways to in position, pointing the rifle at where my memory said the target was.  Opening my eyes, I found my rifle actually pointed several feet to the right of the target, although my body was in the same position I had taken before.  Muscling the rifle left, I was now back where I had started with the first position, only with my jaw hanging down.

My NPOA was CLEARLY all wrong!  Several FEET off at even this short a range.

Attacking the problem from the opposite direction, I again took a comfortable position with the rifle.... eyes entirely closed this time.  Opening my eyes, I noted my attitude towards the target, and pivoted my whole body in position till the rifle pointed at the target correctly.  Leaving my left heal planted, I moved my entire body as it was cast in concrete, wiggling it around till the muzzle lined up with the target.

Close my eyes, deeps breaths, repeat, until my body had found it's natural position to point the rifle at the target, without my having to push the rifle around with shear muscle power.

Now taking stock of my position, I see it's totally different than before.  My feet are separated in a stable stance, both at a slight angle (but the same angle) to the target.  The right foot is offset backwards just enough to be about one boot length behind the left, heel to toe if my feet had been together.  My torso was much more pointed at the target, and less turned sideways.

Put it all together, and I had a new snap rifle shooting positon that took my NPOA into account.

Once the position was found, the process of ingraining it into muscle memory began.  Using an IPSC timer app on my cell phone, I began from a sideways low ready position and let the beep signal my getting into the new position, and putting two rounds into the head of the B27 target.  Each time, when I was done, I closed my eyes, took a few breaths, relaxed, and opened my eyes to check my NPOA.   Making small adjustments as feedback, eventually I was falling into the correct position more often than not and it was no surprise to find my aimed doubles time growing shorter as well.  

By the end of an hour practicing getting into NPOA aligned snap shot position (Two rounds at a time), my speed was dropping under two seconds.  That's from an out of position low ready, to swinging into position on the beep and getting two rounds on target at 50 feet.  

Slow..... but not bad..... and now with the NPOA issue falling into line, I expect to be getting faster and more accurate.

1 comment:

Nanban Jim said...

Thanks for this article! I'm about to start training back up, and this is DEFINITELY going into my regimen.