How To Shoot an AR-15/M-4 Carbine

Maybe you learned to shoot on hunting trips or at the firing range with friends, but this is tactical shooting—when speed counts and targets shoot back. Here are some of the keys to breaking bad habits and starting some new ones with your AR-15 or M-4 Carbine.

#1: Develop a Squared Off Rifle Stance

Anytime I’m teaching someone to shoot for tactical scenarios, I start off by tracking and breaking some common habits picked up along the way. I don’t want people shooting like they’re trying to kill a deer from a prone position. So phase one begins with students giving me their fighting stance or pistol stance.

Shoulders and feet should be squared off and arms extended, and this is the place to start with your rifle. This squared off stance creates a lock on your target and roughly places the rifle where it needs to be.

This position also allows natural movement in any direction, which is obviously a must in tactical scenarios where speed, agility and accuracy each carry significant weight for survival and effectiveness. This is even more important if you’re wearing body armor and other gear–you don’t want to hinder your mobility further with bad form.

#2: Position the Rifle with Proper Grip, Pulling It in

Body position is critical, and so is rifle positioning. To position your rifle correctly on your body, you need to find the pocket of your shoulder. Your shoulder pocket is a small dip just below your collarbone where your shoulder muscle (deltoid) drops off. This shoulder pocket is where the top of the rifle butt should find its place whenever you raise your rifle. This positioning allows for quick viewing through your site picture without having to hunch, shrug or crane your neck.

To grip the barrel, extend your arm out and avoid gripping the barrel low or you’ll sacrifice stability when shooting. With this hand, pull the rifle into your shoulder. To mitigate fatigue during extended rifle use (as in house clearing or other applications), it takes regular practice. Adding bend to your elbow will lessen fatigue, but at the sacrifice of stability.

To hug the butt, allow the shoulder pocket and surrounding muscle to envelop the back of the gun.

This combination pull and hug provides for a very stable platform, greater absorption of recoil and better accuracy.

So hips and shoulders, all facing toward a target in an aggressive posture with my shoulders kicked forward, squeezing that rifle, helping hold it in place. In this way, the rifle is not owning; you are owning the rifle. It becomes a part of you, an extension of you going where you go and pointing where you look.

#3: Dial In Your Rifle Grip

Don’t make your gun grip look like a Day One jiujitsu student, squeezing everything as hard as possible. All that will do is make you tired and shaky.

Remember. Your gun grip is not there to provide stability. You just grip tightly enough that the gun stays in your hands while allowing elbows and shoulders to provide stability. So when it comes to your grip, chill out. Relax. Besides, a more relaxed grip translates into more speed and flexibility in tactical situations.

And of course, Train Hard and Train Smart with our tactical rifle training courses.