Sunday, April 28, 2013

BRASS and the AccurateShot by Todd Butler

“Shooting well with the rifle is the highest kind of skill, for the rifle is the queen of weapons: and it is a difficult art to learn.”  Theodore Roosevelt, Hunting Trips Of A Ranchman 

While I agree with Mr. Roosevelt that shooting well is the highest kind of skill I do not believe it is a difficult art to learn.  If the basics are learned correctly and applied consistently the majority of individuals will become capable shooters.  This is demonstrated, by both male and female Marines, on a regular basis in Marine Corps boot camp.  For many years the record for boot camp qualification score was held by a female Marine, Private Anita Lobos. 

The Marine method of teaching the basics of proper shooting starts with the acronym BRASS (B=Breath, R=Relax, A=Aim, S=Stop, S=Squeeze).  Following this simple formula will improve accuracy regardless of the type of shooting you are doing.  BRASS is about creating a synchronized rhythm leading to consistent shot placement. 

BREATH- You wouldn’t think this is as difficult as it proves for most of us, yet it is one of the most overlooked aspects of the shot process.  The natural action of taking in oxygen can make the difference between meat on the table and a trophy on the wall or a long walk for nothing but fresh air and frustration.  Frequently shooters will over-hold their breath until they are literally blue in the face, depleting the body and muscles of oxygen.  This causes you to shake and creating wild inaccuracy.  On the other extreme shooters will become so excited they hyperventilate, commonly known as “Buck Fever”.  Breath naturally, don’t overthink it.  Most shooters go through a phase of overanalysis of all aspects of their shooting technique.  This can lead them to attempt strange breathing patterns.  In my experience the most effective pattern is simply to breath in naturally and slowly exhale, until the sight is properly aligned with the target.  At this point simply relax, aim in, stop exhaling and squeeze the trigger.  By using proper breath control you can control the rise and fall of the sight.  This can be practiced at home, ensure your firearm is unloaded, point in a safe direction with a proper backstop (just in case) and practice breath control.  Observe the movement of the weapon sights as you inhale and exhale.  

RELAX- Again you wouldn’t think this is difficult, but for some reason many shooters become tense when they are shooting. As the body tenses the muscles become rigid and inflexible, movement becomes jerky rather than fluid.  This can create a tendency to hurry the shot.  Perhaps it is anticipation of the noise or recoil.  Perhaps they are worried about missing the shot rather than concentating on making the shot.  Relaxation and breath control are interrelated.  Proper breathing technique helps the body and muscles relax.  Relaxation minimizes distractions and increases focus.  Proper shooting technique includes a firm but relaxed grip on the firearm.  Don’t white knuckle the weapon, overgripping will cause you to shake, affecting the rest of the shot sequence.  A technique I have found to be highly effective is closing my eyes and visualizing the shot sequence from start to finish.  It helps relax my body and clear my mind.  At times the shooter will be in position too long.  It is necessary to let the muzzle come down and rest, then restart the shot sequence.  This is one of the hardest things for all shooters to do, but better to start over than hurry the shot, causing a miss.  With consistent practice it is possible to develop a relaxed rhythm which will lead to greater accuracy.      

AIM- Frequently shooters suffer from a lack of understanding of the proper use of the sight system on their weapon.  They don’t understand or have misconceptions about proper sight alignment/sight picture, natural point of aim.  To be an effective shooter you must understand the proper alignment of the rear sight, the front sight, and the placement of the sights on the target.  When using iron sights you should focus on the front sight.  It should be a clear distinct image.  The rear sight and the target should be fuzzy or indistinct compared to the front sight.  To establish your natural point of aim you should aim in relax and close your eyes, when you open them the sights will be at your natural point of aim.  Adjust your body position until you line the sights up correctly on your target.

STOP- This is simply a momentary pause before the trigger is pulled and the round is fired.  This is when all the elements come together.  Exhaling is momentarily paused, the muscles are relaxed, the sights are properly aligned with the target... STOP.  Stop all breathing, muscle and sight movement and squeeze the trigger.  The body is at its stillest point, ensuring greatest accuracy.  This moment only lasts a second or two before fatigue sets in.  This is one of the most difficult shooting skills to learn and must be practiced over and over, literally thousands of times to create muscle memory.  It should become a consistent, subconcious act. 

SQUEEZE-The trigger of the firearm should never be jerked or pulled, it should be squeezed straight back, firmly but gently.  The sound of the shot should be a surprise.  I use the center of the pad of the  index finger, roughly even with the nail bed of the finger to squeeze the trigger.  It allows me to move the trigger back in the straightest line possible, minimizing movement of the weapon.  Do not use the joint of the finger as it will cause the weapon to move slightly to the side during the trigger squeeze, affecting the placement of the shot.  As with all other elements of the shot this movement must be practiced repeatedly to create consistency and muscle memory.

During initial rifle training the Marines spend a week doing nothing but “Snapping In”.  This is simply repetitive non-firing excercises with the weapon to create muscle memory and proper shooting technique.  Most of us don’t have the luxury of time to spend snapping in, or a large drill instructor to ensure it is done correctly, but we can all invest time at the range practicing with our weapons of choice.  You do not need to put rounds down range to improve your shooting you can just concentrate on practicing BRASS.  Remember the phrase “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.”  Take your time learning the proper techniques and speed will come as your technique develops.  The time invested will be worth it and will be reflected in your use of the Queen of weapons.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Sammie's Test Flight In Las Vegas 2009

Spotlighting one success story from Shoot Like a Girl’s Test Flight in Vegas 2009, is Sammie.  She was in the process of upgrading her bow, but hadn’t had and opportunity to try the bow she thought she wanted, and surely was not able to try bows from seven different manufacturers.  She shot all of the product line, fell in love with her bow, went home and ordered it from her local dealer with confidence.  She competed with her new bow just five weeks later at the NFAA National Indoor Championship!   Way to go Sammie!  

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Shoot Like a Girl Talks About the Importance of Women in Shooting Sports on Two Radio Shows at the Field and Stream Deer and Turkey Expo, Madison, Wisconsin

Shoot Like A Girl is proud to have been featured on two live radio interviews at the Field and Stream Deer and Turkey Expo is Madison, Wisconsin on April 5th and 6th, 2013!   

The first interview was with Shoot Like A Girl’s President and Founder, Karen Butler on Upfront with Vicki McKenna.  Butler was able to drive home the fact that women feel empowered when they participate in shooting sports, and they are vital to the preservation of our hunting heritage, and paramount to the industry’s success in changing the discussion in politics concerning firearms.  She also talked about the importance of a personal protection plan.  This interview is available at (The opening segment).

The second interview was with Karen Butler and her Operations Officer, Cristy Crawford.  This interview on Ultimate Outdoors Radio and talked about the importance of getting mom’s out hunting, and the progression of women in shooting sports; plus Cristy demonstrates an exceptional duck feeder call.  Available online at (Near the middle of the show). 

Vicki McKenna is one of Wisconsin’s most listened to Conservative Talk Radio Show Hosts, for more information about Upfront with Vicki McKenna visit  Ultimate Outdoors Radio is a partnership between three guys who like to spend time outdoors: Wally Banfi, Terry Frey and Gary N-Ski. Each brings a unique set of talents, experiences and perspectives to the team, find out more at .

Monday, April 1, 2013

Key to Long Rang Hunting - Leupold Range Finders! by Cristy Crawford

A Nebraska rifle hunt, chasing huge bodied whitetails was a check off the enormous list of life-long hunting adventures I consistently spend my spare minutes a day dreaming about. When I had the opportunity to drive up to Nebraska (equipped with a friends custom 7 short mag long range precision rifle) I jumped at the opportunity.  I had reached a stage in my hunting experience where I strived for the next biggest challenge. I had almost quit rifle hunting all together, when I became obsessed with the close encounters of bow hunting.  I had literally spent so much time bow hunting I was tucking a release out of the way that wasn’t there.  With long range rifles precision requires more skill than some inexperienced long range rifle shooters realize.  Similar to bow hunting, all the cards have to fall just right. Too much gusting wind or a small amount of shake due to nerves and you will miss your mark every time. 

Being a southern girl I haven’t had many opportunities to hunt in any extreme cold conditions.  I had left my warmer Texas November air for the breezy 40 mph wind gust of the first “small” snow of the season for Nebraska.  I did not have much experience with subzero wind chills, although I did have enough experience in the field to know I better pack enough quality layers for just about any weather situation mother nature could throw at me. 
I knew the odds were against me opening day of rifle season with snow blowing sideways at 40mph but I came to hunt and I was not about to stay at the hunting camp.  After passing on a few smaller bucks I headed back to camp to prepare for the next morning’s adventures.  However, this hunt was not filled with a renowned guide or luxurious lodge. I had a basic understanding of the ranch from some great guys that had hunted the land in previous years.  I had the opportunity to go out on my own with spot and stalk skills and great equipment. 

Earlier in the year I received a great product from Leupold Optics. The RX 1000 rangefinders equipped with archery angle compensation along with bullet ballistics and a pair of BX-2 Cascades 10x42 binoculars.  The one thing I didn’t know I was being equipped with was a rangefinder that would stand well above other rangefinders at camp, which were double and even triple the retail price of my Luepold.  The cold front pushed through and snow covered the beautiful sand hills. The wind subsided and sun shined bright and made an amazing glow off the distant snow filled hills.  I would soon find out the combination of two degree temps and sun reflecting off the snow made it impossible for other hunters to get a true yardage reading.  I never had a problem getting my Leupold rangefinders to get an accurate yardage. It helps to always range long range targets three times just to make sure you get an accurate reading.

Long range hunting is no place to skimp out on quality equipment. The terrain of the Nebraska Sand Hills makes every third step worthy of another view from the binoculars. What appears to be flat land is filled with hills and valleys perfect for big whitetails to travel undetected. Using the terrain to my advantage I worked my way about four miles from my vehicle.  Glassing every third step and taking my time, I had many close encounters with smaller bucks and does.  Unlike the 40mph winds I faced the day before this morning was perfect.  Minimal wind with the sun shining bright and reflecting off the snow covered hills. The fact that it was 2 degrees did not really matter. Deer were moving and it was only a matter of time and patience I would find the one. Finally I skirted around the back side of a hill and spotted a beautiful mature whitetail standing on the side of a hill.  Even without optics I could tell he was a large mature deer.  After confirming my excitement with my Leupold Cascades it was time to get in position for an ethical shot.   I decided to backtrack around the hill and get in position on the much flatter hillside to my left.  After what felt like thirty minutes of slow positioning I finally felt comfortable to set up for the long range shot.  I ranged without a problem and got three consistent numbers from my RX-1000’s. At 592 yards stood a mature 155 gross with 9inch split brow tined whitetail buck.  After a few minutes in the scope I was able to gain composure and squeeze off a quality kill shot. 

The peacefulness and serenity of the outdoors always brings me back for more.  Successful hunts aren’t always ones that end in kills. Enjoying the outdoors with others and the conversations about experiences are always some of the best times in the field.  It wasn’t until I got back to camp filled with excitement and the story of the hunt on the tip of my tongue just itching to get out of my mouth did I realize I was the only successful hunter in camp that morning.  Others had those amazing tails we as hunters have all listened to so many times about the one that got away.  Due to the strong glare of the sun and 2 degree temperatures my rangefinders were the only ones in camp to get a quality reading that morning and I was the only one with Leupold rangefinders in my pack.  It was at that moment that I realized just how lucky I was to have a great piece of equipment in my pack that morning.  I must send a big thank you to Leupold for making such quality equipment and for helping me with my largest whitetail to date.