Shooter’s Guide to Rifle Marksmanship
by Peter Lessler
Really solid marksmanship is woefully lacking. If you doubt that, attend a good shooting class or a tournament recognized by a national-level organization and then visit a public shooting range. The contrast in observed skills will prove my point.
Competition shooters have been working to improve this for a very long time as even the “new” established disciplines are now decades old. Problem is most NRA members, to say nothing of most gun owners, seem barely aware they exist as they aren’t attending in significant numbers. Good marksmanship info beyond elementary levels for “regular” gun owners is sparse.
Previously, my go-to suggestion had been The Art of the Rifle by Jeff Cooper. For gun owners not interested in formal competition it was the best general reference I knew of. As my review on it says, that book is very good but succinct to a fault. The info therein is great but I wish the good Colonel had gone deeper.
Recently, I read Shooter’s Guide to Rifle Marksmanship by Peter Lessler and am amending my recommended book. Lessler’s book is more thorough.
As a member of the Army Reserve Marksmanship Program, I’ve had the good fortune of focusing my military career on small arms training and competition since 1999 and have had opportunities to cross train in many disciplines. Our best shooter-instructors combine good ideas from a host of formal competition formats along with current thought on tactical training within military and law enforcement because of the diverse skill sets and backgrounds personnel on the teams bring in.
Peter Lessler is that kind of shooter, having taken formal classes at places like Gunsite as well as competing in a variety of formal events, ranging from conventional position shooting, across the course (High Power) and speed events found in USPSA competition. This kind of cross-disciplinary experience brings an ideal, well balanced mix of knowledge.
Lessler spends little time dwelling on equipment and precisely explains why. Pictures of targets shot are from position at realistic field shooting ranges, demonstrating what actual good performance is, without any of tiny benchrest groups. At one range I frequent, the locals refer to me as “the guy with the roll” (shooting mat) because I’m the only shooter they’ve seen not using the bench. I don’t know when American gun owners lost the ability to hold their own rifle and turned exclusively to this crutch. Lessler teaches how to become an actual rifleman and learn to depend on your skill rather than an appliance.
In addition to a great overview of position shooting, gun handling at speed, sling use, ballistics and environmental considerations, there are is an entire section on practice drills. More important then just a list of drills, there are standards and guidelines on how to make your own, along with the best formats to enhance your skills further. As a nice bonus, there’s a section on how to make your own Ching sling.
Every hunter and rifle owner needs to know and understand all the ideas in Shooter’s Guide to Rifle Marksmanship. Lucky for us, Peter Lessler was kind enough to put them in one convenient place.