It's not often that seasoned hunters would listen to a 26-year-old tell them how to shoot better. Heck, most of us kill whitetails with guns older than that. However, Staff Sergeant George Reinas is not just a young sniper for the U.S. Air Force. For the past five years he has been instructing our flyboy snipers on how to shoot better. Here's what you can do to shoot more like Reinas and our military's elite.
1. Collect Data
"The most important aspect of being on the range is not to shoot but to collect data on the rifle. We record data with every shot, so we know what our gun will do under every condition. We will then use this DOPE (Data Of Previous Engagements) book as a reference before every shot."
2. Shoot Dirty
"Snipers prefer to shoot dirty guns. In other words, we will not clean our rifles for 200 to 300 rounds. Leave that rifle dirty for the whole season!"
3. Squeeze on the Pause
"I like to shoot on the respiratory pause on the down breath. I take three deep breaths. Once I let all my air out on that last exhale, that 1- to 3-second pause is the money spot where I want to take my shot."
4. Follow Through
"Obviously you want to have a slow, steady squeeze to the rear until your shot breaks. Certainly don't jerk. But what many don't realize is that follow-through is everything. Once the shot breaks, continue that squeeze to the rear and then release the trigger slowly to the front."
5. Zero to a Higher Standard
"A lot of hunters settle for a gun that's not quite zeroed. Snipers do not consider a gun zeroed until we get three consecutive rounds within a 1-inch square at 100 yards. Do not settle for less."
6. Get Out of Sight
"Our primary role on the battlefield is reconnaissance and intelligence gathering. In order to do this, we have to go to the extreme with camo. We use handmade ghillie suits that incorporate natural vegetation from the environments in which we operate."
7. Study the Wind
"Remember, wind is never constant. The most important wind consideration for a sniper is wind at two-thirds of the way to the target. There can be multiple wind directions and speeds between you and a target. You have to recognize these and make the right adjustments."
8. Know Your Bullet
"We use 175-grain Sierra MatchKings, where the average hunter is going to use some kind of ballistic-tip ammunition. These bullets aren't as accurate, so you need to do some testing and find the best bullet for your firearm."
9. Learn From the Kick
"If you are shooting a .308, or something of comparable recoil, the kick of the gun will tell you what you are doing wrong. Every time a sniper shoots, he wants the gun to come straight back into him. The scope should fall right back on target--that means your fundamentals are perfect."
10. Dial It, Or Mil It?
"There are two ways to take long shots. For quick engagements, we use a 500-yard zero and reference the reticle for the hold over or hold under. However, if I want to take a 1,000-yard shot and I have time, I'll consult my dope and dial in my 1,000-yard range for a first-round hit."
From the June/July 2012 issue of Outdoor Life magazine.