Definition Series - Part 11: "Breath Control"
by Kirk Lawson
To continue our discussion of firearms terminology and concepts, let's talk about "Breath Control."
One of the requirements for wringing the most accuracy out of your shooting session is to minimize as much as possible the movement of the gun. While some movement is unavoidable, and we will talk more about that later, there are ways to reduce movement. The biggest source of the gun moving during the aiming process is... [drumroll] the shooter. But a lot of that can be mitigated and controlled. One way to do that is to control the breathing process. Every time a shooter breaths in or out, the expansion or contraction of the chest moves the arms and shoulders and, therefore, moves the gun.
There have been several theories of how best to control breathing, "Breath Control," during deliberate, aimed, fire over the centuries, but one of the most popular and effective methods is to follow this routine. The shooter takes several calming and oxygenating breaths while preparing to fire the shot. Then, on the final breath, the shooter breaths out all or most of the way and then pauses without inhaling. The shooter checks the sight picture and sight alignment and then, presses the trigger for the shot.
The shooter is cautioned not to hold their breath for too long because that can cause the muscles to tremor. If the shooter can not fire the shot within a few seconds, they should start the process again. Finish the exhale, take a few breaths, then let it out and hold, then take the shot.
Exactly where in the exhale process to pause and hold the breath has had different champions through the years with some advocating for full lungs, some for letting the breath half way out, and some advocating for fully or mostly exhaled breath. Experiment during your Dry Fire and Live Fire practice sessions and find out which one works best for you.
[It's OK, you can breath now.]
A common mistake new shooters make is simply forgetting to pause their breathing for aiming and the shot. Another is "forgetting" to start breathing again after the shot is fired. Do not hold your breath for longer than is necessary.
Another caveat to Breath Control is that this method is most often best applied to slow-fire, deliberate, precision aimed shooting. It does not always translate well to action or self defense shooting techniques which is usually not considered a "beginners" concept.
[It's OK, just start over.]