The Seventh Habit of Highly Effective Shooters


Follow-through is a term that most of us have heard from the first time anyone taught us about marksmanship fundamentals. But it is also one of the most neglected. Maybe because it’s last on every list, shooters assume it’s the least important. But neglecting the follow-through can negate all the steps you previously took to deliver an accurate shot. Follow-through simply means that you continue to apply all fundamentals of marksmanship after the weapon fires. A proper follow-through allows the weapon to deliver the round precisely on target and recoil in a natural and consistent manner.

To follow through in shooting, you need to do the following:

  1. Call the shot (more on this later).
  2. Stay relaxed and do not react to the sound or movement of the weapon.
  3. Maintain your shooting platform to include head position. 
  4. Maintain proper grip
  5. Re-acquire sight alignment after your muzzle settles. 
  6. Continue holding the trigger to the rear throughout recoil. 
  7. Re-acquire sight picture.
  8. Let out trigger only until it resets after the muzzle settles. 
  9. Prep the trigger for follow-on shots if needed.

Looking at this list, you can see that the follow-through is just continuing to employ all the other fundamentals after the gun goes bang and preparing for the next shot if needed. Do not think of the shot breaking as the final step in taking a shot. I see too many guys on the line firing a shot and coming straight back to their retention or low-ready position. If this sounds like you, you’re not following through and you’ll never master the art of shooting.

Neglecting the follow-through can negate all the steps you previously took to deliver an accurate shot.

Calling the Shot

For some reason, many shooters think that calling their shots is reserved only for world-class shooters or snipers. I’ve found that if you just start doing it, you’ll see it’s fairly easy, and it quickly becomes second nature. Calling the shot is also extremely simple; there’s just one step: When the shot breaks, remember what the sight picture looked like. By doing so, you should be able to “call” where the impact will be on the target. I tell guys to imagine you’re taking a picture with a camera and the trigger is the shutter release button. When the flash goes off, you’ve got your picture.

Also, don’t be afraid to call what you see. Many times when I start working with guys on this technique, they just continue to call, “center” shot after shot. They’re not hitting center, but are just not nit-picking what they saw. Start practicing calling your shots and you’ll be surprised at how quickly your shooting improves.

Practicing The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Shooters with every shot you take is the only way to master the art of shooting. And just like anything in life, if you don’t follow through, your previous work is wasted. Try following through next time you’re at the range and let me know if it helps make you a more effective shooter.

If you have techniques you do to help with follow-though or anything else I’ve covered, please post them below.

Navy SEAL Shooting



  1. The Google +1 technique is very clever, never thought of that before. I’m trying hard to perfect my shooting accuracy at the moment and these posts are a great help, many thanks!

  2. Hi,
    Although I have some shooting experience I still consider myself a 66 year old “new shooter”. Your seven steps use a lot of common sense and clarified shooting tips I’ve read from other qualified persons. To help me dry fire practice I have listed your seven steps on a sheet of paper and place a short phrase under each step for things I might forget to do. If you want a copy of my sheet I’ll send it. Recognize that I only included Items I feel I might forget and not all the important points of each step. Therefore the points I listed under each step would be different from another shooter’s.

    Great articles and I love the humor you inject!


    1. Reid,

      Someone gets my humor…Thank you! I can’t help it, it make writing fun.

      I’m glad the series is helping and I’d like to see a copy of your sheet when you get a chance. You can email me at: [email protected]

      Keep up the training!


  3. Chris, so much meat to dig into within these seven habits. There have been several “AH-HA!” moments for me already, and my dry fire accuracy has already gotten better. So thanks!

    However, I have to admit; every time I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on one habit or another, I realize I’m slipping elsewhere! It’s frustrating, but I suppose as long as the whole ship is sailing forward – slow as it may be – then it’s worth all the work.

    I struggle enough with reminding myself to scan and assess after firing, but my follow-through (or as you might call it: “customer service follow-up”) is really hard to stay focused on. I plan to make it a focal point of my dry fire drills for awhile, and would love to hear any other tips for making that follow through process a mental priority.

    Thanks again for all the great info. Keep it up!


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