How to Shoot an AR 15 Correctly

Do you want to shoot your AR 15 accurately? How about accurately with some speed?

The AR 15 is an incredibly popular platform in the United States, as well as throughout the world, and this is for good reason. It is a great platform, combining many great features including variable rates of fire, many different brands to choose from, and the ability to accessorize and build your AR the way that you want it.

Because of the way that Eugene Stoner (the creator of the original AR 15) created the rifle, it is fairly easy to operate and shoot. After reading this article and with some good practice, you’ll be on your way to learning how to shoot an AR 15 like the pros.

Steps to Achieve Your Goal

There are lots of different variations of the AR 15. Some of the main variations include different barrel lengths, different gas tube lengths, and different handguard lengths.  Regardless of barrel, gas-tube or handguard lengths, the principles for shooting this rifle are the same.

Most civilian applications of the AR 15 are semi-automatic, with a few exceptions. Most civilian AR’s come standard with 30-round magazines (unless you live in a state that has made these illegal), an extendable butt stock, a pistol-style grip, and sections of picatinny rail for mounting accessories such as optics, lights, and other tools and accessories.

Stock Adjustments

Before shooting, with the gun unloaded, make any adjustments needed to your butt stock. Get the stock into a position where you feel that you can comfortably get your primary hand (the hand on the same side of your body as your dominant eye for long guns) onto the pistol grip and bring the rifle firmly to your shoulder with your support hand.

You should comfortably be able to look through your sights to your target without ducking your head too much, regardless of whether you are using iron sights, a red dot/reflex sight, or a variable power optic.

Sling Adjustments

Something else that may need to be adjusted prior to shooting is a sling if you have elected to use one (and we would suggest using one if you want to shoot an AR 15 like the pros!). There are a few different types of slings: one point, two point, and three point slings.

Like the rest of the equipment we have talked about, regardless of which type of sling you choose, make sure that you can shoulder the weapon easily without the sling getting in the way of your movements.

5.56x45mm NATO & .223 Remington

To begin shooting, you will need to load a magazine with the rounds intended for your rifle. Remember that if your AR 15 is chambered in .223 Remington, only shoot .223 Remington, not 5.56x45mm NATO. If your rifle is chambered in 5.56 NATO, you have the option to safely shoot both .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO, an advantage of rifles chambered for the 5.56 NATO round.

Chambering a Round

Once you have a magazine loaded, insert it firmly into the magazine well. Once the magazine is seated, you will need to insert a round into the chamber. Always keep the rifle on safe and your finger off of the trigger until you are completely ready to fire.

To get a round in the chamber, you will need to pull back on the charging handle. The charging handle is located toward the rear of the rifle, right above where the butt stock attaches to the AR. You will need to pull it back as far as it will go. Picture when you pull back the slide on a pistol to get a round into the chamber; the AR uses the same concept.

Once you have pulled back, let go and the bolt carrier will pick up a round as it passes over the inserted magazine and insert it into the chamber. If you want to or feel like you need to, you can check to see if you got a round properly seated in the chamber by pulling back until you can partially see the round through the ejection port and letting go when you’ve verified the round is in the chamber.

Stance – Square Up!

Now, you are ready to shoot your AR 15. Before taking the weapon off of safe, square up to your target. If you want to shoot an AR 15 like the pros, your stance is going to be key.

Much like when shooting a pistol, you are going to want to get into a fighting stance; your feet about 1 to 1.5 shoulder widths apart, knees slightly bent, facing your target.

This stance will help you with finding your sights quickly and will make follow-up shots after your first shot much easier.


Your primary hand should be firmly gripping the pistol grip of the rifle. As for your support hand, put it on the handguard of the AR. Depending on the gas-tube length of your AR, your handguard will vary in length compared to others. However long the handguard is, make sure you get a firm grip that helps you to keep the rifle pressed into your shoulder.

Once you feel like you have a solid stance and grip, shoulder your weapon.

Shoulder Your Rifle and Acquire Sight Picture

Shoulder your weapon using your support hand to bring the muzzle up towards your target and rather than ducking your head (like we talked about earlier) to meet your sights, bring your sights to you.

Align your sights with your target. We will use a red dot sight for example, as this is very common for AR 15’s. With red dots, use is very simple. Put the dot directly on your intended target and fire the weapon by pulling the trigger.

Pull the trigger smoothly to the rear and let your first shot off. You will feel a bit of recoil, but the design of the AR 15 is meant to keep the recoil fairly low. This should make it easy to get your next shot ready to go.

Trigger Reset and Follow-up Shots

For follow-up shots, follow the same principles as your first shot. Keep the rifle shouldered firmly, keep a good fighting stance, and let the trigger reset.

Trigger reset does not mean letting all the slack back into the trigger, as it will not need to go all the way forward. Let it go forward far enough that you feel the click of the trigger resetting and then don’t go any further.Your follow up shots are where your speed combines with your accuracy. The faster that you can get your sights back onto target and squeeze the trigger again, the faster you will be able to shoot accurately. Focus on your sights and try to get them quickly back on target. This will help you to shoot quickly. Remember to not go faster than you need to when learning to shoot your AR. Only go as fast as you can confidently hit your target. As you practice, you will be able shoot faster and faster.

Ar-15 Optics

Something that will help give you an edge over other people is the getting the best ar-15 scope. And there are a lot of different scopes to choose from such as dot scopes, holographic scopes, etc. Depending on how you will be using your ar-15 rifle will help determine the type of scope you should acquire.

Practice and Be Confident

Keep the fundamentals talked about in this article, and you should be able to learn pretty quickly as you practice. Get out to the range as much as you can to practice these skills. With practice and time, and with this article about learning how to shoot an AR-15,  you will soon be able to shoot an AR 15 like the pros.