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Become A Better Shooter: Obstacle Challenges

Break Through The Comfort Zone

The only way to make someone a better shot is to get them out of their comfort zone. One of the joys of being a precision rifle match director is thinking of ways to get people out of their comfort zones by putting them into difficult and unusual positions.

The goal is to test a shooter’s ability to adapt to any obstacle or complex course of fire imaginable. It may seem intimidating on the surface, and it should. Putting yourself under real stress and then delivering real performance, good or bad, is the key to making you a better all-around shooter.

Too often we go to the range, methodically lay out our gear, and get ourselves into perfect shooting position before sending rounds down range. Although this routine has its place, it doesn’t prepare you for real-world conditions. When shooting in a competition or in the field, you need to be just as confident in unpredictable terrain and circumstances as you are during a routine day at the range.

Luckily, it doesn’t take much to begin training. All you need are some items you likely have laying around your garage and a little bit of space at your house. That’s right, there’s no need to go to the range - you can improve your shooting without leaving home.

Here are 5 easy-to-build obstacles that are guaranteed to make you a better shot, whether it’s for your next national level match or a once in a lifetime hunt.

[ Note – while you can absolutely use these obstacles during live fire practice, for this demonstration we’re dry firing. It’s extremely important to remove any live ammunition from the immediate area beforehand and to thoroughly check your rifle to make sure it’s unloaded.]

Obstacle Challenges


Tie-downs have limitless uses, from an impromptu slack line to keeping the hood closed on your 1986 Corolla (because you spend all your money on guns). Better yet, you can also use a tie-down as an unstable surface for hours of valuable reps. The instability of the strap replicates obstacles you might find at a match, so if you get good at shooting off a strap, a barricade or T-post will be a walk in the park.


Chances are you probably have a 5-gallon bucket laying around somewhere. It’s time to put it to good use. When set on its side, a 5-gallon bucket creates a very challenging surface to shoot from. Try taking three 5-gallon buckets, flip them upside down, and stack them in a pyramid. This provides you with a shaky position at an awkward height so you can practice getting steady.


There are limitless challenges you can create with a simple step ladder, but the real value is in practicing transitions between positions. If you want to be more competitive, then you need to be more agile, more fluid, and more confident in your movements. Try moving your rifle from rung to rung to get used to repositioning at different heights. Mastering these transitions will pay dividends on the course.


Tripods are an essential piece of gear for any serious shooter or hunter. You can shoot off them, glass, spot, use as a rear support, and even hang your gear off them. You can also grab a shooting bag, throw it on top, and now you have an easy-to-setup support that can replicate numerous real-world positions like shooting off rocks or fences.


Those boxes of holiday decorations in your garage now have a second purpose. When it comes to storage boxes, the sky is the limit. Stack them up to imitate shooting off the hood of a vehicle, or create a wall with small openings like you’d encounter on a barrier. If the position doesn’t feel challenging enough, you’re doing it wrong. Push your limits and your shooting will improve.

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