Improving Your Aim

Let’s get some caveats out of the way before we get to the main feature. These tips are what work for me. I’ve been playing FPS games for almost a decade on and off and have been rubbish at them. But thanks to the wonder of YouTube and the YouTubers who take the time to upload videos and share their tips I’ve been able to improve by analysing what I’m doing compared to what they’re doing. There are two users whose videos I’ve found to be most useful – SeaNanners and Sasbenjr. The reason why I use them as examples out of the 60-odd other people I’m subscribed to on YouTube is that in their videos they explain what they are doing (sasbenjr to a much higher degree than SeaNanners) and because they also use a tactical play style that is more suited to us older (I never thought I’d be calling myself old at 34…..) and slower gamers.

So on with the tips.

#1 – Handicap yourself
This tip is not for everyone. It can cause you to fall out of love with the game, reconsider your life choices and generally cause a complete crisis of confidence – so if you are of sensitive disposition move on to tip #2. In order to improve your aim you need to be able to aim to begin with. Any nugget can pick up a Scar-H or an ACR and be a demon in game. It’s easy when you use a strong recoil-less gun. But that’s a crutch, doesn’t help you improve, and it soon becomes boring using the same thing all the time. What should you do? Use this loadout:
Sleight of Hand
Whatever second perk you like
Steady Aim or Ninja

The FAL

What?! The FAL!? Yes the FAL. It’s single fire which means that YOU will have to stop relying on spray and pray kills and actually learn how to aim properly. Think the FAL is too easy? Then use a pistol. Think the pistol is too easy? Then you don’t need to be reading a post about improving your aim. Using the FAL helps you get into the habit of #2…..

#2 – Make your targets come to you
Okay, there’s nothing you can do about someone zooming around the map using Marathon, Lightweight and Commando getting you in the back, but for everyone else you can pretty much control what happens if you are in the right position. In Modern Warfare 2 it can be difficult to hang back when everyone is running around like the sky is falling. But that’s what you’ve got to do – you already know the high traffic areas of the map (it’s where you die a lot) so your mission is to get a vantage point of that area that gives you a low profile to the enemy while allowing you to easily see them. You need to keep your crosshairs on the traffic area ready to get your victim. Always be looking straight down that corridor so that enemies are running towards or away from you – not across your field of view. It’s much easier to shoot a target when it is stuck in your line of sight rather than moving across it. I wouldn’t stay in the same spot for more than two kills (or a couple of minutes) – best move to another location that also gives you a view of your previous perch in order to ping the guy going for the revenge kill. Moving also prevents you from getting tunnel vision or ‘zoning out’ due to inactivity.

#3 Practice shooting stuff
Set up a Lan game and join it. It’ll be lonely as you’ll be the only one there, but it also means that you won’t spend your time being shot in the face while you attempt to improve your aim. Choose a target, or targets and practice shooting from one to the other. I like HighRise for this as one of the buildings has a clock above a doorway – I run around the corner and bring the aim up to that. If you do this for a couple of minutes before going online proper you should be a bit more prepared.

Target Practice


What you’re trying to achieve is the ability to bring up your sights and hit the target as soon as it comes into view. This skill will aid you when you spot someone while moving around the map. Also try shooting targets at varying distances – the exploding barrels are particularly satisfying targets.

#4 Make your aim true
Your crosshairs should always be where the threat is most likely. In buildings your sights should sweep the corners and then stay on the doorway as you move towards it ready for anyone coming through – apply this to moving through maps like Favela, Karachi and Invasion where there are many streets as well as buildings. When you’re maintaining a strategic presence (or camping) you should be sweeping the areas that the enemy are most likely to be coming from. Keep an eye on your mini map – unless your green triangle buddies start disappearing you should be looking in the opposite direction ready to get anyone who is attempting to flank. When you’re moving keep your sights up – if you find that you’re all over the place, move on to #5.

#5 Choose a sensitivity that suits you
Some people play on sensitivity 10 and treat it as some sort of mark of 1337ness. And good for them. Personally, I’m currently on sensitivity 3 on the PS3. When I had my Cheap Freaks on it was 7. Your level of sensitivity should compliment your playstyle and controller control. If you spend 12 hours a day playing and have the reactions of a rattle snake on speed then chances are that a higher sensitivity would suit you. Conversely, if you play a couple of games a day and are generally ham handed then lower sensitivity will be your thing. In either case you need to find what works for you. The only way to do that is to play – try the exercise in #4 – if you can’t hit the clock on your current sensitivity then try lowering or increasing it depending on your results.

#6 Choose your shots
I think it was Hutch that said “You’ll miss every shot you don’t take” which is true and is especially correct when sniping. But “Nothing gets you killed quicker than giving your position away” – that’s mine. If you are using an unsilenced weapon don’t blast wildly at anything that moves. If you miss, you panic and your aim gets worse, in the meantime the enemy knows where you are and is going to shoot you in the face. Load up a silenced weapon and add Stopping Power – then try it again. The silencer prevents you from showing up on the radar, and in my experience unless you’re standing right in front of the enemy they tend to get all jack rabbitty and hop for cover as they don’t know where they are being hit from instead of returning fire.

#7 Take a breath – relax
This is probably the most important one, at least it is for me. I noticed that when I saw an enemy I would get a bit tense and my aim would be all over the place. This is because that tension made my movements stiff and jerky. By relaxing, my aiming movements were smoother and more controlled. It made sighting running enemy a lot easier. Get into the mindset of “I’m gonna shoot you sucka!” rather than “There’s a guy, has he seen me, can I get him…?”. Make it so that as far as you’re concerned you’ve already won the firefight, the only thing left to do is pull the trigger.

#8 Prefire and burst fire
When just using the crosshairs you can swing around quick and easy, but as soon as you ADS this movement is slowed significantly – even on higher sensitivities (although it is also dependent on the weapon you are using). When you encounter an enemy at closer range who is an active threat (an “Oh shit!” moment where you’ve seen them and they’ve seen you) get your crosshairs over them and fire before bringing up your sights – that initial prefire can be the difference between your killstreak, or just plain being killed. When you are firing a fully automatic weapon ensure that you burst fire by tapping the trigger. This will create a narrower grouping of your rounds. This is especially important when using LMGs, the MP5K, Tar-21 and the F2000 (not that anyone uses that one anyway). Although the recoil can be useful for getting headshots, after the initial kick you’ll be shooting at the sky – and unfortunately you don’t get kills by doing that.

#9 The Strafe Fire
When I first started playing FPS I was given this tip by a guy who played Quake (never my thing). It’s what they would do, back in the day, during the ‘dance of death’. The what? I know, you don’t see it so much anymore due to the lower health and stronger weapons in most games. The Dance of Death was what would happen when two players find themselves toe toe with no melee ability. They would basically circle each other until one had managed to shoot the other to death. Although the Dance of Death is pretty redundant nowadays, the circle strafe technique is not. It’s useful for getting around corners where you suspect there is someone maintaining a stategic presence (yes, camping). So here is how you do it. Find an object like a barrel that you can move freely around. Now put your crosshairs on it, or ADS if you like. Once you’ve done that your task is to move around it in an arc keeping your crosshairs or sight on the target object while maintaining a set distance from it. In order to do this you need to push the movement stick in one direction and the look stick in the opposite direction. Start off slowly with small movements and then build up the pace. You should practice doing this clockwise and anti-clockwise. This is actually easier to show rather than describe…

When I get the capability to record I’ll make a video illustrating these tips.

And so, example videos. First, SeaNanners. There’s not too much commentary regarding what he is actually doing at the time, but he give some good advice on playing the game. Main thing to watch for is where he positions himself, how he moves around the terrain the way he moves from position to position.

SeaNanners in action

Narrowing your profile to the enemy by using cover


Although he’s mobile he is not blindly running and gunning (ignore the Heart Beat Sensor). Watch how his crosshairs are always pointed at his direction of travel and where the enemy will be coming from – the pauses at junctions and minimising his profile to the enemy.

And now sasbenjr. This is the Rundown with M16 video. In contrast to SeaNanner’s video Geoff talks us through what he is doing and why, including cool little graphics to illustrate threat areas.

sasbenjr

Graphics showing threat areas from sasbenjr


Check out the part where he is on the balcony facing the bridges which allows him to control the engagements while maintaining a lower profile with height advantage.

Also check out his FAL videos.

I’d appreciate any feedback on this. If it’s been helpful to you, not helpful, or even if you have some tips of your own. Like I said, these work for me, but I’m always looking for ways to improve.

Peas and loaves.

Find me on PSN – evaDlivE


9 thoughts on “Improving Your Aim

  1. Wow !!!!!

    What a great post and one that I think with a bit of time and patience will most definately help me. I’m going to have to read it, read it again, and again and again and so on and you have given a lot of advise for a noob which is great.

    FAL? OMG why oh why did you have to say that. I’ve never used it but like you say if you can do it with a single shot then it means your aim is in. Mine is way out, far way out so I will give it go tonight, set up a private match and have a good target practice session, probably call you a few choice names and then when I go live call you even more names and die a lot, but I love the game so I need to persevere and get it right.

    The Dance of Death – Hmmm i’ve seen a few people do something like this and I never kill them so thats a great idea and another one high on my list to crack.

    Once again thanks for a great post – onwards and upwards as the say. Had my best night last night so I’m hoping with this I can improve even more 😉

    • I’d suggest not using the FAL in a real game unless you’re confident with it and are going to play a slower, strategic game. I know from painful experience the horror that is being repeatedly mown down by a fully auto weapon while trying to level up the FAL. Give it a go, don’t get frustrated if you keep getting blasted by a Scar-H or ACR, just change classes and then maybe try again later when there is less running and gunning going on.

      And the Dance of Death – in MW2 as soon as you get into that sort of situation knife first, shoot second.

  2. Good advice, I’ll play around with the FAL in a private and get a feel for it.

    Another problem I have is shooting from the hip. My automatic response, every time when close quarters is ADS and after I think, don’t ADS just shoot the damn gun so thats a bad habit I have to get out of.

    • I’d suggest going into HighRise and give the potted plants hell. Go around the buildings and shoot at the plants (which are conveniently the same size as a crouching player) – when you see one start off with the hipfire and scope up to ADS. Make sure you don’t fire until your crosshairs are over the pot plant.

      Start by walking up, stop, put your crosshairs on, fire then ADS. Then work up to doing it while walking and without stopping. And see if you can work up to a run and gun on target.

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  6. Hey, great advice and the vids make gaming look easy 🙂
    Here’s the deal…I LOVE FPS but suck at it in multiplayer, which basically frustrates me, because I want to be a part of the action so bad (and NOT always on the dyng end of it :).
    I’ll use these tips and any others I can find to try and hone my skills. Aiming is my weakness. It seems I always overcompensate my aim, and until I’m actually centered in…well….at least I can see the replay after how I died!…..
    Anyway, thankx for the tips, now it’s off to practice………………

    • I’m glad you’ve found it useful. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, it’s really appreciated.

      One thing with overcompensating your aim – try a lower sensitivity and stay cool. Also keep your aim where the enemies are likely to be coming from – crosshairs on the doorway as you move towards it, so if someone comes through you’re already on it ready to go.

      Good luck.

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