PUBG 101: Learn to Shoot

    In Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, facing off against ninety-nine other players can seem like a daunting task. However, there are some skills and tactics you can learn to increase your chances of survival. Whether you’re a veteran of the Battle Royale scene, or just a beginner, this guide will assist you in your quest for chicken dinner while strafing across the bullet riddled terrain of Erangel. In this section, we will be discussing marksmanship basics in PUBG.

Gun Control

    All weapons differ in PUBG, whether it’s size, shape, or sound they all perform differently. Some excel at close range combat with spray-and-pray methods, while others require precision and forethought to use properly. In the following section, we will discuss techniques you can use to help improve your accuracy and precision, no matter what weapon is in your hands.

    Practice makes perfect and the fastest way you can improve your combat skill-set is by throwing yourself into the fray. Try dropping into high population areas such as Pochinki, Georgopol, the School, or the Apartments and focus on killing as many players as you can with any weapons you can find. This will help familiarize you with the majority of the weapons PUBG has to offer while allowing you to practice and learn their pros and cons. One of the first things you’ll notice is that every weapon reacts differently when fired. Whether it’s the double-barreled shotgun’s massive kick or the AKM’s tendency to bounce around as you’re trying to land your spray. Every moment you have to practice with these weapons will prove to be invaluable as you begin making it further into the later stages of the game.

    Survival often comes down to who lands more consistent shots in quick succession, and although landing a headshot can offer a swift reward, they can be difficult to hit at longer ranges and become a gamble. You should always be focusing on aiming center mass as landing the first few shots will pressure your target into cover and more often than not force them into backing off to heal. Holding your breath can aid you in landing your first shots as it steadies your aim and offers a slight camera zoom on close range optics such as the red dot, or holo sight. You can hold your breath by holding shift as you aim down your sights. 

    When you engage other players your weapon will try to bounce all over the place, it’s very important that you fight this recoil by pulling down (towards you) with your mouse. The faster you fire, the more you’ll need to pull down to counteract the effect. Higher caliber weapons will also have more recoil and will be difficult to control at longer ranges, try to use single fire for long range and preserve full-auto for close quarters. Crouching can also help you mitigate recoil but will put you at a disadvantage if you need to move quickly into cover. Always be aware of your stance and be ready stand and move quickly if need be. 

    Weapon attachments can also mitigate a significant amount of recoil, and should be equipped whenever possible. Attachments primarily come down to personal preference, as some attachments will mitigate horizontal recoil while others will minimize vertical recoil. Try to practice with all of them and find what attachments work best for you on which weapons.

Aim center mass

  • Headshots are rewarding but can be difficult to hit at longer ranges.

Holding breath

  • Holding Shift will allow you to hold your breath and steady your aim.
  • Holding your breath will also add a slight zoom effect on close range sights.
  • You can't hold your breath forever but it does recharge over time.
  • If you run out of breath, you won't be able to sprint until you rest.

Counteracting recoil

  • Pull down your mouse to counteract recoil as you spray.
  • Some weapons pull more horizontally, some more vertically.
  • The higher the caliber, the higher the recoil.
  • Weapon attachments can mitigate a significant amount of recoil. 

Body Damage Breakdown

  • Headshots deal 2.5x damage
  • Bodyshots deal 1x damage
  • Limbs deal 0.5x damage

Trigger Control and Automatic Fire

    Knowing how and when to utilize different firing modes is the key to unlocking the maximum potential of any weapon. Firing modes can be changed by pressing B (by default). The further away your target is the more time you should take in between your shots. Firing in full auto is something that should be reserved for close range encounters, or when engaging a stationary enemy. 

    As mentioned before, it is extremely important to be able to hit your target in PUBG. Your life depends on it. One of the best ways to both maximize hit potential and damage, is with Trigger Control. Trigger control in short, means don’t hold your finger down on the trigger if you don’t have to. When firing at your victim, try to press and release the trigger in 2 to 3 shot intervals to simulate burst fire. On a mid range target, roughly 20-50m away. You’ll be able to consecutively hit your target with your bursts, and hopefully put them down before they have a chance to react.

Single Fire

Single fire should be your go-to firing mode when engaging at long or medium distances. Tapping your shots on target will allow you to be accurate without having to worry about the weapon recoiling all over the place. As you begin to engage targets in medium range you can tap-fire faster to output extra damage while focusing on remaining accurate. 


Not all weapons are able to shoot full auto, but for the majority that can, full-auto will become a life saver as you round almost every corner on the island. Try to keep your weapon in full auto at all times, as It's more likely that you’ll be surprised by a target at close range and have to react quickly.

Burst Fire

There are certain weapons with a built in 3-Round “Burst” fire option and though it's not generally recommended when compared to its full-auto counterpart there are some circumstances in which burst fire proves valuable. One instance where burst fire is specifically helpful, is on the M16. If you’re about to rush into a building and know that there is someone else in it, or just have a feeling that they might be, Burst fire can help simulate full-auto and turn the M16 into a very powerful close quarters weapon.

Hip Fire

Hip fire can be extremely helpful in close range engagements, in other situations it can be a death sentence. Firing from the hip is significantly less accurate than when you aim down the sights, so why would we ever want to shoot from the hip? 

Knowing when to hipfire instead of aiming down the sights can greatly increase your chance of survival.

    Take this example, you have an assault rifle with a 4x scope on it and you’re moving into a house that has a known enemy lurking inside. As you open the door and move into the building the enemy jumps out of a room and you both go into a full auto frenzy. Trying to scope into your 4x at close range could mean you completely lose sight of your enemy as he runs around and fills you with lead. Instead, as the enemy is jumping out at you try aiming from the hip by holding right click. This way you can maximize visibility and keep your target in your crosshairs no matter which direction he moves.

Single fire:

  • By default all weapons you pick up will be in single-fire.
  • Best used at long and medium range.
  • At medium range you can tap-fire faster, this will maintain accuracy while increasing damage output.
  • Single fire should seldom be used at close ranges.

Burst fire:

  • Available on only a few select weapons.
  • It is easier to compensate for recoil when on full-auto rather than burst. 
  • Burst fire is best used on the M16A4 when fighting in close quarters as it allows this rifle in specific to be fired as if it were in full auto.

Full auto:

  • Best used at close or medium ranges.
  • Very versatile because you can also tap-fire while using it to maintain accuracy at medium distances.

Bolt Action:

  • Between every shot you fire you’ll need to chamber a new round. Bolting the rifle will take you out of your scoped view, which doesn’t allow you to see where your previous shot landed. 
  • Never tap left click while sniping, unless you need to immediately move after you’ve taken your shot.
  • Holding left click will allow you to stay scoped in after you fire so that you can see where your bullet lands.

Rangefinding, Bullet drop, and Zeroing

    When dealing with combat at longer ranges understanding how to effectively reach out and touch a target is very important. Bullet-drop and lead play large roles in PUBG and they are a mechanic that is best learned in the field. 


Currently, judging distance in PUBG is not an exact science, but there are methods in-game that can help. You’ll notice that the map is broken down into grid squares. The larger yellow squares on the map represent 1km end to end. The smaller white squares equal 100m end to end. With this in mind, you can look at your current location, and count white squares to the approximate location of your enemy or destination, and know roughly how far away you are. The minimap also represents a 400m by 400m square surrounding your player icon. From the center of the minimap out to a side is exactly 200m.


When firing at long range, you’re going to notice that your bullets will fall shorter the farther out you’re aiming. For instance in order to shoot someone 400 meters away, you’re going need to aim with your crosshair high above your target, to compensate for bullet drop. This is where zeroing can help. Zeroing essentially calibrates your scope’s crosshair so you can aim straight at the target at long range. All you need to do is estimate how far your enemy is from your position, and use page-up and page-down to match your zeroing-distance with how far away the target is from you.

There are generally two schools of thought when it comes to engaging enemies at long range. On one hand you have zeroing, which allows you to be able to aim with the center of your crosshair once you’re dialed in. While on the other hand some players prefer to keep their weapon zeroed in to the default 100m and aim on the fly by raising their crosshair above their target and estimating how much the bullet will need to drop before reaching the target. Both of these shooting styles have their benefits and drawbacks. Zeroing is dependant on knowing or estimating the distance from you to your target, this allows you to be consistent once you’re dialed in, but it takes time to set up. While aiming on the fly is much faster to take initial shots, until you’re well practiced with gauging distance and velocity of the weapon you’re using, this method will be more and more inconsistent the further your targets are from you.
Depending on which caliber of weapon you’re using, the bullet drop will vary. 7.62 and 5.56 calibers will stay up in the air longer and travel further faster. However, if you’re using a VSS, the 9mm rounds are going to drop quite drastically in comparison.

Similar to bullet drop you’ll need to learn to lead your target properly in order to hit a target moving across your screen. Leading a target works the same way as bullet-drop, only horizontally. As a general rule of thumb, if an enemy is moving across your screen, aim 1 body width in front of him per 100m. In example if your target is 400m away from you, you’ll need to aim roughly four body widths in front of them in the direction they’re moving. The faster they’re moving, the more you’ll need to lead as well. Bridge camping is great practice for leading fast moving targets. If you happen to stumble into a game in which the circle is ending on either side of the two main bridges located on the south end of the map, try to get there as soon as possible and set up in preparation for people who will need to cross. This alone will give you a massive amount of exposure to shooting at people in fast moving vehicles.

Bullet drop and leading targets

  • The further your target is from you, the more you’ll have to compensate for bullet-drop either through zeroing, or “feeling it out.”
  • Higher caliber weapons have less bullet-drop as the projectile spends a shorter period of time traveling from you to your target.
  • Leading a target works the same way bullet drop does, only horizontally instead of vertically.
  • Leading a target must be done manually


  • Yellow grid squares on the map represent 1,000m of distance
  • White squares on the map represent 100m of distance
  • The minimap is 400m by 400m, from the center to the edge is 200m


  • Page up increases zeroing distance by 100m
  • Page down decreases zeroing distance by 100m. (minimum 100m)

Scope Management

    Optics such as the Red dot, Holosight, and 2x are your best friends in urban environments, or in close range contact with your targets. Although they can be used by experienced players to hit targets at long range, there are generally other more viable scope options littered around the map if you plan on engaging at medium to long range. 

    Some weapons already have built in scopes that cannot be changed. The VSS for example has a scope that resembles a 4x, and the Crossbow has a built in close-range optic that resembles a red dot. Be weary of these weapons as the ability to change your scope on the fly becomes very important as you move through different environments.

     Utilizing 4x, and 8x scopes for large open areas, will allow you to spot players, take fire, and return fire with targets who are very far away. Alternatively keeping a red dot or holo-sight available will allow you to use the same weapon in close range conflicts. Being stuck in close quarters combat with a 4x can be deadly, as well as being trapped in a long range battle with only a red dot. You’ll want to focus on keeping a variety of optics available at all times, whether your sight is on your other primary weapon, or in your bag, be ready to switch to it at any moment.

    It’s recommended to always keep a close-range optic on your weapon at all times as you’re most likely to be surprised by an enemy in your immediate surroundings, rather than one at range. If and when you do spot somebody at range you’ll most likely have time to equip a longer range scope from your inventory. This can be done quickly by right-clicking the scope in your inventory, or clicking and dragging it onto your weapon. Just make sure you’re behind some form of cover as you’re doing this.


  • Try to maintain a close-range optic on your weapon for close range security
  • Don’t be afraid to take a moment and equip a proper scope for any given conflict
  • Some weapons have built in scopes
  • VSS has built in 4x scope; cannot be swapped out.
  • Crossbow has built in red dot sight; this cannot be removed, but it can be upgraded.

By Harrison Silverstein and Vincent Cameron