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5 tips to improve your accuracy in first-person shooters

Follow these tips to improve your aim.

Image via XPG

To dominate in first-person shooters, you must rely on your aim to get the job done. And as most players know, accuracy is pretty important.

Although most fans may know the importance of aim, it can be difficult to take the steps to improve the skill in practice. Whether you are struggling with your aim or you’re looking to take your tracking to the next level, here are five tips to help you improve your accuracy in first-person shooters.

1) Learn to manage your crosshair

A common mistake made by even veteran players is failing to manage your crosshair strategically. Most modern FPS games are all about precision duels, where most encounters are decided in tenths of a second. In that type of environment, you have to give yourself every possible advantage. That’s where crosshair placement comes in. 

When you’re walking around a map, you should practice holding your crosshair at head and chest height at all times, so you are always prepared for a fight. By having your crosshair at head height, you are more likely to acquire the enemy head quickly and you will be more likely to win your gunfights.

If you ever watch professionals play Counter-Strike, Overwatch, or VALORANT, you will notice that the players always have their cross hairs at head height, and when approaching corners they keep the crosshair centered on the first possible place an enemy can be. This strategy minimizes the distance you have to move your crosshair at the start of an engagement, allowing you to fire sooner and win the fight.

2) Lower your sensitivity

When a player is struggling to control their aim, it is often because they are playing at too high of a sensitivity. Overly sensitive controls is one of the most common issues plaguing new players. High mouse sensitivity lowers the precision of your mouse movements. When playing like this, your crosshairs will often overshoot the target and you’ll have trouble tracking moving targets.

The key is to find a good balance between the needs of movement and accuracy. You can’t lower your sensitivity so much that it compromises your ability to turn around and move about the map when needed, but you also can’t have it so high that you find yourself struggling to land those headshots. So the next time you are having trouble aiming, try bumping your sensitivity down a bit and see if that improves your odds in gunfights.

On a related note, if the reason you are using a high sensitivity is because your mousepad is too small, invest in a larger mousepad. It will make a significant difference in your gaming experience.

3) Play on low graphics settings

Many gamers want to crank their graphics performance to the highest level, and who can blame them? We all want to see the highest fidelity versions of our games. But when it comes to improving at playing games, sometimes the best thing you can do is lower your graphics settings. Games run better on less demanding settings, thus earning you more frames which directly translates to a smoother aiming experience. 

Especially for those with 144 Hz monitors, dropping your graphics performance can give you a big boost in frames-per-second (FPS), which translates pretty directly into improved accuracy since you are getting feedback on your shots more quickly. Professional players run nearly all of their games on the lowest graphics settings at tournaments to maximize their performance.

Lowering the graphic settings can also improve the visibility of enemies on the map. Enemy character models can sometimes get lost in the complex textures that come with high graphical options. Not only that, in some games various physical objects don’t even render on lower graphics settings. For example, when PUBG was first released, the lowest graphical settings didn’t render the tall grass in the fields. Players who were playing on higher settings thought they were safe, hidden in the weeds, but the low settings players could see them clear as day. Overwatch has similar map issues, where on some maps there may be visual cover in a spot on medium or high settings, but that cover doesn’t render on low settings. 

By removing the visual clutter, you can improve your target spotting and even give yourself an advantage over those people who play on higher settings.

4) Practice everyday

Everyone knows that if you want to improve at a game, you also have to practice and drill particular techniques in a concerted effort to improve. Often the best thing you can do to improve your aim is to load up a Counter-Strike aim training map, or an external program like Aim Lab, and go do some drills. You will be surprised how much even 20 minutes of practice a day can do to improve your in-game performance.

Aim training doesn’t have to be a chore either. You can use your choice of aim training method to warm up before you play. It may be a little inconvenient, but you come into your games warmed up and over the long term will see improvements to muscle memory and coordination. If you are serious about improving your aim, you could make huge strides by simply practicing your mouse precision every single day.

5) Take the high ground

Okay, this tip isn’t really about taking the high ground, though you should. This tip is about taking positional advantages, which often includes the high ground.

Sometimes the reason you lose an aim duel is because you had bad aim. Other times, it’s because you are out-positioned. Good positioning covers a multitude of other aim errors in a pinch. Flanking, taking high ground positions, or just playing outside the box can put you at a huge advantage, which will surely improve your accuracy.

You can maximize your positional advantage by learning the maps and thinking about ways that you can take the enemy by surprise or subvert their expectations to gain an advantage. Aim is only half the battle when it comes to accuracy. The other half is your approach. If you give yourself an optimal approach, your accuracy will skyrocket. 

This final tip is particularly important in battle royale titles. In games like Fortnite, Warzone, or Hyperscape, positioning yourself strategically and taking the high ground isn’t just a good idea, it’s crucial to your survival. Those who are contained to the streets below in battle royale games are sitting ducks to the snipers and streamers who inhabit seemingly every building above them. You can either be a hunter or the hunted, and hunters have better accuracy.