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Imagine reading this as a headline in a learner's text book on a shooting range:

How to aim right
How to aim correctly
How to aim well

Basically, I want to say "how to aim to hit the target" in this passive manner and I'm trying to find the proper adjective to use for this. Any suggestions?

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    Are you sure you need any adverb (not adjective)? What's wrong with "How to Aim"? There is no way "how to aim" would ever mean "how to aim poorly." – Juhasz Feb 8 at 14:44
  • Instead of those, how about "How to hit the target?" or "Aiming to hit the target?" – Robusto Feb 8 at 14:46
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    [You must learn] how to aim sounds just a bit too "clipped" for me in this context. I'd prefer ...how to take aim. – FumbleFingers Feb 8 at 14:51
  • @FumbleFingers how to aim a shotgun sounds much better than how to take aim with a shotgun. Even if it ends with aim, take aim makes it sound wordy. The addition of take even adds a bit of ambiguity imo – Aethenosity Feb 9 at 20:36
  • @Aethenosity: Unlike you, I have no particular preference for or against either if followed by [with, using,...] a shotgun. But the question as posed doesn't include that additional context. – FumbleFingers Feb 10 at 17:20
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Aim right is a little ambiguous. It could mean to aim in the appropriate manner, to aim so as to hit the target, or to adjust your aim to the right.

Aim correctly would, to me, mean to aim in the correct manner - to do so in the way you are taught to aim.

Aim well would, to me, mean to take your time to aim, not rush. Unless it were "how to aim well", in which case it would mean instructions on how to aim effectively or correctly.

Aim accurately would be to aim in a way that means you hit the target.

Aim properly would capture several of these, not rushing, doing it in the correct manner, and that doing so would tend to allow you to hit the target.

  • I would say "well" and "properly" are extremely similar in many if not most contexts. – jpmc26 Feb 9 at 7:14
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    Well is one of those words that can have a subtle range of meanings, I think. "Think well" can mean "think carefully", but to "do well" at something means to be successful - and to "think well of" someone means to have a positive view of them. In this context, I would tend to read it towards the "carefully" sense. – SamBC Feb 9 at 10:13
  • Thanks for the answers. I chose to go with Aim properly for my context. – Steeven Feb 12 at 8:04
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Actually, no qualifier is needed. The expression:

How to aim a [pistol/rifle/weapon/etc]

is perfectly natural (example). By default, when you instruct someone how to do something, it's assumed you are telling them how to do it correctly.

However, if you want to emphasize that there is a correct method and and an incorrect method you could say something like:

How to correctly aim [a weapon].

As SamBC mentions, you can substitute various synonyms for "correctly": properly, accurately, appropriately, effectively, etc. You can also suggest you're teaching a particular technique: quickly, smoothly, steadily, etc. Example:

How to safely and accurately aim and fire a fully automatic weapon.

Also, by default, when you "aim" a weapon it's assumed to be at some target. Otherwise you're not really aiming it, but rather just pointing it in some vague direction.

As an alternative, you can use the idiomatic expression "take aim", which is commonly associated with the action of aiming a weapon, rather than some metaphorical aim.

How to correctly take aim at your target (when firing a semiautomatic rifle).

  • Now I'm kicking myself for not thinking of the "no adverb" case... – SamBC Feb 8 at 16:59
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    @SamBC No particular genius insight on my part -- I just Googled "how to aim ..." and picked the first auto-suggestion ("how to aim a shotgun") . :) – Andrew Feb 8 at 18:42
  • How to aim is how to direct it towards something but not necessarily hit it. – user2617804 Feb 17 at 3:37
  • @user2617804 Yes ... but I'm not sure how that's in any way relevant. – Andrew Feb 17 at 7:11
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Idiomatically, the phrase to aim true might work. "True" here is in the sense of "straight, accurate, and without deviation", rather than the more common sense of "a statement agreeing with the facts". As an example, we have the headline How to Aim True at the F-class World Championships.

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