How To Become Better At Competitive Shooters

It all starts by bonding with your hardware.
It’s time to become one with your computer and mouse!

To become the best, you must first intimately know the ins and outs of your hardware! All you have to do is spend some time bonding together. Not the normal every day gaming session bonding we do so much already, but something a bit more… intimate. First Person Shooter(FPS) games(3rd Person Shooters too), especially the multiplayer player versus player (PvP) games, really bring out the competitiveness in gamers. When it so often comes down to one more shot or perhaps spotting the enemy just a little sooner than they had spotted you, gamers have concocted an infinite number of hardware tweaks or crazy gameplay styles in an attempt to squeeze out every bit of performance from themselves and their gaming gear. I’ve brought together a few optimization tweaks that are an absolute must for competitive gamers to have in their arsenal. Being able to understand the mechanics behind these tweaks along with a lot of practice and further adjustments is the first step to claiming your place of fame among the Pros.

Don’t feel like this isn’t for you if you’re not gunning to become the best. From casual gamer to hater of the genre, these tips might just change your outlook. If you’ve ever felt FPS games just weren’t for you because you aren’t good enough, often losing in almost all engagements/firefights, the truth is… it’s probably your settings! No joke! If you’ve never heard of this or tried anything like this before you can use your settings as an excuse for all those deaths or low Kill-Death-Ratio (KDR). Just sign up to join Atayeu’s FPS Bootcamp ONLY $75 an hour FPS training today, that’s it
<No Guarantee of Improvement>! Just kidding, you don’t even have to buy new gaming gear like a fancy mouse or anything.

Throughout the various tips below you’ll notice I talk about DPI Levels quite a bit. If you’re uncertain what your mouse’s DPI level is at or where to view what it is currently set at, see our post How to View Your Mouse DPI on how to check and see where your DPI is set to now.

Decrease Mouse Sensitivity; Increase Precision
Hands down the biggest tweak you can make to become a better FPS player is reducing your mouse’s Dots-Per-Inch (DPI) and/or In-game mouse sensitivity. By doing this you’ll be increasing your cm/360 (the amount of centimeters your mouse moves to complete a full 360 in-game). The idea behind increasing your cm/360 is to allow for further control via longer/wider mouse strokes, thus increasing the overall precision with your mouse.

There isn’t any exact/optimal sensitivity and of course there is always oddities, but overall the default settings games start you off at as well as your mouse’s software (such as Logitech Gaming Software which controls the DPI of your mouse) is set too high. Reddit user StruthGaming, explains cm/360 rather well in this Reddit post about cm/360 sensitivity HERE. He also states some competitive averages such as Overwatch: 33cm/360, CS:GO 36cm/360, and even the famous Shroud who plays Apex Legends at 34.6cm/360.

There’s no need to grab a tape measure or ruler to measure your mouse swipes just yet. Depending on the game you’re playing, even default sensitivities will alter your measurements. Within the reddit post mentioned earlier, is a sensitivity calculator to get a much quicker and more precise measurement. For your convenience here’s a link here: Sensitivity cm/360 calculator. If you’re an Apex Legends player simply put the ingame sensitivity settings into the first box labeled Source, leave the second box empty, and fill in the third box labeled “Mouse DPI (Optional)” with your mouse dpi which is what is used at the desktop. To find your mouse’s DPI, if you have any third party software with your mouse its likely to be in there. Once you’ve filled 2 of the 3 textboxes with the measurements look on the right hand side under “Source/Quake, Overwatch – CM per 360: ” and you’ll have your cm/360 for Apex Legends. The labeling is off but I assume StruthGaming refers to this calculator because Quake shares the same in-game sensitivity default values and slider as with Apex Legends.

With that done now you have an idea of your cm/360 and its likely a lot lower than what the competitive average is. Mine was! There’s no need to crank down your sensitivity a lot just to get that pro 30cm or more value on your first try. Instead slowly work your way up and remember it takes practice to get used to. My DPI used to be around 1150 so I’ve turned this down to 800. Now with an 800DPI level and 2.4 in-game (Apex) sensitivity level, i’m at 21.6cm/360. I’ve certainly noticed just how much more of my arm is required in game when I want to turn more than 90 degrees. After just a hand full of games it wasn’t a detriment any longer and I was landing more shots on moving targets.

I’ll continue to play around with increasing my cm/360 and try getting it up to around 27-30cm. Once It’s there I’ll report back and let you know if I’ve made it into any world championships! Or more likely, if I notice a significant enough increase in my average accuracy.

Practice With Purpose; How to Optimize
So you’ve made your some adjustments and you’re ready to play or you’re uncertain what to set your levels to. Going straight into a competitive match isn’t the best way to make changes. Check to see if the game you’re playing offers a tutorial or practice zone with targets. In Apex Legends, you’ll want to enter the Tutorial and progress to where you obtain a weapon and are asked to shoot the targets. You don’t need to play through the tutorial any further, this goes for other games as well. You have your targets in front of you, almost every gun in the game, and unlimited ammo! You’re set to practice!

While this is also a great place to try and learn recoil patterns and hipfire differentials, this time we’re here for sensitivity adjustments.

  1. Pick a target and pick the head for a headshot if your target has multiple sub-target parts such as chest, leg, arm etc.
  2. With the target chosen before any shots are fired, turn left or right anywhere from 20 to 85 degrees. To start, keep your crosshairs moving linear only. Later on you can begin moving your crosshairs away from the target omni-directional for more difficulty.
  3. Next, from a still position, in one swift motion move your crosshairs directly on top of the target as if you were taking a quick headshot.
    • Don’t slow down before you reach your target
    • Don’t take your time aiming
    • if you go beyond your target don’t reverse, simply stop where you landed

      Chances are you over or undershot. Try it a few more times to get a general average. If you find you keep landing beyond your target, your sensitivity levels are too high for you to handle at the moment. If you’re falling short of your target then its likely they’re set too low.
  4. Adjust your sensitivity accordingly and try again. Continue doing this until you feel really comfortable with where your shots are landing. You can try aiming non-linearly as well which should make things a little more difficult.

While you’re making adjustments keep in mind our first tip about cm/360. You do want to push yourself to make wider strokes with your mouse, bringing more precision to the physical realm and out of the digital. If you’re far below a cm/360 level of say 17cm, even if you’re falling short of your target, this may only be because you’re not used to the lower sensitivity. At this point you can spend a few hours or couple days of real matches at this sensitivity to get used to it. When you return to practicing you should notice you’re closer than before.

Why bother with practicing like this on targets at all? The idea is you want to be able to “Snap” your crosshairs directly on top of any enemies’ vital spot (headshot) without needing the time it takes to actually aim. You’ll often watch pro players making incredible headshots almost too fast to see. What they’re relying on is muscle memory to move their hand, wrist, and arm an exact distance that brings their crosshairs where they need it. Aiming often can be the death of players in close to mid range exchanges. This also includes aiming with “hip-fire” as well! If you’re taking the time to consciously align the crosshairs on a target, you’re taking longer than you should. With some practice this can come easily for body targets and with a whole lot more practice landing those headshots more often than not is what separates the pros from the rest.

Besides snapping to targets there’s one other movement you want to train into those muscle memories. Infamous in Counter Strike and powerful is every game is a 180 flick/spin. This isn’t a 180 spin headshot 360 jump no scope trick shot that’s just a bunch of funny business either. If enemies sneak up on your 6 (from behind) you want to be able to spin and engage in a moments notice. You can spin at a normal speed, which would be opening your view degree by degree as you turn. However its worth practicing a more forceful swipe with the mouse, that lands you facing the opposite direction every time. Take your mouse and “flick” it to the right. By flicking your mouse you slightly lift it up off your mouse pad and thus turn at a much faster rate in-game but also took less physical space and movement when moving your mouse. If you find yourself spinning more or less than 180 degrees you can adjust your sensitivity accordingly. Getting the perfect flick down and into muscle memory isn’t easy so it isn’t always the sensitivity thats at fault with this move. Practice it a few times and hone in on that exact 180. If you’re not consistent with the exact landing spot (which should be exactly 180 degrees) you can subconsciously get a little disoriented with where you’re facing and where your enemies stand. Every second counts and spending it re-orientating yourself or using a more time consuming simple spin, can cost you the engagement. Practice is key with this technique, but don’t forget to give it a few tries when you’re honing in on sensitivity normally. The 180 flick can also be used as a much less precise way to adjust your sensitivity if you’re not going to target practice.

I hope some folks find these tips and tricks useful. If any of my explanations were a bit hard to understand let me know so I can reword the explanations better for others. You can also find videos on youtube explaining these processes if you need a visual demonstration. Lastly if you found this article useful I’d really appreciate you letting me know! I may go further with some more advanced tips and tricks for gamers or game specifics. I’ll even take requests!

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