Valorant beginner's guide: How to improve your aim

Learn the fundamentals of aiming and recoil in Valorant so you can rise up the competitive ranks.

It’s time to end the humiliation and start landing headshots. If you’re just starting out in Valorant and looking to improve, you’ve come to the right place. In our beginner’s guide for how to improve your aim in Valorant, we’ll take you through a few basic tips you can work on while playing which will drastically improve your aim over time. 

Valorant beginner’s guide: How to improve your aim

Valorant beginners guide how to improve your aim
 
© Riot

Whether you’re aiming to rise from Iron to Diamond or just want to step up your skills for casual unranked play, the beginner’s tips for how to aim in Valorant below will start you on the journey to headshot happiness. Before we dive into the proper tips, however, there’s one thing we need to get out of the way.

Accept that you’re going to have to practice

It’s entirely possible to play Valorant as a casual game, and we don’t just mean Spike Rush and the other arcadey modes. But if you genuinely want to improve, you’re going to need to accept that it’ll take practice and, crucially, time. Your general skills will increase through play, but making a marked improvement will require a concerted effort. The good news is that if you’re going to be spending hours in game anyway, you might as well practice while you’re at it. Committed? Let’s get started with five simple tips to improve your aim in Valorant.

1. Check your aim height regularly

Valorant how to improve aim beginners guide
 
© Riot

For total beginners, the simplest trick you can use to improve your everyday aim is regular crosshair checks. Every few minutes, take a second to mentally check the height you’re aiming at, and adjust it to head-level if necessary.

For some reason, newcomers to FPS games naturally gravitate towards aiming at the floor over time. It might feel like a minor thing, but the lower you aim, the longer it’ll take to get on target in every single duel. Aiming body height may be tempting, but putting in the work to aim for the head early will pay dividends in future.

Even if you don’t think any enemies are near, making a mental note of your crosshair placement every minute or so will gradually build the positioning into a natural habit, improving your chances of landing those headshots. Shotguns like the Judge or Shorty benefit from body-height aim, but you’ll want to build good aiming habits first before adapting to each weapon.

2. Pre-aim corners and positions

Valorant beginners guide how to improve aim pre-aim corners
 
© Riot

Once your aiming height is consistent, the next step is pre-aiming corners. When moving through each map – even when enemies aren’t near – think about the most likely position an opponent could come from. In the most basic terms, this means aiming at head height close to a corner as you move towards it. Again, this will reduce the work to do should a gunfight break out.

As you begin to learn the maps, you’ll start to recognize common spots which players tend to stand in or hide behind. Practice lining these up through walls, so that your aim is ready before you step around corners. On the attacking side, this is a crucial skill to practice, as defenders will already have their aim set up. Just be aware that doing so will leave you vulnerable to someone unexpectedly close. Naturally, a highly skilled Sova player can help with this immensely by revealing enemy positions behind cover.

3. Understand the recoil basics

Valorant beginners guide how to improve aim recoil
 
© Riot

While it might feel like home for CS:GO expats, Valorant’s recoil system is a little obtuse for everyone else. It doesn’t take long to understand, but mastering it is a challenge.

The simple explanation: When you fire a full auto weapon, your first couple of shots will be on target. After that, they’ll begin to rise upwards, above the position of your crosshair. At a certain height, they’ll stop moving up and instead begin to drift left and right in a randomized fashion. 

To counter recoil in Valorant, you need to pull your crosshair down slightly as you spray, such that your bullets continue to land at head height. It feels unconventional at first, but the longer you practice, the more it'll become a natural motion. Crouching can prove a very easy way to counter recoil drift, but you shouldn’t become reliant on it in each fight. You can also look at the tracers (streaks of light) coming out of your gun and attempt to match these to where your opponent is.

If you don’t want to spend time testing this in the range, use the safe time during the buy phase each round to unload one magazine against a wall so you can watch where the bullets go. Next round, try pulling your aim down as you fire, attempting to keep shots at a consistent height. Just don’t waste all your ammo or you’ll be answering some rather grumpy questions from your team. 

Each weapon has a different recoil height and speed, along with a pattern for the first few shots. However, as a beginner, your focus should be on pulling down without worrying too much about specifics. Stick to the primary rifles (Phantom and Vandal) where possible to build consistency.

  • Quick note 1: Remember that your accuracy is massively decreased when moving. Always attempt to stop moving before firing your gun.
  • Quick note 2: At longer ranges it is almost always better to tap or burst fire weapons instead of spraying. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t practice, however.

4. Phantom or Vandal?

Valorant beginners guide phantom vs vandal
 
© Riot

Ah, the eternal dilemma. Even the pros can’t seem to make up their mind. Eventually, this will come down to preference and position. But for beginners? The choice is pretty clear cut. The Vandal might offer that sweet, one-hit headshot damage over all ranges, but the Phantom is far, far more forgiving. 

Not only does the Phantom have a higher rate of fire, it’s also got less recoil. That means you’ll put out more bullets, and they’ll be easier to hit with. While you’re still learning maps and reacting to unexpected fights, the Phantom will serve you far more consistently.

Stick with the Phantom to start, then swap in the Vandal once you’ve got the fundamentals down and want to fight at range. Both are effective weapons at high-level play, but the Phantom will see you right early on.

5. Practice in the range and deathmatch before you play

Valorant how to improve aim training
 
© Riot

And finally, the part most people won’t want to hear: To see the quickest improvement to your aiming ability, you simply need to practice. Deathmatch is a great way to hone your raw aim, but Valorant also offers a very serviceable training setup in the range. You can load this up from the main menu by pressing the Play button, then clicking Practice at the bottom left. Select Shooting Range and you’ll be dumped directly in front of the controls. 

Valorant aim training for beginners
 
© Riot

Buy yourself a Phantom or Vandal, then press F3 to open up the training settings. We’d recommend starting on Medium, with Infinite Ammo enabled and Bot Armor disabled if you’re using the Phantom. Shoot the start button and see how many bots from thirty you can take out with headshots. If that feels too easy, bump the speed up to Hard and go again.

If you can spare the five minutes required, jumping in for a quick round or two of aim training before each match you play will offer massive benefits over time.

And that’s all we’ve got for our beginners guide on how to aim in Valorant. Keep these in mind while you’re playing and don’t beat yourself up if you’re missing headshots at first. The only way to improve is to try, so keep at it and you’ll reap the rewards long-term. Got any tips of your own? Share them in the comments section below. Head to our Valorant hub page for more content covering the game

Associate Editor

Henry Stenhouse serves an eternal punishment as the Associate Editor of AllGamers. He spent his younger life studying the laws of physics, even going so far as to complete a PhD in the subject before video game journalism stole his soul. Confess your love of Super Smash Bros. via email at henry.stenhouse@allgamers.com, or catch him on Twitter.

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