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Old July 14, 2015, 08:59 PM   #1
Savage99
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Offhand or standing practicing for hunting.

I need to practice shooting the hunting rifles more offhand.

I go the range frequently and shoot my rifles checking that they are sighted in and that they shoot a group.

While I used to compete I don't shoot offhand anymore with the rifles I hunt with.

I aimed one offhand after the usual bench session and I did not aim well.

I remembered a way I have used to aim and I must practice it. I can also do this dry firing.
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Old July 15, 2015, 06:04 AM   #2
10-96
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I guess it's always nice to make small neat groups from a bench, but I'm with ya- it feels great to watch your standing groups come together after not doing so for a while.
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Old July 15, 2015, 08:25 AM   #3
NoSecondBest
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When I started shooting the Team Challenge Matches I thought I'd be right at the top of the game from the git-to. I could shoot a pistol and shotgun exceptionally well and if I could do that the rifle would be the easy part......wrong! I always believed the handgun was the most difficult firearm to master. It's not, the rifle is off hand. I finally did get to where I could shoot very, very well with the rifle off hand but it took an awful lot of work. Shooting the rifle off hand puts two things in conflict immediately....the inability to hold steady and trying to squeeze the trigger while you're on target. What starts to happen right away is you "mash" the trigger as soon as you pass the bullseye. Without the upper body strength developed well enough, you simply can't hold on the bullseye and you start mashing the trigger. Good shooters "mash" at the right moment after a lot of practice and get better. Great shooters can actually hold on the bullseye and concentrate on trigger squeeze. I eventually got to where I could hold on the bullseye and squeeze. I shot the rifle four days a week and dry fired it almost every day. After several months I could see a huge improvement. How much you put in to it determines how much you'll get out of it. To be honest, for hunting purposes on deer sized animals a very good "masher" can do pretty good at a hundred yards....maybe 8-10" groups off hand.
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Old July 15, 2015, 06:18 PM   #4
AK103K
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Constant practice is your best friend here. Dry fire is really a must too, as it lets you work on everything, the gun, your muscle tone, your breathing, etc.

The very best thing you can do, is stop shooting off a bench altogether, unless of course, you drag that along hunting.

The other very big help is staying in decent physical shape. If youre fit, things are so much easier.
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Old July 15, 2015, 09:00 PM   #5
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I don't care who you are, or how good you think you are off-hand shooting at game should be the last resort. All good shooters will use some sort of improvised rest if at all possible. It could be a pack, rolled up jacket, shooting sticks, a tree or tree limb or even an improvised sling.

I practice with and use all of the above including off hand. I've made off hand shots at some pretty long ranges, but never do so if there is any other option.

Dry fire is your friend and the best way to develop skills. The most useful shooting aid I've found are the smaller shooting sticks with 2 legs. They take up almost no space in a pack or even pocket and don't add any weight to the rifle changing it's balance. But work great in either prone or sitting positions. There are some longer, heavier versions that will be long enough for standing shots. But like anything else require practice as well.
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Old July 15, 2015, 09:24 PM   #6
4V50 Gary
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Benchest is good for sighting in and it's easier since the bench/tripod/sandbags/bipod supports much of the rifle's weight. Off-hand isn't anything like it. In the latter you're relying on muscle, bone and breath control. To aid themselves, some shooters wear shooting jackets that stiffen the body. Off-hand is much more challenging and requires more practice.
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Old July 15, 2015, 09:52 PM   #7
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I don't practice off hand much anymore. I found that it really did not help in hunting situations. It seems I am always 5 foot from a tree when a deer steps out. I am in brush and can't see the deer if I get on one knee. The deer is moving and I don't have time to mess around walking to a tree or putting my pack down.
I do think you should practice getting your gun into your shooting position and have a "Feel" for your gun. If that rifle does not fit you, get one that does. It seems like 90% of the time you are surprised by the deer and have to move quick. Most people shoot way better when they have no time to think about it. My x- wife could not seem to aquire a target through a scope in the woods. When we sat for a break I told her to pick out a falling leaf and snap the gun up to her eye. She got pretty good in a short time. She was soon dropping trotting deer. By the third day, I spend most of my deer hunting time walking around. If I did not take off hand shots I would never get a deer. I don't know, maybe I am talking about "Snap shooting"?
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Old July 16, 2015, 11:14 AM   #8
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Being able to shoot well without aids can be very useful.
Growing up stump shooting in the woods helped develop unaided rifle skills.
I rarely have used a bench or support ever since.
Never got used to doing so, but also never lived where the kind of long shots would benefit from using a support.
So, whether it's better to use a support probably depends as much on the distance and terrain as much as the skill of the shooter.
Like most every other thing, it pays to know how to do stuff all kinds of ways, depending on the circumstances.
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Old July 16, 2015, 03:11 PM   #9
NoSecondBest
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There are shooters who hunt that absolutely do not need any type of rest out to 100yds. I agree that the vast majority of hunters should use whatever rest is available to shoot at a game animal at that distance and if one isn't available they should consider what their abilities are at that distance off hand. If not capable, they should pass on the shot. However, I personally know people who can shoot that distance at a deer and do not need a rest to be very capable at that distance. I'll also state that all hunters aren't shooters and all shooters aren't hunters. However, when a good shooter is also a hunter, the scenario can change quite a bit.
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Old July 16, 2015, 04:07 PM   #10
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Shooting at a charging beast --- like a wild hog, lion, elephant, etc --- usually requires a standing shot. "If you want to become a rifleman, you have to get off the bench, once you have your rifle sighted in."

A woman became a champion trap shooter by finding a heavy gun for 75 reps a night, having the buttstock of the gun planted in her shoulder and raising it up with her reaction hand.

Triangular bone support is sometimes a key, and getting an aggressive grip for rapid fire is also needed at times. Accept the wobble of the gun...with practice, the wobble radius will get smaller.

Google: The Zen of Shooting - by Paul Schoch
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Old July 16, 2015, 05:30 PM   #11
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Apparently a lot of you have never been to a "Live turkey shoot". How about an egg on a string shoot? Some of those guys are REALLY good. Some of the best I have seen were using a 30-06 or .270 pump.
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Old July 16, 2015, 11:11 PM   #12
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Quote:
I always believed the handgun was the most difficult firearm to master. It's not, the rifle is off hand.
Shotguns, rifles, pistols, archery, knife throwing, what makes any sport difficult is the caliber of your competition.
If you think shotgun trap is easy, go to Sparta and win the Grand American.
If you think NASCAR is easy, win the Daytona 500.
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Old July 17, 2015, 01:22 AM   #13
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I can't remember the last time I took an off hand shot at any animal bigger than a squirrel, and even then most of the time I can find a rest of some sort.

I see no need to practice something I so seldom do
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Old July 17, 2015, 05:44 AM   #14
Erno86
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The Marriottsville Muzzleloader matches at our range, require offhand/standing positions only with no help from a sling. Hi-Power matches also have offhand/standing positions.
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Old July 17, 2015, 07:25 AM   #15
AK103K
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Quote:
I see no need to practice something I so seldom do
That seems to be the mentality of a lot of shooters I see anymore. Offhand isnt the only position not practiced.

The majority of hunters I see, come in just before the season starts, take a couple of shots off the bench, declare it good, and leave. At most of the ranges Ive ever shot, the only people Ive seen shoot from field positions, are the HP or military match shooters. Everyone else, shoots off a bench.

Its lucky for hunters here, that they dont have to pass some of the European hunting/shooting tests to get their license. I doubt many would pass.


I practice and shoot offhand more than anything else these days. Its always been the most difficult and challenging, and required the most work. Its also great for maintaining muscle tone required for all shooting. Shooting is a perishable skill, and if you dont keep up with it, your skills will suffer.

I also practice snap shots regularly, as they are probably more realistic than anything else when it comes to long gun shooting, hunting or otherwise. Shouldering and shooting quickly is a necessary skill. Sporting clays is a great way to practice and stay in shape here too. You get all the aspects, shooting, moving targets, brain and body working together to make the shot. You dont get that, sitting at a bench, or talking/reading about it at a keyboard.
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Old July 17, 2015, 08:22 AM   #16
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Many public ranges I've been to do not allow offhand, kneeling, sitting or prone firing positions to be used.
They want the rifle on the bench and on a rest for "insurance" reasons.
Some allow limited "other than bench rest" shooting.

I don't belong to a club, but I imagine their rules would be different.
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Old July 17, 2015, 09:04 AM   #17
zukiphile
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoSecondBest
I could shoot a pistol and shotgun exceptionally well and if I could do that the rifle would be the easy part......wrong! I always believed the handgun was the most difficult firearm to master. It's not, the rifle is off hand. I finally did get to where I could shoot very, very well with the rifle off hand but it took an awful lot of work. Shooting the rifle off hand puts two things in conflict immediately....the inability to hold steady and trying to squeeze the trigger while you're on target.
I will echo that. It took me years to refine my pistol shooting to the point that got me to second best in my own little club world. I also used to spend 2 or three hours a week shooting standing with a sling before I had children.

I recently started in with rifles again, and every error and flaw I had when I started pistol is present in rifle, but magnified by the distance. Flinching, and poor trigger control are prominent. All those little muscles in your back that let you stand in an unusual position? They tire quickly.


What makes the practice of the technique for both pistol and rifle interesting as a sport is that it takes someone like me (a person with modest native talent) a lot of work to see progress, but the progress one sees is a direct reward for the work put in.
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Old July 17, 2015, 03:00 PM   #18
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You can do what you want, but I don't see range time and hunt time being the same. I never put on heavy clothes and a pack to shoot at the range. I do go to the range when there is snow and ice, but am not overly dressed. The range I go to is flat. It is not like I am standing on a side hill with my back, leg, or hip against a tree so I won't fall back when I shoot at that deer that is almost straight up from me. I don't run around the range parking lot for a couple minutes to simulate cresting the top of a side hill and spotting a deer on a flat. When you go to the range, you are shooting on a range. I have to wonder how many guys that sit in tree stands practice at the range with them?
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