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Old July 8, 2014, 10:15 PM   #1
ckpj99
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What is Accurate/Precise Offhand Shooting?

So I've been working on my offhand (standing unsupported) shooting. I'm shooting a Marlin 336 with standard iron sights, no optics. I'm almost exclusively practicing at 50 yards as I just don't have regular access to a longer range.

Obviously, I'm comparing my current accuracy to how I have shot in the past. This is satisfying, but I'd really like to have some sort of standard to begin working for.

The old Civil War sharpshooters had to shoot 10 shots in a 10" circle at 200 yards (obviously, they had equipment limitations). I have no clue what current military qualifications for expert riflemen are, although I know speed and transitions are part of the test. There's a 50 meter international/Olympic rifle event, and the 10 ring for that event is .4 inches in diameter.

I haven't been striving for precise offhand rifle shooting for all that long, but considering my equipment, I think I'm doing pretty well. Where do I stand? Should I sell my rifles and take up knitting? Or should I sell my rifles and invest in an Anschutz?

Here was today's fun little challenge. This is a typical group, but not a typical target, lol.

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Old July 8, 2014, 11:36 PM   #2
big al hunter
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Quote:
Where do I stand? Should I sell my rifles and take up knitting? Or should I sell my rifles and invest in an Anschutz?
Depends....how does that rifle shoot off a bench? If it shoots groups half the size you are getting offhand keep practicing and save up for the Anschutz. If it makes tiny little clover leaves...yarn is cheaper than ammo.

On a more serious note when determining if my offhand is good enough to make me smile, I look at what the rifle produces off the bench. If my offhand group is double what the bench group is I am pretty happy, but I could do better with more practice.

Offhand will never be as stable as bench. Can you call the shot without looking? Are you learning and improving? Are you having fun, or getting frustrated? If your having fun and improving keep your rifle until your bench rested target and offhand target look the same. Then invest in better equipment.

If your not having fun, your doing it wrong.
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Old July 9, 2014, 07:59 AM   #3
kraigwy
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If you can keep your shots at 3 MOA, You'll win every offhand match out there.

I only heard of one clean high power offhand stage, and that was a Camp Perry a year or so ago and was posted in many of the shooting mags.

The X-10 ring of the NRA HP 200 yard target is 7 inches. 3.5 for the reduced target.

The black bull on this target is 4.5 MOA. (includes the 9 ring), if you keep them in the black you'll be at the top of the leader board.

Even holding the 8 ring will be respectable.
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Old July 9, 2014, 09:39 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kraigwy
The black bull on this target is 4.5 MOA. (includes the 9 ring), if you keep them in the black you'll be at the top of the leader board.
Yep - kinda what I understood - that 20 shots into 4-5 MOA is darned fine offhand shooting.

Your 336 isn't a match-grade rifle with target sights, nor are you using match-grade ammo or a shooting coat/glove, so in your case, I'd think the "darn fine" bar can be raised about an MOA, i.e. 20 shots into 3" at 50 yards. Realistically, if you can keep about 16 or 17 of 20 on the playing card, you're doing very well with that rifle, IMO.
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Old July 9, 2014, 10:11 AM   #5
Sure Shot Mc Gee
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So many shooters today rely on scopes, bipods, benched rest gear & tactical built rifles to enhance their limited abilities. I'm one of those that do too. When I see a fellow shooting open-sights free-handed. It pleases me. On occasion I've deliberately turned my spotting scope to observe just how well that fellow does. Be it 25-50 or further its no matter. A good shot is always worth watching. To shoot as good a group as you accurately at 50 yards with a common hunting rifle and done so with basic open sights. That sir no doubt would be a real challenge to this old duffer.

Quote:
but considering my equipment, I think I'm doing pretty well.
On that playing card if that's your typical. Your doing much better than allot of us could.
As far as Civil War Sharpshooters go. 150 years ago those fellows were the best of the best in their time. I'm actually more interested in who's the best of the best these days in our Armed Services. That's a fellow's hand I'd consider it a Honor to shake and yours also.
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Old July 9, 2014, 01:44 PM   #6
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Well, you all are very nice and encouraging. Thanks so much for the comments. Really, I think there's two things that have helped me improve. One, I've been shooting a lot with a springer air rifle, which is the most frustrating device ever created to sling lead, but it really makes you concentrate on your fundamentals. Secondly, the dimensions on the 366 fit me well.

About the military marksmen, I really think that precision, offhand open sight shooting isn't really something they do much of. The best Olympic shooters in the world would probably have trouble with marksmanship tests for the military without some serious practice. From what I understand, it's a 40 round test firing from a variety of different positions at randomly appearing targets from 25 to 300 meters outside in the wind. You have to get 37 or more hits to be considered an "expert." And you're working with an issued gun, and I think it's timed. It's really its own skill set.

The NRA matches sound really fun. ISSF matches could also be cool. I have no clue how to get involved with any of that. Maybe I need to do some research.

@big al - My 336 is pretty accurate. If the barrel is warmed up, but not too hot, I can almost cloverleaf off the bench at 50 yards. If you look at the very first target in this post, you can see how tight it can shoot under perfect conditions. http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=546520

One of the problems I keep running into is that my hearing protection interferes with my cheek weld. I hate plugs, so I always shoot with muffs. I wonder if there's a slightly smaller muff designed for rifle shooting.
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Old July 9, 2014, 02:00 PM   #7
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each branch has a different method. I can only speak for Navy qualifications.
at 25 yards you shoot a total of 40 rounds from prone, kneeling, and standing with slow and rapid fire portions and magazine dumps throughout.

the target is a standard 8x11" piece of paper with a 2" bullseye(5 points), with a 1 inch "4" ring and a border 1/2 inch from the surrounding edges(any shots inside the border are 3 points). out of total 200 points possible, an expert must score at least a 170, a sharpshooter 160-169, and to qualify you must score at least 140. these scores don't sound all that great but if all you do is place all your shots on the paper, you won't qualify as you'll lose 80 points, if all of your shots are in the 4 ring, you will still only get sharpshooter.

everybody's definition of good accuracy is different. personally? if you can put all those shots in a playing card at 50 yards off hand then you are a pretty good shot in my book. if you can do that prone at 100 yards, you are still a pretty good shot, if you can do that at 100 yards off hand every shot then you are a REALLY good shot in my book.
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Old July 9, 2014, 02:10 PM   #8
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I'd agree that you are doing much better than average.

From being on the ranges all over the country with some of the best shooters, including some of the top dogs from the AMU, internet feats of 1911s into 1" at 25 yards, and M4s into 1MOA at 100 yards are mostly outliers at best.

Offhand, holding an 8" paper plate for 5 shots with a hunting grade rifle at 100 yards is beyond the capabilities of most shooters. There are few people that can hold better than 3MOA offhand. Use a 1MOA rifle, you are going to average out at about 4MOA...which is going to put a person as one of the better shots around.
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Old July 9, 2014, 03:24 PM   #9
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Quote:
So many shooters today rely on scopes, bipods, benched rest gear & tactical built rifles to enhance their limited abilities.
You must be talking about me (LOL.)

ckpj99, you are doing very well, save the knitting for when you get old like me.

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Old July 9, 2014, 03:40 PM   #10
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The 50 meter International/Olympic rifle event is a .22 single shot timed match. Way different rifles than a lever action .30-30 too. And not the same course of fire.
Being able to hit a playing card at 50 yards isn't shabby, but the standard for hunting is a 9" pie plate, at 100, every time.
"...holding an 8" paper plate for 5 shots with a hunting grade rifle at 100 yards is beyond the capabilities of..." Is not. Problem is far too many once a year hunters don't practice. Or even shoot any time but just before opening day.
"...the best of the best in their time..." And they didn't use standard issue Springfields either.
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Old July 9, 2014, 03:47 PM   #11
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@ T. O'Heir, I agree with your more precise statement. Yes, it is lack of practice that prevents the performance.
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Old July 9, 2014, 04:19 PM   #12
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I generally only practice field positions. The only time I shoot from a bench is to sight in or to check a new ammo.

Quote:
If you can keep your shots at 3 MOA, You'll win every offhand match out there.
Definitely what Kraig said... 3MOA from offhand? I have never done it. But then again, I am not that good. I can shoot any of my hunting rifles (336 30-30, Wthrby 243) into a 5 inch circle at 50 yards, everytime all the time. Same with my AR-15. My best 3 shot group at 50 yards is probably 2 inch, but that was just once with the AR, so it was a fluke.

I feel comfortable shooting offhand at game out to 50 yards. Beyond that, I am going to take a knee, or sit, or use some kind of rest.
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Old July 9, 2014, 05:07 PM   #13
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I have done 3 MOA off hand but it was a fluke... completely saved my score from abysmal mediocrity. haven't done it since.
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Old July 9, 2014, 05:34 PM   #14
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I only sit at a bench when checking ammo performance or with a new rifle/optic to find out what it's capable of. Some are better than others, but all are better than I can hold off hand.

After that all of my shooting is from field positions, both off hand and hastily supported (top of a fence post, across a low limb, etc.)

Once you get confident in your ability, try running in place for 5 minutes first, then shoot. (Being winded is sometimes part of hunting for me).
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Old July 9, 2014, 05:40 PM   #15
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If you can keep 3 shots off hand on demand on a playing card at fifty yards with a lever action hunting rifle, you're far ahead of average. The average hunter couldn't do that off a bench.
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Old July 9, 2014, 05:49 PM   #16
ckpj99
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I need to take the gun out to 100 yards. One of the issues I've run into is that my gun is heat sensitive. I shoot more than 4 or 5 rounds in a row, the groups really open up, even off the bench. This really isn't surprising as the 336 wasn't designed for sustained fire.

On a sidenote, there's a episode of the Walking Dead where a there's sort of a hostage situation. The bad guy is standing behind his kneeling prisoner. A younger guy has a lever gun and wants to take out the bad guy, but an older guy stops him and says "at 50 yards, no way, you might hit our friend" or something like that. I laughed. Anything bigger than crow is mine within 50 yards with that 336. I just love that gun.
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Old July 9, 2014, 10:25 PM   #17
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My favorite target for rifle shooting is a standard clay target, which is 110 mm in diameter (about 4.25 inch). I shoot them offhand at 50 yards, and kneeling/sitting at 100 yards. I like them because they are cheap reactive targets.

One problem with clay birds is that 5.56 sometimes just drills a hole through them without busting them... especially if I buy expensive high quality clay birds. Tournament birds are designed to be tough, and for rifle practice, you generally want cheapo birds that come apart easily.
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Old July 9, 2014, 10:51 PM   #18
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3MOA offhand should put a huge smile on any shooter's face.
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Old July 10, 2014, 09:53 AM   #19
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Try a Clayoreo...

We were the first to use them in a match and they are starting to catch on. Two Clays with sand in the middle wrapped with a rubber band. We have some holders that hold three. You can use the el-cheapo clays and the sand/dirt is reusuable.

When you can break them 1 for 1, start buying minis.
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Old July 11, 2014, 10:02 AM   #20
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Since the NRA high power short range (200 & 300 yards) target ten ring was set to 7 inches in 1966, several folks have put 10 or 20 shots into it from standing at 200 yards. Their rifles and ammo would shoot no worse than 1 inch at 200. All with M1, M14, M16 (& variants) and bolt action rifles shooting one shot every 40 to 55 seconds.

That's been done a few hundred times. I've seen it happen several times.
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Old July 11, 2014, 12:07 PM   #21
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Quote:
About the military marksmen, I really think that precision, offhand open sight shooting isn't really something they do much of. The best Olympic shooters in the world would probably have trouble with marksmanship tests for the military without some serious practice. From what I understand, it's a 40 round test firing from a variety of different positions at randomly appearing targets from 25 to 300 meters outside in the wind.
Don't bet on it. I've taken Collage International Small bore shooters to the High Power Range and the 40 shot pop up range, letting them fire the course of fire with (then) M14s on the HP range and M16s on the qualification range. These kids smoke the average military shooter big time, and do quite well off hand.

When I ran the AK NG Marksmanship I always got these kids out hopping to recruit for the Guard and My Rifle team.

ISU shooters shoot 300 meters, where the target scoring rings are much smaller requiring precise wind est. The shot three position, Standing, Prone and Knelling. They have zero problems adjusting to the field conditions used in the Qualification Course.

Granted, some of the smaller kids had difficulty with the recoil of the M14, but that went out the window when people started using ARs in High Power.

When it comes to pure fundamentals its hard to beat International Shooting.
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Old July 11, 2014, 12:46 PM   #22
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Off hand target practice is the best way to target shoot. I hate using rests. Off hand I shoot at a revolving steel target, I think it's 6 inches. With my .45 Colt rifle, without a scope, I shoot at it at around 75 yards. At 100 the sights start covering up too much and it's a bit of a guessing game. I haven't went to the range in awhile but I'm wanting to get better. I took the gun deer hunting 2 years ago, I missed by a couple of inches grazing a tree. If I had been to the left another inch I would've got a decent chest shot. It was around a 150 yard shot. I also have a .45-70 rifle, without a scope, I'm wanting to get better with. I'm not comfortable with more than a 100 yard shot at the moment. If I hand loaded, I would use a ret for testing, but as of this moment I only use a rest to sight in my scopes. But in my mind target shooting should simulate the real thing, much more fun off hand. There's a 200 yard range locally but it's always full every time I've tried going to that one. I'd like to try 10 inch at 200 yards with no scope.
I second using clays for rifle targets. I use my own for shotguns but when I find some on unbroken on the range I'll shoot them with my rifle. When I was a kid I shot one with a .22 at 100 yards with no scope first try. It was pure luck but I'll never forget it.
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Old July 12, 2014, 09:38 PM   #23
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What is Accurate/Precise Offhand Shooting

Many years ago I read an article that stated if one can keep his shots on a 9" paper plate at 100 yards off hand only, he/she was a very good shot! That was over 20 years ago with a different type of accuracy in rifles/bullets/optics, etc. Try it sometime.
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Old July 14, 2014, 12:01 AM   #24
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A really good offhand marksman can sight in a rifle with one shot; assuming an accurate rifle and ammo, naturally. And that bullet hole can be anywhere on the target. So could the call for it.
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Old July 16, 2014, 11:56 PM   #25
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I don't know what the USMC currently uses for it's qual course (two methods that I know of over the years), but the one I'm most familiar with has an able target with a 12" bullseye that you try to hit standing at 200 yards. You get 5 shots standing, 5 kneeling, and 5 sitting. Most everyone hits all 5 sitting, most if not all kneeling, but standing is hit and miss. Hitting that 12" target at 200 yards is no joke. I went 5 of 5 one time, but still missed company high shooter. Then the last time I qualified, I was the company high shooter with a 239 and I only hit 3 of them (one miss in the three ring). I dropped a few points there, a few points at the 200 and 300 kneeling (kneeling was never my strong suit and that 12" able target gets small at 300), and one at the 500 from wind. Not all Marines are crack shots, but a Marine infantry company usually is a pretty decent concentration of competent shooters just because of the sheer number of training rounds fired through the course of a year. Not very many could hit a 12" bull 5 of 5 times at 200 yards. That would be my standard of very good off-hand shooting.
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