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Old July 20, 2011, 11:33 AM   #1
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Rifle Off Hand Position Hints/Help needed

So, I am not a bad Off hand shooter, but I could do better. As i have been preparing for the CMP National RFS matchWhat is the proper technique relative to how hold the rife? I have been trying stand as relaxed a possible in a good nautral POA position, vs. pulling the rifle into my shoulder. It seems to me that a small amount of rearward force helps. Obviously, to much leads to muscle shake/spasm.

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Old July 20, 2011, 07:08 PM   #2
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I don't believe that there is a 'Proper' technique. I have seen many, many different stances and holds. Some looked downright awkward but the Highmasters who used them proved they were credible.
To the OP's question A balanced upright stance highlighting NPA, bone support, moderate shoulder pressure, repeatable head position and comfortable forward hand position is a starting place. Actual amount of pressure is a personal thing based on the shooters strength and stamina. Patience is the one thing most shooters don't have enough of. Patience to wait for the sight to settle. Patience to wait for the sight picture to appear. And the patience to apply the trigger control necessary to release a clean shot.
Keep shooting. It will come.
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Old July 21, 2011, 12:11 AM   #3
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Hello, carpfisher. Here is some advice from the old master himself...]
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Old July 21, 2011, 06:45 AM   #4
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Yea, I have already figured out there isn't a magic bullet out there. Thanks for the hints. My daughter has the body physics that let her get her elbow down on her hip. and that really helps her out. If I try that my head is way out of position so I stand tall and try to get as much support as I can with a tight position again the ribs.

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Old July 21, 2011, 08:55 AM   #5
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IT nice article, TKX!
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Old July 30, 2011, 12:31 AM   #6
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Have you tried dry fire? This helps a bunch. Do this for 20 minutes every day for 2 weeks and see what happens. Take a black tack and stand 15 feet away. The black tack will give you a sight picture that is about right for a 200 yard target. I also bury my elbow in my support side. A hard back helps too.

Hold your rifle like you mean it. Check your NPA. If you get too relaxed during dry fire the rifle will kick, not so much with a AR but a 30 can hurt. Practice calling your shots when dry firing. Do not have any ammo close by when dry firing.

I have found I shoot offhand better if I keep my elbow up for a wood gun and elbow down for a AR. Your milage my vary. Good luck.
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Old July 30, 2011, 01:29 AM   #7
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The Art of the Rifle, by Jeff Cooper was in the library last time I was in there. It is the book on positions. It explains offhand and standing supported, and all of them. It's worth a read.
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Old August 2, 2011, 11:01 AM   #8
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Yeah, I work on the dry fire, when i remember. I nned to get more disciplied about it. I'll try to tfind the book. Anything by Cooper is a good read.
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Old August 2, 2011, 04:37 PM   #9
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As you have experienced off hand shooting requires developed skills. As you suggest, there are many positions being used and most work when the basic fundamentals are followed. One of the most important fundamental it to position the rifle the same for each shot. Here's the method that I used when I shot on several Marine Corps rifle teams. Frist I would place my feet comfortably and shoulder my rifle with my eyes closed. If the rifle wasn't pointong at the target when I opened my eyes I moves my left foot in the direction need to gain a natural point. Repeat if necessary. You don't want to muscle target alignment. I placed my left hand vertically under the fore end without my elbow touching my body Next, I wore a padded shooting coat. I placed the rifle by turning it on its side and placing the toe of the butt stock against the shoulder pad and twisted the rifle verticle. This, after several weeks created a pocket that fits the rifle stocks toe. The same amount of rearward pressure and the same amount grip pressure is required for each shot. Sight alignment is critical so you must focus you eyes on the sights only. The target should blurr out. The sights will move in a figure 8 on it side. If the sights are aligned they can move the width of the bullseye and you will get a hit in the black. Remember, the sights move not the target and the bullet strike will be there after the shot. Next, the trigger must release without disturbing the sights. This skill is developed by snapping in against a blank, white wall.

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Last edited by Clifford L. Hughes; August 2, 2011 at 04:50 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old August 3, 2011, 09:21 AM   #10
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Probably the best off hand shooter in history, (at least he set the record in ISU Offhand shooting some time ago and it still hasn't been broker) is Gary Anderson, Olympic Medalist. He's still active in the CMP Jr Programs and instructs the CMP GSM Master Instructor Course.

Building the Position:

Feet natural comfortable width apart. Normally shoulder width.

Turn the body (line up the feet) 90 degrees from the target. This centers the rifle over the hip, (left hip for right handed shooter).

The support arm (elbow) rest on the side or hip. You want bone support, not muscle support.

Head straight, bring the rifle to the head (to line up the sights with the eyes, without bending the head or neck)

Support arm, wrist & hand varies to get the elevation needed to get a good natural point of aim. Meaning, you may have to extend the fingers to raise elevation, or go to the palm of the hand to lower the rifle. You can get slight elevation by moving the support hand back and forth on the bottom of the stock.

Windage for the Natural point of aim is obtained by shifting the feet where as you close your eyes, dry fire a shot, without moving open your eyes to see if the targets are lined up with the target (natural point of aim). In adjusting the feet, you can go a bit over 90 degrees but not less than 90 degrees.

Some people look like they are resting the rifle on the chest. If you can do that great. Be careful about weird arched back positions. You'll tire easily and you can't shoot if your lower back muscles are screaming in pain.
Hours of dry firing will build up those muscles.

The right or shooting elbow (if shooting right hand) hangs naturally.

Relax your body before shooting. Muscling the rifle won't make it steadier.

Don't overly grip the pistol stock with the shooting hand, the harder the grip the the harder to squeeze the trigger without disturbing the sights.

Follow through is critical. Most people try to muscle the rifle, holding it up and relaxing the instant the shot is fired. Instead, act as if you are shooting rapid fire and need to get back on target as soon as you shoot. This develops muscle memory that helps with follow through. Sub-concisely you are holding the rifle in the center of the target instead of wanting to drop the rifle.

As others said, dry firing is critical. But as you build your positron dry fire with your eyes shut, after the shot breaks open you eyes to see if you still have you natural point of aim, if not, adjust.

The sight movement in offhand is normally a figure sideways figure 8. Don't try to hold the X-10 ring, instead hold the black, even drifting into the white. Trying to hold an X ring will cause you to jerk the shot.

Relax, accept the hold you get, as you dry fire and practice that hold will naturally become small. As you start out, try shooting for "8"s, you'd be surprised how many hit the black. Again, with practice & dry firing the scores will improve if you stick to your rifle marksmanship fundamentals.

Call and plot your shots as you dry fire. Just like shooting, plot every call.
Be honest with your calls and plots. Cheating on your score/data book will not help you or your scores. You're not going to impress anyone by showing your data book with perfect calls and you're shooting 7 & 8s.

I recommend attending a CMP GSM or Rimfire Sporter Clinic to have the MI (Master Instructor) help you with your position which you can build on by lots of dry firing.

A hint on ammo. Offhand is normally shot at short ranges (200 yards or less). There is no need for hyper velocity wind bucking bullets. Load light to keep the recoil down. This will allow you to get a relaxed off hand position with out recoil causing un-do comfort or causing the rifle to jump out of your hold.

The main reason people (including my self) don't have good off hand scores is they are too lazy to put in the effort of getting a good position and dry firing. This is something you can do anywhere and it doesn't cost a penny.

Matches are won or lost on your hind legs, not on your belly. A good 2/3s of your practice should be in the off hand position.

I would highly recommend anyone wanting to improve their rifle shooting, including Off hand spend $6.95 for the AMU's International Rifle Marksmansip guilde from the CMP.
Kraig Stuart
USAMU Sniper School Oct '78
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Old August 3, 2011, 12:09 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Kraigwy
The support arm (elbow) rest on the side or hip. You want bone support, not muscle support.
What does one do if this is not possible?

My latissimus dorsi combine with my arm circumference to prohibit my elbow from touching my side. The result is a position that substantially rests on muscle, even if it isn't muscle effort what keeps it up. I can't be the only fellow with this problem.
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Old August 5, 2011, 09:23 AM   #12
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Matches are won or lost on your hind legs, not on your belly.
Very true.
Thanks for the info and link, kraigwy.
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Old August 6, 2011, 05:36 AM   #13
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Kraig: As always, a post worth reading. Thanks.

The result is a position that substantially rests on muscle, even if it isn't muscle effort what keeps it up. I can't be the only fellow with this problem.
If it isn't muscle effort that is supporting the gun, then you are OK.

Gary Anderson - a remarkable man - in addition to his achievements as a shooter, he was the editor for the English translation of A.A. Yur'yev's classic "Competitive Shooting". The sections on "the techniques of firing the shot" and "shooting techniques and tactics" are the heart of the book.
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