According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, approximately 38 million Americans hunt or fish every year, and if you are reading this, then you are probably not one those people. Hunting is a sport that people have done throughout time, and that tradition continues today with families of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, and ages. Practicing various shooting positions at the range will make you a better marksman in the field.
The next time you’re at the range, I advise you to spend less time at the bench. You should spend more time practicing those shots that will pay out in the field. There are far too many hunters content to sight-in their rifles from the bench. All they do is punch some rounds and call it a day. Most of them don’t realize that they may be forced to shoot from various positions while on the field. Most probably they won’t manage to hit the target from a position they have never practiced.
Now don’t get me wrong, it is important to sight-in your rifle from a bench rest. It actually provides a baseline for how well you can expect your rifle to shoot. If you place your rifle on a solid rest and your trigger finger is true, you should have a pretty good indication of how accurate your rifle is. However, your goal is to replicate as best as you can those control groups from various shooting positions at various ranges.
Only when you can consistently place your shots within the kill zones from those “uncomfortable shooting positions” at the range, you are ready to try them in the field.
Things to consider before trying various shooting positions
While hunting, you should always use a shooting aid if you’re used with one. Shooting sticks, a backpack or a tree or stump can help you stabilize your rifle. However, you will not always have time to find the perfect shooting rest and you will be forced to act quickly if you want to bag something. Think about this the next time you’re in the field and you will understand why it’s important to master various shooting positions, with or without a rest.
Before learning about the basics of shooting positions and practicing them at the range, you should establish your limitations. This can only be done at the range and it requires a lot of practice. If you have a hard time keeping your groups on paper shooting off-hand at 100, yards, then it’s no point trying on the field. If you have to move closer to the target, to 50 yards, to get all your shots in the kill zone you know what your maximum hunting range is from that position.
Related reading: Ten Survival Hunting Essentials
The same goes for shooting positions such as sitting, kneeling and prone. You should establish your maximum hunting range for all of them.
Another thing to keep in mind is the distance from the ground. The closer you are to the ground, the more stable your position will be. In my case, I’ve noticed that shooting prone is my best option, of course, if the visibility allows it. Sitting, kneeling and standing are the following positions.
The basics for standard shooting positions
Lie on your stomach with your body slightly to the left of the line of aim. Your body should be straight and legs should be in a relaxed, spread position. Both elbows should be bent and your shoulders curved slightly forward. This will help you form a solid upper body position. Your body and arms will properly support the rifle.
Try to position your body about 30 degrees to the right of the line of aim. Place the left elbow near but not on the bony part of the left knee. Tuck your elbows as far under the rifle as possible. Place the right elbow on or near the right knee. Your elbows should form two triangles to firmly support the rifle.
Line up at a 45-degree angle to the target and lower your body, so the right knee touches the ground. Place your left foot forward. Sit on the heel or the side of the right foot and place the left elbow near, but not on the bony part of the left knee, as far under the rifle as you can.
Turn your body 45 to 90 degrees to the right of the target with your feet shoulder-width apart. Support the rifle with your left arm, holding it against your body for extra support. Hold the rifle firmly against your shoulder with the right hand.
Many people wish to own a hunting rifle and if you are one of those, then you must bring home a good quality rifle. Given that there are plenty of options in the market, you must choose the right kind suiting your personality and catering to your other needs. However, a good rifle won’t help you much if you don’t learn to use it properly. Trying various shooting positions will make sure you won’t be coming home empty-handed.
Above mentioned is a clear description of the basic shooting positions that you need to know, allowing you to get a better understanding of the shooting positions so that you can become a better marksman on the field.