Offhand shooting done right: How to shoot accurately without support

This simple method will improve your shooting out of sight! (With video.)

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Offhand shooting techniques

The best way to shoot accurately offhand is not to, but if you have to, do it well. There are only a few main things you need to master if you’re going to shoot accurately from the standing, unsupported position.

It starts with not flinching. If you tend to flinch, there’s no point going further. Read this article, practice until you’ve got it right, then come back here. 

Next is trigger control. You need to be very good at the subconscious squeeze — as opposed to the instinctive jerk. Squeezing the trigger needs to be second nature to you. You can practice this on the range with live rounds or at home by dry firing (snap caps are recommended).

And make sure you’re using the meaty part of your trigger finger, not the joint. The feedback and control you get are much better.

Practice trigger release until the muscle memory kicks in and you’re never likely to jerk the trigger again. But at the same time, ensure your squeeze is fairly rapid, not drawn out. You’ll see why in a moment. 

Right now, though, forget the trigger. Grab your rifle and let’s get the stance right. 

Relax. Let yourself go loose. Now plant your feet evenly on the ground, feet about shoulder-width apart. Keep your body facing dead ahead.

Lift the rifle’s butt into your shoulder and support the fore-end with your left hand (lefties can use their right, and from now on when I say ‘left’ you go right, and vice versa). 

Your right elbow should be poking out at maybe 30 to 60 degrees — not way up high, not tucked into your chest. This allows the butt to sit neatly into your shoulder. 

Offhand shooting skills
The best position is to be relaxed, with your forearm bent about 90 degrees at the elbow and slightly offset, and your firing arm’s elbow poking out at a comfortable angle

Your left arm should be bent roughly 90 degrees at the elbow, which in turn should be slightly offset to the left of the rifle. The rifle should be horizontal. 

Your cheek should now be resting on the rifle’s comb, or very close to it. If you have to stretch your neck out or drop your head much, trying bringing the rifle up a bit higher in your shoulder, though not so high that the point of the butt is all that’s connecting with you. 

If you can’t get the rifle comfortably into position, it may be that it doesn’t fit you at all. That’s not a problem I can help you with at the moment!

If, however, you’ve got it all right and it’s comfortable, you’ll notice by now the rifle is getting heavy and wobbling all over the place. Yep, that’s what’s hard about shooting offhand. Put the gun down and have a break. 

When you take it up again, we’re going to combine our trigger control and our stance with a bit of breathing and some disciplined speed. We want to get the shot away quickly so that we’re not standing there with the rifle wobbling all over the countryside again.

Before you take up the rifle and aim, take a deep breath. Begin exhaling as you shoulder the rifle, look through the sights and you’ll see the rifle’s point of aim drops as you breathe out. We’ll use that movement to our advantage.

At first, aim high, let the sights come down as you exhale until they’re on the target. Stop breathing for a moment and squeeze the trigger. Yes, now. Don’t stuff around.

Touch off the shot the moment your sights are on target. This should happen while the rifle is still moving or has only just stopped on target, and it will happen before any wobbles or tremors set in.

If you miss your moment, you’ll have trouble getting back on target and holding it there. The longer you try to get the perfect shot, the wobblier you’re going to get. 

Practice this. You’ll never get it right first time. As you practice, you’ll also learn how to cheat sometimes by dragging the sights a bit left or right — sometimes even back up — in a smooth motion before the wobbles arrive. 

Your shooting will get better and better until you’re shooting offhand as well as you’re ever going to. 

There are other techniques you can use to improve your offhand shooting and they may be just as good as this one, if not better. What you’ve read here combines a few tips from different teachers into one system that’s quite effective. After many years of shooting without much thought behind it, I improved my offhand shooting out of sight by applying it.  

Offhand shots are the ideal option in several situations, including snap shots where you’ve got no time to do anything but aim and fire; on running targets, most of the time; and when you need to stand to see the target over obstacles. 

So you will need to do it sometimes.

But if you don’t need to, find a rest. Using a rest is a much better way to shoot. 

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5 COMMENTS

  1. the best way to shoot off hand is to practise, claiming it’s best just not to do it just to sell some shit made in china is fucking pathetic

    • Did you pay any attention at all? Did you even read the story or watch the video? I didn’t tell anyone “just not to do it” and I did say it requires practice. Where’s the sales pitch for anything, let alone for rubbish? The only product here is an American-made rifle that’s used as a prop. Comments like yours are pathetic, Nick.

  2. Buy a Springer Air rifle and practise at 25 yards and 50 yards offhand. Springer air rifles are notoriouly difficult to shoot accurately and if you can practise with one once a week, then shooting a centre fire off hand will be a snap.
    PS I’m not a bad shot but honestly a hunting shot on a deer over 100yards from the offhand position is pretty advanced in my opinion and I doubt many shooters are capable of that.

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