One of the requests I’ve gotten lately is to write a bit about the shooting techniques I employ when in the field hunting. I’m going to do so, but preface it with a disclaimer: I am not a target shooter, outside of a brief stint in the army national guard I haven’t had formal training, and I’m sure that over 40 years of shooting and hunting I’ve developed some bad habits along the way. I’m a good, but not a great marksman. But what I will tell you about is what works for me, and I will say that I am a good hunter and I have found what works well for me. I’m going to start this out with what I believe is the most difficult skill for an airgun hunter to develop, which is making the standing shot. I believe this is much more difficult for airgunning than when a firearm is used, by virtue of the fact that airgun hunting requires a much more precise shot placement. I say this because after many years of hunting with both firearms and airguns, I know that I have and still do take standing offhand shots with my 30-06 that I wouldn’t think of with my DAQ .457, because a less than perfect shot with the centerfire is still going to drop the animal in most cases while it might be a lost animal with the airgun. It’s the same when bow hunting, you have to adapt the technique to the method.
I find that when I’m in the field hunting, a high percentage of my shots are taken while standing or kneeling. I would generally prefer to shoot while sitting or from a prone position, but for many reasons this is often not possible. Often when in the brush, you need to get some height to see over grass, brush, or rocks to see your quarry.
Depending on where and the type of hunting you do, it is safe to say a majority of shots taken will be from the standing offhand position, or a standing braced position. This is especially true when big game hunting on the ground. Standing offhand is not the most stable of stances, and can only be held for a few seconds. Try to get onto flat ground (not always possible) and take a couple of quick breaths and blow out a half breathe, then hold and squeeze off your shot. I pull in my lead arm with my elbow pulled in tight to my ribs, with my palm up and the guns forestock laid in my hand and held loosely. The great thing about the standing position is that it can be assumed quickly and the hunter can cover a large area. It is often the only position which allows a clear shooting lane through grass and brush.
Place your feet about 90 degrees to your target, then raise the rifle butt into your right shoulder and place your chin down on the cheek piece of the rifle to lock everything solid. Make sure that you use a consistent hold and cheek placement, and to this end I find guns that have an adjustable cheekpiece very helpful. Sight your target through the center of the scope, place your finger on the trigger and the rest of the trigger hand can be wrapped around the pistol grip of the weapon. Make sure the eye is not too close to the rear lens of the scope or you could get whacked in the head when the rifle recoils. When shhoting from an offhand standing position I’ll use any convenient objects such as leaning against a tree trunk or a fence post to help steady myself.
I have gotten into the habit of carrying shooting sticks with me, especially when hunting in the high desert where it can be difficult to find something to use as a rest, and when I hunt Africa I’d say that 90% of the shots taken are off a tripod while standing. My technique when using sticks off a standing position is to grasp the stick while resting the guns forestock between thumb and fore finger, then leaning my weight into the sticks. This helps me lock up in a fairly stable position.
So there’s a quick look at my approach to standing shoots. I’ll mix some of the other positions into upcoming posts.
Unfortunately this weekend was a waste shooting wise, I’ve come down with a killer flu…… got the shots but then went running off to other countries with their own unique viruses lying in wait!! I did get caught up on some writing however, so it wasn’t a complete write off. I straightened out my trophy/gun/writing room and rotated the guns in my display case. The six rifles that made the display cut are the Daystate Wolverine Type A, Type B, Huntsman Classic, AirArms s510, The Beeman Falcon R-9, and Quackenbush .452. These guns represent what I like most in my rifles, all are accurate and great field performers, but moreover have some styling element and a level of workmanship that resonates with me. I’ll catch up with some more videos, web and blog posting, etc later in the week when I’m feeling a bit better. Until then have fun shooting!