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Shooting positions: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

This one was requested by the CF-X guy, but it applies to all of us. I could draw fancy diagrams and discuss pressure points and fulcrums ad infinitum, but there are already many books on the subject that do it better. Besides – it doesn’t work! What I’m saying is that there is no “standard” shooting position that is worth the time to listen to, if you intend to “learn” the position. There are a great number of good tips, however.

Tip 1: In the offhand position, placement of the feet is important!
I learned this when I was a baseball pitcher. It’s called control. If you have a practiced pitch motion with good follow-through, how you place your feet determines where the ball goes. I could keep the ball within 12 inches side-to-side at the plate just by how and where I placed my feet. Unfortunately, my 70 mph fastball meant that I was supposed to be a teacher.

Foot placement also works for rifles, shotguns and handguns. It doesn’t matter if you hold your pistol with two hands or rest the forearm of your rifle stock on your knuckles. What you do is get into your firing stance with your eyes closed, take aim and open your eyes. The orientation of your sights tells you how you have to move your feet. Keep adjusting until you are on target – then stop moving your feet!

Tip 1.a: Fine-tuning your feet
You can move just one foot at a time by rotating it left or right a few inches, with the heel remaining in place (or the ball of the foot). This makes small adjustments in your orientation, and it tensions or relaxes your legs at the same time. I shoot competitive 10-meter air pistol, and I like to have both legs under some tension. After I find my position, I fine-tune my feet this way.

Tip 2: Prone position
When I shot competitive 3-position rifle in college, I learned something about the prone position. The first thing is that the placement of your legs determines where you aim (the legs, again!). I had an anal coach who insisted that a shooter’s feet had to lie flat on their sides in the prone position. That didn’t work for me (he actually stood on my foot and couldn’t force it to flatten!), but he did teach me something else that was important. You know how young people sometimes jiggle their legs nervously? Well, I learned that the same movement gets transmitted to the muzzle of the gun, and you’ll never hit anything with your feet flopping around. So, get those legs into a position where the feet can’t flop.

The other tip in prone is to get the forearm of your supporting hand directly under the rifle, so you feel no weight from the rifle. Your forearm acts like a monopod. This relieves all the stress in your supporting arm muscles. Move your elbow from side to side to accomplish this.

I have more tips like this, but I’d like to know that you want them. As I said, there are whole books on shooting positions, so I am going to take a different tack in addressing the issue.

24 thoughts on “Shooting positions: Part 1”

  1. The book Ways of the Rifle is IMHO one of the best sources for positioning. It is “anal” about the whole process and very repetitive when you go into additional positions but well worth reading if you want to shoot well.

    Other than how to build a position, the most important thing I got from the book is to a) get into position and aim, b) close your eyes for a few seconds, c) if your point of aim has shifted, move the position, do not just force the aim back to the target, d) repeat until the POA does not shift.

    You want your body as relaxed as possible when shooting and using muscles to do the aiming is going to cause tremors — as far as possible, move your feet, body, etc. to adjust the point of aim so that your body is relaxed.

    It does not cover field-target sitting and pistol positions, but the general process is applicable to all positions.

  2. I agree,, keep it up.. Another question.. How does a person start a new subject with your Blog? I was just passed down a Healthways Plainsman co2 BB pistol, 9401 SN 0272703. Uses the stubby co2 cartridge. Did not come with a manual and would like to have a copy if someone has one. Scanned and emailed would be fine. Do you have any information on this pistol? Thank You,, F Nash

  3. F Nash,

    I have shot the Plainsman BB pistol a lot and I have seen a great many of them, but I’ve never owned one. Are you aware that there is a special CO2 grip cap that permits the use of the longer 12-gram Crosman powerlets, too? That was a modification late in the life of the gun.

    They seem to sell for $25 to 35, at airgun shows, depending on condition and whether they are in the box. I saw one at a gun show last Saturday in excellent condition for $25.

    For documentation, go to this website and ask on some of the forums.


    This is a blog, not a forum, so we don’t start topics here like they do on forums. However, I do listen to the things people ask and I try to accomodate them to the extent possible. Readers like yourself are always welcome to write lengthy comments that are their impressions of some topic, too.


  4. BB,

    I want to learn more about the new Evanix AR6 PCP rifle Pyramyd sells. Sounds really cool, semi-auto, single action high power, double action medium power. Do you know anything about this rifle? Thanks!


  5. I was talking to them today and it’s not available for another 2 weeks. They said it’s good but it’s online yet (at least I could not find it)…

  6. Howdy, B.B.
    By all means, please keep the tips acommin’. It would take several life times for me to acquire your knowledge.
    off topic, but I just bought a pyramid .22 cal legacy 1000 on your
    recommendation. great gun but as is often the case, I find it way too heavy. you see, I am a one handed shooter, non dominant hand to boot. do you think that it would be possible to lighten the forearm of the stock with large relief cuts? what else, if anything, could be done to significantly lighten the load?

  7. cold shooter,

    I think you could shave to exterior of the wood and do a relief cut in the butt, but I wouldn’t put holes in the forearm. A breakbarrel forearm is already pretty fragile. Thin it but don’t cut holes in it.

    You know, a Talon SS would be the perfect airgun for you.


  8. Dear BB,
    Would you be so kind to answer some question for me?
    Is it the latest model of AR6 that PYRAMYDAIR is now selling?
    What is the maximum energy that delivers?
    What is the exact date when the model of AR6, that PYRAMYD air is selling, was rereleased?
    How come there are diferences betwin the AR6 that PYRAMYDAIR is selling and the one that is displayed on the EVANIX official site http://www.evanix.com/ehmar.htm ?
    Respectfully, Alex

    PS: I realy love this airgun but I want to buy the best and latest model there is on the market.

  9. I am learning on a Crosman 760 & a Chinese B3 pellet rifles. I just want to get my shooting in a loose group to start. The guns I am using are all over the place with Crosman flat nosed .177 pellets. I have no idea where to start sighting in my Tasco on the B3. Its all over the place. The Crosman using iron sights is off by an inch up to the left. I have no idea how to adjust. Could you give me some links to follow? I really prefer videos as I have trouble putting words to actions. I am visual.

    • NewbiePelletHunter,

      Fortunately there is Youtube. 😎

      This should get you started: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnoQeNhXRGE

      Start using the iron sights built into the B3 to see if it groups before mounting the Tasco.

      Don’t be afraid of being off topic when posing your question. It happens anyway and is tolerated. Only a few readers can see your question here as opposed to the thousands on the current blog.

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