An old saying is that precision demands lubrication. This means lots of practice. I have taught quite a few shooters in offhand rifle shooting, and in the end, the dedication of the shooter means as much as the skill of the instructor. I have never experienced first hand the evils of great wealth, but I have enjoyed the satisfaction of a job well done and a student that in time surpassed the instructor’s ability.
In hunting and personal defense shooting, offhand fire is the most likely to be demanded by the occasion. In personal defense, you will be facing those that are neither active parishioners nor candidates for membership in the Knights of Columbus. You may find yourself boarding at the morgue if you do not get your hit and get it quickly.
I have witnessed astounding performance with the rifle. Mostly from military men, I have also seen serious hunters that have performed well in offhand fire. In bench rest accuracy, we have a standard for both the rifle and the shooter. A few shooters using a quality rifle and good ammunition reach a standard of a three-shot group in one to two inches at 100 yards. Some will shoot right up to the rifle’s capability.
At 100 yards, offhand, a good standard that is a perennial is to hit a paper plate three times in less than a minute off hand at 100 yards. When you achieve this goal you are a credible offhand shot. After firing small groups at the football-size range, this sounds easier than it is. The outflow of the shooters core competency is demanded. A well set up AR-15 with an ergonomic stock and good sights is among the easiest of rifles to use to achieve this goal. The .30-30 Winchester isn’t out of the running. The shooter must develop skill sets.
Control that trigger! When standing, offhand, no matter how good the support, you are more likely to pull the rifle off of the target due to a poor trigger break. This is where offhand dry fire practice will pay off. Hold the rifle firmly but do not invite muscle tremor. Hold the rifle so tight your muscles begin to tremble then back off and you will have your correct hold. It is simple but finding the perfect balance eludes many shooters.
Stand with the left side of the body bladed toward the target. Feet should be a shoulder’s width apart. Keep the rifle butt settled into the shoulder. The support arm should be bladed down and supported by your body. The elbow should be against the rib cage. Shooters with long arms may find the arm resting against the hip in good measure. A slight forward lean is good. The support hand should support the rifle.
When you advance to rapid fire, you will affect a different stance, for target shooting and a good beginning this stance will work. A bit of wobble is expected, there is nothing you can do. Execute the proper trigger press and breath control.
When first beginning this drill results will not be good unless you have invested considerable time in dry fire. Even so, offhand fire takes some time to master. The results are relative and will never equal bench rest scores, but they are useful and will provide game taking and life saving accuracy. A cornerstone technique for offhand fire is proper use of the rifle sling.
The sling is capable of welding the rifle and the shooter together. They sling keeps the shooting position rigid. The military sling is a basic design but features a loop, keepers, hooks or frogs and setting holes. All need a break in when new. For tactical use, I prefer a good sling from Blue Force or Blackhawk!
How to Use the Sling
Begin by moving the sling high on your arm. The triceps will support the sling and keep it in place. The sling should run from the center of arm and then around the back of the wrist and hand—without cutting into the wrist—picking up a pulse and becoming too tight. A half-inch clockwise twist in the sling end before attachment of the swivel will allow it to pass around the side of the wrist and back.
Maintain a straight and comfortable wrist position. It is important that the hand fit snug against the hand stop on the sling. With the AR-15 rifle the Specter Sling and the Blue Force Vickers sling are recommended. Practice, keep the sling tight, and practice more. You will find that even when firing quickly in tactical shooting, the sling is a credible asset.
What is your favorite rifle sling or sling story? Share it in the comment section.