These are my thoughts on how or what I used to do in-order to get better at standing shooting, I was always told the guy to beat was Ian Taylor on silhouettes and this is the training I went through in order to win the silhouettes at the NEFTA classic, (I think I top scored the silhouettes 8 or 9 times from around 13 or 14 entries, mostly shooting a different gun set-up on the weekend of the competition).
If you chose to follow any of these items you do so at your own risk.
Standing Training (a lot of this can be used to aid shooting from any position)
This is a difficult one as we all use rifles for a multitude of different applications, also it is difficult to see what is wrong with your own set-up, so if you are having a problem get someone to watch you and get them to pay particular attention to :
i. Fit of stock, butt plate should be snug in the shoulder not too tight. 10 m shooters tend to have the butt plate tight into the shoulder and the trigger hand tight on the grip with the arm, that the rifle is mounted in, extended out horizontally. My take is the opposite of this as I prefer to reduce any possible influence on sideways movement to a minimum.
ii. Cheek piece, assuming adjustable, allow for a head up position. Same for scope, may need to fit scope risers. Top of cheek piece should fit snug under cheek bone. If the cheek is not snug onto the cheek piece the rifle will not be fully supported – you will feel a side to side movement, also see this through scope and the rifle will feel rather front heavy.
iii. Fore-end needs to be deep enough to allow the elbow of the forward arms elbow to sit neatly into hip and the leading hand to allow the rifle to sit on it rather than forcing a grip. If using a hunter type stock you will have to lift the forward arm higher up the body, again try to keep the upper arm as flat to the body as possible – Alternatively adopt the sporting stance with the forward arm floating in mid air (not recommended).
iv. Be aware the fore end can be too deep, if the rifle is held off of the palm of the leading hand this usually means the fore end is too deep. Also if the leading hand is not almost vertical again this points to the fore end being too deep for the standing position.
v. Triggers are a very personal thing but it needs to be set so it breaks, just as the front pad of the finger starts to curl – if it is too far back you are putting pressure into the hand and it will push over / force rifle canting. Too far forward and you will end up putting strain onto the hand doing the pulling this could lead to premature shot release. The first stage can be as long as you want as long as it comes to a distinct stop point, just as the finger is in a straight position and then any further pressure releases the shot.
vi. Set the trigger so it is like breaking glass. The first stage can be as long, short or heavy as you want but it needs to come back to a definite stop, any additional pressure should then release the shot. Any creep in this area will lead to accuracy problems – creep basically is movement of the trigger blade, after you have reached the initial stop, prior to shot release.
vii. I don’t set a trigger stop on my trigger, preferring to pull through the shot. Reading on the net quite a few people set a stop close to the shot release point – I tried this but it didn’t work for me, it may for you though.
viii. Blade position, set it as straight as possible, any angling of the blade usually means something else doesn’t fit right, so either alter the stock around the trigger hand area or risk causing wobble from snatching the trigger.
ix. Blade design, subjective, I prefer a design as per the Daystate CRX, slight curve (not too much that as you pull the trigger back it lifts your trigger finger) with the front edge of the blade quite fine providing plenty of information as you pull the trigger. Try as many designs as possible, but pick one that provides a reasonable amount of feedback as to where you are in the trigger pulling process.
x. If you can’t set the trigger up yourself then get someone who knows what they are doing to do it for you. If you can, use a set of gauges to ensure the trigger breaks with the same pressure each time. The trigger is the most important piece of equipment on the rifle and a poor set-up can have serious implications not only on the accuracy but also the velocity of your rifle!
xi. The best way to improve trigger technique and follow through is to use a spring gun during practice.
xii. Try to set the gun up so that it feels as natural as it possibly can be, the least amount of pressure you can feel on any part of your body the better.
xiii. Balance of the rifle, add weight to the front / rear so the rifle sits comfortably but slightly nose heavy. Weight needs to be kept low down in the rifle!
xiv. Don’t fit a light weight sledge to the rifle under the fore-end as it will just cause / induce sideways wobble. The rifle will just act as an upside down pendulum.
xv. Butt Hooks - personal preference. I don’t use one, although I have tried the majority of commercially available ones. As long as they don’t interfere with your stance / posture during the shot then give one a go. Best advice here is to try one to see if it works for you, also get one that will allow adjustment on the fly as you are going round the course.
xvi. Slings, A sling can be used in the over the head position thus allowing your neck and back to take the majority of the weight of the rifle (not allowed on silhouettes). I have tried it and didn’t like it as I found it rather restrictive on my movements, but as mentioned earlier try it as it may work for you.
xvii. Shooting / 10m jackets. These are superb as they stiffen/support the upper body whilst holding the rifle. My reservations / reasons for not having one are the fact we shoot over rough terrain, the ground is all uneven – if our lower body is being forced into a none natural, none level position our upper bodies are doing the same, however, the jacket is trying to hold us in a position more suited to having level ground – hence our body is fighting against the none level position and also the jacket that is trying to force us into a level position. Difficult to explain in words but hope you understand.
xviii. When zeroing the gun, do it from one of the positions you are going to be shooting from. Set the rifle up in your most steady position when zeroing. Don’t use benches to set up as it is a position you are never unlikely to use.
xix. Its better to have a rifle set up / fitted / balanced for standing than if you have a rifle set-up for sitting – this might sound weird when the majority of targets are taken sat or prone. If a rifle is set up for sitting you will always be shooting your worse discipline with a rifle that doesn’t feel right, unfortunately in this case 2 negatives don’t make a positive.
There are only two types of wobble.
i. Up Down – this is good as it just means you are alive.
ii. Left Right – this is 99.99% of the time caused by being in the wrong position. The main cause will be that your shoulders are not in alignment with your hips or that you are dipping your leading shoulder and raising your rear shoulder too much causing the strongest muscles in your body to fight against one another.
People talk of the figure of eight wobble, but this is just a combination of the 2 different types of wobble. There is no such thing as uncontrollable wobble, as you look through the scope it may seem a blur but it will follow a pattern outlined above, the key to controlling the wobble is to understand what is happening. Altering the weapon set-up can have a big impact on reducing wobble.
Control / concentrate the wobble - The more experienced you become the more you should be able to hold the rifle in the bounds of the target you want to hit. As will be mentioned in the technique section try to hold / control the wobble in the largest area of the target. By control the wobble I do not mean try to force the rifle to be in a set position, far better to establish your pattern of wobble and work with it on the target face.
Concentrate on where you want the shot to be released, rather than chase cross hairs, this is not necessarily the centre of the target! Very rarely will we be aiming for the dead centre of a target. If there is no wind pick an area within the kill to hit, just don’t pick the entire kill as a place to concentrate on.
Magnification can help. People often will say they wobble more on higher magnification, well yes to a certain degree you do appear to wobble more, however, in reality the wobble is the same no matter what magnification. Magnification can help concentrate the mind more, thus if you work with it rather than against it, you will benefit. The more magnification the more it allows you to control the wobble into the largest portion of the target you are trying to hit.
Try to maintain a reasonably normal breathing routine, don’t think about this too much as you will then be concentrating on breathing control rather than controlling the shot. More often than not people either forget to breathe, fearing if they do they will move themselves off aim. Far better to take a controlled shot than rush it due to suffocation.
For breathing I tend to draw in a few large deep breaths but at a slightly slower rate to my normal breathing pattern. During the target addressing stage and prior to the shot I take normal breaths at a slower rate then just exhale and hold half a breath to take the actual shot.
There is a whole raft of information regarding breathing techniques on the net. Google it.
Remember don’t forget to breathe.
Look for the best foot positions for both shots before you get into a lane.
If it’s uncomfortable or you feel uneasy move, don’t just accept it.
Try to find a position where your feet are flat to the floor and where it allows your weight to be slightly forward.
Don’t worry about being able to get both targets from one position, be prepared to move between shots. If you try to get both shots from one position, unless they are perfectly in line, you will twist your hips out of line with your shoulders.
Front Foot 90 degrees or as near to 90 degrees to the target. You want to be in such a position that when you have the rifle in the correct shooting position, when you look through the sight you are roughly on the target you are wanting to hit.
Don’t be afraid to:
i. Try an unorthodox position – if you look around you will see people using all manner of different positions – try them see if they work. If they do great if they don’t you haven’t really lost anything.
ii. Do something different from what you have been told. I am by no means an expert so if I tell you something and it doesn’t work for you feel free to modify it.
iii. Walk the course, looking for the best positions.
Be confident, if you approach something with failure in mind all you will achieve is failure.
Poise / Stance, assuming 4 has been followed.
Clothing, don’t wear nylon type fabrics; wear something that grips a little – no not Velcro! Decent pair of boots with good ankle support.
Try to keep the front leg straight and stiff.
Stick the leading hip out.
Push the leading arms elbow into the hip joint, not too much don’t want to damage a kidney.
Let the Bones in your leading arm and leg take the weight of the rifle, if you use muscles in either after a couple of shots your heart rate will be so rapid you’ll miss the shot anyway.
The hand supporting the rifle should be as flat as possible and in such a position that it supports the rifle along its length. Rear hand should be as loose / relaxed as possible.
If after getting in position you are nowhere near the target, lower the rifle adjust your foot position so that when you raise the rifle into your normal position you are close, ideally on the target.
For practice: address a target as usual, then close your eyes raise the rifle, when comfortable/confident you are on the target open your eyes. Repeat this until you can raise the rifle get onto aimpoint and when opening your eyes you are close if not on the target. Note only do this when there is someone to watch over you.
Using a glove, if you want to use one use one if you don’t, don’t. Personally I don’t as I feel the target gloves contort the hand into an unnatural position.
Don’t panic on the shot, far better to lower the rifle and retake the shot.
Don’t hold your breath or exhale completely, try to hold half a breath.
Try to get the shoulders in as level a position as possible, also in line with the hips – don’t look at my position whilst shooting standers.
There are a number of different stances:
1. leading arm forward
2. body tends to be less at an angle to the target
1. As above
1. Front leg 90 degrees to the target
2. Shoulders in line with hips
3. Shoulders flat across the top.
What you are trying to do with the standing position is make as many triangles with your body in as many different directions as possible.
i. Do 4 and 5 above
ii. Keep breathing
iii. Set scope up ready for the range
iv. Cock rifle
v. Come in from the left try to hold the crosshairs in the largest part of the target, different targets have a different shape!
vi. Take up the first stage, release half a breath and take the shot.
vii. After the shot has been taken continue to look through the scope until the target is down or the target is missed.
viii. Repeat ii, iv, v, vi and vii until you miss a target
ix. If a target is missed, repeat i, ii, iii and iv. When you come in from the left count the targets standing to ensure you are on the correct one, do vi and vii. Reason for repeating i, ii, iii is to make it feel like a new target, try to blank out that you have missed a target.
i. Do same as silhouette shooting, but pay more attention to 1 and 2
A good way of checking technique is to fit a laser to your rifle and get your mate to watch what the dot does as you shoot a set of targets, go through the items you see on this page and see where things are going wrong. Alternatively, if you are on your own, use a video camera. With practice you should easily be able to hold the laser so it touches a 40mm disk at 55yards, during the period of the shot.
Difficult one to explain and could also conceivably be the largest section on this page, but I will keep it short.
After the shot has fired hold the rifle in the same position, try to see the shot hit the target, don’t be too concerned if it is a hit or a miss. Assess what has happened in the shot. Finally lower the rifle and prepare for the next shot.
Try to establish a routine in what you do. You may be thinking well I always do the same thing for every shot but very few people do. What you are trying to achieve is consistency. Consistency will only happen if you do the same procedure each and every shot. If something happens and puts you out of your routine, stop and start again.
10 yards, 40mm reset disk or FT targets set of 5.
10 yards, 40mm reset disk or FT targets set of 10.
Repeat for every 2 ½ yards out to a desired distance, if you fail any one distance, repeat, or for constant failure bring range in a yard and start back at 5 shots.
For silhouettes; practice how you’ll shoot them in competition. E.G. if you’re practicing for the NEFTA classic get someone to time you as you shoot them, taking the relevant rest times, etc. For general silhouette practice concentrate on the first set until you can regularly get 5 ex 5, then build up to 10 until you can achieve 10 ex 10 on a regular basis. The next stage is to do 10 chickens and 5 pigs until you achieve 15ex 15 on a regular basis. Repeat this procedure moving through all of the banks, until you can achieve the high 30s ex 40 – see I will allow a little leniency. Don’t overdo the silhouette practice though!
Remember don’t cheat at this stage as you only end up cheating yourself.
Don’t just practice on the silhouette range, practice FT targets 25 mm and 40 mm as well. You’ll find if you practice just on the silhouettes you will struggle on the FT targets and vice versa.
To practice follow through, get yourself a swinging reset FT target, the ones where when you hit the kill the paddle swings back and comes back up. Practice hitting the kill and watching the paddle swing backwards and then coming back up to the normal position then lower the rifle.
Remember over practice can be as bad as no practice at all. Standing shooting is a lot about stamina so don’t just turn up and throw yourself in doing hours upon hours of practice, build up to it.
Try the 7 second rule, address the target as per normal then raise the rifle and try to take the shot in 7 seconds, if you cannot take the shot in 7 seconds drop the rifle, compose yourself and readdress the target.
When not shooting work on activites that help build up stamina, light repetitive weight training – use a 5lb weight, stand as if addressing targets and lift to a 90 degree angle, then hold the weight there for 7 seconds, repeat 10 times. Repeat but this time make a horizontal figure 8 movement. Repeat and make a vertical figure 8 movement. Repeat for other arm. If light weight training isn’t your thing go swimming.
If you can, record how well you are doing over a 3 month period, both in practice and on courses. A course Diary, noting bad points and good ones.
If you can’t get to the range practice the addressing of targets and stance / positioning every chance you get.
5mins practice is better than no practice.
What we are working towards is finding your natural position, use the above to give you ideas on what you can do also what you are trying to see whilst taking a standing shot. If something doesn’t work for you adapt it a little to more suit you. Once you have found your natural position your confidence will grow.
All the above cannot turn you into an amazing standing shot, believe me you will not be the next “Ian Taylor” or “Sam Monkman”, few will ever get near the skill of these. What the above will do is hopefully give you some ideas so you can look at your own shooting technique enabling you to improve the number of targets hit, thus your confidence.
Remember: Give the above a good go – say 3 months. Some of the items will work for you some won’t, I don’t claim to be a master at anything, but hopefully if you’re honest about your performance every time you go out then your confidence will develop to the stage where you will no longer be afraid of standing shots.