I am often asked what shooting positions I prefer when in the field when hunting. The easy answer is that prone is the most stable, followed by sitting, kneeling, and standing. As you move higher your center of gravity shifts and your anchor points to earth become more tenuous. I’m going to discuss this in terms of offhand shooting, though even if shooting of sticks, this holds true.

Prone is the most stable position if the situation permits it. High grass and brush, cactus and fire ants are all arguments to laying down while shooting!

The more relevant answer is that it depends on the situation. In many of the places I hunt, a prone position is not possible, and you need to pick the best position that will work in the terrain your hunting in. For instance, when hunting prairie dogs on the gently rolling hills of South Dakota in early spring, I’ll often go prone. But as spring progresses, the grass gets too long to see over so I shoot more from a sitting position.

When spot and stalk hunting through a prairie dog town, every once in awhile a dog pops up close and offers a shot. Sometimes you might be able to take a knee, but more often it will require an offhand shot. For this reason its good for hunters to practice shots from these field positions, a bench is great for working up a rifle and getting sighted in, and it’s great as an end point if you’re into benchrest competitions, but it can throw you off if that the only way you practice. I frequently see guys that shoot their guns a lot, struggle when they get on game because of the lack the right kind of practice for hunting.

Sitting works well, especially with sticks. However, when I don’t have sticks I try to sit in a position that lets me brace both elbows on knees.
For me the trick of shooting off a knee is bracing my lead elbow on the lead knee, and sinking my body into the position. This eliminates shake, though it can be rough on the knees.

I’m a fairly decent offhand shot, and I used to be well above average. However as I get older, I find that I’m less stable, so will try to get to a knee to brace my shot rather than offhand standing. My general rules are to be consistent (when possible) and when sitting or kneeling, use my knee(s) as a brace and sink my body into my contact points. It might not look pretty, but works for me.

I’m not a shooting coach and won’t give you a didactic rundown on technique, I would encourage you to spend part of you practice time using the position you’ll depend on in the field, it will make you a more effective hunter.

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