Practical Accuracy in the Field:
Shooting from Unsupported Positions

By Chuck Hawks

Recently, as an experiment, I took the opportunity to shoot at 100 yard targets from the two most useful unsupported positions for the rifle hunter, standing and sitting. Standing and sitting are, at a minimum, the two shooting positions that every rifle hunter (and handgun hunter also, for that matter) should learn to use in the field. Use a rest whenever possible, but when it's not, standing and sitting are the shooting positions you will need to know.

Standing on your own two feet is the least accurate position from which to shoot, but sometimes it is necessary. Standing allows the hunter to see over even fairly tall brush, and it is the fastest shooting position to assume. When you only have seconds to deliver a shot, and the range is short, standing is the position that is usually required. The deer hunter who does a lot of still hunting in the woods will most likely find that sometimes he or she must shoot from the standing position or not shoot at all.

Here is a 10-shot test target fired by yours truly at 100 yards from an unsupported standing position with a hunting rifle. The resulting group measured 9 3/8". The bullets tended to hit above the center of the target at 100 yards because the rifle is zeroed for 200 yards.

This is actually the back of the target, so that the bullet holes may more easily be seen. The fine 12" center cross was added later. The hash marks indicate the 10" heart/lung kill area of an average size deer.

Note that all shots are within this 10" area, but two of the 10 shots are very close to the edge (left and top). This shows that my maximum sure kill range from the standing position is about 100 yards, and closer would definitely be better. If a longer shot were presented, I would have to find a rest or shoot from a more stable position.

standing target
100 yard target fired from standing position. Photo by Chuck Hawks.

Far better from the standpoint of accuracy is the sitting position. The sitting position is reasonably quick and easy to assume, and it pays big dividends in smaller groups and extended practical range.

Sitting will get the shooter's line of sight above most grass and low brush. It is a little lower than kneeling, but much more accurate. Sitting is the steadiest unsupported position that is usually practical in the field. (Prone is even steadier, but is so low that ground clutter usually makes it impossible for a deer hunter to use.)

sitting target
100 yard target fired from sitting position. Photo by Chuck Hawks.

This 100 yard target shows a 10-shot group fired from an unsupported sitting position. It measured 3 3/8". I shot it from the same rifle, only minutes after the standing target. Again, this is the back of the target and the 12" central cross was added later.

The results are clearly much better. Using the sitting position extended my sure kill range to something over 250 yards, not to mention substantially bolstering my confidence.

The results of this informal demonstration are obvious: If an impromptu rest is unavailable, sit and hit! Sitting is, for me, more accurate than shooting from the standing position with an impromptu rest. And sitting with the aid of an impromptu rest is more accurate than shooting from the prone position.

Articles explaining the proper use of both the standing and sitting positions for hunters can be found on the Rifle Information Page.

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Copyright 2006 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.