Teaching How to Shoot off The Sticks

Discussion in 'Firearms & Ammunition' started by PHOENIX PHIL, Oct 6, 2012.

  1. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH Legend

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    So gents, it was a 5 hour day at the range today! After enduring a bunch of shooting by dad, I had my son practicing with his .308. He shoots this very well off the bench, certainly as well as I do. Last time we were at the range he did a little shooting off the sticks at a metal plate that's roughly 12" x 12" and set at 200 yards. He did well with that.

    Today I had him start on that plate again and he hit it 8 out of 9 times and it appeared fairly well centered as I watched through the binoculars. The time he missed it, he called it.

    I figured it was time to back him to shooting paper at 100 yards and show him how much easier 100 yards would be......so I thought. He had a bit of a challenge here. I'd say roughly 1/2 or a bit more of his shots were in the kill zone. But the remaining would have either been clean misses or wounded animals depending on the size.

    So my question for my esteemed AH members is how do you teach someone, particularly a 14 year old boy how to shoot off the sticks? All responses welcomed, but I'd really like to hear from our PH members.
  2. Buff-Buster

    Buff-Buster GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Hey Phil. When he's on the sticks, stand close enough to him that he can rest his elbow against you. I do this for my wife and it helps alot. Hell, I get the PH to do it for me on long shots off the sticks!
  3. richteb

    richteb AH Enthusiast

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    Phil, I would also have a play with trying slightly different heights and the spread on the legs when you set up the sticks. I found when I was learning how to shoot of sticks, that if you can set up the sticks with the legs spread a little wider then you can put more of your weight on them and also pull back with your front hand therefore increasing the rifle to shoulder pressure. Found this method increases stability. All in all I think being in a comfortable shooting position is a important part in accurate shooting.
  4. James.Grage

    James.Grage GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Phil

    I have found that many time the shooting sticks are set to high and need to be adjusted down.

    a little wider stance and learn to lean into the sticks. Control breathing allows for a 3 second window to make the shot. I have found.

    At home set up the stick and put your dummy loads into the rifle to aim at a spot on the wall and he should still have the cross hairs on the spot after pulling the trigger. This allows for proper shooting stick height set up, rifle set up, target spotting location, breathing style, smooth trigger pull, and follow through.

    I have also read that you should start close and work out as proficiency improves. Like 25 yds, 50 yds, 75 yds, 100 yds and on out. As your son's confidence is built from shooting proficiency, you will have a great shot on your hands in no time.

    Now i like golf balls set out on the range to shoot at, use of range finder and knowledge of bullet trajectory play into hitting a golf ball at different distances off of shooting sticks.
  5. VanderLaan

    VanderLaan AH Senior Member

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    Just got back from RSA and my PH had me lock my legs. Made for a more stable base. Might be worth a try. Before the trip, I practiced on a tri-pod and shot off a bi-pod in RSA. Found the bi-pod to be easier. Applying backwards pressure and running my off-arm through a sling also helped me steady the crosshairs on target. I practiced on an 8" circle of armor plate. No reason to practice on paper after the scope is sighted in.
  6. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH Legend

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    Thanks for the replies gents, you've given me some good ideas.
  7. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH Fanatic

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    One of the things I did to get ready for Africa was to dry fire 20 times each AM and PM. I used my sticks and had a specific aiming point. Good practice really helps in my opinion. Bruce
  8. Lure Jensen

    Lure Jensen AH Member

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    I set up a range in my house with an air rifle! I set up a tread-mill next to it ran a while, jumped off and then shot from sticks. I would do this over and over again, maybe 5-6 times a night. I didn't get in the best of shape I could have, but could run and shoot (from the sticks). Cheap and it worked (for me), took some long shots from the sticks and did OK! More than one way to skin the cat!
  9. Ole Bally

    Ole Bally AH Enthusiast

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    Get the rifle set up in the sticks. Have the youngster hold the rifle so that his arm holding the forestock is resting against the sticks. This gives another point of contact! I am gonna post pics of a set of sticks that allow pinpoint accuracy!
  10. Ole Bally

    Ole Bally AH Enthusiast

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  11. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH Legend

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    We're making progress gents. First thing we tried was shooting two sticks versus three. He definitely prefers to shoot with two legs extended and not three. The Bog Pod isn't perfectly setup with only two of the three legs extended but we can work with it.

    The next thing I tried with him was to have the sticks a little taller if you will so that he wasn't hunched over quite as much. I personally don't like to be standing straight up, but it seems he was just a little too low.

    Finally, I stood on his right side with my hands cupped to provide some support for his shooting hand (right) elbow.

    Austin put roughly 60% of his shots within 2" of the bullseye. 20% were still in the kill zone but marginal. The remaining 20% were still not good. He called his misses which is good. Still a few more misses than I'd like, but I think he's starting to get the idea of when to start squeezing the trigger as he "floats" across the target. 7 months to go until we get on the plane so plenty of more time to practice.

    Bally, I'm going to remember your idea of putting the forearm elbow in contact with the sticks next. Thanks again gents for all your replies, this is what makes AH great!
  12. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Was this at 25 yards or 100?
    80% is not bad at this stage.
    Put a small reward on the line and see what improvement you get.

    Certainly adding the time constraint at some point will put the pressure on. A required element.
  13. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH Legend

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    100 yards. I'm hesitant at this point to put the time constraint on him. In fact, I'm stressing to him to pull back from the rifle if he isn't feeling confident in the shot. I understand what you're getting at, but the last thing I want him doing now is pulling the trigger out of pressure or frustration.
  14. Ole Bally

    Ole Bally AH Enthusiast

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    Firstly, Phil have a look at my thread 'Ultimate shooting sticks' for a better designed set of stix!

    Secondly, to you and anyone else using shooting sticks...stand as upright as you can behind the stix...hunching over re positions your eye relief and sets you up for some great 'scope eye'! Hundreds of testimonies to that out there I promise!. Same thing goes for shooting off the bench!
  15. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    I agree at this point.
    He should be backing off if he is not ready on every shot.
    I'd rather have that than a bunch of wounded animals.

    Just an introduction at some point in the training program.
  16. Hotfire Hunting Safaris

    Hotfire Hunting Safaris AH Veteran

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    My two cents on the subject;
    Get the hunter to stand with the rifle held as if they are going to shoot out of the shoulder, this will get the correct height that the sticks should be at. When the hunter is comfortable, put the sticks up with rest part at the height that they would shoot at out the shoulder. Next thing is to make sure that the rifle is in the correct positioning on the sticks. Most rifles are fairly well balanced if you hold it in the middle, this is where I find the sticks should be positioned, what I find most folk do is to put the front of the rifle on the sticks, it is much easier if it is positioned more to the middle of the rifle where a neutral balance is. If the rifle is positioned correctly, generally you can place the forehand on the sticks at the Y. The most important things though are to get the height right as well as the balance of the rifle on the sticks. What I also like to do is have chaps take three quick rounds off the sticks if they are struggling, it seems by the second and third rapid shots, the thought of the sticks disappears and they begin shooting naturally off them
  17. VanderLaan

    VanderLaan AH Senior Member

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    That is great. It sounds like our young grasshopper is coming along nicely. :cool:

    For what it is worth, when I first started shooting a rifle (we hunt deer with muzzleloaders and shotguns here), I had a hard time getting the crosshairs to settle down on the target. I think the problem was that I was shooting through a 10x scope and the increased distance (most deer are killed here at less than 50 yards) had me a bit rattled. A good friend of mine told me of an Acronym that he learned in the ARMY and it really helped me to relax and just shoot the gun. Many guys are probably familiar with the Acronym "BRASS". It means Breathe, Relax, Aim, Slack and Squeeze. I was amazed at how quickly my shooting improved when I forced myself to go through this process every shot. I also found that I was milking the trigger and trying way too hard to get the "surprise shot". I think it is important to stress simply squeezing the trigger. Once I got that down, I was ringing my 8" gong target at 150 yards almost every time.

    My point is that if your boy is already a good shot off the bench, he may be focusing too hard on the sticks. Perhaps by giving him this mantra, he will forget about the sticks and focus on making a good shot.

    Keep us posted on his progress.
  18. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH Legend

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    Steady Improvement

    I can't remember who's suggestion it was, but we followed up on the idea of resting the forward arm elbow on the sticks. In order to do this we went back to using the third leg of the Bog Pod. Two of the legs were out front with the third coming straight back towards Austin. He positioned this back leg between his feet with his left foot a bit more in front of his right.

    The third leg of the sticks allowed for him to drop his left elbow down and rest it "into" the that leg. This most definitely helped. With the rifle resting in the "V" at about where the front scope ring is located, he told me before his first shot that he was much more steadier.

    He was shooting at a 8" square "shoot-n-C" target and he placed nearly all of his shots on target. He did miss a couple of shots just barely off the target. So these shots were right at 4-5" from center. On a Kudu sized animal, it's probably still a kill. Whatever the case, his misses are much closer now than what they were. The better news is most of his shots that were on the target were quite close to center.

    So steady improvement. At this point, I think we've got the shooting position and it's more now a matter of more trigger time. Thanks again for the help gents!
  19. Ole Bally

    Ole Bally AH Enthusiast

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    Phil, If I need to I'l post a pic for you! Take the normal 'bipod stix'... open then up and put the rifle forestock into it about half way. The shooter then holds the forestock pretty close to the end of it ( closest the muzzle) If he then droops his forearm (holding the forestock) it will then 'lean' against the side of the stix. This will stabilise the whole deal. I have also in the past stood behind the client to his right and supported his 'trigger' arm by either holding it or bending over so he can rest his elbow on my back! The other way to stabilise is to have the shooters back leaning against a tree or other immoveable object! Just don't have the shooting shoulder trapped between rifle and immoveable object! The whole deal can only be as steady as you can hold the butt end of the rifle once the front is supported!
  20. joester

    joester AH Veteran

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    Phil, Since you have a bog pod it may help to get accustomed to using all 3 legs. Some engineer once said that a tripod is one of the most stable of all designs. Just my .02 worth...

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