Practicing from shooting sticks

Nevada Mike

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At the suggestion of my PH, I bought a set of Trigger Sticks to practice for my safari next year. I set up a target at about 60 yards - a convenient distance for shooting from my front patio. I have a Remington 513T Matchmaster (match grade .22RF with heavy barrel), which I used in competition as a kid. It weighs within two ounces of what my .404J weighs.

I am slowly learning stance and weight distribution and getting about 4" groups for a 24 shot string. I shoot one or two strings twice a day and hope to get down to 2" groups. I appreciate any tips on shooting from sticks that you may have.

Thanks!

Mike
 

machinistbutler

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I think @Philip Glass had posted a video on here with some tips.

The more practice the more comfortable you will be! Make sure you practice a fair bit with the rifle you will be using , the recoil will be a lot different for quick follow up shots to practice. Learn how the rifle behaves on the sticks.
 

Boyd Brooks

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I got on the sticks once in Africa but didn’t shoot. I took 8 animals, 1 prone, 1 with a tree as a rest, 5 freestanding, and a wounded warthog from the truck.
Personally I practiced shooting in all positions as you never know what conditions you will encounter once you get there.
The one that I wished I had practiced is the shot you take after a run for a while.
 

BeeMaa

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One Day...

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Thanks for the kind words BeeMaa :)

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The one thing I would add to my 2019 post is to lay heavily on the tripod, like one would "load" the bipod when shooting prone. To really reduce body sway to the minimum, you want to lean so heavily forward on the tripod that if someone would swipe it from under your rifle you would fall forward.

Doing so should get you down to 2" groups at 100 yards, Nevada Mike, or 6" groups at 300 yards with a .223, which is only useful to do AFTER you master the shooting form with the .22 :)

Bog Adrenaline & Blaser R8.jpg
 
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fourfive8

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A similarly weighted gun like your 22 would be good practice. Everyone seems to be a little different in what it feels like or what is required to be steady on the sticks. I found I need to be a little more upright than crouched over. I need to mentally relax as much as possible and let the sticks hold the rifle up and my skeleton to hold me up. The trigger squeeze, knowing there is going to be a pretty good recoil punch at the end, requires some mental practice. Making sure there's no way to get bit by the scope is part of that mental conditioning for trigger squeeze.
 

BeeMaa

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A similarly weighted gun like your 22 would be good practice. Everyone seems to be a little different in what it feels like or what is required to be steady on the sticks. I found I need to be a little more upright than crouched over. I need to mentally relax as much as possible and let the sticks hold the rifle up and my skeleton to hold me up. The trigger squeeze, knowing there is going to be a pretty good recoil punch at the end, requires some mental practice. Making sure there's no way to get bit by the scope is part of that mental conditioning for trigger squeeze.
I lean in on my 375H&H, but for the 416RM was standing more upright. With more practice, I'm sure that I'd be leaning in on the 416 as well.

And this is also where the Blaser R8 really shines. Giving the same cheek weld, LOP and trigger pull for every caliber.
 
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Tanks

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... The trigger squeeze, knowing there is going to be a pretty good recoil punch at the end, requires some mental practice. Making sure there's no way to get bit by the scope is part of that mental conditioning for trigger squeeze.

Why are you even thinking about the recoil and a possible scope bite? o_O
 

Proneshooter

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Mike,
The best advice I got for shooting off sticks was to "square up" behind them. I was shooting off them more like I was shooting offhand, when I placed my body more square to the sticks the groups got smaller. The second best advice I got was to practice a lot. When my wife and I went to Zimbabwe for our first safri we had shot over 1800 practice rounds beforehand. Our PH was overjoyed when he saw that both of us could handle the rifle properly. I shoot rifles competitively so much of this came a bit easier to me than my wife. No animal we shot (9) required any tracking, all died within eyesight of where the first shot was taken.
 

Rare Breed

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At the suggestion of my PH, I bought a set of Trigger Sticks to practice for my safari next year. I set up a target at about 60 yards - a convenient distance for shooting from my front patio. I have a Remington 513T Matchmaster (match grade .22RF with heavy barrel), which I used in competition as a kid. It weighs within two ounces of what my .404J weighs.

I am slowly learning stance and weight distribution and getting about 4" groups for a 24 shot string. I shoot one or two strings twice a day and hope to get down to 2" groups. I appreciate any tips on shooting from sticks that you may have.

Thanks!

Mike
One day has the mechanics down perfectly. Listen to him. However you need to practice on one knee and short off hand with no sticks. On my second safari this year when I got my Cape buffalo no chance for sticks…off hand made it happen…don’t ever forget that
 

shootist~

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Your breathing is one of the critical fundamentals.
Lots of O2 getting onto the sticks plus a deep breath as your crosshair starts to settle. Tons of dry fire is important, too.
 

Nevada Mike

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I shot competitive smallbore as a kid... too many years ago. My dad was a rifle coach and safety instructor. I got diverted into birds hunting, bird dogs and field trials for a few decades too. I didn't give up big game, just didn't do as much as I might have otherwise. It's all coming back now and I have a year to be ready for Tanzania.

Thanks much for all your suggestions!

Mike
 

fourfive8

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Why are you even thinking about the recoil and a possible scope bite? o_O
Huh? I'm not worried about it and not sure of your point. I can relax and shoot off sticks accurately without worrying about scope eyebrow because I have my rifle and scope set up for maximum eye relief to prevent it in the first place. Very simple concept really. Then it's just a matter of relaxing in the right way to handle recoil without flinching. It takes effort and practice to learn to relax and shoot heavy recoiling rifles accurately off sticks without flinching.
 

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+1 on @One Day... and his description. I also agree that the forward pressure on the sticks helps. So does holding the foreend of the rifle and pulling the rifle down into the sticks.

I also find that recoil is managed better when the feet are more squared, rather than having a significant lead with one foot. The difference in placing one foot too far forward causes the body and shoulders to twist, thus putting the rifle more across the body than in front. That improper lead position tends to put one’s face closer to the scope (which gets exciting!) The improper lead also puts recoil more into the shoulder than the upper body as a whole.
 

Frederik

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One small tip I can add if your PH put up the shooting stick your job is to get onto the sticks asap then ask questions if you don't see the target animal.
 

Sika98k

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Get a set of quad sticks and see your shooting improve dramatically, rapidly. Viperflex, Stable Sticks are a couple of well known brands. I haven’t met an owner of the trigger sticks that hasn’t had the release mechanism hang up on him at some stage, sometimes critically.
 

fourfive8

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One small tip I can add if your PH put up the shooting stick your job is to get onto the sticks asap then ask questions if you don't see the target animal.
True! Which reminds me… either a tracker or your PH will be setting up the sticks. I’ve found it works well to have a short meeting and practice session before the hunt starts with your PH and whom ever will be setting up your sticks. Sooo everyone knows what will be happening. You can instruct your “stick man” your preference for such things as best height. When the time comes it will happen pretty fast and you should be concentrating on the right animal and your best POA/POI on the animal… and not fumbling around trying to get set up on the sticks. :)

Also @Nevada Mike, you mentioned 22 rf competition with a heavy rifle. As a common frame of reference, I learned to shoot accurately and with discipline with a Win M 52 heavy target 22rf- four position competition- courtesy of Uncle Sam. To me shooting off sticks is somewhat like shooting the off hand position all gloved up in heavy shooting jacket and strapped into the rifle… some 50+ years later I can still hear our team’s DI grunt, “let your skeleton support rifle, relax, sight picture, breath control, squeeze.” Time spent doing that was the best shooting instruction I ever had even though I spent 26 years after that keeping tuned up with a tactical defense handgun in a different life.
 
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BeeMaa

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Get a set of quad sticks and see your shooting improve dramatically, rapidly. Viperflex, Stable Sticks are a couple of well known brands. I haven’t met an owner of the trigger sticks that hasn’t had the release mechanism hang up on him at some stage, sometimes critically.
+1 Our PH had a set of Trigger Sticks that sometimes wouldn't deploy and other times would collapse without warning. I asked if it would be OK to use the BOG-POD RLD-3 that we brought with us and he said that was fine. Worked great. So good that I recently purchased a set of Adrenaline sticks to replace the RLD-3's. And now I'm considering a set of Viper-Flex Styx Journey. :rolleyes:
True! Which reminds me… either a tracker or your PH will be setting up the sticks. I’ve found it works well to have a short meeting and practice session before the hunt starts with your PH and whom ever will be setting up your sticks. Sooo everyone knows what will be happening. You can instruct your “stick man” your preference for such things as best height. When the time comes it will happen pretty fast and you should be concentrating on the right animal and your best POA/POI on the animal… and not fumbling around trying to get set up on the sticks. :)
We had a talk with our PH and tracker while sighing in our rifles about this. We all practiced how it was to be done in the field and when the time came, it went off without a hitch. This also lets your PH know that you have been practicing enough to know what you like...always a good thing.
 

shootist~

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The most important part of practicing with sticks is to actually do the practice. A Lot. From the sticks.

And as often as you can.
With as many rounds as you can (being careful not to get a case of the yips).

And from most any position that you can think of.
I found that Kneeling with the sticks is more stable than standing, btw. But sitting did not work well (for me) due to being old and stiff.

I even dug out some of my C&R rifles (iron sights and military triggers) and ran through much of the old ammo I had sitting around.

Almost all trigger time is good - including and especially dry fire.

I absolutely took my own sticks with me, btw.
 

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