Techniques for heavy recoiling rifles

Tam Dl

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Has anyone a clue as to what techniques work best with heavy recoiling rifles? I assume nobody does as there isn't any competition where better or worse methods could be worked out. In pistol shooting people thought they knew what worked, but it was only when various contests popped up that the losing techniques became evident. And that kind of thing has happened over and over with other styles of shooting.

I was reading Keith and he mentioned some gizmo he was shooting that must have had a piston in it. He said it was pretty effective, but didn't work for him because the heaviest they sold topped out at 60 pounds of pre-compression force. Since he pulls a rifle into his shoulder with a lot more force than that, he didn't benefit from the gizmo. That set me to thinking about how much force one does pull the rifle into ones's shoulder with, and how much if any do you push forward with the shoulder, or is it relatively relaxed and essentially stretched back by the rifle butt. I certainly don't pull the rifle into my shoulder with more than 60 lbs of pressure.

Modern doctrine on recoil control for action shooting seems based on pulling back with the hand, and pushing forward with the shoulder, and squaring up the body. **NOT**PERMITTED** instructs this even with guns in the 308 range, and maybe higher. But that seems more like a .223 thing. I find it hard to do without tensing the torso. Which seems to be something that people don't recommend with the heavies.

If one shoots anything long enough, it eventually falls into place, but that isn't the same thing as having technique worked out. I just wondered whether there is any doctrine on this stuff. There are schools, and there are departments that train people, so there could be some ideas out there to share.
 

BeeMaa

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I am not a professional, but I am an experienced hunter.
I use a Caldwell Lead Sled with 50# of additional weight to sight in just about any rifle.
After that, most of my practice is shooting off sticks.
I usually shoot less than 10 rounds of a heavy recoiling rifle in a range session, but I practice at least once a week.
The closer you are to having your body rigid, the more felt recoil you will have.
Prone will destroy your shoulder, sitting/kneeling is a little better and standing allows your body to more slowly absorb the recoil.
I also maximize the distance between my shooting shoulder and my head, so my shoulders are at about a 45 degree angle to the rifle.
With your frame already stretched like this, your head will not move forward as much and reduces the chance of scope bite.
I've never been a fan of having the shoulders perpendicular to the rifle, but this is just my opinion.

Lastly, everyone is different.
I'm probably one of the bigger wimps around here and I try to minimize recoil to the best of my ability.
You will most likely be hearing from people who routinely shoot .500NE with no ill effects and I do believe them.
Each person has a limit.
Best to know yours and stay within it.

Cheers and best of luck.
 

JPbowhunter

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Im curious about firing a large calibre one day to get a feel for it. Biggest I've shot is a 50 cal muzzleloader and a 9.3x62.
 

matt85

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ive taught plenty of people to shoot large bore rifles but its not the easiest thing to teach without being there in person.

some helpful tips:
1. don't shoot a rifle that isn't balanced and weighted properly unless you like pain.
2. plant your feet as if you are attempting to push a heavy object.
3. shift your center of balance forward onto your leading foot.
4. ensure the entire butt of the rifle has contact with your shoulder. this can be tricky and having a second person helps a lot!
5. pull the gun firmly into the shoulder. this doesn't need to be white knuckle pulling but someone shouldn't be able to force a finger between the stock and your shoulder.
6. the bigger the gun, the less tolerant it will be of mistakes in shooting technique.
7. with proper technique even the largest guns will not be painful to shoot. assuming they are of correct weight and have proper balance.

-matt
 

tarbe

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Matt said:

6. the bigger the gun, the less tolerant it will be of mistakes in shooting technique.
===========================================================

lol - this became very evident to me when doing rapid fire/reload drills with the .470.

Cranking up the speed and getting off quick shots after a reload almost guarantees that the novice (me) will at times have less than ideal form.

In one session I got smacked in the face, had my index finger sliced open by the front trigger and added to the knot on my middle finger (banged by back of trigger guard).

Sometimes this stuff even happens when shooting deliberately and you just go to sleep on some aspect.
 

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I might be one of those who shoots big bores with ease but struggles to understand how. My brother is similar size to me and a fine rifleman, yet he isn’t comfortable beyond .416 Rigby. He gets punished using the big fifties.

For technique, the closest thing I can liken it to is walking swamps and creeks with a little lever action shooting pigs as they explode from cover. If you can do that with fluidity and poetry it lends itself to shooting big bores.

That’s my feeble attempt at explaining it.
 

colorado

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When I first got into big bores I thought I needed to do things differently, than shooting my tried and true 270 I've had for 40 years. Now I shoot my 500 Jeffery exactly the same way I shoot my 270. Some great points above I strongly agree with include:

1. I use a lead sled with 25 lbs on it for load developing and initial sight in.
2. I do not shoot it prone, period.
3. I don't shoot more than 10 rounds in a sitting, which is fine cause I have lots of other guns to shoot at the range.

Best of luck,

Chuck
 

CTDolan

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When I see some people shoot the big stuff I just cringe. Their form is atrocious and I can only imagine the beating they're taking.

Plant the butt firmly in your shoulder, keep the elbow up, set your feet appropriately (weight forward), and learn to roll with it. Done.
 

JPbowhunter

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When I see some people shoot the big stuff I just cringe. Their form is atrocious and I can only imagine the beating they're taking.

Plant the butt firmly in your shoulder, keep the elbow up, set your feet appropriately (weight forward), and learn to roll with it. Done.

Isnt that how everyone should hold every gun irrespective of calibre?

I didn't realise holding a gun was a skill, must be some interesting people out there!
 

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First day in Botswana, PH picked out a very average impala for me to shoot, to see how well I could shoot. About 175 yds facing me. Nice! Using a .375 Hollands, low power scope, went prone, best I could do, PH didn't carry sticks. Know how we all say, "when shooting at game you never feel the recoil"? Well, I felt that one! Ouch!
 

CTDolan

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Isnt that how everyone should hold every gun irrespective of calibre?

It is but some seem to haven't learned. Shoot a .243 Winchester with poor form and your accuracy may suffer, but your shoulder won't. Step up to a .458 Win Mag? Each suffers the consequences!
 

jacques smith

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I’m going with what Matt said and adding a couple. I’m a very big believer in FIT. By this we all have different LOP just like we all have different jeans sizes. The larger the caliber the more important this becomes. Hold your gun firmly but let the recoil raise the gun as opposed to taken it all on the shoulder. Hope this helps
 

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This is a proper shooting clinic for Big Bore rifles.
Notice how they are all following Matt's suggested stance and positioning and just go with the flow. :rolleyes:

 

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I’m going with what Matt said and adding a couple. I’m a very big believer in FIT. By this we all have different LOP just like we all have different jeans sizes. The larger the caliber the more important this becomes. Hold your gun firmly but let the recoil raise the gun as opposed to taken it all on the shoulder. Hope this helps
I agree totally with one addition.

Look a "Wrights book shooting the British double rifle". There regulating is done fron a standing instead a sitting shooting bench.

Works for me!
 

Shawn.54

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When I see some people shoot the big stuff I just cringe. Their form is atrocious and I can only imagine the beating they're taking.

Plant the butt firmly in your shoulder, keep the elbow up, set your feet appropriately (weight forward), and learn to roll with it. Done.
In my limited experience those who try to stop the rifle take a beating I’m a big guy 300+# and was told by a very small lady that the trick was to roll with it holding tight enough to keep it under control but letting it move whole upper body.
She will shoot anything and do it well.
Shawn
 

Bert the Turtle

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Shawn is right. Imagine how it would feel to shoot a heavy recoiling rifle with your back against a concrete wall.

Pull it into you your shoulder so it doesn't get a running start and RELAX. Let your whole body absorb the recoil, not just your shoulder.
 

Shawn.54

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If the shoulder goes and the rest stays a meeting between your eye and scope my take place and that will definitely affect you badly.
I once let a 35 Whelen bump my eye no blood but a flinch showed up that took many rounds and trips to the range to resolve.
Shawn
 

BeeMaa

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Big bores are not easy.
Hell any rifle can be difficult to shoot, but like Matt85 said, as the caliber goes up any problem in your technique will be magnified.
Being relaxed and not scared of the recoil is a key point.
This takes experience and time, there is no replacement for this.
Starting with smaller calibers and moving up gradually is one of the best ways to develop good shooting habits.

Lastly, dry fire practice.
A lot of people discount how important this can be, however it is a useful tool.
Learning proper foot position, body position, gun mount, sight picture and trigger pull can all be done from the living room.
Form good habits with dry fire and they will translate to the range.
 

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ive taught plenty of people to shoot large bore rifles but its not the easiest thing to teach without being there in person.

some helpful tips:
1. don't shoot a rifle that isn't balanced and weighted properly unless you like pain.
2. plant your feet as if you are attempting to push a heavy object.
3. shift your center of balance forward onto your leading foot.
4. ensure the entire butt of the rifle has contact with your shoulder. this can be tricky and having a second person helps a lot!
5. pull the gun firmly into the shoulder. this doesn't need to be white knuckle pulling but someone shouldn't be able to force a finger between the stock and your shoulder.
6. the bigger the gun, the less tolerant it will be of mistakes in shooting technique.
7. with proper technique even the largest guns will not be painful to shoot. assuming they are of correct weight and have proper balance.

-matt
Good info. I will add that I was taught that your positioning wants to be like the main sail on a sail boat. Shoulder over top of your front foot, and rear foot should be at or slightly back of rear shoulder. Front foot is the balance pivot, rear foot is the brace. Shooting shoulder forward as mentioned about 40-45 degrees to the chest. Lots of dry firing practice to develop "muscle memory".
Everybody's body configurations will be different so try until you find a comfortable position. Granted it might take a few sessions, and a shiner or two!
Shoot what your comfortable with. LOP may need to adjusted to suit you.
 

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