Make the Shot: Off-Hand

How to master hunting's toughest shooting position.

Outdoor Life Online Editor

The gold standard of unsupported, off-hand shooting with a hunting rifle is hitting a target the size of a dinner plate (roughly comparable to a whitetail's vitals) three times in a row in less than a minute from 100 yards.

That sounds pretty easy, and with a bit of practice and good shooting technique it is. But add a pinch of buck fever, or try it when you're out of breath, and hitting that plate becomes more like trying to hit a dime. The tips on this page will help you prepare.

Trigger Pull
Jerking the trigger is a major cause of missing. Don't do it! Train your finger with dry-firing exercises so that the pad of the finger presses straight back until the rifle fires at the optimum instant. This is called "thinking" the trigger off.

Grip
Hold the rifle firmly for good control but don't strangle it. The left hand should also hold the rifle firmly, but not so tightly that "death grip tremors" are transferred through the stock. Crook your trigger finger so it touches no part of the rifle except the trigger.

Breathing
Take a full breath, let it out halfway and then hold the rest. Don't hold it too long; if necessary, repeat the process until you're ready to shoot.

Stance Feet should be a comfortable shoulder width apart, with the left leg (for right-handed shooters) forward. Shift your weight slightly toward the forward leg so you're leaning into the gun. Feet should be at about a 45-degree angle to the target.