Whether you’re hunting or sport shooting, aiming is an integral part of getting the best shots. However, it’s nearly impossible to aim properly if you can’t hold the rifle steady enough to aim consistently. Rather than struggling to keep eyes on your mark with a wobbling rifle barrel, it’s a good idea to learn how to hold your rifle steady so that you can always count on getting the right aim.
Creating the Right Habits
Learning how to hold a rifle steady involves training yourself to keep the right hold of your rifle. Doing this means re-teaching yourself how to hold a rifle properly so that your muscles will automatically assume the right positions in the future. It will take time to get the right techniques established, but once you do you should be able to hold your rifle steady in any circumstances.
The best way to succeed in this area of shooting is to take the time you need and learn the right habits, even if it means completely retraining yourself on how to hold the rifle and take aim. If you start sliding back into a poor hold, or if you try to implement a few steadying techniques to your current poor hold than you won’t find the same level of success. Learn how to do it right, then teach your body to do that as your natural hold every time.
Are You Holding the Rifle Properly?
A simple thing to look at first is how your hands are positioned on the rifle itself. Are you right-handed? Put your right hand on the handle nearest to the trigger, with your left hand on the barrel grip. Left-handed people should reverse this. Your dominant hand will be your trigger hand, as this hand works to steady the rifle from the base.
Don’t rest your trigger finger on the trigger while you’re aiming. Instead, keep it wrapped around the handle with the rest of your fingers or rest it straight on the side of the trigger. If you curl your finger around the trigger, you are more likely to misfire or t mess up your grip and hold the rifle poorly. Only assume this position once you are ready to take your shot.
The hand holding the barrel grip should be far enough away from any of the moving parts and the ejection area, for your own safety. It should also be positioned underneath the rifle to support it from the bottom, rather than to the side or above.
Keeping a Solid Hold with Both Hands
When your hands are in the right positions, you should hold firmly without tensing your hands. Your trigger hand should be holding more firmly than your other hand. Ideally, you’ll use about as much force to hold as if you were giving a firm handshake to a business acquaintance. The hand supporting the barrel should be held more loosely without allowing the barrel to move freely.
Additionally, you should be pulling the rifle back slightly into your shoulder. This is a big part of keeping it steadier, as the slight pressure will not allow the rifle to move freely forward or to the side. A constant, light pressure will reduce most of the wobble in the barrel, provided you are supporting your rifle properly with the rest of your body as well.
Supporting the Rifle with Your Whole Body
It takes more than just proper hand positioning to hold a rifle steady. A full-body effort is needed for the best hold. For the rifle itself, you should be supporting the butt of the gun against your shoulder. Put as much of the surface area as possible against your shoulder for optimal stability. While you’re doing this, your elbows should be tucked in close to your body. When your elbows are too far out, they will ruin your balance and make to more difficult to hold your rifle steadily.
Your neck should be relaxed with your cheek resting naturally against the side of the weapon. This not only provides another angle of support, it also makes it easier to see through the sites.
Even your body stance and hips contribute to holding a rifle steady. For your arms and shoulders to be steady, you need to support them with your lower body as well. A stiff upper body can be maintained easily if you adapt the right stance. Your hips should be about shoulder-width apart and your feet should be pointed straight out, not to the sides. Keep your back straight, not bent, and your shoulders high rather than slouched over.
How to Know When You’re Doing It Right?
If you’re not sure whether or not you’ve got the posture down, ask yourself these questions:
1. Is your body relaxed?
If your muscles feel tense and are getting sore quickly, you are probably not in the right position. Your muscles should not be tensed hard as if you’re working out. Remember to use the body positioning to support the gun, so you don’t have to tense as much to keep it in place.
2. Can you see easily through the scope or sites?
If it’s difficult for you to see down the sites, your head may be in the wrong position. Rifle sites are made to be at a comfortable position for you to see if you relax your neck muscles and keep your keep against the butt of the gun.
3. Are you aiming well?
How well are you hitting your target? While this could have to do with your rifle itself or poor aiming, there is also a chance that inconsistent shooting is due to a poorly held rifle. If you’re not keeping it steady enough, your shots will be very inconsistent.
4. How is your breathing rhythm?
When your body is positioned properly, you won’t be struggling to hold the rifle steady, so you will be able to breathe well. If your breaths are shaky and inconsistent, check your posture and loosen up your muscles when you try to hold the rifle again.
Using a rifle does take patience and good technique if you want to do your best. Learning how to hold a rifle steady can vastly improve your aim and give you a better chance of hitting your mark when you take your next shot. Practicing the techniques mentioned above can help you on your way to becoming a better shot with a steady aim.