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Shaking while shooting

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Old 12-08-2001, 04:36 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Canada
Posts: 268
Shaking while shooting

Some of you guys may get a "Buck or Moose Fever" when you see one. We know it is important for us to remain calm while shooting in long range. When your hand hold on the grip, you will see the crosshair shaking, no problem for 200 yards but over 600 yards or more. How can we prevent this? Do you think the front rest (and Harris bipod) and rear bags will steady the rifle? Will it reduce a lot or you will still see the crosshair some movement and you will have to know when to squeeze the trigger when the time is right?
-Denny G.
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Old 12-08-2001, 05:18 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: May 2001
Posts: 2,369
Re: Shaking while shooting


Here's how I do it and I don't notice any shaking.

I don't "hold" the rifle on the grip, it's more of a place to rest my hand, I don't grip the rifle. I "load" the bipod by pressing forward into the bipod with my right shoulder, it's not a significant amount of pressure just enough to take up any slack and enough so I can reproduce the shoulder pressure on repeat shots. I use a "sand sock" as a rear rest, it's a homemade rest, a bag of plastic hobby beads inside two women's kneehigh socks with a thick man's sock on the outside. It's easy to shape and controls elevation very well, to adjust elevation just adjust the amount of squeezing grip the sock with the non-grip hand. I don't see any shaking in the crosshairs when I'm setup.
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Old 12-08-2001, 06:58 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Sask. Canada
Posts: 2,410
Re: Shaking while shooting

I use a similar technique to Dave's and have also essentially trained myself to evaluate crosshair movement on the target - if it is present and can't be controlled or minimized I don't let the shot off. This even works under hunting situations, but not all the time naturally.

I rely on Harris bipods a lot and recently started toting the Nightforce shooting tripod as much as possible - it is very good for prone and sitting shots. I use it in conjunction with Underwood sticks under the toe of the butt - so steady that I can actually take my hands off the rifle and it just sits on target.

If crosshair movement is excessive you should try to get your breathing controlled, change your grip (either tighter or looser), get a more secure rest or simply refrain from shooting. Dave's point regarding holding the rifle is a good one - some LR instructors suggest techniques like keeping the palm cupped with no direct contact with the pistol grip, others suggest a very firm hold on anything from .308 Win upward in recoil. We should all develope styles that work, preferably based on solid marksmanship basics.

I have developed the habit of evaluating crosshair movement on the target prior to all long shots, it becomes natural and part of the shooting process. If crosshair movement subtends more than the vital area of the critter we should not shoot - you can actually start to equate the movement into inches with practice. I did just that a while back on a bedded antelope buck that was facing directly at me at pretty fair distance - I could see that the crosshairs sat on his chest with no more than a couple of inches of movement - bullet went through the top of his heart.

I never used to check actual crosshair movement as a key aspect of breaking a shot. Not sure about other guys but I used to try to let the shot go at an optimum moment if I just could not hold perfectly steady. Not a good idea, get a better rest and hold.

Those are my thoughts, interested to hear what some of the other fellows feel about this.
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Old 12-09-2001, 12:22 AM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Palmer, Alaska
Posts: 2,539
Re: Shaking while shooting

I use a modified camera tripod or Harris in front and backpack in the rear two of which I always have with me hunting. I have no Harris on my Ruger 416wby so the spotting scope is interchanged with the modified top for a shot at beyond 400yds. Crosshairs are rock steady this way. Up to 400yds a tree to pinch the fore grip to and a wide stance gives me plenty of stability for moose.

I don't know about anyone else but getting my heart rate down is what I start focusing on as soon as I see one, even before I know it's legal. If I don't It takes me another 30 seconds or so to become still and relaxed, and trust me that's no small task without a muzzle brake and a 400gn bullet leaving at 2550fps in a prone position, but it is very rewarding when that shot is flawlessy exicuted.

I try to see myself at the range with no pressure, If that doesn't work the opposite, like it's a life or death shot, that and the adrenaline sort of give me tunnel vision concentration. Without confidence in my equipment and repeatabile ability to hit at any distance to 750yds so far, I would always be nervous and never be confident of that first shot.

It takes alot of time and work to consistantly hit at longrange and I have alot of respect for those who learn the ins and outs of it. Without a solid rest your wasting your time and effort at LR. If you can not calm yourself and be STILL, an accurate rifle and load will be worthless and your chance at the animal will be gone. Perfect practice, makes perfect. Follow through, and call your shots. I say if you are surprised when the bullet flies you've done your job.
Brent Moffitt
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Old 12-09-2001, 04:17 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Canada
Posts: 268
Re: Shaking while shooting

Are you saying that you barely "touch" the rifle? It sounds like a "free recoil" in Heavy Gun class. The only thing you touch is the trigger. Only the bags hold the gun instead of you, correct? I mean you still have to hold both hands on the rifle but very lightly to prevent from falling off after you fired. The rifle rear butt is touch slightly on your shoulder like...say "less than 3/8 of an inch?"
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Old 12-09-2001, 05:49 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: May 2001
Posts: 2,369
Re: Shaking while shooting


About 90% of my shooting is from the prone position, as follows.

My right hand (I'm right handed and right eye dominant) loosely holds the palm swell, there is no real grip and I don't worry about the rifle getting away from me. I have some "non-skid" tape type stuff on the palm swell, it's cut into small pieces and placed under the positions that my finger tips and thumb occupy when properly positioned, this gives me a good tactile feel for when I'm properly positioned (It's just for positioning when shooting prone but provides a good grip surface when shooting "off-hand").

My right cheek is loosely on the rifle, I have a pad to adjust the comb height. I like the comb high enough so that while completely relaxed on the stock my eye is still centered on the scope. Basically, I could sleep in the prone position with my head on the rifle and still have a perfect sight picture when I open my eyes.

My left hand DOES NOT touch the rifle, it's on the sand sock that's UNDER the butt of the rifle, the sand sock is not at any time between the butt plate and my shoulder, it's not a recoil absorbsion device.

I apply enough shoulder pressure on the rifle butt to take the slack out of the bipod system. I don't tense-up but stay completely relaxed and "ride" with the rifle's recoil, sort of "free recoil" but my shoulder actually touches the rifle. I feel this forward pressure is necessary as it allows the me to control ALL points of pressure on the rifle. I believe that by not "loading" the bipod there is an unknown introduced, the unknown being the amount of recoil travel before all surfaces make contact.

I shoot ALL rifles in this manner, even the heavy recoil 338 Lapua and 338 RUM with the 300 Sierras.

I position my body directly (or as near directly as possible) behind and in-line with the rifle. This reduces some of the torquing that occurs when the shooter is positioned at an angle behind the rifle. Also, I feel that when shooting in the in-line manner the rifle returns to zero in most cases unlike the sideways jump usually experienced when shooting with an angled position. The shoulder MUST be positioned in the same place on the butt plate for ALL shots. We know about the "pocket" on the shoulder and placing the butt firmly there but the position I'm refering to is the shoulders' position reletive to the toe and heel. If the shoulder is too low on the butt and the contact is mainly on the "toe" of the butt the rifle will recoil with a bit more upward movement "jump", I prefer to have the butt a little low and have a bit more "heel" on my shoulder, this I feel make the rifle recoil straight to the rear and reduces "jump". However it's placed on and in the shoulder the butt pressure and position my be consistent.

Here's a photo of a good in-line position behind the rifle, notice no left hand on the rifle.
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Old 12-16-2001, 06:49 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Lancaster,CA
Posts: 16
Re: Shaking while shooting

thanks for the detailed descriptionI knew I had to change my own ways if I wanted to shoot >300y.I always thought I had to hold the front of the stock in my left hand to prevent the recoiling rifle to injure my eye socket and forehead.What would you say to such immature belief,or what do people wrong that get whacked?
2:I heard that one should push the rifle butt firmly into ones shoulder,among other things to minimize trauma from a recoiling rifle

thanks for further enlightenmend
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