When I was growing up my pop always had little words of wisdom he would pass along at peticular times, like "there's not substitute for tight", or "there's no substitute for a rest". Most of the time these little things seem to pop up when least expected.
I have through the years found that even a handfull of tall thick grass gathered up in a bunch, will help steady a shot. I generally carry at least a couple of different rest when I head to the country. One of the more versital ones I have found has been the Stoney Point Rapid Pod. It has a small ring which attaches to your front swivel stud, and allows you to quickly put on or remove a set of legs, which come in a couple of lengths. I have two sets of the 25" to 43" ones which I use most of the time. They are very quick to install and easily carried along when stalking through the woods. They are also steady enough to set up bi-pod style and have your rifle sitting ready next to you while glassing.
If by shooting "offhand" your referring to unrested shots then thats a whole other matter. It can be done with repeated practice and I have done my fair share of it. However, anything that you can use to stabilize yourself is best, and if you have something like that it is generally best to use your hand along side it to support your rifle. I have used trees rocks and even a dirt hill for support, and when I rested my rifle it was always off my had and not the hard surface. Resting on a hard surface will sometimes this will tweak the vibrations in such a way to throw your shot off.
Depending on the situation, I have used everything from the grass mentioned above torolled up jackets, fanny packs, to my binoc's for a rest to make shots out past 300yds, and the Stoney Point rest for a couple of shots out past 400yds.
IF your going to practice pure offhand shooting, be prepared for some humility even with your best shooting rig. I started at 50yds and it took a while to keep 3 shot groups under 3". After that 100yds was even more enlightening. For deer or anything else I would be very hard pressed to attempt a shot while not using something to help steady my shot.
Hope this helps and if you get a chance look around for one of the Stoney Point rigs and try it out. For the money, mine have more than paid for themselves several times over.
Practice, practice, practice. I think NRA rifle silhouette is some of the best practice one could get for pure off hand shooting. And it can be a lot of fun compitition-wise too! Find a club and give it a try. A lot of clubs have a practice night or a league also. Just watching some of the better shooters could give you an idea of technics used.
I always found it is easier to control movement than it is to hold still, while shooting off hand. So, I make it an effort to slowly move the rifle (or shot and touch it off when I get the sight picture I want.
For moving targets, I move in the same direction, overtaking the target and providing lead if necessary.
For still targets, I aim low and raise the rifle until I get my sight picture and pull the trigger.
It does work better, for me at least, than trying to hold still, off hand.
Bill, The jiffy sling is just your carrying sling set snug under your left upper arm (if you're right handed). It will help control the rifle if you're swinging for a moving shot. Hi-power competitors can't use a sling for the standing offhand stage, so they try to support the forend with their knuckles or fingertips and thumb, trying to get only bone from the forend down to the ground via forearm, ribcage, hip, leg, etc. they also use a shooting glove, or mitt and heavy, stiff shooting coat. Not practical for hunting, but the principle applies if shooting a stationary target. Practice position, aiming, dry-firing, and calling the "shot" when the trigger breaks. Shooting at bullseye targets helps develop good trigger control.... if your hit is outside your call, bad trigger control. If it's on, or inside call, good trigger control. If you start doing this, you will probably have what's called a 7 or 8 ring wobble. With a lot of practice. you can get it down to a 9 ring wobble. Few people ever consistently get to a 10 ring wobble, which in my opinion, is finally good enough to shoot at game offhand.
I am in general a lousy offhand shooter, and get panicky if I don't have something to rest on or against shooting at game. It is way different than shooting at targets.
There are shooters who seem to instinctively hit still or moving targets shooting offhand, but not many.
Offhand shooting is a good skill to have, but very hard to develop.
Good Hunting, Tom
Texas State Rifle Association Life Member
NRA Endowment Life Member
A big fast bullet will beat a little fast bullet every time