Well-Known Member
Jul 17, 2001
Walla Walla, WA
In the latest issue of Precision Shooting (August 2001) there is an article by M.L. McPherson about bench testing techniques. On page 39 in the lower left of the page there is a photo of him shooting a lever action from the bench. The subtext describes why he is holding the forearm with his non-trigger hand (he states "while many guns will ride bags so that off hand can be used solely for minor elevation and windage tweaking by pinching rear bag, with heavy recoiling guns, better accuracy is sometimes achieved when foreend is held down and pulled back with off hand.") My question is should I probably be using this technique with my big game rifle? It is a 30 STW and I get 3100 fps out of the 200 grain Mosler Partition. The rifle and scope weigh 8.5#. Thanks for any input, Rufous.

The answer is two-fold. For a field shooting situation it is not likely to help and will probably hurt. For a bench shooting situation it might help.

Let me explain. In bench shooting techniques or bag techniques the effort is to control ( or not control in the free recoil method) the muzzle of the barrel so that when it moves during recoil it is not adding a vertical or horizontal component to the bullet's trajectory. Much effort is dedicated to this by extreme accuracy shooters. The method of bagging, the method of trigger pull, the method of follow through, etc. are all intended to avoid changing the point of bullet departure at the muzzle, during and after ignition. One method, the one you mention, to reduce this induced error is to hold the top of the barrel fore end and pull back with the off hand. The is more of an error mitigation technique than it is and error elimination technique, but for some shooters it can be effective. It is likely to only be effective in a well bagged situation which you are not likely to encounter when shooting in non bench positions.

I am assuming that you have a lightweight rifle so that you can pack it around the woods. I am also assuming that you won't be packing heavy sandbags with you. NRA (military) field shooting positions would be more appropriate as would supported light bagged positions when possible. It is not likely that the hand on the top technique would be helpful in any of these situations.

Perhaps someone else has a different opinion?

[ 08-01-2001: Message edited by: Warren Jensen ]
Warren, thanks for the reply. I am mainly wanting to come up with a bench technique with which I can accurately assess load development. The gun should shoot well under 0.75 MOA, possibly under 0.5 MOA and I want to minimize recoil-induced fliers (I am not talking about flinching). Yes the rifle is at that weight so that I can lug it up and down the mountains. The country I hunt is rugged and I do not wish to carry any more weight. I understand what you are saying about field shooting. I am a fine field shot and I use the Kramer Snipepods if necessary. I sometimes will have my off hand at the butt of the stock and sometimes will have it holding the foreend, depending on the shot. Anyway I was just wondering if many of you hold tightly to the foreend when shooting relatively light and hard kicking guns from the bench. I have had several times where the foreend came flying up out of the front rest, like it is bouncing off the front sand bag. Maybe my front bag is too tightly packed with sand? Rufous.

Bagging is part of the art of bench shooting techniques. I am certain others here have extensive experience and can offer their opinions.

For myself I never touch the rifle with my non-trigger hand.(I shoot both right and left handed). My off hand will be used to control the rear bag. On heavy recoiling rifles my trigger hand will pull the rifle into my shoulder. I have found that if after the shot the point of aim settles back to the identical pre-shot hold point then I will be inducing little or no deflection during recoil.

Many shooters have completely different bench techniques, but mine has to be adaptable to a lot of rifles the vast majority of which are not mine and do not fit me as I would like. If you are shooting only one or a few rifles and they fit you well then you can tailor your technique more closely. Bags are often tailored for the rifle and the shooter.

Try different bags, but if as a general rule your foreend is lifting then you need to lower the height of the rifle an inch or more. This can be done with lower bags or lowering the bench, or raise your stool. This will cause you to lean over more and shift the bearing on the butt higher on your shoulder.
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