MARKSMANSHIP BASICS - How hard do you hold


Well-Known Member
Jul 16, 2016
Interested to hear opinions on how "tight" to hold the rifle during the bench and also field firing procedure.

#1 Do you control the rifle with both left and right hands?

The support hand is typically used for toe support. If used with a squeeze bag then then there are a few ways to manipulate the stock still with your index and thumb. Simple answer, both hands are on the rifle.

#2 Do you vary the hold according to the caliber and weight of the rifle?

No, universal: the recoil is always going to be straight back on a proper rifle. If your technique for recoil management is solid, recoil at any reasonable magnum with reasonable proportioned weight of rifle, proper technique can over come. Unless you weight 80 lbs. like my wife.

#3 Do you vary the hold depending on the field shooting position?

Sometimes. Shooting off odd structures, barricades and off your knees in a sitting position, requires some alterations. Off hand supported or off hand using an sniper cradle will vary.

#4 Do you prefer vertical pistol grips vs curved grip design? Doesn’t matter as long as you don’t disturb the rifle and can still mitigate recoil. If you can follow your shot consistently then you are doing it right.


Hand Skills

Well-Known Member
Nov 1, 2017
I try to manage caffeine as I would stress.

With zero, not much is going to happen, but too much is counterproductive.

As for the hold, somewhere between a terrible handshake (think limp fish) and a good one

(closer to the 'limp fish' than the 'honest man'. :cool:)

Grip scales with blood pressure though - the harder my blood is pumping, the harder I have too hold to keep things steady.

What kind of a sportsman shoots under stress anyway o_O whoops, wrong forum again :D


Well-Known Member
May 29, 2014
South Dakota
A lot depends on the cartridge.
I do not hold my 416 Rigby the same as my 513T 22 LR.
On heavy recoil rifles I hold onto the fore end with my knuckles not quite white while keeping that arm as straight as possible.
On a target 22 I hold the rifle gently often with an open hand on the fore arm.
On lever action light carbines like my 1894 Winchester I like it’s straight grip.
On target rifles I like a curved grip.
I dislike straight grips like on AR-15’s. Thumbhole stocks are for the wood burner.
I don’t like to shoot my Rigby while lying prone, so that would not fit into the picture.

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