When shooting for accuracy there is no better position than prone. It is the most stable of all shooting positions, with the exception of bench rest shooting where it runs a very close second. This is because more body parts are supported by the ground as opposed to other body parts.
Although a shooter’s view this low to the ground can be obstructed in the field, a smart shooter can usually find a compromise to allow this position to work well. If you have a choice always choose the position that allows the steadier hold. Below are some tips to make this shooting position work even better for you.
Rifle and body position
The rifle should always be aligned with the target before placing your body on the ground. The goal when taking your position is to align the body with the rifle, which is already aligned with the target, in a fashion that prevents any stress or straining to see the target through the scope. Your body should be completely relaxed with aim taken before the shot is fired.
Never support the barrel with a bag, bipod or any other type of rest. Always support the stock. Interfering with barrel harmonics and vibration can throw your shot off target drastically. Get more info on this topic here. Maximizing bone contact with the ground instead of muscle contact improves stability but never do anything that causes more tension in the body.
Rifle to shoulder position
Place the butt of the rifle stock into the pocket of your shoulder, not on the ball of the shoulder or the upper arm. Proper stock placement will result in recoil bringing the rifle straight back along the axis which is the centerline of the rifle and line from the front of the barrel to the target. When done correctly the rifle will not recoil off to the side, it will come straight back and pretty much stay on target.
Grip the rifle correctly
Actually the correct grip when shooting for long range accuracy is a very slight grip with the off hand helping to support the bottom of the stock, or to squeeze the bag if you are using one, under your shoulder pocket. The trigger hand should not be touching the rifle at all, or as little as possible, except for the finger on the trigger.
The rifle should be supported mostly by the bipod and the shoulder through the loading of the bipod (pushing forward with the shoulder).
Correct leg position is flat on the ground with toes turned outward. The object is to comfortably contact the ground in as many points as possible. Do not try so hard that you cause tension in your body . Whether your legs are directly behind the rifle or not depends on your build and the shape of your body. All of us are built differently and therefore will not be the same from shooter to shooter.
The greater the width of the legs the more stable the shooting position but don’t spread them so wide it causes tension else where in the body.
A shooter with a larger belly will probably find it more comfortable to bend one of the legs and roll a little to one side. This is allow better breathing, heart rate, etc.
Realize however that you will have less of your body in contact with the ground in this position and will lose a little steadiness there, but if you gain that back from better breathing and more comfort during the shot, this is the way to go.
Comfortable but solid cheek weld on the comb of the stock
Here again the object is comfort, no strain or stretch to see through the scope. Your head should be supported by the cheek riser. You should be able to close your eyes, get comfortable, reopen your eyes and be in perfect alignment with the scope and target.
Take exact aim
Now is the time to fine tune your aimpoint. Exactly in the middle of the target. Body still, no more still than that. If there is any stress in your body due to position now is the time to change your position to eliminate it. You should be able to hold almost perfectly still on your point of aim. Move and relax your body until you can.
Take a couple of deep breaths to get good oxygen levels in your blood stream. Then on the last breath, exhale slowly. Squeeze the trigger when you have one third to no breath left in you lungs. This is when you body is the most relaxed and still.
Squeeze the trigger
The correct trigger squeeze is slow but not so slow that you are out of breath and need to inhale again. If you are aware of exactly when the gun is going to go off, you are jerking the trigger. The best trigger press results in the shot being a surprise to the shooter.
Hold the trigger to the rear until you see impact. If the rifle is no longer on target after the shot your rifle bounced to one side or the other due to recoil. The desired outcome is for the rifle to move straight back, not bounce on the bipod legs, Here are a few things that could cause the rifle to bounce off target.
- Bipod feet not compatible with shooting surface
- Rifle stock is in the wrong position on your shoulder, not in the pocket
- Bipod not loaded correctly before the shot
- Cheek weld not solid
- Trigger was jerked as oppposed to squeezed.
There is a number of other things that can cause the rifle to bounce during recoil. You see this happen all of the time on youtube. I am not saying that this will cause you to not hit your target, but I will say that you can’t be as precise as you would like to be in this scenario.
Think about it, recoil starts well before the bullet exits the end of the barrel. Even though this is only a fraction of a second it can move the barrel a tiny fraction of an inch causing misses to get larget the longer the range. Figure out what is causing your rifle to bounce and eliminate the cause. Your consistency will improve.