Mar 18, 2014, 1:00 AM EDT
From 340 yards away I was aiming downhill at an ibex walking uphill. My right leg was dangling off a cliff and the remainder of my body draped across the jagged rocks, but I was steady and took the shot. Down he went and at this moment I appreciated the benefits of being prone. If a hunter has a few moments to get into this position and the animal is not aware of his presence, the prone position can be one of the most effective and successful positions to take and is a common position used on mountain hunts. Additionally, mountain hunters will often mount a bi-pod onto their rifle. Not having a bi-pod attached to my rifle, I’ve used my jacket, backpack and even my lovely Swarovski binoculars to rest my rifle on, but I’ll do whatever it takes to create the steadiest position and rest possible!
Sitting is also one of the most deadly positions -especially if you have shooting sticks or a tree to rest upon. I typically sit Indian style positioning the right side of my body (especially my right arm) up against something be it a tree, rock, or my guide while my rifle rests on shooting sticks. If nothing is around to rest my right arm on, I’ll use my right knee. Sitting is a good position when you’re out in the open and your animal is not aware of your presence.
I have taken a lot of shots standing up; sometimes it’s off-hand or off sticks. I prefer to use the shooting sticks because I can better steady myself; but off-hand is necessary when you have a quick deliberate shot to make -especially at something wounded, running away, or at you. I broaden my stance while I rest my rifle on the sticks which further stabilizes me -if my feet are close together I will be more likely to sway. Shooting off sticks while standing up is very possible to do quickly, but that comes with practice.
The kneeling position is typically used when a quick shot has to be made at an animal you have discovered out in the open. If right handed, a hunter will rest their left elbow on their left knee while the right knee and shin is lying on the ground. This is a position that I suggest practicing in advance; I am personally not fond of this position because I don’t feel steady (without my right arm being braced) and I tend to rock… also because I haven’t practiced this position much.
Over the years I have learned not to let an opportunity pass. I might only be presented with one split-second chance at a unique or beautiful trophy; any delay in taking a shot could mean never getting that animal or seeing one again, so being steady and ready is key!
What is the most important thing you do to obtain a perfectly steady position when shooting a rifle?