Dave Barham

Dave Barham turns to the In­ter­net for help with his stand­ing shots

Airgun World - - Contents -

Dave dis­cov­ers a new trick to aid sta­bil­ity for his dodgy back

It’s been a month since my back de­cided to go all wonky on me, and while I’m now al­lowed to sit down at my desk and write, I’m hav­ing to be quite care­ful with what I do and how long I do it for.

‘An hour at a time,’ is what I’ve been told by my chi­ro­prac­tor, whether it be sit­ting and writ­ing, or stand­ing and shoot­ing, I’m to do no more and rest up for an hour be­tween tasks.

I was hop­ing to get out shoot­ing some rab­bits this month at a lo­cal pad­dock, but my chi­ro­prac­tor said, ‘no’. That warn­ing pushed me to re­search my stand­ing shoot­ing tech­nique fur­ther, be­cause I still can’t get down to my usual sit­ting shoot­ing po­si­tion and I still have the urge to shoot – even if it’s just pa­per tar­gets and tin cans in my back gar­den!

After a good old delve into the depths of the In­ter­web I dis­cov­ered some re­ally use­ful in­for­ma­tion, which has helped me out no end whilst prac­tis­ing. What’s more, I’ve learned a rather nifty sling tech­nique, which is go­ing to come in very use­ful when I’m back out in the field, hunt­ing.


Dur­ing my ex­ten­sive search I stum­bled across two well-known stances for tak­ing stand­ing shots; the fight­ing stance and the tar­get shooter’s stance.

The ‘fight­ing stance’ is a po­si­tion you step into, and is one that is used by the mil­i­tary world­wide. Your body is at a slight an­gle to the tar­get, with the left foot in front of the right (if you are a right-handed shooter). Your feet should be shoul­der-width apart, knees slightly flexed – don’t lock them. You should have a slight bend in your torso, and roll your shoul­ders for­ward while try­ing to re­lax your mus­cles.

Your left hand should have a firm hold of the fore end of the stock, and both of your el­bows should be slightly splayed.

The faster you can set­tle into po­si­tion and re­lease your shot, the bet­ter your re­sults be­cause if you spend too much time think­ing about it, you’ll be­gin to tense up and this will af­fect your aim.

I took some pho­tos of my stance and dis­cov­ered that my left foot is pointed straight at the tar­get, my right foot is about shoul­der width apart and pointed at 45 de­grees to the tar­get, which all seems to be cor­rect.


The ‘tar­get’ stance re­quires you to stand more side-on to your tar­get, with your left shoul­der lead­ing (if you’re a right-handed shooter). Your left hip is pushed for­wards, and the left el­bow tucked into the left hip. Do­ing this makes your left hand drop too low, so you will have to stretch your fin­gers or use a small bean­bag to sup­port the fore end of the stock. It’s not a stance I feel com­fort­able with, but for many it can work well,


Stand­ing to shoot is the most high-pro­file po­si­tion and there­fore the least sta­ble. It also uses the most mus­cles. Your arms are the weak­est link. No­body can hold a ri­fle even rel­a­tively steady for very long, so ob­vi­ously arm strength is an is­sue.

I read a very in­ter­est­ing piece about the use of arms when tak­ing stand­ing shots, and after re­view­ing my stance I tried this tip and it felt so much more solid.

For the most part I had been shoot­ing with my right arm (trig­ger-fin­ger arm) tucked into my body. Then I read about lift­ing the el­bow to above hor­i­zon­tal to help pull the ri­fle butt into my shoul­der, and after just five min­utes of shoot­ing like this I could feel the ef­fect.

To do this, you need to keep your trig­gerfin­ger el­bow no lower than hor­i­zon­tal – higher is bet­ter be­cause this helps to set the butt into the shoul­der more. Give it a try and see how you get on with it.


This is an­other great tech­nique I dis­cov­ered on­line, and it’s very pop­u­lar with hunters shoot­ing small and full-bore ri­fles in the USA, where tak­ing a stand­ing shot at live game is of­ten a ne­ces­sity. It’s called the ‘hasty sling tech­nique’, and it’s re­ally easy to set up. What’s more, it gives a far more sta­ble plat­form to shoot from. You should try it and see if it helps you, too.

All you have to do is hold the ri­fle in your right hand and slide your left arm (sup­port­ing arm) as far for­ward as pos­si­ble so the sling strap sits on your tri­cep.

Now grab the fore end of the stock with your left hand and place the butt of the ri­fle into your right shoul­der, with the sling still sit­ting on your sup­port­ing arm tri­cep. If you’ve done it right, the whole set-up should lock up and you can stand there hold­ing the ri­fle with just your left hand for a much longer pe­riod than you could with­out the sling.

I used to do some­thing sim­i­lar by wrap­ping the strap around my wrist, which does also help, but as soon as you com­pare that tac­tic to the ‘hasty sling’ method, there’s no go­ing back, I can as­sure you.


I’ve re­ally been en­joy­ing th­ese stand-up shoot­ing ses­sions, and the more I do it the more ac­cu­rate I’m be­com­ing. I know that tak­ing a shot at live quarry from a stand­ing po­si­tion is al­ways go­ing to be a last re­sort for me when out hunt­ing, but it feels good to know that I can hit my mark at close range if I need to.

As soon as I’m given the all clear by my chi­ro­prac­tor, I shall be back out in the field, and putting some long-awaited meat on my ta­ble, I hope! Happy hunt­ing folks.

By rais­ing your trig­ger fin­ger el­bow above hor­i­zon­tal, it forces the ri­fle butt deeper into your shoul­der. Dave used to wrap his sling around his fore­arm for added sta­bil­ity – not any­more! With the sling wrapped tightly around the wrist, it does add a de­gree of sta­bil­ity.

Dave’s nor­mal stand­ing stance is okay, but a few mi­nor ad­just­ments made all the dif­fer­ence.

Your left foot should be point­ing at the tar­get, with your right foot a shoul­der’s width apart, at about 45 de­grees. To per­form a ‘sling-as­sisted hold’, hold the ri­fle in your right hand and pull the sling as far up your left arm as pos­si­ble. Now grab the ri­fle stock with your left hand and place the butt into your right shoul­der.

Give it a try, you can hold the ri­fle for ages with your left hand be­cause a lot of the weight is taken by your up­per left arm.

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