The Offhand Position- Part 3

Range results, Day 1:

Ever just have a bad day at the range?  Me neither, but during this outing I was really disappointed in my shooting.

There are only 9 shots on the paper out of 10 fired at a distance of 100 yards.  The ones that are on the paper form a “pattern” approximately 8.6″ big.  My hold felt shaky and my trigger press became a trigger mash.  I wanted a little too badly to do well and I ended up rushing myself a bit.

Obviously this did not meet my goal.

Range results, Day 2:

Well at least I’m consistent.  My group turned out to be approximately 8.6″.  The largest spread was left to right.  At least this time I was able to measure all 10 shots.  I actually called all of the shots on the paper, with the top cluster in the top third of the page.  I must have picked up a flinch during the string.  I know there was a flinch afterward, because I dry fired between live fire strings.  I’m still disappointed, but at least I know where I’m really at.  That’s really important.

My hold actually felt a little better than the previous outing, and a little more familiar to what it feels like in dry fire.  There’s still a mental difference (“oh boy, there’s a real round in the chamber this time”).

Something that was interesting was after firing the above group I put a clay out.  One shot, one dead clay:

I reconstructed it.  It appears as though I hit it in the upper right corner:

I decided to put a couple more clays out.  My way of thinking is, one could be luck.  Two could be coincidence.  But three is somewhat meaningful.  So another shot, another dead clay.  I chambered the next round and…  high left- the two hits in a row must have been coincidence.  I chambered another round and… left.  I chambered another and… another dead clay.  60% hit ratio.

To sum it all up, I put in a lot of practice, and it looks like I’m about an 8-9 moa shooter in the offhand position. I don’t consider that a very good return on my investment.  I might be a little better with clays, probably because of the solemn vow I took to seek them out and destroy them.  I will definitely revisit the offhand position to try to get the groups down.  Also, I need to man up and stop flinching.  Maybe some Highpower Silhouette is in order.

I realize that my performance isn’t doing anything to build my credibility for anyone to want to read the blog.  I think part of the reason the groups look so bad is that no one is willing to post groups that look like what I’ve posted.  I’m hoping that my bad performance will pave the way for you to get your rifle off the bench and see what happens.  I’m really stretching for a positive here, I know.

My advise would be, if you shoot better than me, don’t take my advise.  Give me some advise.  If you shoot worse, then maybe this article can help you.  Either way, share your results.

Addendum:

After writing all this I was going through some old targets and found this:

                                  9 Shots- Approximately 5.4″
I shot that on 7/5/10 with the Remington 700 on stage 1 of the “Advanced AQT” Appleseed target from the offhand position at 100 yards (same distance as all the previously posted targets).  The actual time limit should have been 2 minutes, but I spaced it and thought it was 55 seconds.  I gave myself 20 extra seconds as a handicap due to the hinged floorplate bolt action for a total of 75 seconds.  I only got 9 shots off out of 10.

I checked my notes from that time period.  It said that I had been practicing my hold by alternating days with a heavy rifle (Sako TRG-42, ~16 lbs) for strength, and a very light rifle (Savage Mk. II) for steadiness.  This would have been on alternating days, with the heavy rifle on workout days.  I was also practicing my hold with a kettlebell (basically a 35 lb. cast iron cannonball with an oval shaped handle cast into the top).

This target begs the question: did my shooting get that much worse over time?  I firmly believe that my capacity for accurate offhand shooting is actually the best it has ever been after all my recent practice.  So what made the difference?  I don’t think the superior accuracy of the Remington was the dominant factor here.  I believe it was the greater recoil of the Sako over the Remington.

The Remington, with a 26″ Kreiger barrel, shoots a 168 grain bullet at about 2720 feet per second.  The Sako, with a 22.875″ factory barrel, shoots a 185 grain bullet at about the same speed.  The Remington weighs 15.5 pounds.  The Sako weighs 8.4.  It takes a long day of shooting with the Remington to induce a flinch.  Apparently it doesn’t take long with the Sako.  Guess I’ll have to work on that.

7 thoughts on “The Offhand Position- Part 3

    • Yessir! I’m with Bob here.

      Nobody likes to admit to flinching but I believe it is a natural tendancy for anybody with a central nervous system and know it is one of my biggest challenges to consistent shooting (along with poor trigger control, inconsistent cheekweld, insufficient dry- and live-fire practice and a bunch other things too numerous to mention) 🙂

  1. I was going to suggest you try shooting silhouette if you really want to improve your offhand. Though most silhouette shooters use a more traditional target hold that you refer to as standing versus offhand. Personally I feel standing refers to shooting that is done with jackets, gloves and slings all strapped up like 50m Olympics and High Power Match Rifle, 10m Air rifle etc. While offhand would imply it is just the shooter and the rifle with a shooting vest at most. We shoot at clay targets offhand on the Turkey berm for fun and it is amazing how much smaller your hold gets when aiming at something so small compared to a Turkey silhouette at just short of 1/4 mile away. As for flinching my father taught me how to shoot and he was a Marine marksmanship instructor. His advice about dealing with recoil was simple enough. He would say you know it is coming so don’t even think about it. Once you think about the recoil before you pull the trigger odds are you just missed. So just know the recoil is going to come and concentrate your focus on making the shot. Hit or miss you will still get the recoil so you might as well hit. I can shoot 300 rounds offhand at a match and still not be flinching at the end. If anything I am even more in tune with the recoil the longer I shoot a match.

    • I can tell you know your subject matter. Thank you for the advice.

      My dilemma is whether the study of offhand for maximum accuracy is practical. My conclusion thus far has been that sacrificing some accuracy in offhand for speed is likely to be more effective in situations where offhand is the best position.

      On the other hand, offhand accuracy is kind of an American staple of manhood. Even if it’s not completely practical, it seems like the ability to beat your friends at it makes it a worthy endeavor.

      I’m sure I’ll make it to a highpower silhouette match sooner or later.

      Thanks for reading.

      –RS

  2. Sadly (for me), your 100 yard offhand looks not too far from my 100 yard prone with my .22lr. I guess I need to keep working on things.

    That said, I got some exciting news this week – I am coming into possession of an old Remington 700 chambered for .222 Remington. It is essentially brand new (has had roughly twenty rounds fired through it). I am really excited to have a centre fire gun with a scope to practice dry firing with.

    • I really wish they did Appleseed events here, but alas it is an American thing. I will keep working at it though. I have some decent resources, and have been getting some video of myself shooting prone. The worst part is that I am a large inflexible kind of guy, and I find it hard to do what I am “supposed to do,” with respect to where my arms are. Only time will tell if I get more comfortable with this position.

      I plan on reloading for the .222 – I have read that handloads can really make the accuracy top notch. The worst is waiting to get my hands on the thing – I can pick it up this weekend. Have to wait a bit to get the reloading gear though. That means I won’t be able to shoot the thing nearly as much as I would like. 😛

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