How to shoot off hand while hunting
Shooting off hand is a skill frequently encountered in the field, but rarely practiced at the range.
You peek at the calendar and see gun deer season rapidly approaching. You get yourself some ammo and head to the range to get dialed. You shoot a few three shot groups off a bench, get a decent zero, and feel pretty good about your chances.
Opening day rolls around and, instead of waiting till you’re nice and setup in you blind with your gun on shooting sticks, a buck pops out at 80 yards. Do you have the confidence to take that off-hand shot?
You can’t always rely on solid rest, whether that’s the windowsill of a deer blind, a branch, or shooting sticks; sooner or later, you’ll get a chance to tag a buck, but only if you can place an accurate, ethical shot off hand. (To listen to these tips instead, join our podcast team for this 10-Minute Talk on Off-Hand Shooting.)
Here’s a few tips and tricks from Team Vortex on how to maximize your off-hand accuracy:
1. Practice, practice, practice.
Yeah, yeah, we know that you know. But here’s why it’s so crucial: Taking the time to practice shooting off hand not only helps you develop the skill, but it also helps you learn your rifle’s unique shooting characteristics. Every rifle has its own balance, trigger break, and fit, and you can’t hope to fire accurately off hand unless you’re intimately familiar with your gun during all phases of the shooting cycle. Dry fire is great for getting warmed up, but you’ll need to put some rounds down range to build confidence through the recoil. (If you want to learn more about shooting long-range under stress, checkout this blog.)
2. Accept that you will move.
Shooting off hand is about managing movement, not trying to force yourself to be absolutely still. The little circles, dips, and shakes are all part of holding your rifle with no rest, and you need to learn to shoot with them. There are all kinds of tips and tricks on managing movement, but we’re big on making sure you’re still shooting with the proper fundamentals. Start with a solid base, feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider. Get your lead hand in a comfortable spot. Here’s where it gets tricky: In learning to shoot with the movement, avoid slapping or jerking the trigger when your point of aim touches your intended target. Remember to keep sound shooting fundamentals, like squeezing the trigger, consistent no matter the shot.
3. Make sure your optic is working with you.
It’s a simple fact: The higher you go in your optic’s power range, the more those circles and shakes will be amplified. You have a number of options here, the easiest of which is to keep your optic’s power at a level that allows you to place an ethical shot but remains in the lower end of its range. Another option is—if you plan on shooting off-hand frequently—getting a scope that has a lower low end than you might be used to. A great example is the Viper® HS™ 2.5-10x44. With a low end of 2.5, you can comfortably shoot at distances where off-hand shooting will be most effective while avoiding the over-magnification of your natural movements.
There's no perfect solution to shooting accurately off hand. It often involves a combination of practice, form, and choosing the right optic.
The biggest hurdle to off-hand shooting is likely going to be a lack of practice. And we all know there’s only one way to fix that …
Want some more content to get you hyped for whitetail season? Checkout this blog on the best glass for whitetail country, and listen in as our podcast team talks Unorthodox Whitetail Tactics with Zack from The Hunting Public.
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