How to Shoot a Rifle from Improvised Positions

Shooting off of a benchrest is great for sighting in your rifle or teaching new shooters. But out in the field, be it hunting, shooting competition, or even combat – there isn’t a nice firing line with a comfortable and stable shooting bench. These type of shooting conditions is often called shooting from an “improvised position” and it is a very important skill for practical rifle shooting.

Shooting off of a benchrest is great for sighting in your rifle or teaching new shooters. But out in the field, be it hunting, shooting competition, or even combat – there isn’t a nice firing line with a comfortable and stable shooting bench. These type of shooting conditions is often called shooting from an “improvised position” and it is a very important skill for practical rifle shooting.

In order to take our static shooting range skills and turn them into practical skills, we need to become proficient at making fast and accurate shots from these improvised positions.

Sling Management

A sling is a very useful tool for any rifle. Utilizing it correctly can provide extra stability in improvised rifle shooting. There are many different techniques for using a sling, but they all boil down to creating tension on the sling to hold the rifle in place – reducing sway.

Proper Sitting and Kneeling Technique

The conventional wisdom says the closer to the ground the rifle is, the more stable it is. That’s where video game mechanics come from – if a rifleman kneels, their shooting becomes more accurate. But that’s not quite true. Kneeling doesn’t inherently make a rifleman more accurate, using proper technique while kneeling or sitting does.

Shooting while sitting or kneeling only provides additional stability due to using a knee as extra support by propping up an elbow on the shooters legs. Without getting that extra bit of support, kneeling does nothing to increase accuracy.

Using a Barricade for Support

Using a physical object is an excellent way to gain support (and concealment/cover) when you are unable to get low to the ground. We’ve written about shooting off of a barricade before.

Improvised Position Dry Fire Practice

Thankfully, practicing shooting from improvised positions is very easy to do at home without any ammo. The first step is to get comfortable in various improvised shooting positions. Take a seat or a knee, play around with the sling, and experiment with different positions and figure out what works well for your body size. Try and find as many ways as you can to make your body as stable as possible. The more improvised shooting positions we have at our disposal, the greater chance we’ll have one that works with any situation we encounter.

Once you get comfortable with a variety of improvised shooting positions, stand up, and then take your shooting position, and dry fire once. Stand back up, and repeat. The ability to quickly get in and out of shooting positions is often what differentiates the top shooting competitors and the competitors that can’t quite get on the podium.

The more instinctual getting into an improvised shooting position is, the faster you get in and out of position, and the more you can focus on your target.

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Brian Purkiss
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Brian Purkiss is a firearms instructor, competitive shooter, proponent for individual liberty and Second Amendment rights, and a web developer. He enjoys competing in and organizing Run and Gun Competitions, as well as shooting in USPSA, Outlaw matches, and 3 Gun.