The only way that you’ll ever reach a high level of proficiency with your firearm is through trigger time. An intimate understanding of your weapon’s capabilities and limitations will teach how to place the bullets where you want them, The more time you spend with your gun, shooting from multiple positions at the range and hunting, the more you’ll understand it. There are no shortcuts.
While training to shoot, make sure to familiarize yourself with a variety of shooting positions, not just from a bench equipped with sandbags. Of course, benches are ideal for getting your rifle sighted in, but once that’s taken care of, you need to explore postures and positions that are likely to be encountered in real-world hunting situations. By doing this, you’ll have a better understanding of which shooting postures work best for you at various distances.
Mental Firing Checklist
No matter what stance you’re using, ask yourself the following questions before you take a shot: Do I have a good rest? Is my breathing under control? Is my grip on my rifle secure, but not so strong that it’s torquing the rifle? What is my point of impact? Have I picked the exact spot that I want to hit?
You can practice this checklist in your spare time at home by dry-firing your rifle. It’s a great way to familiarize yourself with your hunting weapon.
Each of the above positions would be improved by the use of a rest. A rest is anything that helps steady the rifle for the shot. When stand, you can rest the rifle against a tree to get more stability. When kneeling, a set of shooting sticks or a propped-up backpack can work. For prone shots, you can use about anything: wadded-up clothes, sleeping pads, fixed or detachable bipods, even a rock.
Over-the-Shoulder Shooting Technique
This shooting method is used by so few people that it qualifies as a secret. When a natural rest cannot be found, and when ground cover rules out shooting from a prone position, you can use the back of your hunting partner to get a solid rest and radically increase your effective shooting range. When you’re ready to fire, tell your buddy to hold his breath and plug his ear. Then run through your normal shooting routine. It’s deadly. For the target, that is.