How many offhand shots before back pain?

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I'm 77 and wound up with enough metal in my body that I don't go out in lightning storms and i won't be buried, I'll be scrapped! My body doesn't recognize opioids, They gave me Vicodin extra strength which had NO effect on me. After taking the first one years ago I put 3 fingers of Jack in a glass and drank it. 20 minutes later the pain was all gone. So now I keep a 30 day supply of regular strength Vicodin on hand, which takes me about 6 months to deplete, and a bottle of Old Crow bourbon on hand. It's the cheapest Burbon on the shelf, what i can afford on my "fixed income".
 

zimmerstutzen

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weight lifting may not be toning the same muscles that you need to strengthen for offhand shooting. I have a few long term lung conditions, at 70, but I still farm, bale and stack hay, carry and throw bales everyday while feeding the livestock, etc. Had a tractor w/o power steering that I drove for 20 years. (That kept the shoulders working) Plus a lot of rough terrain walking. I feel a lot better since I lost 40 pounds last year. got another 25 to go. Mrs talked me into a kayak trip/tour last summer. I was surprised at the young folks in the group, complaining about how tough it was and how their shoulders ached. The other thing about offhand, is that some people use a stance that really twists the low back. Don't know if that is from military training or where it comes from. I put my feet shoulder width apart. If you draw a line from toe to toe and keep going it would go straight to the target. My right should only comes two or three inches off that line toward the target.
 
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The other thing about offhand, is that some people use a stance that really twists the low back. Don't know if that is from military training or where it comes from. I put my feet shoulder width apart. If you draw a line from toe to toe and keep going it would go straight to the target. My right should only comes two or three inches off that line toward the target.
If people are doing the traditional offhand stance correctly, it OUGHT to avoid putting stress on the lower back -- and this includes the teaching of it in various military books and manuals on 3-position shooting. The rifle forearm (for a right-handed shooter) rests on the palm of the upturned left hand. The left elbow rests on the chest near the sternum and provides support/stability for that left hand and the forearm support. To avoid that position stressing the back, you have to lean back at the waist with a reasonably open stance. The point of this is to eliminate as much stress as possible in supporting the gun while providing a highly stable hold. This is a pretty crude description of the stance, but I think captures the important basics. In the local matches I shoot in, I see very few shooters conforming to this model, but I have no idea why.
 
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Using the stance as described by @doubleset, the natural position for a rifle with a crescent butt plate is between the bicep and the shoulder and is a very stable position. It was the natural position for my 12 pound Hawken rifle replica with a crescent butt plate.
 
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Good point. You may need to experiment with the position a bit. And I think BP rifles may be somewhat more difficult to shoot with this stance because of the increased drop at comb. An alternative may be to cultivate your ability to "snap shoot" -- and so not remain in a position that puts strain on the back muscles for more than a moment. I'm really experimenting with both of these with my BP rifles.
 

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If people are doing the traditional offhand stance correctly, it OUGHT to avoid putting stress on the lower back -- and this includes the teaching of it in various military books and manuals on 3-position shooting. The rifle forearm (for a right-handed shooter) rests on the palm of the upturned left hand. The left elbow rests on the chest near the sternum and provides support/stability for that left hand and the forearm support. To avoid that position stressing the back, you have to lean back at the waist with a reasonably open stance. The point of this is to eliminate as much stress as possible in supporting the gun while providing a highly stable hold. This is a pretty crude description of the stance, but I think captures the important basics. In the local matches I shoot in, I see very few shooters conforming to this model, but I have no idea why.

There is absolutely no physical way for a human to rest an elbow on or near the sternum. I cannot rest my elbow on my ribs. The muscles on the underside of my upper arm can rest against the rib cage on the side.

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58. Not much problems shooting. But the put up and tear down of my trade tent and fly does my back in. I’m a believer in aleve. 2 shots of dark rum and a Miller High life. Kind of a secret but I’ll share with y’all
'Bout twenty years ago a couple pals and I put together a little pickup-band. One of us was a very good musician (not me) - the other two of us were "so-so" at best. Somehow we landed on a name for our band: "Two Norcos and a Beer." Haven't thought about it for a long time - until now.. Thanks for sharing your secret!
 

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I am in my late 60's. I have a underdeveloped L5 from birth only discovered 7 yrs ago. My L5 is missing its facets which separate the vertebrae. I get severe leg and hip pain as well as back pain as a result of pinched nerves. Standing is the worst for me as my legs get painful then they go in to a state of paralysis so I have to keep on the move or find a place to sit. I can shoulder 15 # rifles without issue but is a pain when standing to reload. I take nerve blockers but wont use them during the day. The Docs said I should have had this by the time I was twenty. The Corps kept me in good shape and never had any issues till now. Not supposed to carry heavy weight but still need to throw bales and carry feed sacks. I have a walker and a chair if needed. I can sometimes walk it out but not always. On the trail i often have to shoot then sit and shoot again. Shooting chickens on silhouette is real tough. Some will let me sit and shoot off hand from the chair. I am doing everything I can to keep on the go. The docs say the rest of my body is prime donor material and I will out live y'all.
 
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There is absolutely no physical way for a human to rest an elbow on or near the sternum. I cannot rest my elbow on my ribs. The muscles on the underside of my upper arm can rest against the rib cage on the side.
Well, yes and no, and I'm not sure what to make of your picture since it doesn't show the arm, but only the sternum. However, to clarify ...

My reference to the sternum was an approximation (which is why I said " This is a pretty crude description of the stance, ..."), but you're quite wrong about resting your elbow "on or near the sternum". This stance is one in which the elbow ends up very close to the bottom of the sternum and not further to the side on the rib cage. I can't seem to put my hands on my old US Army shooting booklets, but this is described in detail in there, and shooters in service rifle and NRA High Power classes are very familiar with it. It's generally referred to as the "arm rested standing position" or the "supported standing position", and the left arm lies diagonally across the chest with the elbow very near the lower sternum. You are in fact correct that the support is provided by the upper arm as it lies across the chest in this diagonal position. The rifle forearm may then be supported by the palm, but the position is sufficiently "central" that many right-handed shooters will support the forearm on the extended thumb of the left hand (with palm/fist turned towards the shooter). If you're shooting a more contemporary service rifle such as an M16 or M15, then the rifle is supported by the palm under the bottom of the magazine.

It takes practice to get into this position, and do so in a way that is both effective and relaxed. But it really works.
 
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So, I’m (a still farming & it hurts) 70 and a former NRA Master rating in 50 meter free rifle. I’ll mostly reinforce stuff already mentioned…
Natural Point of Aim: (NPA) A lot of bad shooting and old guy pain is caused by trying to point somewhere your body doesnt. Try getting in your stance, aim at the target, and then close your eyes. If you’re not still pointing at the x-ring, then adjust feet, shouldering, arm support,etc until you are
Arm Support: The aforementioned stance of supporting the fore end with the palm on a military rifle magazine is essentially what the free rifle guys are doing with a palm rest. The left arm rests against the left side of the chest with an elbow on the hip. That causes an ungodly twist to the back, so you may not want to do that. Padding (up to 6” of stuff may be required) between your arm and your chest or your elbow and your hip will help natural point of aim. A 6” wood block under the fore end will raise the rifle to your NPA
Stock Drop: Free rifle guys shoot with a very short stock and 6” of drop, so don’t worry about muzzleloading rifles large drop at heel. Try to get a natural upright head position even if you end up with the rifle out on your arm as mentioned as being correct for a crescent buttplate. You probably won’t be able to get a firm cheek weld, so don’t worry if you end up with your cheekbone a couple of inches above the stock. Just lightly rest some part of your face against the stock
Shooting Sticks: I’ve heard the the guys who build safari caliber double rifles use X shaped shooting sticks to test fire big bores that can’t be shot from a bench due to recoil. A hiking stick could be used to support your left hand if you don’t want the wide X sticks. I’ve heard that our forefathers did a lot of game shooting leaning against a tree, so support may be HC
Drugs: My wife’s hospital uses the Ibuprofen/Tylenol blend—clinical studies show it’s almost as effective as opioids without the side effects. GI bleed and liver stress are still issues, though
Physical Therapy: I’ve had better luck with that vs. chiropractic
Strengthening: Weight lifting is good, but you want to strengthen very specific muscles. Try dry firing every day, perhaps with added weight on the rifle. Can also use dumbels in your shooting position
Supplements: I’ve been taking 2x a day of fish oil, turmeric, and resveratrol. Really helps. I sheepishly told my doc about it and he says he does the fish oil and turmeric for an NSAID effect, so now I don’t feel sheepish. He was going to look into Resveratrol. There is a commercial version of that combo seen on late night TV. Not recommended ‘cause that contains Horny Goat Weed which can have cardiac effects
 
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Another tip. At your NPA, The rifle is going to wobble around the target. Improvement in off hand shooting mostly comes from reducing the range of wobbling. Don’t try to steer the rifle around. Just let it wobble. It’s often in kind of a figure 8 around the target. If you try to steer, you’ll end up having to hold the rifle up for too long which causes fatigue. With a set trigger and a heavy rifle, you don’t have to worry so much about trigger pull moving the rifle off target. So you can “snatch” the trigger a bit. It you can get a consistent figure 8 wobble through dry firing, you can fire as the sights are approaching the aim point. Sort of like leading a target with a shotgun
 

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I read somewhere, that Harry Pope designed his rifles, bullets and cleaning accessories in part with the object of reducing fatigue during offhand matches.

Years ago, I frequently competed against a guy called "Woody" from out in the Shenandoah Valley. Woody was a great offhand shooter. He shot this stubby heavy barrel 38 caliber muzzle loader. The barrel might have been one inch or slightly more across the flats and only about 22 inches long. And he shot what I thought were very mild loads around 15 or 20 grains. He said the short barrel was balanced perfectly for him, but still had enough heft not to bounce around. I guess it worked because he normally won the 25 and 50 yd matches. IIRC correctly, he did beef up the charges a bit for 75 and 100 yd matches. I held his rifle up to aim once and it sure seemed to be just right for shooting all day. Woody was about 65 yrs cld back then.
 
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Another tip. At your NPA, The rifle is going to wobble around the target. Improvement in off hand shooting mostly comes from reducing the range of wobbling. Don’t try to steer the rifle around. Just let it wobble. It’s often in kind of a figure 8 around the target. If you try to steer, you’ll end up having to hold the rifle up for too long which causes fatigue. With a set trigger and a heavy rifle, you don’t have to worry so much about trigger pull moving the rifle off target. So you can “snatch” the trigger a bit. It you can get a consistent figure 8 wobble through dry firing, you can fire as the sights are approaching the aim point. Sort of like leading a target with a shotgun

I think that pretty much describes what I'm finding. If I try to hold the rifle up and get the front sight centered on the bull I end up having to hold it too long and the wobble gets worse. What I've been doing lately that seems to work better for me is to slowly raise the rifle and as the front sight crosses over the bull I fire without ever really coming to a complete stop. My shot placement has improved since I started doing this.

I'd never done much offhand rifle shooting and it's certainly a lot different than shooting from a rest.
 
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I'm 77 and have chronic back pain. Sometimes not to bad and sometimes really troublesome. Shooting a heavy barreled gun would be a real culprit. My back troubles affect my walking more than my shooting though. Ibuprofen is my friend.
Common enough it seems. At 80 I’ve the same issues. What rifle shooting I do are breech loaders off a bench. Percussion revolvers aren’t an issue. Walking is an chore and I avoid taking any OTC medications due to a past heart issue.
 
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I'm 76, and thanks to Vietnam and Agent Orange, my back and hips are about toast. VA takes pretty good care of me - three MD's and two Neurologists, plus some Cardio guys (yeah, it got my heart also - blew out the bottom!).
I am OK with about 20 rounds, but greatly prefer firing from the table. And there is no way I can walk out and change targets. I make about 25 yards, and cannot move the hips due to the pain. Got holes in the spinal column, "Myelo Malachia".
Couple weeks ago I fell in TSC, landed with my butt on the corner of a shipping pallet. Upshot was, broke both the coccyx and the sacrum. My new pain doc (VA referral) repaired it surgically, operating mostly robotically (!). Instant relief of that pain, only had two small (.25 cal) holes in my back. I take a few synthetic opoids daily, but the main pain relief is from Gabapentin (Neurontin). That twice a day pill is a miracle worker, believe me.
So, I sit mostly when I shoot. Not too bad, when you get used to it. But, I do have three ML revolvers to shoot, but they are still all 3 virgins.
Started shooting ML's back in 1960 - the smell is apparently about as addictive as some of the stronger illegal drugs!
Holy crap man. Now I feel like a junior senior instead of an 80 year old with spinal stenosis and an prosthetic right hip. Guess one can always find some one with bigger issues than one’s own. 😜 A little Arthur in the hands but no problems holding the six shooters.
 
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Since this subject started back in February my back problem has morphed into a sciatic problem that seems to be about ten times worse than an errant back. Instead of just interfering with walking the sciatica affects walking, standing, bending, reaching, and most anything one must do. Can't even get into seeing a Dr. about it around here til Aug. 8th. Thank God it's intermittant or I'd be totally useless for anything. I take some meds that marginally help and am looking into some exersizes that are suppose to minimize it. Amazing the things that go wrong with us. This noticeably only took about two to three weeks to hit me like it has. Right knee is in sympathy with it too. As we used to say, Push On.
 

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