What are your specific offhand shooting exercises if you do any?

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Muscle tone with practice can and will help one to be a better offhand shooter. I never did any physical exercise in my younger days, except dry fire. I still do dry fire, but my arm strength really went down hill.
This post is wondering what offhand shooters are doing or not doing to prevent gun wobble. If you are using any kind of support or sling, please do not include that type of reply. (Offhand shooting per NMLRA rules)
We all want to be good shots, just wondering how some of you shooters are going about it?
Larry
 

jdw276

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I have used a gallon of milk. Hold it like my front hand supporting barrel. Man does it shake. Drink more milk I say!
 

Flintlock

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Just lifting the gun, aligning the sights and repeating as much as possible. Repetition builds strength and memory.
 
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I do practice my mount with an unfamiliar firearm that I might end up shooting offhand, but I normally shoot shotguns for the hunting I do, so not really “offhand” as much as upland shooting. I looooove shooting my reactive iron targets offhand though (with unmentionables), so it kind of sparks a vision to get a .36 to do that with a muzzleloader.
 
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Most important would be practice of course, and correctly establishing your Natural Point of Aim or ‘NPA’. Anyone can muscle a gun for 1 or 2 shots, but to shoot a string of 10 to 20 shots you need to establish a good NPA.

Ideally you do want some weight forward, where typically your balance point would be by the rear sight or just behind the ramrod rear entry pipe, but for a target gun that can balance go to that pipe if not more forward.

However, since I shoot offhand exclusively, there is MORE to offhand shooting than just the rifle itself, in fact I would rate it LAST on this list of everything I've added here. Now I do shoot modern highpower shooting offhand to 200-yards weekly, but I also shoot black powder cartridge Schuetzen rifles monthly, weighing up to 14-pounds, at 200-yards routinely. I am now practicing with my 50-cal flint longrifle out to 100-yards weekly, for the upcoming NE Flintlock contest to be held in Maine this Summer. And case in point to where I say your rifle choice per se isn't the biggest asset here for offhand shooting competence, at the weekly Winter milsurp shoots, I shot 3 different rifles, one over 150-years old, and I still placed amongst the top scorers.

Offhand Shooting Reading - For me, I have found the BEST articles/info to be from numerous sources, like that by the famed barrrel maker Harry Pope on offhand shooting - see link here: "Off Hand Rifle Shooting" by H.M. PopeHarry was of slight build, barely weighing 120-pounds, yet he shot a 14-pound rifle and one record group shot at 200-yards offhand, with black powder loads no less, still stands to this day!

Also the books on highpower shooting by M/Sgt Jim 'Jarhead' Owens - see link here:
Jarheadtop.com Home Page
Welcome to Jim Owens' JarHeadTop.com. This site is dedicated to the High Power shooting enthusiast, providing articles, tips, products, and instructional material for both the beginner and the veteran shooter.
jarheadtop.com
jarheadtop.com
In particular, his books and info on aiming and establishing the Natural Point of Aim(NPA) are worth their weight in gold. I've taken shooters who 'think' they know how to shoot, teach them to correctly establish their NPA before they shoot and they routinely add 10-points to their score!

Now worldwide, the generally accepted 'Bible' on competitive shooting is the book by A.A. Yur’yev called Competitive Shooting: Techniques and Training for Rifle, Pistol, and Running Game Target Shooting.

Offhand Practice - I'd recommend 3 things before you even hit the range with your flintlock/capgun.

(1) Get a good quality, pre-charged, gas, or single pump air pellet rifle and shoot in your basement or garage constantly. Practice with a purpose! The Daisy 853, available refurbished for $100, from the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP), is a phenomenal value to 'learn' how to really shoot. It will group better than you can. See link here:
thecmp.org

Sporter Air Rifles - Civilian Marksmanship Program
Sporter air rifles are characterized by their light weight, low cost and basic target features. We offer several varieties for purchase.
thecmp.org
thecmp.org

(2) Practice picking up your flint rifle, with a wooden flint in the jaws, a few times a week and cheeking it and getting into your offhand stance until you can do it and be on target in you sleep. Your stance is crucial to good offhand shooting for a string of shots, again - the NPA. Anyone can hold a rifle and shoot 1 or 2 good shots ... but try for 10 or 20 in a row, like we offhand shooters do. If you have a good quality lock, do some dry firing with the wooden flint - stay on target and focus. At the range with BP arms, I see too many drop their musket/rifle right at the shot to see if they hit ... which always causes a miss ...

(3) All your focus MUST be on that front sight! I am left-handed, but do own and shoot RH'd black powdah arms and I have never, ever, evah seen the pan flash from RH'd firelocks, flint or matchlocks! Why? Again ... because I'm not looking there ... as all my focus in consistently and completely on that front sight THROUGH the shot and into the folllow-through. Learn to focus ALL the way through the shot, learn to call your shots - like that went 'high left' - as that means YOU knew where the front sight was as the trigger broke.

Learn the 'proper' way to shoot sir and you can shoot anything! Good shooting is quite simply eliminating 'bad shots'. For in the end - NOTHING ... nothing beats trigger time'! And that does NOT have to be live fire with firelocks to achieve it ...
 

Gunny5821

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Most important would be practice of course, and correctly establishing your Natural Point of Aim or ‘NPA’. Anyone can muscle a gun for 1 or 2 shots, but to shoot a string of 10 to 20 shots you need to establish a good NPA.

Ideally you do want some weight forward, where typically your balance point would be by the rear sight or just behind the ramrod rear entry pipe, but for a target gun that can balance go to that pipe if not more forward.

However, since I shoot offhand exclusively, there is MORE to offhand shooting than just the rifle itself, in fact I would rate it LAST on this list of everything I've added here. Now I do shoot modern highpower shooting offhand to 200-yards weekly, but I also shoot black powder cartridge Schuetzen rifles monthly, weighing up to 14-pounds, at 200-yards routinely. I am now practicing with my 50-cal flint longrifle out to 100-yards weekly, for the upcoming NE Flintlock contest to be held in Maine this Summer. And case in point to where I say your rifle choice per se isn't the biggest asset here for offhand shooting competence, at the weekly Winter milsurp shoots, I shot 3 different rifles, one over 150-years old, and I still placed amongst the top scorers.

Offhand Shooting Reading - For me, I have found the BEST articles/info to be from numerous sources, like that by the famed barrrel maker Harry Pope on offhand shooting - see link here: "Off Hand Rifle Shooting" by H.M. PopeHarry was of slight build, barely weighing 120-pounds, yet he shot a 14-pound rifle and one record group shot at 200-yards offhand, with black powder loads no less, still stands to this day!

Also the books on highpower shooting by M/Sgt Jim 'Jarhead' Owens - see link here:
Jarheadtop.com Home Page
Welcome to Jim Owens' JarHeadTop.com. This site is dedicated to the High Power shooting enthusiast, providing articles, tips, products, and instructional material for both the beginner and the veteran shooter.
jarheadtop.com
jarheadtop.com
In particular, his books and info on aiming and establishing the Natural Point of Aim(NPA) are worth their weight in gold. I've taken shooters who 'think' they know how to shoot, teach them to correctly establish their NPA before they shoot and they routinely add 10-points to their score!

Now worldwide, the generally accepted 'Bible' on competitive shooting is the book by A.A. Yur’yev called Competitive Shooting: Techniques and Training for Rifle, Pistol, and Running Game Target Shooting.

Offhand Practice - I'd recommend 3 things before you even hit the range with your flintlock/capgun.

(1) Get a good quality, pre-charged, gas, or single pump air pellet rifle and shoot in your basement or garage constantly. Practice with a purpose! The Daisy 853, available refurbished for $100, from the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP), is a phenomenal value to 'learn' how to really shoot. It will group better than you can. See link here:
thecmp.org

Sporter Air Rifles - Civilian Marksmanship Program
Sporter air rifles are characterized by their light weight, low cost and basic target features. We offer several varieties for purchase.
thecmp.org
thecmp.org

(2) Practice picking up your flint rifle, with a wooden flint in the jaws, a few times a week and cheeking it and getting into your offhand stance until you can do it and be on target in you sleep. Your stance is crucial to good offhand shooting for a string of shots, again - the NPA. Anyone can hold a rifle and shoot 1 or 2 good shots ... but try for 10 or 20 in a row, like we offhand shooters do. If you have a good quality lock, do some dry firing with the wooden flint - stay on target and focus. At the range with BP arms, I see too many drop their musket/rifle right at the shot to see if they hit ... which always causes a miss ...

(3) All your focus MUST be on that front sight! I am left-handed, but do own and shoot RH'd black powdah arms and I have never, ever, evah seen the pan flash from RH'd firelocks, flint or matchlocks! Why? Again ... because I'm not looking there ... as all my focus in consistently and completely on that front sight THROUGH the shot and into the folllow-through. Learn to focus ALL the way through the shot, learn to call your shots - like that went 'high left' - as that means YOU knew where the front sight was as the trigger broke.

Learn the 'proper' way to shoot sir and you can shoot anything! Good shooting is quite simply eliminating 'bad shots'. For in the end - NOTHING ... nothing beats trigger time'! And that does NOT have to be live fire with firelocks to achieve it ...

Spot on! Practice, practice, practice, and more practice. Strength exercises definitely help as well. Funny that you mention Top Owens, we go back years, and he writes some outstanding books on marksmanship. We sell Top Owens' books and Top Owens has been selling our rifle slings for about 25 years now.
 

dave951

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There is no magic, no shortcut, and no mystery. Practice and make sure it's quality practice. When you're getting tired, it's like weight lifting, do another rep or two then quit. The idea is build up and too much tears it down. Your aerobic condition factors in. Don't need to run, just walk at a fast pace for a mile or so everyday and get your heart into condition. Heartbeat affects offhand shooting and if your resting heart rate is over 80, you got problems. I'll go one further on the previous comments and meditation and visualization techniques can help. They also help to slow your heart rate. Before a match, limit the caffeine and processed sugar. Diet also plays a part. In short, be healthy as reasonably possible and practice.
 
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Calisthenics (you military people know and "love" it as PT) does you a lot of good over-all, and they're cheap (just your body weight). Also, handling the rifle, sighting it, holding it up, as steady as possible, for as long as possible (time yourself and see if you can beat it before your arm gives out lol). Mace workouts (you can obviously use a heavy sledge hammer instead of a dedicated mace, or make a mace yourself out of black pipe, a floor flange, and some workout weights you can pick up at yard sales on the cheap). It's not just your upper body that has to be strong to maintain a steady off-hand shooting position. Key to those (especially with shooting) is to move as slowly and as in a controlled manner as possible. It is better to run with less weight or repetitions than to speed up the exercise.

Honestly, just be as physically active in as diverse of activities as you can be, an you'll be bounds ahead of the guy that just sits on the couch, on his phone, drinking his 7th Carmel-Cookie-Crumble Frappuccino of the day 🤣 :thumb:

A lot of practice, like has been mentioned, and adopting as stable of a shooting position as possible, even if it's not what you were taught, or isn't "cool" to do it that way at your club/area. I see a lot of people putting their hand a foot or more out on the forestock, and wonder why they can't hold it steady with an outstretched arm (I shoot a lot like this, even with heavy recoiling guns)
1652357842713.png
 
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dave951

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Honestly, just be as physically active in as diverse of activities as you can be, an you'll be bounds ahead of the guy that just sits on the couch, on his phone, drinking his 7th Carmel-Cookie-Crumble Frappuccino of the day 🤣 :thumb:

^^^ This guys. Many of the modern workers who can "work from home" have a job that just is not conducive to overall good health, not to mention ruining their shooting. I'm a working carpenter and as such, I am physically active. Even then, I make it a point to not try to park right next to the door at the lumber yard, I'll just make a 100yd walk. Little things like that add up.
 
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I see a lot of people putting their hand a foot or more out on the forestock, and wonder why they can't hold it steady with an outstretched arm (I shoot a lot like this, even with heavy recoiling guns)
View attachment 139035

You must have been watching me. While I understand that placing the support hand way back as pictured is generally accepted as the right way, I can't do that and don't get how having most of the gun's weight far forward of my support hand could work. So I do place my support hand forward enough to be at or in front of the balance point. Then I keep my trigger arm elbow up around shoulder height. I'm not any kind of expert shot and don't expect I ever will be, but that's what I've found works best for me.

Another thing I do that helps me is that I don't try to get on target then hold that position for the shot. Invariably that leads to the gun wavering off target by the time I get the shot off as I can't hold steady for long. Instead I intentionally aim towards the bottom of the target as I bring the gun up then slowly creep the front sight up the target and as it passes over the bull I pull the trigger. With this method I'm usually good on windage and just need to time the shot to get the proper elevation.

I think I'm in pretty good physical shape for my age but I do notice that after the first 20-25 shots my back starts feeling fatigued. It helps if I sit for a while after every 10 shots or so. I usually go to the range 3 days a week and spend a couple hours taking my good old time. I'm lucky in that I'm often the only one there so I'm not holding anybody else up.
 

Gunny5821

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There is no magic, no shortcut, and no mystery. Practice and make sure it's quality practice. When you're getting tired, it's like weight lifting, do another rep or two then quit. The idea is build up and too much tears it down. Your aerobic condition factors in. Don't need to run, just walk at a fast pace for a mile or so everyday and get your heart into condition. Heartbeat affects offhand shooting and if your resting heart rate is over 80, you got problems. I'll go one further on the previous comments and meditation and visualization techniques can help. They also help to slow your heart rate. Before a match, limit the caffeine and processed sugar. Diet also plays a part. In short, be healthy as reasonably possible and practice.

Spot on! I tell you one thing though, although I tend to stay in shape, at age 64 my heart rate was always in the mid 60s. About 3 years ago, I began experiencing palpitations, which turned into A-Flutter/AFIB. The docs were able to bring it under control with a couple of pills and I haven't had an episode in almost 3 years, which I was thankful for. Since the other alternative was ablation, I told the doc that I wasn't too comfortable with the idea of having a hot poker ran up my groin to my heart. Everything else checked out fine, he said just my electrical system was out of wack.

Where I'm going with this is, the pills they put me on is doing the job, but my resting heart rate now is 45-52 bpm, sometimes as low as 41 bpm upon awakening. Although I always qualified expert and in the silver category both rifle and pistol in my younger days, I have found that the slower heart rate has definitely improved my scores over what they have been in the past 20 years or so.
 

Josephg

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I do 20 pushups every day. Also hold a rifle in the OH position on a target at the end of the hall and I shoot OH a lot.
Shooting today at a covered but open range. Wind is blowing like mad. It will be interesting...
 
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A lot of practice, like has been mentioned, and adopting as stable of a shooting position as possible, even if it's not what you were taught, or isn't "cool" to do it that way at your club/area. I see a lot of people putting their hand a foot or more out on the forestock, and wonder why they can't hold it steady with an outstretched arm (I shoot a lot like this, even with heavy recoiling guns)
I shoot in Iowa sometimes and there is a feller there that shoots a long flintlock. He is always in the upper winning circle. I naturally like to watch him to learn. He not only is a foot on the forestock, but his left arm is almost fully extended. Go figure! :doh: I am with you, but he proves not everyone is normal or the same.
Thanks
Larry
 

SPQR70AD

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shooting off hand to me is a waste of powder lead and caps that are in short supply. if you are match shooting you have to practice it. I am not saying only to shoot off a bench but a tree branch back pack etc should be used as a rest if possible
 
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Everything flint62smoothie said, with one little wrinkle I added to my NRA and CMP career with three different service rifles.

In Colorado there are highpower matches- and muzzleloading- available year-round, but the serious season starts in April. As part of my 10 minutes daily offhand dry firing I lift the rifle overhead, then press outward at chest level, then curl it up from waist level, each of these five times before carefully mounting the rifle, firing the shot, an emphasizing follow through.

SAL
 
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shooting off hand to me is a waste of powder lead and caps that are in short supply. if you are match shooting you have to practice it. I am not saying only to shoot off a bench but a tree branch back pack etc should be used as a rest if possible
To you, yes! I love competitive shooting, and asked for input on how to make offhand shooting better. 99% of the ML shoots I attend in Nebraska and Iowa are offhand matches. Shooting off the bench in no way helps offhand shooting, unless one has mechanical issues to be worked out.
Thanks for your thought, but it does not apply to the OP.
Larry
 
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I have been going to the gym for several years but mostly just rode the recumbent Exercycle. Then a year ago I blew out my knee and decided to give my legs a break. Not wanting to get out of the habit of going to the gym I beefed up my arm workout. I go three times a week and have made some impressive (to me) gains. Honestly, I have not noticed it a lot in my shooting, but have in my bowling! The same weight ball sure seems lighter. Seriously though, it has to have helped in holding up a rifle, I still can’t hold real still.
 
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