This month we are going to talk about the 3 positions used for shooting Field Target. You’ll see many variations of these if you visit a club or shoot but there are some standard principles with each position. You need to work on these constantly because rarely do you find yourself shooting on a piece of flat ground that is 100% ideal.
My wife is a big fan of yoga and has often commented that I’m as flexible as a slab of marble. She isn’t wrong. When I tried to do some of the yoga positions with her she nearly died from laughing but the reality is, I don’t think I’ve crossed my legs since I left junior school, so what did I expect? Space doesn’t allow me to go into great detail but pester your AA Grade shooters for more advice.
I look at world champions like Jack Harris or new youngsters like James Head and just wonder how they get into the position they do and remain so stable. While I could possibly do the same position, there’s no way I could actually get under the gun to hit the target! These things take time for most “normal” people but every time you go out you’ll improve with practice and gradually get a more stable position. I’m still working on all 3 positions and I don’t think I’ll ever be done on my standing shots, but that’s all part of progressing in FT. When it comes off, it’s a magic feeling but FT is all about consistency. So practice, practice and more practice.
This position is the most stable position of the 3 and one you will be using for 80% of all your shots. In this position, your shooting cushion takes up most of your body weight. The knees are drawn up towards the chest and the rifle is supported in 3 positions, at the shoulder via the butt-hook, on the left knee with your hand and at the grip with your other hand and elbow on the right leg.
In this position tension on the muscles is minimised but be careful not to steer the gun with your left hand, the gun should sit naturally. Your shoulders should also be on the same plane as your pelvis. Some people just let their feet fall naturally but you can achieve better stability by having your feet flat on the floor and your left foot slightly turned in. Try and relax as much as possible and don’t grip the gun as if someone is going to steal it off you.
You’ll also notice in the picture of young James Head that many shooters also have the ability to lean back in this position (jammy gits). This means there is even less of the gun over the front of the left knee, giving more stability.
You’ll see a few people shooting this sitting position with the left arm over the knee and the gun resting on the arm. In this position, the body has to lean forward slightly and the weight is split between the buttocks (60%) and your feet. This means that your centre of gravity is further forward, transmitting the weight to your feet more than the first position we talked about. Also, note how much of the gun is forward of the left arm compared to the first position.
This position is difficult to master at first but the more you do it, the better you’ll get, I promise! If you find that you’re wobbling a lot or chasing the reticle, try turning down your magnification. You’ll be surprised how much that change of perspective actually helps.
The shooter sits on the heel of his right foot which must be upright. The gun is supported at the shoulder and with the right hand at the fore end of the gun, you should note that the wrist must be forward of the knee to comply with the BFTA rules.
Make sure your head is upright and your front hand isn’t steering the gun. If it is then you’re probably kneeling in the wrong place to address the target, get up and move positions. Also when sitting on the heel of your boot ensure that your toes are not digging in as this can often cause low shots. When this position is done correctly you’ll notice that there is very little pressure on any of the joints.
In the picture you should see that the ankle is being supported with a roll, however, you can use your bag if you wish but it must not support any other part of your body. Currently, if you use a roll you cannot use your bag at the same time.
Without a doubt, the most difficult of the 3 positions and one I think will take me a lifetime to master. It uses so many muscles that I often feel that one is fighting the other.
Your head should be upright and your left arm should be totally relaxed with your left elbow tucked into your pelvis. If you can tilt upwards it will give you a more stable position on the left elbow. Your left leg should be almost vertical because it will be taking about 80% of your weight. Your feet should be slightly wider than your shoulder width and square. Check your pelvis is inline with the target, you should not be rotating your pelvis. If you are, then you’re stood in the wrong position to address the target. Again do not grip the gun too hard with your right hand and position your left hand so that it helps eliminate muscular effort on the left shoulder and arm.
This takes a lot of practice and there are lots of hand positions you can try until you find and hold a position that is comfortable. If you find yourself chasing the reticle, turn down the magnification. One key thing to remember is that you will never hold the gun perfectly still, so you have to learn to time your movement and pulling the trigger at the right moment.
Standers are incredibly difficult, most competitions are won and lost on them so don’t lose heart when you’re just starting out, just practice harder.
OK, that’s the basics on the 3 positions covered, we’ll dip back into fine tuning these in later articles.