Firing positions

a soft rest such as a rucksack may be used, or else a bag or clothing may be helpful to pad rifle on a rock, while resting elbows on a bank or leaning against a wall, may improve stability


The purpose of this guide is to describe the basic shooting positions which will enable a steady aim. This guide links to others in the Firearms series.

the use of a bipod attached to the rifle may improve stability

Firing positions

  • Practice adopting and firing from different positions before shooting at live deer. Using an air rifle or .22 rifle can help check accuracy.
  • Wherever possible make use of shooting aids to improve your stability and accuracy; for example, rest against a tree, stick, bipod, bank or rolled up rifle case etc. Shooting free-standing or prone off the elbows with no rest should be avoided wherever possible.
  • In any firing position make sure that nothing touches the barrel or moderator when shooting.
  • If shooting with a bipod, avoid putting too much pressure on the bipod. The bipod should just support the rifle and should not be under any other strain.
  • If you intend to shoot from a high seat, practise firing from that type of platform and understand the effect of taking a shot from an elevated position (see Rifles and Ammunition and Shot Placement guides).
  • The following recommendations for firing positions are for a right-handed person − vice-versa for left-handed.


  • Angle the body to the left of the axis of the rifle and keep as much of it in contact with the ground as possible. It may be more comfortable and stable to bring the right knee up, rather than keep the leg straight.
  • Use a bipod if available, or put a soft rest under the front hand or under the rifle fore-end. Shoot off of elbows only where there is no alternative.
  • Pull the rifle firmly into the shoulder with the right hand, and bend the left arm across the chest so that the hand supports the right elbow or the toe of the stock, thus forming a stable ‘triangle’ of support.


  • Either cross your legs or dig your heels into the ground with legs apart; face slightly to the right of the target. Rest both elbows on the inside of your knees and use a stick (or extended bipod) to steady the rifle fore-end if possible.

when sitting lock your elbows into your knees. NOTE: left hand should support sticks and rifle; shooting free-standing should be avoided where possible. When using sticks keep them perpendicular to increase stability


  • Kneel down sitting on the heel of your right foot, with your right knee on the ground. Rest left elbow on the left knee, whilst keeping your other elbow under the rifle or locked against the body. Use a stick (or extended bipod) to steady your front hand/rifle where possible.


  • Face slightly to the right of the target keeping the body upright with a relaxed stance. Using sticks greatly increases stability, try to keep them upright but moving slightly forward or back can enable fine adjustments to the up/down position of the aim.
  • If you have no stick, keep your left arm under the rifle and rest the rifle on your hand. Try to lock both arms against your chest. Be positive about the shot and try not to remain in the aim position for too long.


  • Use a soft rest under your left hand or the fore-end if leaning on something like a wall. If a tree or post is being used, never rest the rifle barrel against it. It is often steadier to lean your body against the tree and use a stick (or better 2 sticks) to support the rifle fore-end.

High seats and vehicles

  • In a high seat or shooting cage, rest across a corner if possible, rather than only resting the rifle on the front rail with no other support (for right handers the right hand corner is easiest). A soft pad can easily be made from material such as water-pipe insulation and taped over the shooting rail. A soft pad or bean bag can be used on the vehicle roof or fitted to the vehicle frame.