How to Achieve the Proper Rifle Stance

Whether you are at the range or hunting deer, having the proper rifle stance can be the difference between keeping steady aim and completely missing your target. Whether you are using an AR 15 or a 243 rifle, the general way you will stand and fire is the same. There are two stances, bladed-off and squared-off, with one being more common than the other. Still, it is helpful to know both so that you can be flexible when needed.

How to Achieve the Proper Rifle Stance

Proper Rifle Stance: The difference between steady aim and missing the target

The Bladed-Off Stance

For the bladed-off stance, you want to start with your off-hand shoulder facing the target. This should feel natural as the rifle is tucked into your dominant-hand shoulder, with your dominant hand ready to pull the trigger. This stance is most commonly used among new shooters because it feels familiar, even if you have never fired a gun before. It is also a good position for precision shooting and thus is often also used at competition. However, if you need to be tactical at competition or flexible while hunting deer, this position may not work for you.

The Squared-Off Stance

As you might expect from the name, the squared-off stance has your shoulders squared instead of having one shoulder ahead of the other. Your feet should be in line with each other, shoulder-width apart. Then, stagger your strong-side foot back about six inches. Staggering helps you move faster without losing balance if you need to reposition. You will hold the buttstock near the centerline of your body, high up on the chest. Remember to bring your elbows in to keep your rifle secure and better mitigate recoil. In fact, the entire stance, whether you are using an AR or a 30 06 rifle, is meant to help you better mitigate recoil. In the squared-off stance, you can absorb the recoil better, much like a squared-off linebacker getting ready to take the force of a player pushing him backward.

Lean Forward, Not Backward

One important thing to remember as a new shooter is that you want to lean forward, as opposed to leaning back. Leaning back, as is a common tendency for new shooters, offers very poor recoil mitigation. Imagine which is easier: trying to push someone off balance while they are leaning backward or leaning forward? When you lean forward, you are essentially bracing for the impact of the recoil, which can help you manage a quick follow-up shot when needed.

Related Article: Beginner Tips: First Time Shooting at the Range

Remember the Triangles

Triangles are strong, providing the support you need when you are shooting a rifle. Keeping your elbow down and close to your body creates a triangle in your dominant arm. Plus, you also want to keep your non-firing arm in a triangle while holding the front of the rifle. This allows you to support the firearm at all times and feel confident while shooting.

Check Gun Fit

Finally, part of finding the right stance is the fit of your gun. With a gun that does not quite fit properly, you may not be able to get into a comfortable stance, completely nullifying the advantage of being in a stance at all. Make sure your firearm is fitted to you, rather than being too long or uncomfortable for you to hold. If your firing hand is not long enough to actually reach the trigger, you will definitely want to find one that fits you better.

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