MOA from bench/Offhand?


ed dixon
December 26, 2002, 08:23 PM
Shooting a good rifle with good ammunition that can deliver minute-of-angle (or close) groups from a bench with sandbags or prone with bags, what kind of groups can you shoot off-hand, standing? Pick a range, pick a caliber... just compare same under both circumstances. No challenge intended here. I'm on my third cup of coffee by the time I get to the range some days and am lucky not to shake off the bench altogether.

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December 26, 2002, 08:39 PM
I consider it a good day if I can keep all my shots in the black of a 25 yard pistol target hung at 100 yards with any rifle I own offhand. I have a seven inch steel plate that I can ring pretty much at will with my AR15s offhand at 100 yards. I applaud those guys that are serious competitors that can actually shoot measureable groups at 100 yards and beyond from the offhand position, but this is something I can strive for even if I am not as serious about it as they are. I have the same problem you do. I get off work at 0700 and have usually had a couple cups of coffee by that time. Usually when I go out to shoot I am sleep deprived, my vision isn't sharp, I have had too much coffee and am thinking about productive stuff I should be doing instead of shooting. But under the best circumstances I can't shoot much better than I noted above.

December 26, 2002, 08:43 PM
6" groups with open sights

December 26, 2002, 08:49 PM
Offhand at 200 yards with a good solid MOA rifle and slow aimed fire (good light, no or very little wind, yada yada) I can shoot around 5 inches for 10 shots with good military peeps, 4" with a scope. Prone I can shoot nearly to the capabilities of the rifle. Sitting is a little better than offhand, but not as good as prone. Beyond 200 yards the advantage of the scope gets to be more and more as the range increases, or my ability with open sights decreases, however you look at it.

Shooting groups is fairly easy, hitting the right spot with that group is the challenge with open sights. A scope is WAY faster for me to shoot accurately beyond 400 yards, inside of 300 the opens are faster.

Jon Coppenbarger
December 26, 2002, 09:46 PM
I find myself lucky to only get 1 in the white out of 10 shots at 200 yards in a match off hand.

now thats off hand and you guys need to be competing in matches with holds like the one's you mention because I sure can not do it as to me its pretty hard when you are up there and all those other rifles going off and you just try not to miss.

what say you steve.

Steve Smith
December 26, 2002, 09:54 PM
Its a darned hard way to shoot, if you ask me! :D

Maybe one day I'll get it. Its the only thing keeping me outta Master class.

December 26, 2002, 10:46 PM
I can usually keep 3 rounds in 1.5" at 200 yards most of the time with my 700 PSS in 223 off a bipod. With an actual rest, I can't get much smaller groups but I can do that 1.5" more consistantly.

Off hand, I can keep most rounds in about 8" at 100 yards. Don't use a sling.

As noted, caffeine can make a tremendous difference. When I was getting into long range handgunning (100 yards with a 6" Dan Wesson 22lr with open sights), with no caffeine I could keep about 8 out of 10 shots on the 12" gong at 100 yards. On Mt Dew, I was lucky to ring it two out of 10 times.

ed dixon
December 27, 2002, 12:51 AM
Since I did say pick any distance/caliber, I'll somewhat immodestly admit that I can shoot one-hole groups with my .45-70 at a range of 2". (Thank you.)

December 27, 2002, 07:10 AM
At that distance I'll bet its a hell of a hole too! :)

December 28, 2002, 09:01 PM
Practice with a .22.

Nobody wants to "waste" expensive ammo by not hitting the bullseye. Offhand shooting takes practice, .22 makes practice cheap. Shoot .22 silhouette if a club near you offers it, otherwise, take your .22 and shoot at small targets offhand while your .30 caliber cools.

Daren Thompson
December 28, 2002, 09:16 PM
I am happy to hit the black of a 25 yard pistol target at 100yds from any position. I find in my experince that the capability of the rifle is not as important as it is for the gun to fit well. I shoot better with an AR-15/M-16 than any gun I own (from all positions). I do have guns that will out perform the AR from the bench, however in bench conditions rarely exist in the field.


December 29, 2002, 12:00 AM
After 40 years+ of shooting, I've never tried it.

I'll use every method I can to ensure the most accurate loads I can when working up a new one.

But for off-hand? seems the one shot'll do it every time.

Get a decent best-bet field-position rest, take it slow enough & "viola!"

Shot a few head-size balloons at 300 yds off-hand a time or two, but just never really played with anything off-hand group sized.

December 29, 2002, 02:16 PM
All my 5-shot groups can be covered with a quarter...

...nickel on the first hole, nickel on the second hole, etc.

Seriously, I just started shooting with a scope when standing and haven't gotten used to it yet. My glasses are set up for iron sights, but I can't see them anymore. Boo-hoo, I guess I'm middle-aged :)


Jon Coppenbarger
December 29, 2002, 03:43 PM
all forms of shooting as far as I can tell is having the know how and the capibility to do it and you are able to do it time after time after time and mess up very few times.
as far as I know to test how well you are compared to where you think you should be is to try to attend a match that covers what you like to shoot.
it is pretty much unlimited to the type of shooting events you may participate in.

for me the only time I will ever shoot off a bench is when sighting in my hunting rifle and checking loads and everything that goes with running it threw a chrono.

I pretty much only shoot the positions I compete with as that is what I will use.
steve is a very, very good shot.and as Ihave said off hand is not the hardest thing to do it is the hardest thing to master and do well.

this is a simple test to see where you are compared to were you think you are.

you may use open sights or scopes or what ever you desire but do it off hand with no artifical support other that you just standing there and NO sling.

take your rifle unloaded aim at a target at least 100 yards away and hold it on the target for 5 seconds with out the sights moving at all and then pull the trigger and not have the sights move off the black center of the target.

now if you can do that for 20 shots in a row by bringing the rifle down and then back up for each shot you have reached what the average high expert or master has in highpower competition.

I think and the one's that compete will tell you that even if you get that position right and you can do that on a few shots the hardest part is the mental stamina to do it for 20 shots in a row or even for 10 shots as you have alot of rifles going off around you, you are timed and reading the conditions and correcting anything and the know how to instantly know what needs to be corrected and do it.

another good test is if you can tell exactly within a few inches at 200 yards where that off hand shot went and know how to adjust the rifle for the conditions like sun, wind, light, mirage and a few other things to bring it down or over just a few inches to get you back into the x ring.

now you may say that's not the real world but if you can do what I have said and I know alot of folks that can. do you honestly think that we can not make that shot in the real world and know when we pull the trigger its going where we know its going. the two elk I dropped twenty yards apart off hand on the run did not think it was a fluke.

now try that in a rapid fire stage like sitting or prone where you get 60 or 70 seconds and have to fire 10 shots with a mag change from a standing to either prone or sitting.
now only a few score all 10's in the national championships and very few do it every once in awhile.

December 30, 2002, 08:35 AM
Glad you brought this subject up.

Anyone can shoot good groups off of sand bags or when using a bi-pod but this only classifies you as a shooter, not a real skilled rifleman who can shoot in the offhand position

If your gun is capable of shooting half minute groups off of sand bags the gun is still capable of shooting the same groups off hand. In the old days when there were a lot of real hunters still living they would have laughed if a shooting match was conducted off of sand bags. When they competed in a match they were showing off their skills as rifleman, they were not trying to get into a technology race by showing up with a weapon that was superior technically to the other guys weapon when shot off of sand bags.

I have seen half inch groups fired at 100 yard from the off hand position by extrtemely skilled rifleman, notice I said rifleman not shooters. I have on occasion shot a few 1/2 inch groups myself but I cannot do it consistantly. Never the less most of my practice in the summer is in the offhand position because I am a national match shooter and I take great satisfaction on being able to hit targets from the offhand, sitting and prone positions both in slow fire and rapid fire. I really become bored out of my mind when I shoot off of sandbags because for me it is no challenge whatsoever.

I have had many people observe me shooting while they themselves were sitting behind sand bags piled as high as a WWI trench system and say to me that they themselves could never hold a rifle steady enough to shoot that way.

For the younger shooters who still want a challenge and want to see if this is possible, I soon have them hitting targets in the offhand position at 100 yards. The next step for them is good old competition and most are never seen firing from sand bags again.

Becoming a good rifleman able to hit targets consistantly from the offhand position will give you a lot of pride and self-cofidence and if you are a hunter will increase your game bag astronomically. When I once showed up for a wilderness Moose hunt my buddies all showed up with everything including, believe it or not a portable shooting bench. They all thought I was nuts not to use the latest techno gear to hold my rifle steady and none could believe I did not even have a bi-pod. You may have already guessed who got a moose from the standing position at 200 yards and who missed their moose at ranges varing from 50 yards to 75 yards when using everything imaginable to help them try and hold their weapons steady. After the expensive hunt everyone wanted to know the secret of shooting off hand. The answer was so simple and said in only one word. "Practice".

Bottom Gun
December 30, 2002, 08:44 AM
There's a difference? :rolleyes:

Art Eatman
December 30, 2002, 09:49 PM
Odd, but I've never tried for a group, shooting offhand. I've always either shot at separate targets--rocks, tin cans, etc.--or at some critter.

What I have found is that I do better on a moving target than on something that just sits there. :) The deal for me is that I'm almost exclusively a hunter, other than sight-in and load testing.

:), Art

Jon Coppenbarger
December 30, 2002, 10:41 PM
I do hunt and have for years and you are right if thats what you want to do and have no problem.
but the subject was moa from bench /offhand shooting.

I hunted for quite a few years even guiding for awhile and thought that I was pretty decent then decided to try highpower and the first match went like: I shot something like 350 out of 800 and the guy next to me shot like 780 out of 800.
I decided right then and there that I needed to learn more about shooting than putting a shot onto the side of a elk which I had no trouble with at that time.
the day before I got both my elk this year I had put a target out at 200 yards and spent about a hour off and on dry fireing at the target and the next mourning the motion of shooting was just that a automatic response with well placed shots on a two moving targets. my friends that I hunt with did not even think it was me shooting as the shots were so close together with a bolt rifle. I shoot so much competition that when the front sight on my ar or the crosshairs on my scope hunting rifle cross the point of where I want the shot is already gone. and to rechamber or to re-aquire the target is already happening in auto mode with out having to give it a thought.
its like a zone you are in when the man says comence fire I do not think of anything else but the shot and conditions, when the deer, elk, goose, boar or what ever comes into range its a zone and I do not snap out of it untill the job's done.
I have stopped hunting with folks in the past that were dangerous to hunt with or I got tired having to hunt down wounded elk they shot and gave up on.
I had one guy that hit one right before dark and wounded it with a off hand shot, great shot in the lower back leg. after tracking it with a flashlight for a few hours and him swearing he hit it good and me saying it has been hit in the back leg because the elk was draging it we should go back in the mourning and not push it because we were not going to catch it at night hit like that.

come mourning he looked for about another hour and gave up and went back to camp and I did not know he had quite and picked up the tracks aways from where it was hit and about 3 hours later I finished him off and then started to look for everyone and they were all back in camp but one guy that waited for me. we hauled him out and got back to camp and the guy did not want to split the elk between everybody he wanted it all. I gave him the rack and a quarter and split it between everybody else and he never hunted with me again.
he was a great shot off hand.
most folks that know me or even the one's that I hunt with sometimes do not know that I shoot in competitions and the one's that do are amazed sometimes what kind of shots can be made by someone with alot of disipline or practice can do.

December 30, 2002, 11:05 PM
I don't really like em but here is were a scout rifle or other foward mounted optic really works well, off hand less than 200 yards. I have kept my shots under 6 inchs with a $3000 .308 in slow fire at 200yds. and hit 350 meter shilos regularly. I did that at 100yds(6") at my extreme age ,caffiene and all , with H-bar flat top last week on two feet like a real man (with tight sling). A rifle in the 10 lb range seems to dampen shots well for couple minutes off hand. I knew an ol boy who shot Scheutzen 32-40 off hand at 200meters pretty tight (3inches or so) with giant peep sights!!!

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