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An....unconventional idea on sighting in a long gun

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by daniel craig, Dec 18, 2020.

  1. daniel craig

    daniel craig Member

    Dec 23, 2009
    Inside your brain
    I was talking with a coworker about the new rifle he got and that he can’t wait to go get it sighted in. He made mention that he almost always sights his long guns in from the standing position as opposed to a bench or prone. I don’t begrudge the way people want to do their shooting (provided it’s not unsafe) but since this is generally not the accepted norm I pressed him as to why.

    His idea was that since he was mostly going to use it from the standing position it made sense to sight it in that way, the logic behind that he figured was that sighting it in thusly was that he could use his sights to compensate for any flaws in his form which he might not otherwise notice sitting down and that he might not be focusing on fixing when he’s using his rifle for it’s intended purpose (hunting in this case).

    I’ve never heard of anyone doing this. Had anyone else?
  2. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

    May 26, 2007
    If you don't require a high level of accuracy it can work, especially with iron sights. On the handguns I own with adjustable sights I zero off hand. Even the ones which are not adjustable require some practice to know what the sight picture should look like with that gun to hit where you want.

    Everyone holds their gun slightly different, everyone has a slightly different sight picture with irons, but as long as you're consistent any flaws in your form will still cause the bullet to impact pretty close. The downside is that someone else trying to use that firearm may have bullets impact significantly different than the person who zeroed it.

    But with a rifle, especially when using optics I want the rifle zeroed with as little human error involved as possible. And I want to use good form. One mistake people make is to zero their rifles off a bench and never practice from other positions. While I zero from a solid rest, I still practice off hand and from other positions.
  3. rkittine

    rkittine Member

    Jun 15, 2020
    New York
    I always sight in my handguns and rifles off a rest. The accuracy can only get worse offhand. For shotguns though it is a different story because if you pattern a shotgun by rifle shooting it, it may be shooting somewhere else when you have it mounted.

    I would say for a rifle, you might want to sight it in on a bench and then refine it based on any changes / angle of hold etc. that you have when you mount it to shoot.
  4. chicharrones

    chicharrones needs more ammo

    Jan 19, 2010
    Galveston Bay is an Hour Away ©
    I always sight in a rifle at the bench first. I'd prefer not to change that sight in once shooting from my feet.

    As a right handed shooter, I've fired some rifles while standing that recoil to the right almost as much as they recoil up and back. That has happened when I've fired low bore axis autoloading bullpups, but positioned my body like I was holding a traditionally stocked rifle.

    I can understand why someone would want to finish sighting in a rifle while standing, but I'd rather practice my body position and hold to be able to produce similar results on target while standing as off the bench.
    stillquietvoice and LoonWulf like this.
  5. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    I've found that my POI changes somewhat from the bench as compared with field, so sort of understand. For a really good rifleman I would think that sighting from a stable field position might be a better for a rifle to be used in the field. I personally am not nearly good enough for that to work, so will continue to sight in at the bench and perhaps make slight adjustments from field positions later on.

    Sighting in from standing? No way I could do it, and I guess I'd have to see it done to believe it could work.
    LoonWulf likes this.
  6. taliv

    taliv Moderator Staff Member

    Oct 23, 2004
    it's a bad idea

    group size standing is probably going to be 3moa at best. no change in position is going to be even 1 moa. so you're far better off zeroing from a bench.

    for scoped PRS style shooting where people shoot from lots of different positions, i'm not aware of anyone who changes their dope based on standing vs supported. or when shifting from free recoil to a hard hold
    doubleh, DoubleMag, Walkalong and 3 others like this.
  7. hq

    hq Member

    May 24, 2011
    Speculation, yes, but this is the first time I've heard of anyone doing it in practise.

    Sighting in is precision work and all possible stabilization is beneficial to eliminate variables. On the other hand, I often shoot the rifles I use for driven and stalking hunts offhand and from shootings sticks after sighting in, to make sure POI doesn't shift with different shooting positions. When I do that, even a mediocre rifle is much more accurate than I am as the weakest link in the equation.
  8. AK103K

    AK103K member

    Dec 27, 2002
    I can see his point, and can kind of agree to a point.

    I shoot from field positions, and almost always zero from prone, but most of my shooting is usually done from either cross-legged sitting or offhand and mostly offhand between those two.

    Offhand is almost always the weakest/hardest for most people, and doesnt seem to be very popular with many, which to me, seems counterproductive, and just limits you as a shooter.

    I never saw the point of shooting off a bench, as I dont carry a bench around with me in the field, and there is usually some difference in how the guns zero when you are the shooting platform.
    hps1, daniel craig, hq and 1 other person like this.
  9. deadin

    deadin Member

    Jul 13, 2005
    Ocean Shores, WA
    Use the bench to find what the gun and load are capable of.
    Then go to position to see what the shooter is capable of.
    Shoot for groups and adjust sights accordingly.
    Scooter22, delrom418, hps1 and 2 others like this.
  10. WestKentucky

    WestKentucky Member

    Feb 1, 2014
    Middle Tn
    Depends on the rifle for me. Little light carbines like most 22s I sight standing. Heavier rifles I sight from a rest of some sort, and for hunting guns I try to halfway mimic what I would do I the field. Perfect example, I recently sighted in my 6.8 AR for deer season, and I did so with the rifle rested across my left arm with my left hand holding onto the pole that used to support the satellite dish. In the woods I would do exactly the same only the hand would be around a sapling or against a tree trunk. My bolt rifles are bench sighted using a bipod. Lever actions don’t get much sight-in but they are only used for short range when I can point shoot anyways. I have shot my 336 at enough clay pigeon chunks from 30 to 100 that if I miss it’s by inches. My marlin 62s I want precise though because they are marginal at best but when used I want to make the absolute best shot I can make.
    LoonWulf likes this.
  11. AK103K

    AK103K member

    Dec 27, 2002
    For me, the lighter guns are a bit more of a challenge to shoot offhand, than the heavier guns, and especially the muzzle heavy guns.

    I find the lighter guns want to wander a lot more, where those muzzle heavy guns just hold so nice and steady. :)
    hps1 likes this.
  12. Bill M.

    Bill M. Member

    Nov 21, 2019
    When I hunted my rifle shot to slightly different POI from the bench, sitting from a tight sling, and from a standing position. But for me it was not enough difference to need to adjust for it. Under 100 yards I do not see it making any real difference. And at anything well over 100 yards I am going to need a rest or something anyway.

    Any body that can shoot a good enough group offhand to set the sights is a good shot and I am fine with them doing it that way. Me, I would set it off the bench first and then check off hand to see if it was about the same.

    I had a friend that was a great hunter that thought I was wrong for zeroing my gun at 200 yards because he did his at 50 yards and generally only shot at 30 yards. I tried to explain trigonometry and trajectory and that if it was good for 200 it was even better at 50 but maybe not the other way around. The first day out I hit and he missed. On the other side of it he saw 57 deer that day and I saw 1. He of course got his the next morning. And dozens more that season.
  13. ApacheCoTodd

    ApacheCoTodd member

    Jun 30, 2011
    Sounds goofy to not eliminate as many variables as is reasonably possible but hell - if it works for him....

    On first blush - I tend to noting that geometry and mechanics in this case will not acknowledge technique on his part. In other words, the sights, barrel and round have no idea whatsoever whether or not he is standing.

    Sounds like a logic that might lead one to queer one's own scope lenses because all the hunting is going to happen on foggy mornings.;)

    taliv likes this.
  14. Dudedog
    • Contributing Member

    Dudedog Contributing Member

    Oct 19, 2013
    Southern CA
    For a rifle I would always sight in from a rest, then verify nothing "funny" is going on shooting it prone, kneeling, offhand etc.
    hps1 and hq like this.
  15. dirtman

    dirtman Member

    Oct 30, 2007
    I have always sighted in from the bench.... I want to know where and what the gun is doing..... Then regardless if standing, sitting, running or leaning against a tree, i want a full scope picture and the exact samme eye relief.... then if i ever miss..... its all on me!!!!!
  16. hps1

    hps1 Member

    Dec 31, 2002
    A rifle recoils differently from bench to offhand to sitting with a sling to prone w/sling, therefore most HP rifle competitors I know of have starting zero's for each position @ the various ranges. The benchrest zero is not important, only zeros that matter are those for various positions. An example of the dead wind zero @ 100 for my #1 rifle was: Offhand (no sling) +7 3/4, Windage 2 L; Sitting/sling +8 1/4, W 1 1/4 L; Prone/sling +9 1/2, W 2 1/4 L. So yes, you can zero a rifle offhand, and as AK103 said, the heavier the better for offhand rifle.

    I always do my load development from a bench and zero the rifle at that time, then find the different zeros for the various positions above.

    Last edited: Dec 18, 2020
  17. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 20, 2006
    In theory he has a point, but with practice you can duplicate pretty well how much you let a rifle recoil from different positions.

    I shot standing to get my .458 Win Mag fairly well sighted in, but fine tuned it from the bench, shot a pig with it at around 175 yards from a sitting position with a shooting stick, popped him just about perfectly.
    hq and hps1 like this.
  18. Pat Riot
    • Contributing Member

    Pat Riot Contributing Member

    May 21, 2015
    Southern California
    I don’t begrudge anyone how they want to shoot their gun(s).
    I can see the logic in sighing in just as one plans to shoot a gun.
    I sight in and develop loads from a bench but I never hunted from a bench. I shoot my guns from every position I think I might need to shoot it in, that way I know where and how it hits and I know how well I can do follow up shots.
    delrom418 and hps1 like this.
  19. DoubleMag

    DoubleMag Member

    Sep 4, 2011
    I see :cool:no difference then shooting with / without gloves.

    Sighting in is without gloves. However, as field (hunting ) conditions dictate,the gloves come out & go on.

    That changes trigger feel, grip, manipulation of the lever thingies safety, magazine release, scope turrets/sights etc.

    So I would sight in the (deer) rifle without gloves, but it would be irresponsible (IMHO) to NOT fire the rifle in practice session , without wearing gloves. Or the extra getup of hunting, heavier shirts, overcoat etc. And to go one step further, use the getup in your dryfire session in the backyard.

    So it's correct AND incorrect IMHO, you MUST HAVE A BASE OF INFORMATION to build from, and, in my six decades of experiences, that's start with a bench rested sight-in session. THEN, add the extras.

    Thank you, have a GR8T day ---and KEEP SHOOTING:thumbup:
  20. Aletheia

    Aletheia Member

    Dec 15, 2012
    I want to know beyond a doubt that the rifle is shooting where the sights are pointing. That can only be found out by eliminating the operator errors first, so I carefully sight the rifle from a bench rest. Once I know it is shooting where the sights are aiming, then practicing from various positions makes a lot of sense, but it is kind of silly to "sight in" a rifle with a procedure that everyone knows is quite a bit less precise than shooting from a rest.
  21. jmorris

    jmorris Member

    Sep 30, 2005
    I sight in under ideal conditions, I have made adjustments though.

    If I “mostly” shoot under conditions where there is a 15 MPH wind going left to right, I still don’t “zero” in a rifle that way. Maybe an adjustment for that session or shot though.

    Sounds like a good way to blast through some ammo or make an excuse for that deer that got away. “I would have got him but I used a tree to steady my aim instead of just standing, like I sighted it in...”

    I’d rather just zero the thing with a shot or two.

    Then get to practicing. Once you do that enough position and environmental adjustments/accommodations become easier and more accurate.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2020
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