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Standing Position Tips and Crushing the Marksman Challenge

The June Marksman challenge is a difficult one. I’ve given it one formal attempt so far, and it went…poorly. You can read about that in the forum. A few more of you have also been sharing your results so far, with the best score yet being a 10 out of the required 15 to earn the badge. In this post, I want to cover some standing position tips to help you out.

One of the most difficult parts of the challenge is shooting from the standing position. Even with a hasty sling, I’m sure you’re finding that holding a 1-inch target at 25 yards isn’t a simple task.

With that in mind, I asked around with some experts to get their thoughts on practicing the standing position. I’ll share some of those in a minute.

But remember that there are no shortcuts here. You have to do the work to get the reward.

Two shots fired each at the top row from the standing position. Not my proudest moment, but that's reality for you.

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Practicing the Standing

Given the difficulty of this month’s challenge, I reached out to a few experts to see what they had to say.

John Buol Jr.

John is a member of the US Army Reserve Marksmanship Team, and proprietor of the Firearms User Network.

He agreed that a 4 MOA standard is a tough one from the standing position, but it’s doable.

If 4 MOA from standing is the goal, I recommend what High Power and Smallbore shooters do: An upright, hip slung position, patience, and great trigger control.

Of the standing positions I’ve spoken about, your best bet is the target standing.

“Colorado” Pete Lessler

Pete Lessler is the author of The Gun Digest Shooter’s Guide to Rifle Marksmanship, and a long time competitive shooter, hunter, and outdoorsman.

He offered a similar answer to John,

There are different versions of "standing". I cover the three versions I understand in my rifle book. I think for me, I'd ask the following: Is it a relatively small or large target? Is time a factor? Is more than one shot required?

I would pick the version that satisfies the requirements of accuracy, speed, and recoil recovery best for the given challenge. Then I'd dry fire it extensively in order to fully understand it down to the last detail, analyzing its strengths and weaknesses in bone vs. muscle support, speed, recoil resistance, steadiness, etc. Using natural point of aim would be a must. Lots of time, constructively spent.

Of note, Pete recommends a lot of dry fire extensively in order to understand each position down to the minute details. 

Keep in mind that dry fire alone isn’t going to work out all of the kinks for you. Practicing trigger control and stance is good, but you also need to deal with recoil, flash, and noise as the rifle fires. If you avoid dealing with those issues, then you’re liable to develop a flinch.

John C. Simpson

John is the author of the The Foundations of Sniper Marksmanship. In his book, he advocates for spending significant time practicing the standing position precisely because it is the most difficult. It’s just you and the rifle.

Mastering the fundamentals in the standing position directly transfers benefits to the other positions.

When I asked John about any tips for practicing during a podcast interview, he offered a unique take. He suggested using iron sights and aiming at yourself in a mirror during dry fire. Note that this only works with iron sights (or maybe a RDS), because magnification at that close a range will not work.

Follow all safety precautions.

Everyone talks about the need for dry fire, but dry fire without feedback can only take you so far. If you don’t know that you’re doing something wrong with the trigger, additional dry fire is only going to ingrain that into your nervous system.

It’s not a question of practice, practice, practice. You have to practice correctly and get feedback from that practice.

Closing Tips

To round this out, here are a few more things I’ve learned over the years from several people.

Mind the Wobble Zone

No matter what you do, there will be some instability with the rifle in the standing position. The sights will dance around the target. Where most people make a mistake, especially if you’re impatient like I was with the target posted above, is trying to muscle the rifle to a particular spot and squeeze the trigger right now.

Instead, learn to make the instability predictable. Instead of trying to chase the sights all over the wobble zone, guide the rifle along a predictable track like a Figure-8. Place the center of the Figure-8 on the target. 

With good timing and a predictable track, you can break the shot just before the sights track across the target again. 

Don’t Neglect Strength Training

While you cannot eliminate the wobble zone, you can try and reduce it. The wobble stems from instability inherent in your muscles and balance. If you increase your strength, particularly in your shoulders and wrists, then your muscles will not work as hard to hold the rifle up.

Similarly, if you work on your balance then you will have fewer problems stabilizing your whole body as you lean at awkward angles.

For strength, consider the classic arm circles exercise. Try for 100 forward and 100 rear. Once you can do that, add weight to each hand.

For the wrists, you can do wrist curls in addition to whatever other strength training you’re doing.

Wrapping Up

Good luck with the challenge! My first attempt didn’t go well, but that doesn’t mean I’m quitting on it. It’s back to working on some quality practice for me.

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Matt is the primary author and owner of The Everyday Marksman. He's a former military officer turned professional tech sector trainer. He's a lifelong learner, passionate outdoorsman, and steadfast supporter of firearms culture.

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Doc Josh
Doc Josh

I’ll try to dig it up, but a few weeks ago I read about the wobble being exaggerated by the eye and brain more so than actual physical wobble that is occurring.

Ilya Koshkin
Replying to  Matt

That is correct. I am friendly with a guy who was a world champion handgun shooter a couple of times a while back (Olympic style shooting) and he was also a head coach of Russian Olympic shooting team for a while (he was also a coach of the Navy shooting team on the East Coast somewhere for a few years, since he has dual citizenship I believe). They deal with this in a variety of ways, but arguably the biggest contributor to the wobble is your vision system trying to add corrections whether consciously or subconsciously. They have a few… Read more »

Sunshine Shooter

Using a mirror is a good idea! I’m definitely using that one.

Have you strapped your MantisX onto your rifle yet?

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