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4 Basic Rifle Shooting Positions [Fundamentals + Variations]

Rifle Shooting Positions

Got yourself a rifle and you’re not trying to shoot your shot at a target?

You’ve come to the right place! Here I discuss the 4 basic positions for shooting, and how to take advantage of each one.

When I learned that there were multiple positions and uses for them, my shooting has improved A LOT!

With the target in our heads, let’s begin!

The 4 Basic Rifle Shooting Positions for Marksmanship and Long-Range Shooting

When you’re a hunter, it’s pretty common to not have any gun rest time.

In these situations, it’s essential to assume one of the four different shooting positions.

In the end, even without any rest from keeping your guns upright, you don’t want to miss your shot.

But hey, the correct body position you choose could still depend on the visibility of your target.

So how exactly are you supposed to choose which shooting position to go with? That’s what I’m here for — to build your confidence in practice!

Whether you’re going to use a rifle or a shotgun for hunting, these are the shooting positions you need to learn and master.

Let the hunting and trigger battles BEGIN!

1. Standing Position

Man shooting in standing position

Let’s begin with the most difficult of the four positions? Just to get it out of the way as early as possible.

The position where you’re standing is the most challenging of all the four positions.

There won’t be any other support apart from your own muscle strengths. 

For someone who wasn’t that strong at the time, I definitely struggled the first time I tried this position.

You’ll be standing on your own, so there’s nothing to lean on to — so it’s not a steady position to work with.

Apart from being the most difficult, this position where you stand also happens to be the least effective for long distances.

That is, the point of this shot is to only use it for more short-range shots.

It’s the QUICKEST position to adopt, and it allows you to get a good sight picture of your target.

Think of it as an instant vantage point, for example.

To achieve accurate shooting with this position, stand perpendicular to the hunting target, with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart. 

Keep that stance strong on the grass, and the more your bullet shoots directly.

Of course, that’s assuming you’ve been doing some practice shooting.

Right Handers: Body Position and Target Sight

For right-handed hunting shooters, your left hand (or support hand) should be holding the fore-end stock, and your elbows should be pointing towards the grass.

In this position, the body should be aligned as follows: right hand holds the grip, with elbows pointing outwards.

Butt of the rifle? Keep it snug against your shoulder.

And once you’re ready to fire in this standing position, don’t forget to keep your finger off of the trigger until then!

Then again, that is the rule of every shooting hunter.

2. Kneeling Position

Man shooting while kneeling

In the kneeling position, the rear knee is placed directly on the grass, with the other leg supporting the elbow of the forward arm.

Think of it as using your leg as a support for both your target arm and firearm, if you’d like.

But you have to remember that in the kneeling position, the elbow should NOT be placed on the kneecap.

At least, not bone to bone!

As a shooting hunter trying to keep hand in hand with their fast target, you don’t want to wobble before you even get that shot in.

Instead, your shooting elbow should be placed on the muscle just above your knee.

What’s that called? Right, the quadriceps.

This is a position you’ll commonly see when hunters take a waist-high cover, for relatively good sight alignment with their hunting target.

3. Sitting Position

Man shooting while sitting on grass

I use this position when I lean against a tree, and I’m sure you’ve seen other hunters try it too.

Providing the most theoretical amount of rest, the sitting position allows Both arms to be supported.

Even then, every hunter must still remember that there should be no direct contact between the elbow and the kneecap.

Keep the elbow holding the rifle barrel just above the kneecap to prevent any wobbling. This is your supporting arm.

What’s good about a proper sitting position is you’re able to sit down with either your legs apart or with your legs crossed. 

How do you position yourself depending on the trigger situation?

Find out through tons of practice shooting.

You can achieve the steadiest sitting position by wrapping your arm around your knee and resting the fore-end stock on your arm (which should now be sitting at a bent angle).

I also use a bipod or table for support if I don’t want to use my body.

4. Prone Position

Shooting in prone position

Next of the basic shooting positions is everyone’s favorite: the prone position!

The prone position is actually the most accurate and stable position of the four positions and angles.

However, the low angle which is in practice during this position may limit your shooting sight alignment.

This is especially true if your sight is blocked by tall grass or grass in between.

On the downside, this shooting position also requires the most rifle shooting time to assume.

That is, it’s not as easy to drop down directly to the ground, as compared to standing up for a trigger squeeze.

MUST-READ: When you’re performing a shot with a prone position, one of the things you should take note of is the muzzle of your rifle (and your shooting rifle barrel).

With your body on the ground, you can’t help the greater risk of wasting ammo on having contact with the ground or being lodged with a spot of dirt.

Most of the time, you also don’t want to attempt to stand up while holding the rifle in this position.

As you move on from your shots, place the shooting rifle on the ground before standing up.

Pick the rifle up once you’re in a standing position, and pay special attention to the muzzle.

No one wants the course of the bullet to go elsewhere.

I have a final tip; to make myself more comfortable, I have a mat placed underneath my body as I drop down.

The Hasty Sling – A Shooting Technique for All Shooting Hunters

Man shooting

when you don’t have any gun rests is to use your rifle sling.

But how exactly?

Use your rifle string to create tension between your shooting arm and your rifle.

The good thing about this technique is that you can use it in not just one position, but ALL 4 positions previously mentioned!

Each of the positions has their own charm, but it doesn’t hurt to have a bit more hunting accuracy and support in there during the shooting season.

So how exactly are you supposed to perform a hasty sling order without noise and eyes losing focus?

Hasty Sling for Right Handed Shooting Hunters

I used to find the sling quite distracting when shooting until I realized how much it actually helps!

Let’s begin with how to do this technique for a right-handed shooter, shall we?

If you’re right-handed, you want to hold the rifle out with your right shooting hand. At this point, let the sling hang down.

Afterwards, place your left arm through the opening that was formed between your shooting rifle and your sling.

Now, raise the left arm up, and behind the sling. You should be able to feel some tension and support at this part of the process.

Afterwards, simply slip your hand back over the sling, and grasp the fore-end stock of your bullet rifle.

With your usual shoulder width (in practice), shoulder the rifle, and your bullet should be ready to shoot out with great accuracy!

Checking if You Got the Technique Correctly

Like I said, there are quite a few steps that require your hands to be all over the place. I’ve even lost sight of the sling!

How do you know if you did it right and the support is at the correct place?

Here are a few parameters to check!

  1. TensionIf the sling is at its correct length (enough for support), the resulting tension when you shoulder your rifle should STEADY your shooting hand.
  2. Sling against your chestMore than that, however, the rear sling swivel should also cross your chest. At least, when your rifle is held against your shoulder.
  3. Sling wrap around positionProviding you a good site for rest, the sling will be wrapped around the outside of your left arm, somewhere nearby the elbow.
    • In hindsight, it will pass over the crook of your arm, and then inside your forearm.

How to Perform the Technique in the Best Way Possible, in All Shooting Positions

With a variety of ways in which you could loop your arm, it’s only right that you make sure you’re doing the right thing!

On that note, here are a few pointers and criteria that you, as a shooter, can double-check!

One of the good pointers to keep your eyes on as you do this is to make sure that your shooting position is not cramped.

It would also be best for the sight of your bullet if you don’t need to adjust your shooting position as you perform this useful technique.

This should be comfortable, snug, and make you feel the safety of the technique.

With some loops all over the place, there’s no doubt that this should be practiced just as much, if not more than whatever shooting position you seem to be weak at.

After all, the key to the rifle, making a good shot, and being comfortable in a shooting position is constant trial and error.

Just make sure to keep your muzzle guarded as you do so.

Shooting Supports

Person's rifle

When making an accurate shot, the support available for your rifle is just as important as the shooting position that you decide to take.


So here are a few accessories that you could use to support your trusty rifle, especially when you’re out of rest during the shoot!


Bipods are simply two legs that attach the rifle for rest and support.

Other models of the bipods have telescoping legs which could be used for kneeling positions.

As I mentioned earlier, bipods are incredibly stable and a very much recommended tool to have.

But when you’re pointing each gun out, don’t forget that bipods mean you have an extra weight to carry around as you hunt.

I personally have no problem carrying them around, as that stability is much needed! You’ll get used to the extra weight anyway.

Would you choose consistent accuracy and support over comfortability as you run? Your pick!

Shooting Sticks

Another accessory that you can consider is three-legged shooting sticks!

These are simple and straight support legs that support each of your guns but also collapse for easy carrying.

The thing with the shooting stick is you don’t necessarily have to buy it.

You could actually improvise with a stick or any solid object that you find in the shooting trails for a solid rest and support.

Which of the Four Shooting Positions Provides the Least Support?

Man in combat gear

The position which provides the least support for your firearm? It’s the STANDING position.

When working with a firearm, support is CRUCIAL.

While all the shooting positions have their very own uses, it’s still wise to be aware of which has the least support.

That way, you’re able to find a way to make up for it.

In the standing position, you’re standing with no other support but your muscle weight, making it challenging to take a hold of your target.

With enough practice, however, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue!

BONUS TIP: It also helps to learn and get used to aiming and shooting with both eyes open to be prepared for any situation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Modify a Shooting Position to Make It More Stable?


To ensure an accurate shot, you can add different support tools to help you stabilize your position, like sandbags, bipods, logs, or a table or bench rest.

You’ll eventually find a stable position that works best and MOST COMFORTABLY for you.

How Can I Improve My Shooting Accuracy in Different Positions?

Like with all things, the only way you can ensure you get better is by practicing all four shooting positions regularly.

You must learn to get comfortable with positioning your body in uncomfortable ways.

I recommend trying a dry fire practice run, which is practicing the positions with an UNLOADED weapons.

Once you’re comfy with the positioning, try with a loaded weapon and fire a few shots.

Like I said, this whole process is a lot of trial and error, but with a little patience, you’ll find yourself fully accustomed to all of them!

How Do I Know Which Shooting Position Is Best For Me?

It depends on a lot of factors, such as your skill level, physical ability, and what kind of shooting you are in.

The only way to find which is best for you is by practicing ALL of them.

Each shooting position is suited for different uses, so you have to be ready for anything.


When aiming for a target, finding a stable position that maximizes your ability is the KEY.

Keep practicing all the positions and you’ll eventually find yourself ready for anything and everything!

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