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What Shooting Position is Commonly Used When Hunting with a Shotgun?

What Shooting Position is Commonly Used When Hunting with a Shotgun

Hunting can be a good sport and a great way to get food on the table or get rid of pests. 

Regardless of skill level, it’s good to know the different shooting positions and which are most commonly used.

Learning the different ones really helped me maximize my shooting experience by using the right ones for the right purposes.

I guarantee that by the end of this article, you will know EXACTLY what shooting position is best for you, and which are most commonly used.

Common Shooting Positions

There are four different common shooting positions for hunting. These come with different levels of difficulty, stability, and speed. 

If you take hunting seriously, I suggest you learn all of these. Here are the four shooting positions to ENHANCE your hunting game: 

1. Prone


This is generally the hardest shooting position to get into because you would have to lay down on your belly to do this. 

So what’s so good about this if it is hard to do?

Well, the prone position is the most stable position, leading to the most accurate shots. 

While this is definitely for the more experienced hunter, it is still worth learning for a beginner.

What I did to get used to this position was to practice it on the grass (without the firearm), just to get comfortable with the overall feeling.

I also kept a mat underneath to make it more comfortable, so you can do that as well.

2. Kneeling


For the kneeling position, there is one knee placed on the ground and the other leg with the foot on the ground.

The forward leg with the foot on the ground acts as a SUPPORT for your elbow and arm.

The elbow should NOT be placed directly on the knee cap, it should be placed on the muscle of the leg to avoid any injuries!

In my experience, the kneeling position provides a little less stability than the prone position but is easier to get into.

3. Sitting


There are a few variations for the sitting position.

One where your legs are apart, one where your ankles are crossed, and one where your legs are completely crossed, like Indian-style.

I prefer Indian-style simply because it’s the most comfortable for me, but it all depends on you!

In the sitting position, both arms are supported, making it more stable than the kneeling position.

This is usually used by hunters who are leaning against a tree.

When I was a beginner, I found that it also helps to keep the rifle mounted on a bipod on a table or the ground for more support.

4. Standing


The standing position is the easiest shooting position to get in, as you don’t have to move that much.

It is great for when you get a lucky visit or early swoop of your prey and you have to shoot QUICKLY.

It also provides the best visibility for your target, especially when you shoot with both eyes.

However, among all the shooting positions, the standing position has the least stability.

Usually, professionals or more experienced shooters use this position as it takes a great deal of muscle strength and hand-eye coordination to be accurate.

Don’t worry, though. When I first tried the standing position, I wasted a lot of bullets until I finally landed accurate shots.

Practice makes perfect!

Proper Shotgun Techniques for Beginners

The best technique for a beginning hunter in shotgun shooting would be the swing-through method. 

In order to do this, point your shotgun at the moving target and swing with it in the same direction. 

You want to fire when you manage to swing through the target.

This means that you aim a little AHEAD of where the target is moving to. This is great for a moving target at a CONSTANT PACE, like a bird. 

Of course, as a beginner in shotgun shooting, it is also important that you master all four different shooting positions to achieve the most accurate shot.

Best Rifle Firing Position

I wouldn’t say there is a best position. It all depends on your own strength and preference.

If you prefer the MOST STABLE position that requires the least strength, then go for the prone. 

But if you want a better view of things, and have the strength to carry the gun, go for the standing position.

If you need something in between, then the sitting and kneeling positions work great.

Although I encourage you to practice every shooting position regularly and learn ALL of them.

The Four R’s

The Four R’s

Before you go on hunting, just make sure you do so ethically. Ethics may seem like a difficult topic at first, but when it comes to hunting, you just need to remember these 4 Rs. 

Respect for Self

Before you even begin to hunt, it is important to practice your marksmanship. You can do this with TARGET PRACTICE at home. This is so that when you go hunting, you can do the kill swiftly and cleanly. 

Do the following:

  1. You need to learn about the game you are hunting and RESPECT their legal hunting seasons.
  2. You should also learn about the bag limits being set, so you can stick to them. 
  3. Remember to plan and PREPARE before going on a hunt. You want to make sure you have everything you need, including your hunting license.
  4. This may seem obvious, but please DO NOT drink or do drugs before or during a hunt to avoid any injuries to you or the people around you. 
  5. Make sure to also follow all the safety precautions when using firearms. 
  6. Lastly, remember to have fun! Remember that it really is about enjoyment rather than gathering the most game possible. 

Respect for Others

Respect for others is just as important as respect for yourself.

1st: Don’t Purposely Interfere with Another Hunter’s Game

You also want to share your love for hunting. If you’re more experienced, teaching others or sharing knowledge is a great way to do this. 

2nd: Don’t Use Foul Language or Crude Behavior

Also, avoid displaying game hunted that could offend a nonhunter. 

3rd: Respect the Social Community

Make sure you dispose of the entrails of the animal mindfully, as to not disturb the general public. 

Get to know who the landowner of the hunting ground is long before you start hunting there.

You also want to obey their wishes of where you can and cannot hunt. 

You should treat the land as if it was your own. Unless told otherwise, leave gates and fences how you found them. 

It would also be nice and polite to offer the landowner part of the game hunted. 

Speaking about being polite, you can offer to help the landowner with chores like woodcutting or fixing fences.

Responsibility for Actions

If you witness any game violations, REPORT THEM. Don’t turn a blind eye to it.

Also, admit if you did something wrong.

Cooperate with law enforcers. Understand that you can and will be held accountable for your actions. 

You have to be aware that YOUR ACTIONS affect how you are seen as a hunter, and how the hunting sport is seen by the public. 

Make sure that the game is properly field-dressed so no meat is wasted. Don’t force a shot if it looks like it won’t kill the animal swiftly or if it is unsafe.

Respect for Resource

You only want to take FAIR shots. 

Be aware of your distance from the target and ONLY TAKE humane shots. 

Don’t shoot animals with their young as young animals will die without their parents.

Don’t shoot games going through hard times such as being stuck in snow or crossing water. Obey local laws and don’t overhunt.

Safely Carrying Firearms

Here are a few GUIDELINES on how to safely carry firearms. 

  1. Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction and under control. Keep it away from other people and yourself. 
  2. Keep the safety ON when carrying your gun. Only turn off the safety when you’re about to shoot. 
  3. Keep your finger OUTSIDE the trigger guard.

6 Ways to Carry Firearms

There are many ways you can carry firearms when not shooting that is safe. And guess what? They all have names too. 

#1 Sling Carry

Sling Carry

This makes use of the rifle sling. 

You just sling the sling over your shoulder to support the rifle. While walking, you should keep your hand on the sling to AVOID dropping the rifle. 

This is great for walking on large open spaces. It is also great when walking with others. 

#2 Trail Carry

Trail Carry

Using only one arm to carry the gun, it leaves your other arm free for balance. 

#3 Cradle Carry

Cradle Carry

Similar to holding a baby with one arm, you would carry your gun across your forearm and elbow. 

This is a comfortable carry and helps to reduce arm fatigue. 

#4 Elbow or Side Carry

Elbow or Side Carry

This is a very comfortable position to hold your rifle meant for break-action firearms. 

The pivot of the open action rests nicely on the CROOK of your elbow and down over your forearm. 

This way, the barrel naturally points down, and others can see that your action is safe and open.

While very comfortable, it is best for when you are at rest and not actively looking for game.

#5 Shoulder Carry

Shoulder Carry

This is also meant for break-action firearms. 

You would just drape your gun over your shoulder, with the bend of the gun at the shoulder area. 

The gun barrel would be pointing BEHIND you, making this a great carry if you’re walking beside or behind someone.

However, it isn’t great if there are people behind you.

#6 Two-Handed or Ready Carry

Two Handed or Ready Carry

This is great if you are actively looking for game. 

You hold the gun in front of you with both hands, and the barrel pointing up. 

Your hand stays OUTSIDE the trigger guard. 

This provides the best control for the muzzle, making it easy to quickly take a standing position and shoot. 

Making a Clean Kill

There are three crucial things to making a kill: Understanding anatomy, good marksmanship, and patience.


The reason you need to learn anatomy is so you know EXACTLY where to shoot to make their death as painless as possible.

Research the game you’re hunting, and learn about their anatomy and where their vital organs are before you go hunting. 


After learning the anatomy, aim at the right spot to make the clean kill.

In order to do that, it is crucial that you practice your shooting skills as much as possible before hunting. 


Sometimes, where you should shoot is not in clear sight. 

Don’t shoot in this case. Be patient and WAIT until you can take a good shot.



So now you know the common shooting positions for hunting. Congratulations! 

Now it is time to practice it, along with your marksmanship, knowledge of anatomy, and safety precautions. 

Most importantly, REMEMBER YOUR ETHICS, and don’t forget to bring your patience with you!

Hope this article has helped you become a better hunter and answer your question. It’s time to enjoy the hunt!

FINAL TIP: For more vital information about hunting, you might want to go through my Complete Guide on Choosing a Firearm for Hunting.

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