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Discussion Starter #1
Want to get used to shooting freehand but having trouble holding dead still. Crosshairs (me) move around slightly on target.
I've heard of two different techniques...
One is to put the crosshairs on the target as best you can and squeeze slowly, letting the shot surprise you.
The other is to squeeze off the moment the moving crosshairs intersect the target.

In your experience, which is better? Or is there a better technique?

Thanks in advance,
M&M
 

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Sounds like … an invitation to "target panic," and "drive by shooting." You can't try to time your trigger squeeze to the crosshair passing over the bullseye. All sorts of bad stuff results. Not the least of which is to start slapping the trigger like a shotgun.

First off, there's almost no reason to be shooting animals freehand. Shooting sticks, knee pods, monopods and tripods abound. There's almost always a tree, blowdown, rock, or something to brace against or rest on.

That said, the little bit of freehand practice shooting I ever do I personally treat the crosshair wobble the same as when I shot my vertical bows a decade ago. Concentrate on your POA and trust your subconscious to fire the shot at the right moment. Different people are subjected to different amounts of crosshair wobble. I envy those who have a rock steady hold. I'm finding that the older I get the more crosshair movement I'm subjected to...lol
 

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Do as Iron Duke says, look for something to rest against.
If there is absolutely nothing around, at least consider shooting kneeling first.

If freehand standing/shooting is your game, you may want to build up your upper-body muscles at minimum.
This will help to steady your aim.

There is a similar thread going on here:
 

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I used to shoot competitive archery in a league and used a pin sight. There were many times when I pulled the trigger and was off the bull but “jumped the pin” into the target at the same time.

I’m think still shooting offhand is a lot tougher than people think and sometimes wonder about statements made by people showing off their free hand bullseyes down range.

I’ve made some “lucky” shots with a firearm but I was swinging (following) with it horizontally like a skeet or bird shooter. It’s much easier for me to be steady swinging a weapon than trying to hold it dead still - ymmv.
 
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Shooting offhand is a balance skill. You must have the xhair as steady as possible and then squeeze the trigger to be consistent. Bow/rifle balance is key. Try adding weight where needed to get the bow to balance where you support it up front. Takes time but well worth it, trial and error. Usually just a slight bit of front heavy balance is best. Your front support hand is your fulcrum, try moving fore and aft for your best "hold".

Support the bow using bone support, not muscles. Bones are solid, muscles tire and quiver. Keep bones in contact with each other best as possible and bow weight centered over your spine . Use hip rest, rib cage rest with the forward arm. This will depend on your physical build.

Look online for rifle shooting pics of offhand standing positions. There are lots available. Find your natural point of aim, adjust as needed to accomplish. Again, check out rifle shooting books, techniques. And then there is breathing, breath control. There is much work involved to becoming an accomplished offhand shooter.

I could go on in more detail but I think you get the drift of what I'm describing.
 

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When I shoot any of my long rifles offhand, I tuck my elbow into my waist tight against my body. I can actually balance the front of my rifle pretty good on the palm of my left hand and keep it steady. I've also used the same method with my crossbow.
This method works for me but I would much rather take the shot from a good solid rest of some kind, shooting sticks, etc.
 

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When I shoot any of my long rifles offhand, I tuck my elbow into my waist tight against my body. I can actually balance the front of my rifle pretty good on the palm of my left hand and keep it steady. I've also used the same method with my crossbow.
This method works for me but I would much rather take the shot from a good solid rest of some kind, shooting sticks, etc.
Agreed.
The left elbow, that is...
The right elbow?
Sometimes in, sometimes out at 90* for better balance.
 
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Of course a rest is always best but shooting a crossbow is a short range affair. As I often hunt thickets where the shots are normally less than thirty yards I mostly shoot freehand. Some times ignorance is bliss because I never considered shooting free hand difficult. I just put the crosshairs on target and try to be steady while pulling the trigger.
 

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This works killer when ya got a partner you don't want to come with ya anymore!! Use their shoulder as a rest.....Whack! Ooops!
 

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For M & M, “trust your float” will lead to improved results. Trying to trigger the shot when you are on is more likely to lead to target panic. After my TSR 5 years ago, I couldn’t shoot offhand well at all. I’m still not good compared to some, but as I keep working, it gets better. I shoot 3d (casual, with friends, not competitively. It’s good practice, picking a spot, staying calm, follow through. I try to shoot as many ways as possible, including twisting like a deer is behind the tree. I usually end up shooting at deer that are inside 30 yards, and usually walking. I don’t remember crosshairs jumping around much, even though the adrenaline is flowing. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #16
For M & M, “trust your float” will lead to improved results. Trying to trigger the shot when you are on is more likely to lead to target panic. After my TSR 5 years ago, I couldn’t shoot offhand well at all. I’m still not good compared to some, but as I keep working, it gets better. I shoot 3d (casual, with friends, not competitively. It’s good practice, picking a spot, staying calm, follow through. I try to shoot as many ways as possible, including twisting like a deer is behind the tree. I usually end up shooting at deer that are inside 30 yards, and usually walking. I don’t remember crosshairs jumping around much, even though the adrenaline is flowing. ;)

Thanks. The "trust your float" technique is probably what I'll do. Tried it a couple of times like that tonight and did well.
 

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I use my xb for hunting, and I’m not a competitive shooter. Of course I spend time at the range in preparation too, and for fun. With that in mind, I know my typical hunting situations are either in a treestand, or in a ground blind, or occasionally just sitting near a cluster of trees.

All the treestands/climber that I use have a lap bar that I can use to prop my elbow on to steady the xb, and that can be simulated at the range on a picnic bench.

Some have mentioned using a tree branch for an xb rest. I’m not a fan of that because I don’t like counting On chance for that ideal branch to be there, and I am ultra careful about avoiding the possibility of one of the xb arms flinging out and hitting a branch, destroying the shot and possibly the bow. Instead, if I’m not going to be in a treestand, I carry either a monopod or my SteadyEddy for standing/sitting shots. If I’m in a blind, I use one of those or a FieldPod.

I won’t get awards for being Robin Hood by using these shooting aids. I don’t care because that’s not my goal. I also minimize the possibility of crappy shots. For me, the xb is a (fun!) hunting tool, and knowing how to maximize my success rate is how I roll.
 

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I tilt my torso at the hips away from the target slightly and I bring my left elbow as tight as I can get it into my side without using muscles to force it. I also hold the bow with my left hand pretty near the trigger guard. As mentioned earlier, you have to develop your muscles because the ones you will be using are not often used. Muscle memory is also in need of development, so repetition is needed. Breathing control is so important as well as knowing when to stop and put the bow down for a minute or 2 before going at it again.

You have to come to accept that your target hold is is going to be circular or elliptical. It is near impossible to hold dead steady because a whole whack of muscle groups work against each other to try to keep steady.

Trigger time is trigger time. So practice with a pellet rifle or rimfire to develop muscles and muscle memory. Dryfire practice with anything you can safely dryfire with.

RELAX when shooting. Keep distractions away and only practice with one or 2 shots and then go away, do something else.

Us the blank backside of a target so you can focus on holding steady, breathing, and trigger control.

In order for you to use less muscles, aim the bow at something with your eyes closed. If you open your eyes and you're not on target, you have to change your hold or foot position.

My 2 cents CND
 

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My thoughts are it requires concentration, to the point of being surprised when the shot finally is released! Removing any though of anticipation, or trying to time your shot. For me after years of shooting handguns competing and hunting with them offhand it made archery much easier. I had already learned to let them sights roll around that bull and concentrate on slowly adding pressure on the trigger, release whatever until it unexpectedly fired. I have proven time and time again, any attempt at timing when the hair or sight was center and shooting 'NOW' only leads to disaster 90% of the time! Plus becoming used to the baddest big bore revolver recoil and bark makes everything else a walk in the park.

Form of course is important, but more important is whatever form you are comfortable with you are creating a habit of doing the exact same EVERY TIME. Breathing helps when done properly, but either one is meaningless if you think you can time that shot! relax and take a deep breath, let it out and slowly add pressure to the trigger till it finally releases, all while concentrating on that bull, and allowing the sight to hover over it without fighting it!

One other thing that aids in new shooters having poor success offhand is MAGNIFICATION!! That is exactly what it does, it magnifies all your weaknesses and adds nothing to overcome it, in fact it only increases everything that creates failure! It will train you to fight the sight picture and lead to target panic! I have forever said how I go out of my way to have less magnification for any close range hunting,, inside 100 yards, and my hate for hunting with need of a rest is why!

When I shot short range Benchrest, 100 & 200 yards, or 600 yard Long range, I wanted magnification,, but that was 90% a test of equipment, and an absolute need for the most solid rest that could be allowed! But that was when 45X was my preference, why dial out everything else in your shooting without having absolute sight at a target that was going to be totally stationary with no movement of the crosshair.

When it comes to offhand their is no such thing as a natural,, not when you introduce so many things that only you can control, that means no help from any type of shooting aid. But when one puts in the time,,, "PAY'S THEIR DUES" and uses proper edicate and shooting equipment made for this kind of shooting,, they are well on their way to success. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!

It is not as hard after weeks and months of practice practice practice!! Years latter it start becoming second nature! But in the beginning far to many quit or give up because they can't take not having the results they want, you know, shoot as good as they do with crutches, picnic tables, and solid rests! The only way to be successful is to practice practice practice.

Far to many today are only interested in any activity if they can have instant gratification. They don't realize how hard or how much people put into being efficient at any hobby. But it is very rewarding the more you do it. Anyone who is good at anything besides MATH, or GRAMMAR, got that way with years of repetition and doing it, none of them picked up a welder, a gun or bow, a baseball basketball or set of ski's and was an instant success. But those that are very successful at any activity got that way by years of practice and actively doing it!

The things to avoid, as I said HIGH MAGNIFICATION!!, number one it will create an uncontrollable fighting the target, and big game at inside 50 has for years created a need for scope manufacturers to create smaller lighter scopes on the lowest power end of their offerings for a reason, maybe why a 6X limit was placed on long range rifle silhouette years ago!,, IT WORKS!!! , caffeine, it does screw with your muscles and your concentration, and I believe over extending useful sessions! When you start to tire, take a break,, you will only pickup bad habits and you won't learn from trying to shoot when you are fighting everything else because your getting fatigued.

With time and practice anyone can learn to be extremely efficient offhand with any close range hunting equipment when done properly. When you get right you can concentrate on smaller bulls, like the scaled down eyeball on this ELK,,, hu Tim,,,, 😉(y)

 

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I don't know why you'd want to free hand, too many ways to achieve a good solid rest. I usually sight my crossbow in with a tripod but when I hunt I'm usually out of a hang on that I can't bring my tripod in so I do 2 things: 1) use my sling to get a military hold and 2) hunch down big time and rest my elbows on my lap.

The whole reason I switched to a crossbow is because its easier when hunting, I'm not afraid to admit I hate having an animal suffer and if I'm a better shot with a crossbow vs compound I see no reason to use a compound. I don't care about ego, I care about what puts down the animal the fastest and most efficiently. With that said, shooting a crossbow free hand is hard, I honestly think I'd be pretty close in accuracy if I just used a regular compound...
 
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