How To Aim a Hunting Rifle for Beginners

How To Aim a Hunting Rifle for Beginners

When it comes to shooting a hunting rifle, there’s a little more to it than “point and shoot.” You can have the best hunting equipment, but you’re setting yourself up for frustration if you don’t know how to aim. Luckily, learning how to use a hunting rifle is not hard. We’ll go over the basics of aiming and good beginner shooting positions.

Four Points of Contact

To aim correctly, you need to be able to hold the rifle steady in the proper position. To do this, the rifle must be stabilized by four points on contact with your body.

Both Hands

The first two contact points are your hands but determining which hand goes where you first need to identify your dominant eye.

You can do this by holding your arms straight out and making a small triangle with the webbing between your thumbs and first fingers. Find a small target 10-15 feet away and center it with the triangle you’ve made.

Now keep your arms locked and close your left eye. If your right eye is your dominant eye, the object you chose will still be centered between your fingers. If closing your left eye means you can longer see the object, you are left-eye dominant.

Because you want to line up your target with your dominant eye, your firing hand will be on the same side. So if you are right eye dominant, you are a right-handed shooter.

Your firing hand will wrap around the grip of the rifle. For safety, always keep your trigger finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot your target.

Your other hand is your stabilizing hand. This arm will create a V under the rifle, and your hand will steady the rifle by cradling the forestock.

Shoulder Pocket

The shoulder corresponding to your dominant eye is where the butt of the rifle presses. If you have the stock in the wrong place, the kick from the shot can be painful.

Your shoulder pocket is located under your collar bone and between the front of your ribcage and the shoulder joint. This meaty area helps steady the rifle and cushion the recoil.


The cheek under your dominant eye will rest against the stock of the rifle to give you the best aim. From this position, you should be able to look straight from stock to sight to your target.

Scopes are useful tools when shooting long distances, but there are several different kinds. If you are interested in using a scope, you will want to know the difference between a hunting rifle scope and a tactical scope.

Best Positions for Learning How to Aim

There are various shooting positions, but if you’re still learning how to aim, let’s stick with the basics.

Standing Shooting Position

This position is good for shooting at closer range (less than 50 yards) since it is unsupported. It also works well to have follow-up shots.

To use this position, aim your body perpendicular to your target. Plant your feet shoulder-width apart and hold your rifle using all four points of contact.

Kneeling Shooting Position

This position is easy to assume, steadier than standing and sets you at a perfect height to see above tall grasses.

Start by kneeling on your dominant side, with your other knee raised. This raised knee will be a steadying point for your stabilizing arm, but be sure to use the flat section just above your elbow when resting on this knee. Using the point of your elbow will result in less stability.

Get Out There and Hunt

When you follow these steps on how to aim, you’ll be sure to improve your accuracy and bring home a worthy prize.

For more advice on hunting, be sure to check out our hunting section.

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