How to Hold a Rifle: A Simple Guide for Beginners

How to Hold a Rifle: A Simple Guide for Beginners

The only way to get a proper shot when at the range or when hunting is by holding your rifle properly. One wrong move could mean that your shots go way off-course and you won't be able to hit your expected target. Without further ado, here's how to hold your rifle like a pro.

How to Hold a Rifle

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to hold a rifle:

Step 1: Get Into Proper Position


woman aiming rifle
Credit: Envato Elements/ kostinat

When it comes to getting into position, there are different shooting positions to try out: standing, prone, sitting, and kneeling:

  • Standing Position: Start by placing your feet shoulder-width apart, and your non-dominant foot slightly forward. Next, bring the rifle up to your shoulder, making sure the butt fits snugly into your shoulder pocket. Your right hand or shooting hand should grip the pistol grip firmly but not too tight. Your left hand or other hand should go under the forearm of the rifle, supporting its weight. Lean slightly forward into the rifle while keeping your body relaxed but firm. You can use a rifle sling to keep your arms steady.
  • Prone Position: Lie flat on your belly with your legs extended behind you. Position your elbows directly under your shoulders to support the rifle's weight. Bring the rifle up to your shoulder. Make sure the butt is firmly pressed into your shoulder pocket. Your shooting hand should grip the pistol grip, while your other hand should support the rifle forend.
  • Sitting Position: Sit with your legs crossed or bent, whichever is more comfortable. Lean slightly forward with your back straight. Bring the rifle up to your shoulder. Grip the pistol grip firmly with your shooting arm and support the forearm with your other hand. Keep your elbows supported on your knees or the ground.
  • Kneeling Position: Kneel on one knee with the other foot flat on the ground in front of you. Keep your back straight and lean slightly forward. Bring the rifle up to your shoulder. Grip the pistol grip firmly with your shooting hand and support the forearm with your other hand. Maintain a stable position by balancing your weight evenly between your knees and feet.

Step 2: Grip the Rifle

You want to hold the rifle firmly, but not like you're trying to crush it. A good rule is to squeeze the grip with about as much pressure as you would use to shake someone's hand. This helps you control the rifle without tensing up too much. Your index finger should rest lightly on the trigger, ready to squeeze smoothly when you're on target.

Step 3: Align Your Eyes


woman kneeling down and aiming gun
Credit: Envato Elements/ ninelutsk

Make sure your eye is in line with the scope or sights by resting your cheek naturally on the stock of the rifle, just below your dominant eye. This is called your cheek weld. For a proper cheek weld, your head should be upright, not tilted to the side or leaning forward too much. Align your dominant eye with the sight, and keep both eyes open if you can.

Step 4: Control Your Breathing

When you're prepared to fire, inhale deeply, exhale halfway, and hold your breath. This helps steady your aim by reducing movement caused by breathing. Avoid holding your breath for too long as this will cause you to shake. Just enough to take your shot comfortably.

Step 5: Focus on Trigger Control


finger placed on trigger
Credit: Envato Elements/ LightFieldStudios

This one's crucial. Slowly squeeze the trigger straight back towards you, using the pad of your index finger. Avoid jerking or slapping the trigger finger, as this can throw off your aim. Smooth, steady pressure is the key here for an accurate shot. You can try shooting a few rounds to get the trigger control right before focusing on your target.

The Different Types of Rifles


rifles lying against trees
Credit: Envato Elements/ Great_bru

There are tons of different rifles out there. Here's a list of the most popular types:

1) Bolt-Action Rifles

Bolt action rifles operate by manually cycling the bolt to load and eject cartridges. They typically have a slower rate of fire but offer excellent precision, making them popular choices for hunting and long-range shooting.

2) Semi-Automatic Rifles

Unlike bolt-action rifles, semi-automatic rifles automatically load the next round after each shot, as long as there are cartridges in the magazine. They offer a faster rate of fire and are commonly used for self-defense, target shooting, and hunting. Some popular examples include the AR-15 and the Ruger 10/22.

3) Lever-Action Rifles

Lever-action rifles feature a lever near the trigger guard that, when operated, cycles cartridges from the magazine into the chamber. They are known for their quick follow-up shots and are often associated with cowboy and Western-style shooting. The Winchester Model 94 is a classic example.

4) Single-Shot Rifles

As the name suggests, single-shot rifles can only hold and fire one cartridge at a time. After each shot, the spent cartridge must be manually ejected, and a new one loaded. While these guns may seem simple, they're incredibly accurate and are often used for precision shooting competitions.

5) Assault Rifles

Assault rifles are military-style rifles that can fire in both semi-automatic and fully automatic shooting modes. They are designed for rapid fire and come with features like detachable magazines and selective fire capabilities. It's important to note that true assault rifles are heavily regulated in many countries.


Should I hold my breath while taking the shot?

Yes, take a deep breath, let it out slowly, and hold it momentarily while you take your shot. This helps stabilize your body.

How do I ensure a smooth trigger pull?

Apply smooth, steady pressure with your index finger instead of jerking the trigger. Aim for a surprise break to minimize flinching.

What if I'm still having trouble hitting my target accurately?

Practice regularly and focus on mastering each step of holding your rifle steady. Consistent practice improves accuracy over time.


By following these simple guidelines for grip, stance, shoulder placement, cheek weld, and finger placement, you'll be well on your way to becoming a proficient rifle shooter. Practice regularly, and remember that consistency is key for accurate shooting.

And to make your practice sessions even more effective, consider using EasyShot shooting targets. They're designed to enhance your aim and accuracy, making every shot count. Shop with EasyShot today.

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