Previous Post
Next Post

Read Part 1 here

Day two of the Government Training Institute – Legion’s Precision Rifle With Elevated Shooting Course  began, as with Day 1, in the classroom. The lessons reviewed stock and body positioning – as centered in the chest and as much contact with the earth as possible, respectively.

In terms of shooting from a standing position, the rifle was towards the center of the chest with legs spread wide and knees locked. Again, this differed from the standing position I had learned previously – feet approximately shoulder width and weight on balls of each foot. The increase in stability using the new (to me) methods taught in the GTI course were noticeable.

Tommy and Chris then went into novel territory not covered yet in our course. They described the effect of angled shooting on calculating distances and thus riflescope adjustments and holds. Some of the targets for Day 2 would be at extreme angles. When we reached the tower, Tommy set up one of the rifles on a tripod.

He then demonstrated the appropriate positioning to engage such a target.

Chris then coached Joe Marler of Daniel Defense on the positioning for the same target when the shooter is left-hand-challenged.

To go back a step or two, it should be pointed out that we walked up 10 flights of stairs, and then climbed a ladder to reach the roof aerie that provided our shooting positions for Day 2. (Many of us whined like three-year-olds, suggesting an elevator as an improvement for the course.)

Like Day 1, we needed to set up the ballistic solutions using our various rangefinders (mine being a Vortex Fury HD 5000) and the Kestrel 5700 Elite Meter With Applied Ballistics. Day 2 included 21 targets ranging in distance from 70-yards to ~750-yards.

The data needed for the Kestrel calculations included wind direction and velocity, as well as the angle of shots relative to the direction of wind.

Tommy records wind speed for the Kestrel ballistic calculations . . .

…while the author records angle of target relative to the wind direction.

When firing at my first target, located at 456 yards, I reduced the total number of targets by one. The MG Arms Banshee in .300 Winchester Magnum, loaded with Federal Premium Ammunition – Gold Medal Match: 190 grain Sierra Matchking BTHP flattened the steel target.

Once we had the ballistic solutions, we began our exercises. Firing from prone . . .

…standing . . .

and kneeling positions at targets of wildly-differing distances and angles relative to our elevation as well as the direction of the wind.

We were taught how to brace the firearm by placing our non-shooting hand across the scope and grasping the railing.

One point to make here is that a number of my classmates didn’t have either a shooting pad or support bag. As with Day 1, both were essential for accurate shooting – the pad for prone and kneeling positions, and the support bag for all positions.

Needless to say, those of us who had that gear (in my case, Armageddon Gear’s Ultralight Shooting Mat and Waxed Canvas Optimized Game Changer Support Bag) were happy to share with those who lacked them. By the end of our course, several of the shooters had gotten onto their iPhones and ordered their own.

Chris and Tommy also showed participants the technique of using a tripod to stabilize the butt of the rifle.

It was incredible to note the great reduction in ‘sight wobble,’ both horizontal and vertical, when employing these various techniques.

Toward the end of Day 2, we were introduced to what I thought of as the two-shooter drill. Chris Walker was the instructor in charge of this exercise. The stages of this drill were the following:

Stage 1 – Chris positioned the two selected shooters away from the stands from which they would be firing.

Stage 2 – Chris moved to his position as spotter and calls the shooters to their positions.

Stage 3 – The shooters move to their stations and settle into firing positions.

Stage 4 – The shooters affirm that they are ready and Chris gives the command to engage the targets to which they have been assigned.

The goal with this, and all other timed drills, was to add the last complexity to our training – pressure to perform within a limited time window. As with all the other instructional methods, this last technique proved incredibly powerful.

For me it was humbling to see how much my emotional side dictated my ability to shoot accurately. With the time pressure, I started breaking the trigger before I was in a stable shooting posture – anxiety performance once again raised its ugly head.


It’s probably obvious that I was incredibly impressed with the GTI Precision Rifle Course. I began the course as a hunter with no experience with any of the long-range work that I encountered during the course. Neither had I ever been exposed, through personal instruction or literature, to the techniques that would provide me the skills to engage and strike targets at distances unimaginable to me before this course.

In a word, Chris, Tommy and the facilities at GTI – Legion presented a unique opportunity to gain the confidence to shoot accurately at distances approaching eight football fields laid end-to-end.

No, I have no desire to shoot at game animals at such a distance, but if presented with a shot at a trophy within, say, 500 yards, with no possibility of stalking closer, I will be able to make an informed decision as to the likelihood of an ethical shot.

If you ever have the desire to increase your confidence in such hunting situations, or to test whether or not you might want to participate in the sport of long-range shooting, or even just want to go shoot the heck out of targets at incredible distances, check out the GTI – Legion course.



Unless otherwise noted, all images are courtesy of David Young.

Mike Arnold writes about firearms and hunting at his blog Mike Arnold, Outdoor Writer.

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. Great Part 2. Enjoyed Part 1 as well. Never thought about using a tripod to reduce “sight wobble.” That bit of information is going to be really useful during my next deer hunt in Western Wyoming when I may find myself shooting 500 yards downhill at a deer.

    • 1. Shoot low.
      2. Don’t overestimate the angle. (Just about everyone does.) Fix this by actually measuring it.
      So, measure angle, measure distance, then math.
      This may help:
      First column is angle in degrees, second column is multiplier of measured yards
      5 – .99 or 99%
      10 – .98 or 98%
      15 – .96 or 96%
      20 – .94 or 94%
      25 – .91 or 91%
      30 – .87 or 87%
      35 – .82 or 82%
      40 – .77 or 77%
      45 – .70 or 70%
      50 – .64 or 64%
      55 – .57 or 57%
      60 – .50 or 50%
      65 – .42 or 42%
      70 – .34 or 34%
      75 – .26 or 26%
      80 – .17 or 17%
      85 – .09 or 9%
      90 – .00 or 0%

      • These are brilliant, answers JW! You should have participated in this course and written the articles in my place!

        You are absolutely correct about the knees being locked and passing out. That was my question as well.

        Also, the values you give for determining the angles for holds are what our instructors shared as well.

        The only thing I would add for those of us who don’t shoot extreme angled shots often is that if the animal is close and at an extreme angle, you may need to shoot high because the bullet may not have the distance to cross the los before reaching the target. That is something else I did not know!

        Thank you for the great answers!

        • Thank you sir.
          Good point about extremely close and extreme angles. I hadn’t actually considered that.
          I’ve enjoyed your articles.

  2. $109.00 for basically a bean bag? You have to be kidding me. I’ll keep using my large ziplock full of 1000 rounds of 9mm ammo for support for my rifle. At least the $169.00 worth of ammunition has application stage 2 of my range time, pistol practice. Sure it weighs more, but considering I am also carrying a rifle, three pistols, .45ACP and rifle ammunition I don’t think I notice. To think, my insurance company asked if I did strenuous exercise more than 30min at 3 times a week. I laughed, she asked is that a yes or a no sir?

    • I’ve been making my own bean bags of different sizes from old blue jeans and buckwheat hulls for decades. An 8″ square shooting bag was actually my daughter’s first sewing project. But even so, I have to admit, some of the new bags are pretty awesome. They are filled with a kind of plastic media that interlocks so they retain their shape well. They also have non-slip exteriors, straps to hold on to your rifle or support (or both), and they are extremely light weight. And by light weight, I mean a 12″ cube will weight a pound or less. I keep one in the truck now, and there’s always a small one with me when I hunt. They make a pretty big difference.

      • I was never too handy with trying to sew heavy materiel, so I bought a complete set of shooting bags from this outfit after Joe Grine did a write up here.

        They make a big difference in removing movement and providing stability.
        In the field, I’ll use my day pack. Having a rest like that is invaluable.

        • Nice. I own an old Juki industrial sewing machine that will sew two 1/4″ pieces of plywood together. Makes for short work.

  3. Sounds like a good day.

    I second the call for more details. I’d like to know more about how they went about teaching you and how you did what you did.

  4. How long can you lock your knees to stabilize your body for the shot? Is there a lock/relax formula?


    • That’s a great question, Hoyden. I wondered the same thing – whether we would need to relax to keep from cramping etc. But, because we were shifting relatively quickly from target-to-target, rather than shooting many rounds at the same target, it never became an issue.

    • I’ve never heard of locking your knees for standing shooting off a tripod or other high support. But to answer your question, not very long at all. Sometimes just a few minutes. It’s not because you’ll cramp, it’s because you’ll pass out, especially after any activity that gets your heart rate up. Everyone who’s spent time in a military formation for a while has seen at least one person who’s passed out and collapsed because they locked their knees when at attention for too long.

      But I assume Mr. Arnold (and thanks for the articles, BTW) didn’t mean standing upright with the knees locked, but leaning forward on the gun, putting weight into the tripod while keeping your feet flat on the ground. This makes each of your legs keep a straight line to the ground, and “breaking” your knees will make you wobble and you’ll get tired quickly. You should not feel your quadriceps tightening, although you might feel your hamstrings and calves stretch a bit.

      For even more stability, attach a belt or other sturdy line from near the ball head or saddle of the tripod (many tripods, including the green one in the background of the second pic, have an attachment just for this) to the center line of your belt. Then, as you lean forward, keep your hips back, putting tension on the strap. This will put you leaning into the gun, loading it on the front leg, while the strap connected to you drives the rear legs of the tripod down hard into the ground. You’ll find it gives you a very solid position.

Comments are closed.