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Hold that fore end

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This post / question is related to the one I had on bipod usage below - thank you for all the replies btw


My research has continued and I have just bought the set of books by NZ long range hunter and terminal ballistic researcher Nathan Foster and am ploughing through them. They guy clearly has a huge amount of real world knowledge on the long rang hunting side and the books are very well written from a learning point of view - informative and humorous with lessons learned at the end of each section to help mitigate the effects of that 3rd glass of wine.


I am conscious that Nathan appears to be something of an iconoclast when it comes to LR shooting - I don't know what his standing is in the shooting community and given that people (including him) seem to have very strong opinions I am not looking to start a debate on anything other than long range shooting positions / techniques. It is good to have people stick their head above the parapet and go against the grain if they do it in a well reasoned way.


My question comes from this article http://www.ballisticstudies.com/Knowledgebase/Hold+that+Forend.html


A lot of instructors and you tube sources (nearly all I have seen - even jeff cooper who is as old school as they come) promote the "bipod with non trigger hand under the butt stock on the rear bag" approach - This article suggests that, especially for heavy recoiling set ups, the use of the sling or hand on scope with the bipod helps accuracy. I am now getting consistent sub .5MOA or better in my TRG - based on getting the load and coal right but also improving the consistency of my shooting position which is the hand under the butt method. That said I don't believe in the "if it aint broke don't fix it' approach however because I want to learn general marksmanship skills rather than just what works with a relatively heavy, low recoiling outfit when lying on a flat comfy mat on century range.


What do you guys think? (please play the ball not the man :D )







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I too have read Nathan's books and read most of the cartridge research and forum posts.

I've never met Nathan but the logic he sets out in his writing is sound. A lot of it is based on reiterating the traditionally taught marksman techniques, something which most hunters/stalkers learnt as well as those attending military marksman ship training during successive past wars (e.g. WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam).

In those campaigns, rifles were relatively heavy recoiling, largely didn't have bipods, rear bags, adjustable stocks etc. Simply most marksmen/hunters used hunting rifles with slings and basic telescopic sights. So there was a big emphasis on holding the gun properly to manage recoil.

Nathan I believe feels too many shooters have lost the basics of how to maintain a stable shooting position and manage recoil effectively. He takes large numbers of game from very long distances (800m +) and teaches others wishing to do the same. In this, he observed many shooters who display poor control of the rifle and either miss or injure animals when attempting similar shots.

His stance is many people simply lack the basic fundamentals, which he believes are proper control of the rifle and position.

Personally, I've learnt to move my right knee (I'm RH) forward which help get my chest off the floor, reducing rise and fall when breathing.

I've not taken everything on board as fully as Nathan suggests, adapting things to suit my shooting style, but I do think he has a lot to offer shooters of all abilities if they're attempting very long range, practical shooting.

Just my opinion.

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I agree with your points - he is big on "earning the right" to make the shot


I guess the root of my question is that he is talking about a significant improvement in accuracy from using the sling or holding the scope vs the hand under the stock - I would like to understand that better


Now he is using big calibers in lightish mountain rifles so I think he needs to get the basics right, as you say, I'm going to experiment - for what it is worth





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In my experience I find when holding the forend of my heavier .308 I have markedly better accuracy than when turning my elbow just to hold under the buttstock. It's more of a gentle squeeze on the forend rather than a firm grip.

In contrast, the opposite is true when shooting my .223; ..just gently tucked in to shoulder prints much tighter groups than when squeezing forend - elbow turned, hand on rear bag


Although not a thunderous punch, perhaps the Harris pod is not up to the.308 recoil? (175g bullet) - pod positively bounces sideways as effectively as Zebedee :(


Never tried holding on to top of scope

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I think holding the forend gives you that wider 'triangle' shape. It also allows you to pull the rifle back into the shoulder with both forend hand AND trigger hand.

One thing to note is that Nathan doesn't really shoot from a bipod, instead he favours shooting off a pack. In that instance, just having the butt hold isn't stable enough.

Holding the forend does also have that benefit of bringing the shooting knee forward to improve stability and maintain view on target without breathing negatively affecting things (I am aware of exhaling before the shot). For me, getting that knee forward, a technique like you might see cross the course prone shooters use, is something I'm definitely sold on.

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I'm in NZ and have had a lot to do with Nathan. First and foremost I can't thank him enough for what he has done for me, and others. I would have wasted a lot of time and money without him.

Yes I have all his books etc.

Nathan is usually right on the money with his advise, or at least it works for me.

As far as holding the fore end.

Like what has already been said in another post, he has noticed while guiding many are a poor shot, with poor technique. Together with today's rifles being very light compared to back in the days, which requires more concentration on recoil control.

I think when you look at the big picture he's saying know the rules before breaking them.

He's often said to me, if your using a bipod make sure you at least put your hand on the scope. (Knowing what rifle I'm shooting) and knowing the rules get broken.

He's also said, in general, don't take my word get out there and test my ideas for yourself.

As far as what I do....

I started with a 7 mag,(big rifle, as a kid I shot air rifles since knee high to a grass hopper with proper technique,I knew no different. (apart from using a sling as support)) a sendero, which is heavy for today as a sporting rifle, but that was a while ago and I now know this is not! A heavy rifle, especially with the amount of recoil it has. No muzzle device.

I tried holding the fore end, but it didn't work for me. I followed the rules, and struggled to shoot that thing straight. How it turned out was the rifles fault.

Iv been meaning to go back and try again, but do feel I have learned the rules.

I do hold the for end in some instances. Usually someone else's light weight tikka type, 08 case or bigger rifle.

But more often than not, I put my hand on the top of the scope, if I have time. Like target shooting or at game of long distance where I also have time. But if I don't have time free recoil at shortish range is quick, And works for me.

When teaching the likes of my Mrs, or kids I start with the free recoil position, just because it's stable compared with no rest and the hit rate should be high, for confidence. Under instruction we can pause and still hold the current position.

After that I move to a rimfire in the prone with no rest, I feel they should learn proper technique also.

You need proper technique to be able to shoot positions other than prone. Standing etc.

So, I agree with Nathan, learn the rules before you break them.

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Hobbit, I read a couple of his books as well. His style is opinion heavy and in as much as it gets us to pay attention and take it seriously, it works. I am always a bit sceptical of anyone who states absolutes but to be fair to him, his position is try it and see if it works.


I can see what he is getting at and have watched videos of the advocates of straight back rear grip guys wrestling with some huge magnum and pretending there was no muzzle rise. Equally watched plenty of them shooting a 300WM with impeccable recoil management. But look at the videos/photos of uk hunters in the field using a rear grip and many of them are just bloody awful shooting positions.


So is he right - well yes; but is he wrong - well yes as well.


Take his advice, try it. Is his approach better, yes sometimes. Is it better always, well no. Just tools in the box.


I tend to use his approach of gripping the forend with some rifles in the field as it gives me better control of the rifle through the whole shoot reload cycle even with a bipod. i.e good recoil control when the set up may be less than perfect and I can reload without the rifle torquing off target.


I am sure advocates of other techniques would say that I should spend time getting my position 'right' but there is often a trade between time and position. When I have a good location and time to set up well then (depending on the rifle) I will use the rear hold as I find it more comfortable and therefore consistent.


Try them all

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