Forum stats on shooting distances and positions!

rbaldini

New member
Joined
Dec 7, 2017
Messages
14
Folks,

A year ago I started a thread asking about real-world shooting distances and positions. I asked about the last 5 animals you shot at, and had you describe the distance, the shooting position, the animal, whether it was a supported shot, etc. Recently it occurred to me that this could be a good source of data to run some statistics on. I thought I'd share the results here.

Quick description of methods: I limited the results to just shots on big game (no coyotes). In each case I attempted to determine the species, the shooting position, and whether it was a supported shot. This could not be determined in every case. I discarded any archery examples.

Results:

The median shot distance across all cases was 150 yards. (Median means about half of shots are below and half above 150 yards.)
About 31% of shots were 100 yards or less.
About 36% of shots exceeded 200 yards
About 20% of shots exceeded 300 yards.
Only about 5% of shots exceeded 400 yards.

Broken down by species, the median distances were
Pronghorn: 253 yards
Elk: 168 yards
Mule deer: 150 yards
Whitetail deer: 135 yards
Only the pronghorn difference is likely statistically significant. Moose, hogs, and bear had sample sizes too small to bother with.

Prone, standing, and sitting positions were each used at about 30% frequency, with kneeling taking up the remaining 10%.
Median distances by position:
Prone: 300 yards
Sitting and kneeling both around 150 yards
Standing: 80 yards

I wasn't always able to determine whether the shooter was supported by some kind of rest. But of the cases I was sure, 61% were supported. Unsupported shots had a median shot distance of 100 yards; supported shots had a median of 200 yards.

The original thread can be found here: https://www.hunttalk.com/threads/real-world-rifle-shooting-positions.281895/

If anyone wants to contribute more data, please do so here! For your last 5 shots, provide the distance, species, shooting position, and whether or not the rifle was supported (by tree, backpacking, bipod, shooting sticks, etc). If you missed, let me know.
 
Last edited:

rbaldini

New member
Joined
Dec 7, 2017
Messages
14
What were the sample sizes for the whole group and the breakdowns?
101 total

By species:
Elk: 26
Whitetail deer: 20
Mule deer: 17
Pronghorn: 16
Unknown: 11
"Deer": 5
Bear: 4
Moose and Hog: 1

By position:
Prone: 32
Standing: 28
Sitting: 26
Kneeling: 11
Unknown: 4
 

Brian in Montana

Active member
Joined
Jan 20, 2017
Messages
999
Location
Ramsay, MT
I'm kind d of surprised by the number of standing shots. In 26 years I have never a single time taken a standing, off hand shot at anything but a rabbit.
 

Caseknife

Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2012
Messages
131
Location
NE Washington
The majority of the elk I have shot have been offhand, but then the distances have been relatively short, 15-90 yards in heavy timber.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Guy

rbaldini

New member
Joined
Dec 7, 2017
Messages
14
I'm kind d of surprised by the number of standing shots. In 26 years I have never a single time taken a standing, off hand shot at anything but a rabbit.
Go figure. I hunted elk for the first time last year, and shot a cow at about 50 yards standing off hand. In my case I was literally chasing a herd though timber, so a quick, short-distance shot was expected.

There are definitely differences between people. Some guys tended to take longer shots than others (say 300+ yards), and usually the longer shots were in a supported prone position. That could be because of their hunting habitat, species, equipment, hunting style, and ability to shoot. Guys who like to still hunt probably take shorter shots on average than guys who prefer spot-and-stalk.

One thing that surprised me was the scarcity of shots beyond 400 yards. I figured these would not be common, but 5% was lower than I expected, given how often you see or hear of 400+ yard shots on hunting shows and forums. My reading of this data is that one could have a long and successful hunting career without ever shooting beyond 350 yards. Even shots beyond 300 yards are rarely necessary.
 

Brian in Montana

Active member
Joined
Jan 20, 2017
Messages
999
Location
Ramsay, MT
I've shot a few deer and one elk at close range while hiking in, or some scenario like that, but every time I dropped to a kneeling position with my elbow on a knee and once I supported my rifle against the trunk of a lodgepole pine. Maybe I should practice off hand shooting a little, never do, so for that reason maybe it doesn't even enter my mind when hunting.

And I know a few guys that like to hunt by cutting a fresh track in the snow or just hiking with a rifle. Neither of which is my thing.
 

RockinU

Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2019
Messages
64
I run tracking dogs for wounded deer, and in that capacity I'm presented with a lot of offhand shots. When I first started tracking, I did not anticipate this, and carried the wrong kinds of gun, and did not have the offhand skill level that I needed. After having several tracks go way farther than needed because of my lack of proficiency, I had a change of equipment, and put in a lot of practice. Obviously this isn't the same as hunting, and most of the shots are very close, but it still wasn't something that my previous hunting experience translated well to.
 

rbaldini

New member
Joined
Dec 7, 2017
Messages
14
I run tracking dogs for wounded deer, and in that capacity I'm presented with a lot of offhand shots. When I first started tracking, I did not anticipate this, and carried the wrong kinds of gun, and did not have the offhand skill level that I needed. After having several tracks go way farther than needed because of my lack of proficiency, I had a change of equipment, and put in a lot of practice. Obviously this isn't the same as hunting, and most of the shots are very close, but it still wasn't something that my previous hunting experience translated well to.
Out of curiosity: what was the "wrong" kind of gun for offhand shooting, and what did you switch to? Something handier?
 

RockinU

Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2019
Messages
64
I started off carrying a light weight 25-06 with a 3-9 turned way down...I now carry a 16 inch .44 mag lever action with open sights and self-defense loads. When tracking with dogs, shots beyond 50 yards just don't happen, and those 240 grain hp end the game pretty quickly. I'm in Texas, so I've had the opportunity to use it on some pretty large bodied exotics, and it's just what works for me.
 

mrjashu

Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2017
Messages
53
Location
Tucson, AZ
As an adult onset hunter I have only harvested two deer with a rifle.
Both were Coues whitetail shot at 425 yds and 500 yds respectively. (shot over the top of a tripod rest)

I guess that makes me a statistical anomaly.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Guy

Fj605

Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2019
Messages
29
Location
Arvada, CO
My short list as follows:

Mule deer @ 100yds kneeling
Whitetail @ 250yds offhand
Elk @ 450yds prone
 

Gut Shot

Active member
Joined
Mar 19, 2015
Messages
446
Location
Banks of the Big Muddy
I will include animals my kids have shot recently on the list because I'd have a hard time remembering the last few shots I've made.

Me: Whitetail, offhand, 10-15yds, 2 shots, 20ga, bolt action slug gun.

Son: Whitetail, sitting supported, 60-70yds, 1 shot, 20ga, break action slug gun.

Daughter: Black bear, kneeling supported, 20 feet, 1 shot, 7mm-08 bolt action. This was a hound hunt and bear was treed.

Daugter: Antelope, sitting supported (bi-pod), 100yds, 1 shot, 7mm-08 bolt action.

Me: Antelope sitting supported (bi-pod), 200yds, 1 shot, 7mm-08 bolt action. (I took another shot when he started running but it missed, the first shot was enough he ran 30 yards or so.)

Wife: Antelope, sitting supported (bi-pod), 170yds, 1 shot, 7mm-08 bolt action. Required a second shot to finish animal. The first bullet broke up on the leg bone and only penetrated one lung.
 

VikingsGuy

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 2, 2017
Messages
2,378
Location
Twin Cities
Most recent 5:

Pronghorn 25-06 285y sitting supported by MR pack

Elk .270 140y sitting supported by MR pack

Zebra .308 185y standing supported by PH truck

Sable .308 120y standing supported by PH shoulder (weird experience indeed)

Kudu 300WSM 170y standing supported by PH shoulder (less weird the second time)
 

Panda Bear

Member
Joined
Apr 23, 2019
Messages
50
Vikingguy. Nice. Envious.

Caribou, moose, wolf ( 3 ), Bear, wolverine

all under 100 yards

Standing, moose, Bear, wolverine
kneeling, caribou, wolf

348 lever

not last five, but when hunting sheep and goat ---under 200, prone, 275 H & H

Brian in Montana-- standing--most of my shots ( excluding sheep and goat ) are shots of opportunity, not when hunting, per se ---
 

Bambistew

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 10, 2002
Messages
5,285
Location
Chugiak, AK
Interesting, but not surprised by the stats. You'd think with the long range craze more animals would be killed at long distances. ;)

The last 5 animals, best I can remember:
Muledeer - 125 yards
Caribou - 110 yards
Dall sheep - 220 yards
Caribou - 225 yards
Dall sheep - 150 yards
 

TheDudeAbides

Active member
Joined
Sep 26, 2015
Messages
512
Location
Rio Verde, Wyoming
Folks,

A year ago I started a thread asking about real-world shooting distances and positions. I asked about the last 5 animals you shot at, and had you describe the distance, the shooting position, the animal, whether it was a supported shot, etc. Recently it occurred to me that this could be a good source of data to run some statistics on. I thought I'd share the results here.

Quick description of methods: I limited the results to just shots on big game (no coyotes). In each case I attempted to determine the species, the shooting position, and whether it was a supported shot. This could not be determined in every case. I discarded any archery examples.

Results:

The median shot distance across all cases was 150 yards. (Median means about half of shots are below and half above 150 yards.)
About 31% of shots were 100 yards or less.
About 36% of shots exceeded 200 yards
About 20% of shots exceeded 300 yards.
Only about 5% of shots exceeded 400 yards.

Broken down by species, the median distances were
Pronghorn: 253 yards
Elk: 168 yards
Mule deer: 150 yards
Whitetail deer: 135 yards
Only the pronghorn difference is likely statistically significant. Moose, hogs, and bear had sample sizes too small to bother with.

Prone, standing, and sitting positions were each used at about 30% frequency, with kneeling taking up the remaining 10%.
Median distances by position:
Prone: 300 yards
Sitting and kneeling both around 150 yards
Standing: 80 yards

I wasn't always able to determine whether the shooter was supported by some kind of rest. But of the cases I was sure, 61% were supported. Unsupported shots had a median shot distance of 100 yards; supported shots had a median of 200 yards.

The original thread can be found here: https://www.hunttalk.com/threads/real-world-rifle-shooting-positions.281895/

If anyone wants to contribute more data, please do so here! For your last 5 shots, provide the distance, species, shooting position, and whether or not the rifle was supported (by tree, backpacking, bipod, shooting sticks, etc). If you missed, let me know.
Cow Elk - Sitting - Bipod - 125 yards - Miss (50 Cal Muzzle loader)

Mule Deer - Sitting - Bipod - 175 yards - Hit (6.5 Man Bun Rifle)

Buck Pronghorn - Sitting - Bipod - 150 yards - Hit (6.5 Man Bun Rifle)

Doe Pronghorn - Sitting - Bipod - 250 yards - Hit (.30-06 Rifle)

Doe Pronghorn- Sitting - Bipod - 75 yards - Hit (7.62 x 54R Rifle)
 

ImBillT

Active member
Joined
Oct 29, 2018
Messages
614
5) Mule deer, seated, supported with shorting sticks, 150ish no miss

4) Mule deer, seated, supported with shooting sticks, 380ish, one miss, one hit.

3) elk, prone, 670yds two misses, two hits. Wouldn’t recommend it, probably shouldn’t have done it. Felt like it was shoot now or go home with a tag in my pocket. Have taken some deserved heat.

2) Mule deer, seated, supported with shooting sticks, 300ish yds, no miss, one hit.

1) Mule deer, seated, supported with shooting sticks, 300ish yds, no miss, one it.

You only asked for five, but the previous two mule deer were about 150, and 75 yds, standing unsupported, each one hit with no misses. I’d be perfectly happy to get closer, and greatly prefer things to be under 300yds, but most of my mule deer hunting has been on the edge of agricultural field with little to no cover. I’d often rather just shoot them at 300yds than run them onto the neighboring property.
 
Last edited:

Rzrbck918

Active member
Joined
Aug 13, 2016
Messages
711
Location
Bixby Oklahoma
1. Mule Deer - prone, bipod 338 yds - one hit
2. Elk - prone - 275 yds bipod - one hit
3. Mule Deer - 220 yds - supported - two hits
4. Mule Deer - 90 yds offhand one hit
5. Mule Deer 50 yds offhand one hit

I shoot whitetail a year. Almost always between 50-200 yrds offhand.
 
Top