So I occasionally see people having issues with diagnosing shooting issues, like bipod hop! I thought that would make a good article here on AccuracyTech so here we go. I’m going to try and do my best to describe some common issues shooters have while at the range. Then I’m going to try and describe what the issue is, and how you can diagnose the problem on the spot. In doing so the shooter hopefully will gain a better understanding of not only the problem, but how to fix it, and be a better shooter all at the same time. I can obviously add to this, or do more similar articles in the future. I originally planned to do these in a cluster, but as I think about it this will probably make more sense one issue at a time. So here we go!
What the hell is bipod hop? I’m betting anybody who’s ever been behind a precision rifle knows what I’m talking about here! You’ll be at the range, getting all your gear squared away. You lay out the object of your affection on the mat, and get into position. You’re working on your breathing and concentrating on your trigger press. BOOM! The rifle fires and all of a sudden the whole gun seems to just jump into the air and now you find yourself looking off to one side or the other of the target. What gives? You were lined up so precisely, you’re doing everything as correctly as you know how…so why the bipod hop?
In general I believe there are three primary causes of bipod hop when shooting a precision rifle. They all have to do with the same thing, more or less. You have fit of the rifle and stock to the shooter, alignment of the shooter behind the rifle, and natural point of aim. All of these issues deal with what is essentially the same problem, a compromised interface between the shooter and the rifle. You’ll see what I mean as I go over each of the issues and how to correct them as we go through the article!
Proper Rifle/Stock to Shooter Interface
If the rifle doesn’t fit you, it’s going to cause problems. Plain and simple. This is why adjustable stocks are both popular, and highly desired in precision shooting. At a minimum, you want a stock that allows you to adjust the cheek comb height, and the length of pull. Preferably you want to be able to adjust the angle of the buttpad where it contacts the shoulder pocket as well.
Cheek height is a big one. If your head can’t rest its full weight on the stock, and still have proper alignment of the eye behind the scope, that means you’re using the muscle in your neck to float your head. That’s inconsistent, and it leads to problems with NPA, which can in turn lead to bipod hop. Additionally, if your stock is too long, or too short, in length of pull that can lead to problems with how you’re positioned on the gun, and how well you can manage recoil when it fires. Adjustable stocks don’t have to be expensive, the Magpul Hunter 700 for Remington actions is right around $250 dollars. Not bad!
Alignment of the Shooter and Rifle
If you aren’t laying directly behind the rifle you’re likely to experience bipod hop. The easiest way to diagnose this is by shifting your hips. If you’re at the range and you fire a shot and all of the sudden the gun jumps to the left of the target, move your hips in the opposite direction. Think of it like this, straighten both hands like you plan to karate chop your table. Put the tips of your fingers on your right hand at the base of your left hand so they form a straight line when looking down at the top of the thumb and index finger. That’s how you should be aligned behind the rifle! Your left hand is your upper body and the rifle, the right hand is your hips and legs.
Now take your right karate chopping hand, and move the angle out to around 45 degrees. That hand represents your legs. If you fire a rifle, when aligned like this, the recoil is going to exploit that angle. In precision shooting, think of angles as weaknesses. You want everything as straight and aligned as possible. If you fire like that, the angle tends to get steeper because your core can’t hold your body in place indefinitely. The rifle and recoil are going to move in the direction of that angle between upper body and lower body. So if the gun jumps right, I’d be willing to bet either your torso, or your hips and legs, are cocked at an angle to the right of the target. The fix is easy, move everything to the left and get rid of that angle!
Natural Point of Aim
This is a marksmanship fundamental and if you haven’t read up on it, you can do so here! The whole basis of natural point of aim is the position where your body naturally feels comfortable in. If you lay down behind the rifle with your eyes closed, and get square behind it, and open your eyes…that’s your natural point of aim. Most inexperienced shooters make the mistake of muscling away from their natural point of aim and onto the target. When they got on the rifle the crosshairs were off a bit, so they just muscled over to the target for the shot.
The problem is, when you fire the gun, almost every time the gun will pivot, or the bipod will hop the whole rifle, guess where? Right back to the spot you were looking at before you muscled over away from your natural point of aim. The trick then is not to muscle the gun, but to move your rifle and your body, as though they’re all locked in place like a green army man. Move everything together as a unit so the crosshairs are on the target. Then the gun won’t want to hop away from what you’re shooting at!
Hopefully this will help those of you that are experiencing bipod hop. It’s a pretty common issue among newer shooters and it’s not that difficult to fix. However, it may take some time and practice, or a couple bucks invested in your gear, in order to get it sorted out. Remember that it shouldn’t be happening at all. If you’re on the rifle and everything is as it should be the gun will recoil and land right back on target. If you are dealing with bipod hop then something’s wrong. If you’re still having trouble with this, or have any tips of your own for dealing with it, drop them in the comments below!