In my rifle classes I often say that rifle is a physical weapon. I am actually not the author of that phrase. It belongs to Jeff Cooper. Jeff disdained the shooting bench as the crutch of the lazy and advocated field shooting positions. So do we. Shooting positions are not as fun as doing multiple magazine dumps into a whithering poster of a sci-fi character, but if the focus is on training the rifleman, then the demands of field shooting requires learning them.
First is the prone position. This is the most accurate and desirable of all the shooting positions. We have students take shots out to 1000 yards in the introductory sniper courses and out to 400 and 500 yards in the rifle gunfighting courses from prone. The limits to prone are the terrain. It demands relatively flat surfaces and is contraindicated for shooting at angles. As well, intervening vegetation that obscures the target will limit the use of prone in the field.
Points to Consider For Prone Shooting -
1). Line up with the rifle, and not at an angle to it. This will insure the rifle recoils straight back and not at unpredictable angles. Establish natural point of aim by closing the eyes and relaxing, then opening them and rechecking alignment on target. If you are misaligned, move the entire body into alignment and not just the rifle.
2). Use the magazine as a monopod. Those that tell you doing so will malfunction the rifle are wrong...or they are using substandard magazines. The goal is as much bone support as possible with the least amount of muscle strength necessary to maintain the position.
3). Focus on the fundamentals of marksmanship, specifically the natural point of aim, and breathing. Use the Respiratory Pause method of breathing. Inhale and exhale. On the exhale you are at full relaxation and have approximately six to ten seconds before you will need to breathe again. That is when the shot is fired. When operating the trigger, smooth and easy is the key, and maintain everything in place AS THE RIFLE RECOILS.
All of this should be worked dry extensively before it is taken out into the field. In the next installment we will examine the sitting position.