For a rifleman, the prone position is like a warm, fuzzy, comfortable, perfectly worn-in little blanket. It’s the first thing you look to use whenever the opportunity arises. The prone position is steady, offers a minimal target profile (yielding for incoming bullets, which always have the right of way), gives you a chance to lay down and rest while cuddling with your rifle. Who could ask for more?
The prone position in rifle shooting, generally speaking, means that you are lying on your belly whilst shooting the rifle. There are a couple basic variants of this, which I will cover in detail as the month progresses. We can divide the variations into 2 basic categories, supported and unsupported. I will cover 2 unsupported positions, “military” prone and “Olympic” prone. I will also cover 1 supported prone position using the bipod as a means of support.
What conditions would lead a shooter to choose the prone position? The first would be that there is ample time. Assuming the position takes time enough to get on your belly. The second requisite for using prone would be that the terrain is accommodating. Moderately tall grass, a slight intervening rise between you and the target, cover or concealment that’s taller than about a foot, or a few inches of mud or pooled water could put the ixnay on the onepray (refer to your PigLatin dictionary for translation).
“Why would a rifleman favor prone,” you ask. Because it’s as accurate as we can make a shot come out of the rifle without placing it in a rest on a bench and taking the human out of the equation. Because there’s more of you in contact with the ground than in any other position, the ground is doing more of the work for you. I don’t know how to break this to you, but the ground is more stable in most cases than you are. Now don’t you feel stupid for asking the question? Good, because that was the one exception to the saying that “there’s no such thing as a stupid question”. With prone, instead of having to worry about your hold, you can consider things like distance, wind, target identification, leading a moving target, breathing, trigger control, holdover, etc… All these factors will work to contribute to your success.
This investigation of the prone position will round out the coverage of what I have been calling the “orthodox” shooting positions. This month will also conclude, for the most part, what I consider the basics of riflecraft. If I left anything out that you think is important, or if you don’t understand something I’ve written about since the inception of the blog, please feel free to leave a comment.
What I’ve covered so far marks the end of where I’ve been stagnant for a while, and the beginning of an explorative phase of my personal journey of riflery. I’m a bit ahead of myself, however. In the rest of this month, I’ll also be covering breathing, trigger control, concentration, follow through, use of the .22 trainer, and physical training for the rifleman. I’ve stepped up my writing game, so some of the aforementioned articles are more in-depth and lengthy. I think you can handle it. Stay tuned…