Military Prone

“Prone” in the context of using your rifle, generally means that you’re on your belly.  Military prone is the older standard in which both legs are straight, and the body lies flat.  Olympic prone involves rolling over slightly to the support side and drawing the firing leg up (I’ll elaborate in an upcoming article).

Military prone tends to work well for people who don’t have too much in the way of a “beer gut” and are relatively flexible in the rotator cuff and hip.  This makes it ideal for children (who aren’t parked for hours daily munching snacks in front of a TV), fit people, and me.  I like military prone.  It’s an incentive for me not to become obese. 

One advantage of military prone over Olympic prone is that it’s a little lower, in case minimizing your target profile is your thing.  Another is that it involves less contorting of the body to get into position.  Other than that, there’s really not much difference between the two positions. 

To assume the military prone position, lie on your belly with the rifle, at approximately 30° away from the target, such that your firing side is slightly away from the target.


I’m going to tell you ahead of time: MAKE SURE YOUR MUZZLE STAYS CLEAR OF THE GROUND AND OUT OF THE DIRT.  Cradle the forend lightly in your support hand.

Put the flat of your support arm, not the elbow, in contact with the ground directly under the rifle (or as close as possible).

                    Not on the elbow, silly.  That hurts and isn’t very stable

                               Remember this?  That’s the flat of the arm.

 That’s the flat of your arm (well actually mine) contacting the ground in the prone position.

                   Try to get the elbow directly under the rifle.  And I see you…

Put the butt of the rifle in your shoulder pocket.  The butt will likely be lower in the pocket than with other positions.  The general rule is that the higher the position, the higher the rifle butt fits into the shoulder, and vice versa.

Place your firing hand on the rifle such that your trigger finger will be able to correctly actuate the trigger straight to the rear with no other part of your trigger finger touching the rifle.  Plant your firing elbow on the ground.  Get a good, CONSISTENT, cheekweld.

As for the rest of the body, make it flat.  Your heels should be down; if they’re up they’re going to move; movement messes up your natural point of aim.  Shoulder width seems to be a good width for the feet.

                             Are ya tryin’ to get yer heels shot off mister?

                You want your feet flat for the best consistency and accuracy.

To adjust your NPA in unsupported prone, move your hips.  Listening to good music may cause unexpected rhythmic changes in NPA.  To lower your NPA, move your hips forward.  To raise your NPA, move your hips to the rear.  The move your NPA right, move your hips to the left.  To move your NPA to the left, move your hips to the right.  You can experiment moving any part of your body to effect an NPA change, but I’ve already told you that here.

To get into position quickly from a standing position:

Squat down and plant a hand on the ground:

Extend the legs.  It’s like a one-armed squat thrust with a rifle!

Now just enjoy the time you’re spending with your rifle.  Or you can shoot it:

I don’t have any 10 shot groups yet.  I’ll post one with the bipod prone article later in the month.  For now, here’s a 5 shot group from 100 yards:

I think that with the prone position I’m starting to be limited by the rifle’s capability for precision.  We’ll know for sure later this month when I post some groups…

2 thoughts on “Military Prone

  1. I’m a begginner rifleman and enjoying your blog, it’s informative and fun making even the longer winded articles easy to stay focused on.
    I’m having difficulty keeping off my support elbow and on the flat of my arm. I’m 6’3″ with pretty long arms which I believe is contributing to the problem. I have to extend my hand further down the foregrip which I thought would improve accuracy but instead is hurting it. I feel overextended and strained, prob have the forehead bulge and have difficulty breathing properly. I was hoping you might have some tips or thoughts on how to correct this, could it be my conditioning where limbering up might help?

    • Dog,

      This could be a rifle fit issue. I’m 5’9″ and I rest my hand all the way forward at the sling stud in this position. Strange that the photo does not reflect that. I think it’s because I wasn’t using the sling.

      What kind of rifle are you using? Are you using a sling to stabilize the rifle when shooting? If you use a sling you should be able to completely relax. What angle is your body offset from the rifle?

      Lastly, prone is not comfortable for anyone in the beginning. Stick with it. If, after a few days of making a good faith effort, you still feel like you aren’t getting it, consider finding someone who can coach you. An Appleseed is also a very cost effective, and usually just plain effective way to get the hang of the fundamentals.

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