Key Point Checklist
When firing any weapon, we need to find the most stable position that is suitable for the task. In most circumstances, this is the prone position. Offering a small target for any enemy, the prone position also gives us a really stable position to fire from and is the preferred position we use on the range. We follow a set of rules and apply a checklist to build up and maintain a good firing position. Your knowledge and application of these will ensure you give yourself the best opportunity to achieve accurate fire, and high scores on the range. The first set of rules we follow to make sure we have both a stable platform and delivery accurate fire are known as the marksmanship principles.
This lesson should act as a reminder before you return to the range. Thorough understanding of the marksmanship principles and the key point checklist will help improve your shooting.
- The position and hold must be firm enough to support the weapon.
- The weapon must point naturally at the target without undue physical effort.
- Sight alignment and the sight picture must be correct.
- The shot must be released and followed through without undue disturbance to the position.
It is principles 1 and 2 that we will primarily look at when we apply the key point checklist.
Key Point Checklist
As a way of making sure that marksmanship principles are applied, we go through a 9 key point checklist every time we adopt a firing position. In this case we will apply the checklist to the prone position, but it can just as easily be applied to any of the other approved firing positions.
- Leg position
- Butt position
- Left hand grip
- Left elbow position
- Right hand grip
- Right elbow position
- Head position
- Relaxation in position
There are two main leg positions that we can adopt when in the prone positions. Simply referred to as position 1 and position 2. Each one has their own benefits and will feel different or more comfortable on certain types of firing surface. You may find yourself adopting each position at a different time.
Placement of the rifle butt into the shoulder will assist with a stable firing position as well as reducing the recoil felt when firing and stopping the butt form slipping during firing. It’s important that the rifle butt is not resting on the collar bone, or any hard items webbing such as buckles. It should not be under the shoulder, nor should it sit high in the shoulder and not be supported. The butt should be high enough in the shoulder to keep your head upright.
Left Hand Grip
The left hand is a rest for the rifle, and the grip should be very light. It has been compared to holding a delicate ornament. Don’t be tempted to grip the hand guard or to pull the rifle backwards.
Left Elbow Position
The left elbow placement should provide support to the rifle using the bone structure of the arm, as opposed to muscular. In the prone unsupported position, the left elbow should be as close to the centre line of the rifle as is comfortable in order to utilise the bone of the forearm.
Right Hand Grip
The right hand is the controlling hand, but the grip should not be too tight. Consider yourself holding a glass of water; tight enough to stop it slipping away, but not so tight your fingers are being strained. The web between the thumb and forefinger should be placed high on the pistol grip, with the index finger resting outside the trigger guard when you are not firing. The remaining fingers should be wrapped around the pistol grip. Place the hand on the pistol grip before lowering the elbow to the ground.
Right Elbow Position
With the right hand on the pistol grip, lower the elbow to the ground and find a natural feeling resting position. With the elbow in place, place a firm pressure on the rifle backwards, pulling it into the shoulder. It needs no more than a firm pressure, you should not be straining to pull the rifle hard rearwards.
With the butt of the rifle high in the shoulder, you should be able to bring your head to rest on the rifle, with he cheek on the cheek piece. The head should be upright, and your sight alignment (the distance between your eye and the rear sight aperture) around the correct distance of 25mm. If it is greater or much less than this, you will need to make adjustments to your backsight and carrying handle to adjust it forwards or back.
Relaxation in Position
If you are not relaxed in position, you will be straining to hold the rifle and this will have an impact on your performance. Paying attention to the points above will help to get you into a comfortable and therefore relaxed position. If you have to strain to hold the rifle, then stop and adjust. Repeating the steps in this checklist.
We need to regulate our breathing when shooting, and this takes practice. As we breath normally, our lungs fill with air, our diaphragm pulls down and our chest rises. In the prone position, with our chest near the ground, we will notice our sight picture rise and fall with each breath. So, it is important that we control this.
If we consider deliberate shooting, where we intend to fire 10 rounds a minute, or 1 round every 6 seconds, we can break this down into a representative graph (below). After one normal breath to recover form the previous shot, we take a slightly deeper breath, followed by a deeper exhale; but we do not want to empty our lungs of air. As our body settles after the exhale, we confirm our sight picture, take up the trigger pressure and release the shot, making sure to remember the follow through before repeating the cycle for the next shot.
Prone Supported / Unsupported
There are two variations of the prone position we can adopt, further to our leg position, and these are either supported or unsupported positions. In the supported position, the base of our magazine is rested on the ground, and as the unsupported position may suggest, it is not.
The prone supported (or magazine rested) position allows us to get a low profile position, presenting a smaller target for the enemy, and it can give us more stability in our position; especially if you are new to shooting the GP rifle or have a smaller body size. We are taught that the ideal position for our elbows is close to the centre line of the rifle, but this will raise the magazine off the ground. To lower it, we must spread our elbows out, in turn lowering our chest to the ground. There are some benefits and drawbacks of this position.
|– Rifle is well supported, increasing position stability|
– Reduces the need for strict breath control as the rifle is less sensitive to chest rise and fall
– Good for smaller firers
– Eases fatigue when firing for longer periods
|– Rifle pivots on the magazine when firing and there is greater muzzle rise with recoil|
– Head position can become unnatural and tilted
The prone unsupported position is the traditional position that the majority of firers will adopt. It gives the firer total control over the rifle, and the position can quickly be adjusted to engage different targets within your arcs. With the elbows tucked in towards the line of the rifle, the chest is raised off the ground and the butt will sit naturally high in the shoulder; enabling the head to remain upright.
Hopefully this revision lesson has reminded you of some of the important points you need to consider when firing from the prone position. They canals be applied to the other firing positions we adopt on the range, as each one will need consideration of the key points. There is also only so much a coach can do to assist you on the range, you will need to ensure that you are comfortable and that you are not introducing faults such as gripping too tightly or not being able to relax into your position.
As always, it is easier to learn and revise when you can see something for real. So next time you are in a skill at arms lesson or on the range, ask one of the coaches or safety supervisors to help you out and check your position. You can even use the buddy-buddy system and have someone else check your position for any faults.
Good luck and good shooting!