Prone Shooting Positioning: Straight Line vs Angle/Bent Knee

CarbonBonds

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I have been reading Nathan Foster's "The Practical Guide to Long Range Shooting, The art of a clean kill" and doing dry fire exercises trying to improve my fundamentals from different shooting positions. In the book, Mr. Foster describes straight line prone shooting as a "hot shot idea" and he presents an angled approach with a bent knee for a more stable shooting position. This is different from what I have researched and seen other shooters at the range doing.

I am looking to establish solid fundamentals and not get into bad habits while I am young. What has been your guys'/gals' experiences or tips for shooting prone?

Thanks!
 

Deputy819

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I have a couple of these videos and the fundamentals demonstrated in them have worked very well for me. Get straight behind the rifle......don’t give it anything to ‘exploit’.

 

Shane Lindsey

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I have a couple of these videos and the fundamentals demonstrated in them have worked very well for me. Get straight behind the rifle......don’t give it anything to ‘exploit’.


This is great if you are on a nice manicured range. Great for fundamentals. Very important. I have a hard time getting perfectly aligned behind a rifle, my body just doesn't do it. When formerly trained in multiple circles, they did not teach to get right(90 degrees) behind the rifle, some lifted their leg I see now importance for recoil management (hunting bad guys or PRS). If hunting, it is a little more forgiving, you may struggle a little to see the shot impact, but you will if not using a brake anyway.

Rarely on a hunt are you going to be in a comfortable position looking straight on the target. More realistic to be angled up or down hill with a boulder jabbing you in the ribs, gravel on your elbows grinding it to the bone, driving rain in your face or the sun perfectly angled to hit right in the scope...That's if the grass isn't too high to get in the prone.

Sorry, had to take a stab at the perfect position.

I did a high angle course, that literally made me feel like I was going to fall off the mountain, Was using every bit of myself to stay on top...
 

Shane Lindsey

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I watched the * out of "Art of the Precision Rifle" on deployment...still can't master quickwind conversion to MOA.

That one talks about building a position 90 degrees. Pretty good series as well.
 
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del2les

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This was the basic I learned, used and taught decades ago for small and large bore target prone, and when I can, I still use today. I have seen several people use the bent knee, but it never felt right to me.

This is for sling usage and not bipod, but a simple mod works with the pods.
 

25WSM

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Do what feels comfortable to you. Go to any f-class shoot and look at what they do. These are very good shooters going 1000 yards and you will see both being used and stuff in between. Consistency is the key to good shooting. Golf is a good analogy. There are some guys that look text book in their swing and some that are definitely not textbook but they are all pro golfers. Look at Jim Furyk golf swing. Wow. But he can do it consistently through a round. In the field all bets are off. You take what position mother nature gives you. Make the most of it.
Shep
 

Euler

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Square to, and straight behind rifle. Eliminate angles. Spine is parallel with bore and shoulders are perpendicular to bore.
 

Jud96

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This is something that I was just discussing with a friend of mine who just got out of the Marines a few months ago. We were out in field conditions and I was shooting prone with one of my hunting rifles. I know my form isn’t perfectly in line with the rifle, it never has been. I’ve tried getting squared up behind the rifle many times and it just doesn’t feel right to me and I can’t get comfortable. So I jokingly said to him to not give me a hard time about my form because the Marines trained them to shoot squared up behind the rifle. He just laughed and said that works at a perfect range but we’re out in the field and I was shooting pretty well that day haha. The point is, if you’re shooting well than stick with whatever works for you. I think there’s a lot behind the squared up shooting position and it’s a great thing to train new and inexperienced shooters to do. I don’t think it’s perfect for everyone though.
 

Mrhounddog

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It comes down to how you are shooting the rifle. Are you using a sling? Are you placing your non-firing hand on the forward part of the stock? If so, there is no good way to get into a straight line position (look at any of the long range belly gunners at highpower matches). If you are shooting off of a bipod, with your non-firing hand manipulating a rear bag, then you may be able to square up. However, even then it may be tough to do based on your body mechanics. The "this way is the only way" approach does not work.
 

milanuk

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When I started shooting sling-n-irons, everybody preached using the right-knee-up position. David Tubb used it, Nancy Tompkins used it... everybody who was winning at the national level was using that position (trivia: I believe the Romanians actually debuted that little variation many, many decades ago and cleaned everyone's clock at a few international level smallbore prone events, and it took hold from there).

Problem for me was, that particular position was pure agony for a 20 shot string. And I don't mean in a "with practice, your muscles will get used to it" sort of way. I ended up using a position with my legs straight behind me, and if anything, my left leg up just a little. Unconventional, for sure, and I wasn't in danger of taking any national titles... but it was repeatable and comfortable enough I could stay in it indefinitely.

Not too much later, I came across a book titled 'Ways of the Rifle', put together by a host of top-level smallbore and air rifle coaches. The interesting bit is that in the prologue, they discussed how they'd originally intended the title to be 'The Way of The Rifle', as in this is *the* way to shoot Offhand, this is *the* way to shoot Kneeling, this is *the* way to shoot Prone. But when they sat down with all their collected photos of world and Olympic champions, the positions were all over the board. Far more than just a few exceptions to the 'rule' for each position.

In the end, they deduced that there *were* some guidelines that could be reasonably established... but they had more to do with body types. Women (in general) were more flexible, but less able to hold position by dint of sheer mass. Even among men, people with tall, thin builds had different basic positions than others with short, stocky builds. In short, one-size-fits-all cookie-cutter positions were maybe a good starting point, but were rarely the final destination for the top shooters.

Even when my own shooting transitioned to primarily F-class (and specifically, F/TR), we found that somethings worked better than others. The right knee up position was popular initially, especially with the people crossing over from long-range prone competitive sports. You can shoot very accurately that way. But... but... here's the thing. Unless you use a significant amount of pre-load, the muzzle will tend to want to move *away* from the right side, where you have effectively 'reinforced' your position with that right leg up, and causes your muzzle to 'hop' to the left. Almost every time.

Moving to legs straight back will reduce this considerably, and with the use of muzzle brake (not allowed in F-class) may be all that is required to get the gun to track consistently back on to the target. Without a brake, I've found that pivoting the lower body a bit more to the *left*, almost to where the right leg is straight in line behind the bore, or *very* slightly left, facilitates tracking right back on target.

The catch is... as mentioned at least a couple times previously... this is all done on (mostly) flat/square KD ranges, and becomes simply 'good theory' once you get out in the field. Muzzle brakes, pre-loading, and gripping the gun more firmly are all valid tools once you leave the range behind.
 

Stockbroker

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The concept of indexing your body at an angle to the target has merit, and is widely taught. Bringing your trigger side leg up until (as your body allows) your shin is in line with the bore gives you a wider platform, increased stability and raises your diaphragm off the ground for less movement from breathing when you have acquired your Natural Point of Aim.
 

del2les

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When I started shooting sling-n-irons, everybody preached using the right-knee-up position. David Tubb used it, Nancy Tompkins used it... everybody who was winning at the national level was using that position (trivia: I believe the Romanians actually debuted that little variation many, many decades ago and cleaned everyone's clock at a few international level smallbore prone events, and it took hold from there).

Problem for me was, that particular position was pure agony for a 20 shot string. And I don't mean in a "with practice, your muscles will get used to it" sort of way. I ended up using a position with my legs straight behind me, and if anything, my left leg up just a little. Unconventional, for sure, and I wasn't in danger of taking any national titles... but it was repeatable and comfortable enough I could stay in it indefinitely.

Not too much later, I came across a book titled 'Ways of the Rifle', put together by a host of top-level smallbore and air rifle coaches. The interesting bit is that in the prologue, they discussed how they'd originally intended the title to be 'The Way of The Rifle', as in this is *the* way to shoot Offhand, this is *the* way to shoot Kneeling, this is *the* way to shoot Prone. But when they sat down with all their collected photos of world and Olympic champions, the positions were all over the board. Far more than just a few exceptions to the 'rule' for each position.

In the end, they deduced that there *were* some guidelines that could be reasonably established... but they had more to do with body types. Women (in general) were more flexible, but less able to hold position by dint of sheer mass. Even among men, people with tall, thin builds had different basic positions than others with short, stocky builds. In short, one-size-fits-all cookie-cutter positions were maybe a good starting point, but were rarely the final destination for the top shooters.

Even when my own shooting transitioned to primarily F-class (and specifically, F/TR), we found that somethings worked better than others. The right knee up position was popular initially, especially with the people crossing over from long-range prone competitive sports. You can shoot very accurately that way. But... but... here's the thing. Unless you use a significant amount of pre-load, the muzzle will tend to want to move *away* from the right side, where you have effectively 'reinforced' your position with that right leg up, and causes your muzzle to 'hop' to the left. Almost every time.

Moving to legs straight back will reduce this considerably, and with the use of muzzle brake (not allowed in F-class) may be all that is required to get the gun to track consistently back on to the target. Without a brake, I've found that pivoting the lower body a bit more to the *left*, almost to where the right leg is straight in line behind the bore, or *very* slightly left, facilitates tracking right back on target.

The catch is... as mentioned at least a couple times previously... this is all done on (mostly) flat/square KD ranges, and becomes simply 'good theory' once you get out in the field. Muzzle brakes, pre-loading, and gripping the gun more firmly are all valid tools once you leave the range behind.
Good synopsis. Personally, the bent knee did not feel good to me either, so I used the straighter right leg just off center. Eventually, I became an NRA High Master in NM and LR target with a few clean prone scores. Our old club trained a lot of shooters, large, small bore and air rifle, many became state champs and one of our teen shooters went on to hold several National and International titles and records in air rifle and small bore -Trent Miskelly

While we taught the basic prone positions, many shooters would make their own adaptations that worked and felt better for them. Like so many things in life.
 

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