View Full Version : the prone position

July 20, 2008, 01:45 AM
Hi guys,

I'm new to this forum (and shooting) and I was just wondering what the fundamentals of the prone position were. I know a few things, but there are just a few things that I need a bit of clearing up on, such as:

The rifle positioning in the shoulder
The sling tension, length and position
The elbow's position (both of them)
How much the rifle should be in the shoulder
The sling attachment point/handstop position

If my position is stable, does that mean if I let go of my right hand there should be absolutely no movement of the rifle? (while looking through iron sights) What really counts as a "stable position"?

Thanks guys!

July 20, 2008, 04:59 AM
That's a lot to explain. Let me refer you to a good book on the subject.
Look for Position Rifle Shooting by Bill Pullum and Frank Hanenkrat. It will tell you what you want to know and more. Amazon.com has it.

July 20, 2008, 05:41 AM
I know it's a lot to ask, but if you could answer the question about the positioning of the rifle in the shoulder that would be great, because for some reason my rifle slips slightly out of my shoulder every shot, and i have to move the butt back up slightly. Also for some reason I have a tendency to move my right elbow inwards after every shot. Could this be the tightness of the rifle butt or the positioning?

Thanks for the reference to the book though! I'll make sure I look up on it.

July 20, 2008, 06:48 AM
In a solid prone position the only movement you should notice at all is a slight vertical rise and fall of the sights from your breathing. Their should be now horizontal or angle movement at all. If you notice that type of movement something is in-correct about your position.
As far as sling tension, when match shooting my sling is very tight to the point where it is slightly uncomfortable but not painful. I was asked by a shooting coach once if my sling was "uncomfortably tight", I replied "Yes", to which he replied "Good your doing it right then". Before I talk much more about sling usage I need to ask how are you using your sling, are you using a "loop" style sling or using a "hasty" sling?
For the position of your elbows your non-shooting side elbow should be directly or as close as possible to being under the rifle. Some people cant do it but the more directly under the rifle you get it the better and the less horizontal movement you will notice in your sights. Focus on placing the non-shooting elbow and just let the shooting side elbow fall naturally to where its comfortable.
As for where in your shoulder you should place the rifle lift your shooting side arm in the air and feel your shoulder with the opposite hand. You should find that you created a pocket in your shoulder by raising your arm. You want to place the buttstock in this pocket. To try and fully seat the rifle in this pocket, when your getting in position angle the rifle up slightly with your shooting arm raised as as you place the rifle stock into that pocket, then lower the rifle and as you do rotate your firing arm down as well and it will kind of lock the rifle into place in your shoulder. If the whole buttpad/plate doesn't fit in the pocket then that is fine and not necessary. I would say only 2/3 to 3/4 of it will probably fit in the pocket with the rest of it sticking up above your shoulder line.
Also dont forget to bring your firing side knee up as far as comfortably possible. This will help stabilize your body and take pressure off your chest to minimize your breathing effect on your position.

Hope this helps!

July 20, 2008, 02:14 PM
...with the rest of it sticking up above your shoulder line.

This is pretty important, as the butt can bite if you have it too low.

I was taught to angle my body so the rifle crossed in front of my face to get the off (forearm support) elbow under the rifle. Some high-power target shooters are advising to get the body and rifle in straight alignment with each other. I find the taking the recoil straight into the bulk of my body weight is uncomfortable and I prefer the angled position.

Seating the butt of the rifle into the shoulder pocket is critical. Try to get the same shoulder seating in each of the positions (offhand, high kneel, low kneel, sitting, prone,) as much as possible. There will be minor differences, as your head/sights position will change slightly as you get farther down on the rifle. The key is to get the same sight/eye alignment in each position. When shooting scope or peep sighted rifles this is not as critical as when shooting open sights.

Having a good instructor handle you to shape your positions during your training is good, but remember that it is YOUR body doing the shooting and the instructor's position might not fit you exactly.


July 20, 2008, 07:26 PM

This is a video from a HP clinic. The quality isn't the best but they do discuss and demonstrate the prone position during the first few minutes.

July 21, 2008, 01:29 PM
I know you want a quick text description, but this is very hard to describe.

Try: "Art of the Rifle: Special Color Edtion" by Jeff Cooper
Cooper is very good at describing this and has good pictures to illustrate what he's saying.

Get the color edition because the pictures in the B&W edition are very hard to see.

July 22, 2008, 06:31 AM
Thanks for the advice guys. I'll certainly take a look to see if I can find the book somewhere, or I might buy it online.

Now I seem to have my position a bit steadier than before, since I lowered my position by moving my sling attachment point forward a bit and loosening my sling. I also find that leaving my cheek on the cheekpiece while I reload helps keep my rifle on target.

However, I'm now faced with a new problem. When I reload, that's probably the only movement I make, but I feel that I'm making too much unnecessary movement. I always cant my rifle to the side so I can reach to reload, while keeping my elbows in the same position. Is this the right thing to do?

P.S. To an earlier post, I shoot with a one-point sling. I do match shooting only.

July 23, 2008, 09:04 AM
just keep practicing your reloading to see if you can cut down any movement

July 24, 2008, 05:57 PM
which rifle and competitions are you shooting?