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Old 12-12-2004, 01:17 PM   #1
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Competitive rifle shooting positions illustrated

We get a lot of newbies asking about the standard target shooting positions. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I'm going to post as many photos of shooters in the various positions used in NRA and ISSF (international rules) target shooting.

Here's a shot of the standing position from the front. Notice the back bend away from the rifle:
[img]http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=1936[/img]

Here's a close up of the standing position from the side:
[img]http://www.amback.com/images/uploaded/side-standing.jpg[/img]

This shooter's standing position is much more technically correct than the previous one. Notice the left fore arm is almost completely vertical, transfering the weight of the rifle through the arm bones, to the hip bone, to the leg bones, and finally to the ground. The very adjustable free rifle that he is using makes a better position possible. Rifles very similar to that are allowed in NRA Highpower, but not in CMP matches.
[img]http://www.issfnews.com/Pictures/netbum/2004/wcfbangkok04/09_50m_Rifle_3_Positions_Men/IMG_7321.jpg[/img]

Other views of the standing position, notice how women and shorter men need to push their forward hip up to support the rifle:
[img]http://www.shooting.cz/me2003/photos/pics/07-23-2003/P7230393.JPG[/img]
[img]http://www.shooting.cz/me2003/photos/pics/07-22-2003/P7220152.JPG[/img]
[img]http://www.shooting.cz/me2003/photos/pics/07-26-2003/P7260292.JPG[/img]

Sitting position from the front:
[img]http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=1937[/img]

Sitting from the side, notice how low he is. That gives you a much faster recovery from recoil:
[img]http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=1938[/img]

Prone from above:
[img]http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=1942[/img]

Prone from behind:
[img]http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=1943[/img]

Prone from the front:
[img]http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=1946[/img]

A good close up of the prone position, showing the placement of the arms and elbows:
[img]http://www.shooting.cz/me2003/photos/pics/07-24-2003/P7240099.JPG[/img]
[img]http://www.shooting.cz/me2003/photos/pics/07-21-2003/P7210029.JPG[/img]

A few shots of the kneeling position. The kneeling position is optional for NRA/CMP Highpower's 200 yard rapid fire stage, and it is required in NRA 3 position smallbore, NRA 4 position smallbore, ISSF 50 meter 3 position smallbore , and ISSF 300 meter 3 position highpower.
[img]http://www.shooting.cz/me2003/photos/pics/07-25-2003/P7250001.JPG[/img]
[img]http://www.shooting.cz/me2003/photos/pics/07-24-2003/P7240261.JPG[/img]
[img]http://www.shooting.cz/me2003/photos/pics/07-27-2003/P7270024.JPG[/img]
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Old 12-12-2004, 02:15 PM   #2
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Excellent pics. I especially like the way that they all show the left arm under the rifle. Failure to get the left arm under the rifle is a common mistake of many new shooters. And it really makes a HUGE difference in side-to-side shot dispersion.

Also notice that the AR shooter is applying pressure to the top of the stock with his cheek. This not only helps to stabilize the rifle, it is an important aspect of building a repeatable position. If you do it the same way every single time, you know for certain that your head is in the same place for each shot. Remember, repeatability is critical.

Most of the shooters - with the notable exception of the smallbore shooter with the ridiculously wide stance - are modeling correct, natural head position. That is, they are not stretching their heads forward toward the rear sights.

What I want to know is this: Why don't I see more attractive females like the ones in your pics at the matches I shoot in? Maybe I need to give up high power and take up smallbore.
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Old 12-12-2004, 03:00 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Gorzsas
Most of the shooters - with the notable exception of the smallbore shooter with the ridiculously wide stance - are modeling correct, natural head position. That is, they are not stretching their heads forward toward the rear sights.

What I want to know is this: Why don't I see more attractive females like the ones in your pics at the matches I shoot in? Maybe I need to give up high power and take up smallbore.
Yeah, the guy with the really wide stance is certainly not the norm, but for some people that kind of exagerated position is necessary. Short people need to take some really awkward positions to make it work sometimes.

As for the good looking chikies, we need to move to Europe. Those pictures are from the 2003 European Shooting Championships in Brno, Czech Republic. Believe it or not, rifle shooting is a popular, mainstream, and socially acceptable sport in most European countries; particularly so in northern Europe.

I know this is going to piss off a lot of people, but the camo clad tactical wannabe run and gun three-gun and tactical match competitor image is NOT what we need to sell the shooting sports to mainstream, suburban America.
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Old 12-12-2004, 03:04 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Gorzsas
Maybe I need to give up high power and take up smallbore.
These are not smallbore rifles. Take a good look at the length of the actions, and at the cartridge boxes on the stools. Those are 300 meter free rifles, mostly in 6mm BR and 6X47 Swiss Match.

[img]http://www.shooting.cz/me2003/photos/pics/07-24-2003/P7240261.JPG[/img]
[img]http://www.shooting.cz/me2003/photos/pics/07-23-2003/P7230393.JPG[/img]
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Old 12-12-2004, 03:11 PM   #5
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Target shooting in the U.S. was really big at the turn of the 20th century, how times have changed.

Great pics on the shooting positions!

Girls with guns, that's hot!
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Old 12-12-2004, 06:46 PM   #6
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Heh! You're right! Some of those rifle are most definitely not smallbore rifles. I saw the Anschutz name on a few of them and didn't look any further.

Now those are REAL women!
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Old 12-12-2004, 07:07 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Gorzsas
Now those are REAL women!
If I wasn't already hitched, I'd hunt down that Norwegian hottie.
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Old 12-26-2004, 11:13 AM   #8
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So SWO daddy,

Great photo's of the shooting position, not to mention the ladies. I can see where I may be able to improve my positions but since I shoot only wood and steal (M1 Garand) and have a different stock, more weight what would you suggest for a newbie (heading into my 4th year) in terms of good postion with an M1? All the same?

I don't have a mentor, just learning as I go. I am starting to make fewer errors evey match tough, and my scores are improving!

Thanks,

rifle guy
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Old 12-27-2004, 07:13 AM   #9
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Some M1 specific tips (this is what works for me):

Standing: Elevate your right arm as much as you can, pulling back on the rifle with your right hand.

Sitting: Cant the rifle. At 200 yards, the cross correction effects canting creates are so small as to be irrelevant. That's even more so with the very generous 10 ring of the SR target. At 100 yards, it's not even worth thinking about it. Get as low as you can. Losen your trousers as much as you can and wear suspenders instead of a belt. Most of the pulse people experience in sitting comes not from the arm but from the significant blood vessels in the torso, groin, and thighs. Get the sling to not slip down your arm. You will have to spend $50 for a leather one that won't when rigged right. If that's too much money, replace what you have with a canvas M1 sling. Make sure natural point of aim is right before letting it rip in sitting rapid.


Prone: Same advice as sitting on the sling. The farther back you can place your left hand on the stock, the easier it will be to rotate your body CCW to get directly behind the rifle. That orientation will tame the rifle's recoil, keep you from being moved during prone rapid, and make it possible to load from the shoulder during prone slow. Loading from the shoulder slowly and carefully during prone slow will improve consistency from shot to shot as your position remains the same. Check natural point of aim (NPA) on every single shot during slow prone. Make sure NPA is right before letting it rip in prone rapid.
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Old 12-28-2004, 04:06 PM   #10
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SWO daddy,

Thanks for the M1 tips !!! As soon as I can catch a break in the weather I'll beat feet to the range and try for some " perfect practice". Maybe I will make SS Class yet!

Thanks again,

rifle guy
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Old 12-28-2004, 04:18 PM   #11
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rifle guy, what's the name of your club, where is it, and what's the longest shooting distance available there?
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Old 12-29-2004, 04:29 AM   #12
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SWO daddy,

I'm a member of Durand Sportmans Club, Durand Mi. We have ranges from 25 to 200 yards. They are big on metalic silouette, skeep and trap. No formal rifle competion though. My HP and JCG shooting is done at Linden Sportsmans Club, Linden Mi. On the waiting list for membership here, should get in this year. Skeet, trap, IDPA and HP matches here (100 yard reduced course). Many HP shooters make Perry every year and the club sponsors youth teams every year also.

Thanks again for your tips,

rifle guy
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Old 12-29-2004, 08:08 AM   #13
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rifle guy, did you know about this club: http://home.netcom.com/~jtmaurer/washhome.htm?

They are about 45 minutes away from you, and have a very active highpower program with a full 600 yard range. Do not let the distance intimidate you. Embrace the challenge and improve your skills.
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Old 12-29-2004, 04:51 PM   #14
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SWO daddy,

Thanks for the heads up about the Washtenaw club. Tried to attend a 600 yard prone match in Midland this year however some prior commitments prevented it. I sent an E-Mail for information to Washtenaw and am waiting for a reply. Looks like an interesting club. I'll let you know how it works out. Have you ever attended a match there?

Thanks again,

rifle guy
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Old 12-30-2004, 07:39 AM   #15
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Nope, haven't had the time yet. I have two great clubs that shoot highpower much closer to me: Miami Rifle & Pistol in Milford, OH (where I belong) and Old Trails R&P in Richmond, IN. Both are just a little over 1 hr away.

Washtenaw is right at 3 hrs for me, but I will try to make one of their Saturday NRA matches.

Remember, you do not have to belong to Washtenaw to shoot in their across-the-course and 3X600 matches. You just have to be an NRA member. That's true every place I've ever shot in three different states.
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Old 01-07-2005, 12:14 PM   #16
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Here's my offhand w/ the M1 or M1A (well, I now shoot left handed with my hand on the bottom of the mag instead of in front of it). It works for me (I shot a 192 on the day of this photo).

I use the high elbow technique. This technique will allow you to pull on the rifle without messing up your NPA. It is very stable and pulling works nicely if the wind picks up.

When I build the position, I start with the trigger hand grip. I put the web of my hand all the way against the heel of the receiver and make sure that my trigger finger won't drag on the stock. I often have to let go and try again if I don't get the grip I want. And it is an aggressive-handshake sort of grip.

Then I grab the mag and mount the toe of the buttsock against my collarbone and fairly close in tight. The muzzle is up and the rifle canted out at a 45 when I do this. Then I pull, bringing the muzzle down, rotating the rifle as I go till it's upright. Mounting this way creates a pocket in the rubber that the buttplate sits in. Actually, I end up canting the rifle inboard to bring the sights to my eye.

Then I bounce a little and settle in.

There are some key parts to the high elbow technique. It only works with stocks similar to the M1 and M14. You need to get your elbow up to your ear (pretty much as high as you can comfortably get it). Lastly, and this is important, you need to choke up with your trigger hand as high as you can against the heel of the receiver. See the picture below. When your wrist is bent down, you will be pulling against the tendons and not the muscles in your hand. I can fully support a 15lb M14 with my trigger hand in this position, but for shooting on a nice day, I carry 60-70% of the weight of the rifle with my trigger hand. If it's windy, I pull more (which takes up more of the weight of the rifle).

My feet are shoulder width apart and my stance is about 15 degrees off the line of sight (slightly open in otherwords). I lean back a little bit into the coat which brings my hip up a little to my elbow. I'm not sure if this picture is typical of the amount of lean, but it looks like it's more than it feels. With a 15lb rifle, you can lean quit a bit.

Make sure you bring the rifle to your eye and not your eye to the rifle.

Ty
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Old 01-07-2005, 12:30 PM   #17
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M1 / M1A Sitting position:

I think I'm long up top, so for sitting, I use a modified crossed ankle position. If I shoot cross legged, the amount of cant is riculous and I can't get the rifle to my eye. This also gets my body more in line with the rifle and my position doesn't ratchet around everytime I pull the trigger.

My right ankle is under my left calf. As shown in the pics SWO posted, I get my left elbow past my knee and I really feel low to the ground. My right elbow I bring into the inside of the knee (because recoil is going to try to push it out).

I do have to choke up on the stock with my left hand. With a full fingered rubber glove, it takes just a light grasp to keep the hand in place.

I place the buttstock a little farther out on my shoulder to minimize the cant needed to get a comfortable head position.

Important item on sitting and prone. If the buttstock moves easily in your shoulder, you need to lengthen the pull of your stock (or add padding under the stock to get the same effect).
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Old 01-07-2005, 12:49 PM   #18
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For some people with proportionally long arms like 30cal and myself, using the magazine as a "palm rest" will get your elbow closer to your side giving you a more stable position.

There is talk about how using this technique will throw some of your shots left and right, but if your elbow is anchored firmly onto the side of your jacket, this will be minimized.
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Old 01-07-2005, 02:14 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phish
There is talk about how using this technique will throw some of your shots left and right, but if your elbow is anchored firmly onto the side of your jacket, this will be minimized.
I kind of think that can happen w/ any offhand position. When I bring the rifle down, I also pull my forward elbow inward and land it on the same spot on my jacket each time.

A lot of the benefit of dryfiring is simply building the position over and over--muscle memory. You watch a good shooter build a position and you'll swear it's like watching a manufacturing robot.
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Old 01-14-2005, 06:09 PM   #20
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I thought I would add a small contribution to this most excellent thread with an illustration of a very good prone position and an excellent illustration of the use of the M1907 sling.
[img]http://www.okinawa.usmc.mil/Public%20Affairs%20Info/Images%20Complete/HighResImages/040227-rifle.jpg[/img]
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