Chapter Rifle Firing Positions

In a combat environment, a Marine must be prepared to engage the enemy under any circumstance. There are four basic firing positions: prone, sitting, kneeling, and standing. These positions provide a stable foundation for effective shooting. A stable firing position allows a Marine to hold the rifle steady and to control the trigger while keeping the sights aligned. During training, a Marine learns positions in a step-by-step process, guided by a series of precise movements until the Marine assumes a correct position. The purpose of this is to ensure that the Marine correctly applies all of the factors that assist him in holding the rifle steady. The Marine will gradually become accustomed to the feel of the positions through practice and eventually will be able to know instinctively whether his position is correct. In combat, it may not be possible to assume a textbook firing position due to terrain, available cover, engagement time, dispersion of targets, and other limiting factors. Modifications to the basic positions may have to be made to adjust to the combat environment. The Marine must strive to assume a position that offers stability for firing, maximum cover and concealment from the enemy, and maximum observation of the target.

5001. Selecting a Firing Position. The selection of a firing position (prone, sitting, kneeling, standing) is based on terrain, available cover, dispersion of targets, and other limiting factors. A Marine must select a position that offers stability, mobility, and observation.

a. Stability. A firing position must provide a stable platform for accurate and consistent shooting. If the position is solid, the rifle sights should recover after recoil to the same position on the target. This allows for rapid reengagement of the enemy. The prone position provides the most stability for firing, while the standing position provides the least stability.

b. Mobility. A firing position must provide a Marine with the mobility required to move to new cover or to another area. The standing position permits maximum mobility. It allows the most lateral movement for engagement of widely dispersed targets. The prone position allows the least mobility and allows limited lateral movement.

c. Observation of the Enemy. A firing position must limit a Marine's exposure to the enemy, yet allow observation of the enemy. Manmade structures and terrain features (e.g., vegetation, earth contours) often dictate the shooting position. The standing position normally provides the best field of view, but it usually allows the most exposure to the enemy. The prone position normally allows the least exposure, but it usually provides a limited field of view.

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