Body Position

Spec Ops Shooting

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Now we come to the last component of our integrated act of firing, the correct and consistent assumption of a solid body position.

Which position you use for any particular engagement will be dictated by your target, ground clearance, and available support. As a sniper, you'll always exploit any kind of support within reach, whether you use a standing, kneeling, sitting, or prone position. Support may be enhanced, too, by using your sling.

The steadiest position is prone, followed by-sitting, then kneeling. The least stable position is standing. Obviously you'll prefer the prone, but you'll have to use whichever position best fits the circumstances.

All positions, though, have several principles in common. First, understand that your bones are the foundation for holding your rifle, not your muscles. The muscles add cushioning and allow you to grasp the rifle firmly, but it's mostiy the bones that will keep the rifle in place.

Second, you must make yourself comfortable in your position. This means deviating the position to fit your body and adjusting slightly to fit the surroundings. If you're comfortable, you'll hold the rifle steadier and can remain alert but motionless longer.

Third, you'll fire best by reshifting your body to fit your natural point of aim. To determine this natural point of aim, close your eyes and point the rifle in the general direction of your target. Now, open your eyes and see if you're properly aligned. Shift your body around as required; then close your eyes and try again until you point at the target naturally. You can find a natural point of aim for each position and each engagement.

Having said so much about proper body position, I cannot be honest and realistic unless I add a bit of heresy. Much too much has been written about assuming a body position that is just so and how the long-distance shooter must check and recheck this and that for steadiness, and so forth. I am guilty of this, too, but perhaps these few words will help redeem me.

Recall the warnings of the World War I sniping expert H.W. McBride, who observed that a sniper must be able to react fast or he may never get off a shot. To this sound advice I add that a sniper often will find circumstances dictating that he fire from lopsided, uncomfortable, and even "unacceptable" positions into which he must contort his body to even see the target.

Anyone can fire consistent X-rings on a fine day and from a prone position with the sandbag propped up just so. As a sniper, though, you'll take pride in being able to achieve excellent results while lying in mud, slightly above freezing, and with a cramp in your neck.

Granted, you'll strive to improve so difficult a locale, but reality is that perfect results must be yielded from even imperfect settings. The only variable in such conditions, ultimately, is you, the sniper.

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