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Prone Position

This is a discussion on Prone Position within the Rifle Competition forums, part of the Rifle Forum category; Prone should be the easiest position, but in my experience, it is the most difficult to improve upon. I spent a good 2-3 years squirming ...


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Old June 2nd, 2005, 01:48 PM   #1
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Prone Position

Prone should be the easiest position, but in my experience, it is the most difficult to improve upon. I spent a good 2-3 years squirming around the mat trying to get past the 180 mark, until I finally put it all together. I thought I'd share what things I must focus on to keep my shots inside the 10-ring. This might be a long post, but most of what you need to know is under the heading of "Discipline" at the end.

I'll do another post today or sometime this weekend to try and take some of the mystery out of dealing with wind.

---

Many people have problems on the 600yd target that they don't see at 200 or 300yds and they decide they've got a prone slow issue (which is exactly what I had done). Since prone is the "easiest" position, there is the tendency to attempt to shoot through problems rather than stopping and fixing them. If you want to improve, you cannot shoot that way.

The 600yd target (and even the reduced versions of it) is unforgiving. You can get away with a variable head position, improper focus and less than ideal sight alignment at 200 and 300yds and still shoot a good score there. But when you take those issues to 600yds, you're going to be seeing a lot of 9's, 8's and worse.

NPA:
In my experience, it is harder to find the ideal Natural Point of Aim in prone than it is in any other position. I relax, get my NPA, then realize that I really wasn't all that relaxed and that my NPA is actually two targets over. You simply cannot muscle the rifle into shooting a good score. If your prone targets aren't meeting your expectation, this is a good place to start your investigation.

Focus:
Make absolutely sure you focus on the front sight and the front sight only. Do not shift your focus between the front sight and the target. Unless you focus only on the front sight, you will not get the degree of sight alignment needed to keep your shots inside the 9-ring (much less the 10-ring). I recommend blackening the front sight.

One very enlightening exercise is to shoot at a blank sheet of paper. With no aiming black to look at, you will be forced to focus on the front sight. I would be very surprised if you don't shoot a better group on blank paper than you do on a regular target. If there is a significant difference in the size of your groups between the blank paper and an actual target, this should key you in to the fact that you have focus and/or sight alignment problems.

Sight Alignment:
For me, achieving good, consistant sight alignment starts with a consistant hand position. From that, I can achieve a consistant head position. And from that, I can ensure that the sights are aligned consistantly from one shot to the next. A consistant head position is crucial, and in my case, it's linked to my trigger hand. For some reason, it took me a very long time to see the connection between the three.

Slings, Elbows and Spotting Scopes:
If you realize things are moving (sling or your elbows), STOP AND FIX IT! Spend some time during the prep period to get your spotting scope as close as you can to your eyeball. The less you have to break position, the less problems you're going to have with the sling and with shifting elbows. Consistancy is the first goal. Once you have that, you can experiment with high sling/low sling, etc and fine tune your position.

Shooting Pace:
During slow prone, you've got essentially an unlimited amount of time to fire your rounds. It's a rare day when you'll need the full 20 or 22 minutes. Unlike rapid prone, you've got time to polish up each and every shot to make that sight picture flawless, right? WRONG!!! You really don't have that much time to dress up the shot! From the instant you put your focus on the front sight, the shot clock is ticking. In about 8 seconds, you're eyesight is going to head downhill in a hurry. You need to shoot slowfire prone fairly quickly if you want to do well. Just as with shooting offhand, I recommend taking the first good shot you get. Have the slack taken out of the trigger and be ready to take it.

If I spend too long trying to make a good shot better, there is a very high likelihood that I'll end up with a 9 or worse--usually either high or low. When I shoot quickly, my shots are all on-call elevation wise.

Rapid Fire:
Spend some time up front to get your NPA just right before you start squeezing the trigger. Breath between each shot. Use all the time you have to make each shot a good one. I'd rather have an occasional saved round with 98's, 99's and 100's than shoot consistant 95s and 96's with 10 seconds to spare.

If your mag change goes smoothly, take a peek through the scope. I wouldn't look too hard for holes: I'm looking for mirage and specifically whether the wind has changed. If there is a decent wind change, grab the opportunity to spin that windage knob! Being decisive will steer you closer to the center of the target more often than not.

Discipline:
Prone slowfire is normally shot at the end of the match. The sun is up, the and the mercury is rising and admit it--you've been working hard up to this point. There's a saying that matches are won in offhand and lost in prone, and I think there's a lot of truth to it.

As I was scoring at a match a couple months back, I kept an eye on one of the High Masters on the next point over. I was watching the mirage, trying to anticipate the sight changes that he would make--to my surprise, I did a pretty good job, and this gave me some confidence on how to operate the windage knob. But the unexpected thing that I observed, and the one that really put me back on track, was his discipline. Two or three times, I saw him refuse a shot (something I was doing only on rare occasions). At one point, the wind got funny and he just stopped shooting altogether for a good 3-4 minutes--he just sat there with his eye on the scope while most everyone else up and down the line were busy pushing rounds downrange. He wasn't the first with rounds complete, but he did shoot a 198 with a big fistfull of X's. When he came off the line, he was shaking his head for dropping two points (I knew I shouldn't have taken those shots.)

The guys that shoot good prone scores work hard for it. They put the same 110% into each and every shot. They don't ignore problems. They take action, then shoot (and not the other way around). The biggest part of shooting a good score is refusing to accept a bad shot. We're all going to run into snags from time to time. The difference is that the hard holders seize the earliest opportunity to fix it.

Ty

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Old June 2nd, 2005, 06:08 PM   #2
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This is outstanding! If you don't mind, I'd like to make it a sticky. Thanks for taking the time to share your tactics

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Old August 15th, 2005, 10:21 AM   #3
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30Cal,

Thanks that has already helped me out and I havnt gone to the range yet and Im already finding errors in my ways.

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Old August 25th, 2005, 03:41 PM   #4
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Thanks :!:

I have read this a few times now and its VERY GOOD info.

My offhand and sitting rapid are working pretty good now. However my prone still sucks. :cry: But after reading this and a couple other things (Jim Owens book) again, I have a few new things to try.

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Old August 31st, 2007, 08:54 AM   #5
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My two cents

One thing I do in prone or any other position that helps me anyway. Is to get into position find your target and close your eyes and take three breaths while relaxinf your body. Open your eyes without moving look to see were your rifle is pointing if it is off your target move your body until your back on target. Repeat the process until your on target. If this is a repeat sorry dont want to steal anyones ideas eventhough thats what americas built on.

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Old August 31st, 2007, 08:56 AM   #6
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My two cents

One thing I do in prone or any other position that helps me anyway. Is to get into position find your target and close your eyes and take three breaths while relaxinf your body. Open your eyes without moving look to see were your rifle is pointing if it is off your target move your body until your back on target. Repeat the process until your on target. If this is a repeat sorry dont want to steal anyones ideas eventhough thats what americas built on.

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Old August 31st, 2007, 08:58 AM   #7
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oops

didnt mean to send it twice ( stupid computer) he he he.

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Old August 31st, 2007, 01:12 PM   #8
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Cool

Couple of thoughts: when you think you are have your NPA, do a dry fire or two. THAT FRONT SIGHT SHOULD NOT MOVE AT ALL!! Trigger control, trigger control ...

I contend that, at a minimum, your left elbow and left hip should never move during the full string of 22 shots. And if you can, keep the rifle shouldered for the full set also. (I have to remove it from shoulder and give my left hand a break at about shot 15 - but keep left elbow where it is!!)

And if you have to rebuild your position, be extra extra careful to get your cheek back exactly were it was! I have lost many points coming back after a quick break.

And concentrate and focus - 20 shots is a lot. When you are hot and tired, it is easy to envision the end of the string, and not the shot you are now taking. Guaranteed to drop points if you are not 110% focussed on this shot only!

Thanks from Doc
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Old March 29th, 2010, 05:05 PM   #9
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Great info.

Great info. Thanks to everyone for posting. As a FNG this stuff is priceless.

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Old June 1st, 2010, 04:34 AM   #10
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Class separation and the wind.

If your are in the 180s, it is a safe bet that your fundamentals are sound with good consistency from shot to shot. But what about the last 20 points?
The truth is most in the Expert and Master class lose about 20 to 25 points at the long line. Master, and High Master class shooters clean the short lines and have room to spare at the 600. It is the wind that separates the High Master from the Master, as clean rapids separates the Master from the Expert.
Reading and dealing with wind at a true 600 yard line is a rare occasion for most of us. There are tons of walk and pace masters, and high masters that never get the hang of reading wind, and struggle in the 170's and 180's at the long line.
Most make the mistake of chasing the wind. Chasing the wind is making wind calls for every shot as if you don't have time to keep an already good wind call. It's like spinning a roulette wheel, and hoping that you get a 10.
Make a wind call on the prevailing trend that the wind does most of the time, and only dope in that direction. The inexperienced will miss his wind call and dope from the spotter,( when it comes up a 7) never actually reading the wind. The High Master gets a ten or tight nine on the first shot, because his wind call was almost perfect, but now he has the info he needed. He knows he has the time to wait for his wind.
Once you have a solid wind call validated by a tight 10 or X, wait for your wind to return and send it quickly. Don't chase it back the other direction if it switches, or moves to a boil (no wind). This takes discipline, and knowledge gained from experience. One good wind call with slight variations is all you need.
Learn to evaluate wind with a good spotting scope. The flags lie because they are not against the ground like you are.

Fick

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Old October 2nd, 2010, 05:13 PM   #11
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4 gun 600

just shot today, two matches/175then156. I REALLY TOOK ABEATING.168,S 41.3 RL15 REM PRIMERS.LOST THE WIND, THEN CHASED THE WIND.VERY PAINFUL.LIGHT CONDITIONS ERRRATIC.HELP

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Old October 15th, 2010, 07:00 PM   #12
 
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Good info

Question though, on the rapids. How do you get a saved round and still shoot a 100? 98, 99 yes... but 100?

I agree on using up all the allowable time in the rapids. It takes time for a new shooter. Heart racing and all.. There is plenty of time to get those 10 shots off. 60 secs in seated and 70 in prone. Those times were designed around 03's and 17's (bolt guns), so there is PLENTY of time to get those rounds off accurately in an M1, M14, and AR...(The AR probably being the most forgiving on the mag change, however)

Matches definitely are won in offhand and lost in slow prone for sure. A great offhand score will usually set the pace and your confidence level for the match as long as you dont get so confident you get sloppy in prone...

Slow prone is where you really got to pull it together consistency-wise. Its also where your loads can break you if you didnt pay strict attention at the reloading bench. Front sight, front sight, front sight! GOOD ADVICE. As Obi-Wan-Kenobi might say, "let go (of the target) Luke, use the force (front sight)"..... The M14 is very forgiving when you can focus on the front sight completely with confidence in slow prone. I would say more so than the AR, since the target really disappears with its (the AR's) short sight radius. I find that I cant fully let go of the target with the AR like I can with the 14. Im not a Jedi yet I guess....

Item of note. One thing I just stopped doing was scoring my log book in prone slow. I dont even touch it now. Stay on that wind. Stay focused on those flags. In the event of a cease fire (like a long one for boats in the impact zone), you might be tempted to get comfortable (out of position). Unless you are really aching, try to stay in position and on those flags and mirage in your scope and stay focused on why you are laying there in the first place; to put shots in the 10 ring. You want to be making constant windage adjustments through the whole ceasefire. You dont want to all of a sudden have to figure out your new required adjustments when the cease fire ends. It will mess you up big time.

I see people pulling little snacky-snacks out and having a grand ole time chatting with the scorer. BIG TIME NO-NO! Keep some water close buy in case of this event, but stay on that wind and windage knob and the chit-chat to a minimum.....


Last edited by jameslawson71; October 15th, 2010 at 07:31 PM.
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Old November 21st, 2010, 11:49 PM   #13
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I will be putting this into practice this weekend!

I'm not a big fan of my ARs, but there's no denying their superiority in Service Rifle matches. Mine's not ideal yet either, with a 1-in-9" twist and no free-floating guards, but I'll get there.

I've only shot two practice High-Power matches so far, two months ago. I have two more this weekend and already know what things I want to work on.

I've since acquired a good sling (the Brownells Competitor Plus) and put a lead weight in the buttstock.

Now I just need a good spotting scope, and shooting gloves/coat.

Thanks again for this sticky. I will make NPA my first priority this weekend.

I am shooting an AR that I built from a DPMS lower with a Rock River 2-stage trigger, Armalite A4 upper, and Rock River NM carry handle with full 600+ yards of elevation, 1/4 MOA adjustments and .030 aperture.

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Old November 22nd, 2010, 10:39 AM   #14
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MAC702 View Post
I will be putting this into practice this weekend!

I'm not a big fan of my ARs, but there's no denying their superiority in Service Rifle matches. Mine's not ideal yet either, with a 1-in-9" twist and no free-floating guards, but I'll get there.

I've only shot two practice High-Power matches so far, two months ago. I have two more this weekend and already know what things I want to work on.

I've since acquired a good sling (the Brownells Competitor Plus) and put a lead weight in the buttstock.

Now I just need a good spotting scope, and shooting gloves/coat.

Thanks again for this sticky. I will make NPA my first priority this weekend.

I am shooting an AR that I built from a DPMS lower with a Rock River 2-stage trigger, Armalite A4 upper, and Rock River NM carry handle with full 600+ yards of elevation, 1/4 MOA adjustments and .030 aperture.
The float tube will get you where you need to be, plus a faster twist (1:9 is too slow for 80's - I use 1:7s only but 1:8, 1:7.8 etc are fine), but definitely get the float tube! Get it installed correctly too. You dont want the gas tube touching anything (the scalloped barrel nut, etc) except the carrier key and you want that "mating" to be perfect.

The float tube is probably the one single thing that makes the AR such a damn fine gun for Service Rifle. Floated barrels win against non-floated if they both exist in any given match and the shooters are equally skilled...

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Old March 29th, 2011, 07:18 PM   #15
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Want to improve your shooting? Go to an Appleseed event and learn, or re-learn, the six steps to firing the shot.
1) Sight Alignment
2) Sight picture
3) Respiratory Pause
4) Focus on the Front Sight
5) Squeeze the Trigger
6) Follow Through
Learn the Steady hold factors for standing, seated, and prone. Your scores will improve no matter what your level of experience. Appleseedusa.org They will have one near you whatever state you live in. They train you to shoot the AQT (Army Qualification Test). The instructors are all volunteer, and, very well trained. The price is very reasonable too, $70.00 for the whole weekend. And it is alot of fun. Ask anyone who has been to a weekend event. Six hundred yards will be much more comfortable. Tell them Mountainman2222 sent you. No, I don't get anything out of it. You will not be disappointed!!

Thanks from triggernick

Last edited by mountainman2222; March 29th, 2011 at 07:19 PM. Reason: Poor Wording
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