CONSTRUCTION OF THE PRONE SHOOTING POSITION PRONE:
1. Preparation: The prone position is thought to be the easiest position of the three. The prone position is started by placing the mat on the firing position or point, the mat is placed at an angle facing or pointing 10-20 degrees to the right of the target. The upper left corner of the mat will then be pointing to the target center.
(a) Place the spotting scope between the firing line and the left shoulder position while in firing and position. This will allow the athlete to view the target while charging the rifle.
(b) Place the ammo block to the right of the firing position between the right shoulder and hips at a comfortable position.
(c) All other items required by the athlete can be placed to the right of the shooting position but not in such a manner as to disrupt the athlete next to you.
NOTE RULE: Do not place items of equipment on or forward of the firing line during live fire or competitions.
2. Taking the position: PRONE
GENERAL: The body is in contact with the ground, and the low center of gravity of the body produces a very stable position. For the athlete who will enter precision competitive shooting (International competition) in the rifle discipline, many hours of study and training is involved. However, such labor should not deter those who have the aspirations and the overpowering desire to succeed in becoming a World Class Shooting Champion. But how difficult precision shooting is will be realized in a matter of time. At first, the many different kinds of mistakes that can be made are often underestimated. A major amount of patience and concentration will be required before observable results and consistent scores are achieved. The athlete must acknowledge the fact that shooting positions are dependent upon the physical structure of the human body and concurrently we are all constructed differently during our growth. Therefore, a perfect shooting position does not exist, but a general compromise of basic position procedures or tenets of construction do exist for the shooting athlete.
BODY The body is stretched out at an angle of about 10 to 20 degrees alignment direction of the right of the target and the right knee is slightly bent. If the shoulders, backbone and hips are awkwardly positioned, cramps will occur or muscles will be overly stressed causing a snap release upon the firing of the rifle, and resulting in flipping the rifle off of the sighted target bull. The backbone or spine and the shoulders must be at right angles. The body weight lies on the left side of the body. This makes breathing easier and prevents the pulse transmission from the abdominal area to the bone structure.
LEGS The legs should spread loosely and without tension. The left leg will be straight but the right leg will be bent and drawn up 45 degree in order to ease the pressure on the stomach and stabilize the position. The inside of the right knee will lay upon or against the mat.
FEET The position of the feet is determined by the position of the body. The left foot should turned inward. The right foot should rest with the instep pressing lightly against the floor.
LEFT ARM The weight of the rifle is supported by the left forearm, which is placed directly below and slightly to the left of the rifle. The left elbow is pushed forward, giving a flat, extended and therefore stable body position. The angle of the forearm must not be less than 30 degrees. The central load bearing point is below and slightly to its left. This produces a well-balanced, triangular position in a natural and relaxed position. However, if the left elbow is forced directly below the rifle, excess tension will occur in the upper arm and shoulder. Any changes in the elbow position during shooting can mean changes in the point of impact. The athlete will find that the elbow will move during the shooting process and will destroy the sighting process and cause the position to become unstable during the shooting procedure.
NOTE RULE: The Prone position requires the left forearm to angle at not less than 30 degrees from sling hand stop and continuing to a point on the floor where the elbow make contact with the floor.
LEFT HAND The front of the rifle stock rest on the ball of the thumb of the left hand. The fingers are completely relaxed and should not grip the weapon. Even the smallest irregular pressure from the fingers on the stock or barrel can produce a change in the point of impact. The left hand is pushed forward as far as the rifle hand stop. This means the stock is securely held and will not slip during the shooting process. In both prone and kneeling positions, the left hand is pushed against the hand stop. The fingers must never grip the forestock.
RIFLE SLING The left arm supports 92% of the weight of the rifle. Without additional sling support, and despite the support provided by the forearm, the rifle could only be maintained in the firing position by sheer muscular strength. The rifle sling forms a stable triangle as it joins the left arm, the forearm and the stock, thereby imparting the required degree of stability to the shooting position. When putting on the sling, the athlete must make sure the pulse effect from the upper arm is not transmitted through the sling to the rifle. The athlete can fit the sling loop either above or below the upper arm muscle. For the sling to fit properly above the upper arm muscle, the athlete must wear a proper fitting shooting jacket with a suitable sling retaining loop. The supporting effect makes the position stable and the sling will ease the muscle fatigue while supporting the rifle and position. It also ensures the head is upright increasing the stability of the position and sighting system. If the rifle sling slips during competition it may press on a main artery and the pulse will be transmitted through the sling to the rifle. Upon the sling slipping, the sling assumes the lower sling position and this arrangement reduces the angle of the position, often becoming close in violating the rule of 30 degree angle of the left arm in the prone position. The athlete tries to make up for the increase in stability with renewed muscular effort, which is just bad shooting procedure. The length of the athlete's arms will determine the point on front of the stock at which the rifle sling and hand stop will be located and attached. The hand stop must not be allowed to move during shooting or competition. The sling passes around the left forearm. This means there is no transfer of pulse effect to the upper arm and the tension is exerted directly backwards rather than to the side. The sling length is adjusted in such a way the rifle is held securely and effortlessly in the firing position. If the sling is too long, the firing position will be too low and too limp. If it is too short, it will press the shoulder backwards and affect the circulation of blood. This will result in an increased pulse and pain in the left hand, arm, and shoulder.
RIGHT SHOULDER A few athletes neglect the importance of the rifle and right shoulder position relationship. This is wrong, as any variations of location or of pressure on the butt plate will inevitably result in changes in the point of impact. As described above, the ideal position is the shoulder placed at right angles to the spine. The rifle butt must be positioned at the same point each and every shot as its relationship to the shoulder is in fact the fulcrum of the rifle in relation to muzzle jump or other recoil movements.
RIGHT ARM The elbow is slightly to one side and the position is flat and stable. The shoulder is behind the weapon. The right elbow is relaxed and pushed forward, but slightly to the right in a comfortable position. The actual distance from the body is determined by the position of the body. The athlete will not allow the arm to move back towards the body, otherwise the shoulder will be at an unnatural angle and will be cramped.
RIGHT HAND The right hand must not exert lateral pressure on the rifle stock. The degree of firmness used will depend upon the manner of firing, the trigger resistance the individual firing technique. If trigger pull resistance is high, the athlete will grip the rifle firmly and if the trigger pull resistance is low, the athlete will grip the rifle lightly. Always use identical pressure during competition. The wrist is extended as a natural extension of the forearm, the trigger finger must not be in contact with the rifle stock. The thumb must not be uncomfortable or obstruct the shooting sequences. In order to obtain good shoulder contact, the right elbow may be drawn in a little. But if this is done, the position must be completely steady and well balanced. It is wrong for the arm to be drawn in for the purpose of balancing the shooting position. The right hand must grasp the rifle stock grip in such a manner that the movements of the trigger finger is directly to the rear. A key point here is that the two inter fingers are firmly pulled against the grip in order to lock the wrist during the firing sequence. The locking of the wrist will firm the right hand and arm system. A good way to test and learn this function is to shake hands with a friend and pulling firmly with the two inner fingers, the athlete will note the wrist will firm or lock solid depending upon the pressure applied. While this is normally used in pistol shooting, it equally applies to the rifle athlete as well.
HEAD POSITION The head position is obtained quite naturally if the position is correctly adopted. The height and inclination of the rifle stock must match the head position in such a way that the athlete can see through the middle of the rear sight and the head maintains it straight up and down balance without difficulty. If necessary, a slight misalignment of the rifle (canted), may have to be accepted. The position of the cheek and its pressure on the rifle stock must be constant from each one-shot match to the next.
NOTE FUNCTION: THE RIFLE STOCK AND CHEEK PIECE IS MOVED TO THE HEAD AND NOT THE HEAD TO THE RIFLE
EYE RELIEF The distance of the eye from the rear sight is generally somewhere between two to six inches. However, what ever the distance is for a given athlete, the distance must always be the same for each one-shot match thereafter. Eye relief will of necessity change from position to position. In the Prone, a relatively short eye relief will be used; in kneeling and standing a relatively longer eye relief is used. Eye relief distance is a function of the spot weld referred to in other chapters. Eye relief of a given position is determined by the precise location of the spot weld upon the rifle stock.
LENGTH OF STOCK It has been stated the spine and shoulder must be at right angle to each other and is used to determine the stock length. It is determined mainly by the body dimensions of the athlete and mounting of the rifle sling on the front of the rifle stock. The length of the stock is important, if too short the shoulder has to be pushed forward by muscular effort in order to make a good contact with the rifle. If the stock is too long, the shoulder is pushed back into an unnatural position causing a cramped position that is out of balance.
Each shooting position requires a different stock length and in free rifle this is not much of a problem, however, if the competition is in standard rifle prone only, the stock must be fitted for that shooting position.
BEHAVIOR OF WEAPON DURING SHOOTING In a steady relaxed position, the muzzle of the rifle will jump a fraction with the shot and then return immediately to its original position provided that quality competition cartridges are used. If this happens after every match shot, the shooting position can be regarded as the perfect shooting position and is well balanced.
SLING Attach sling to rifle forehand stop. Twist the sling one-half turn to the left. Slip the sling onto the arm and place it at the triceps muscle. Insure the sling is tightened preventing slippage but not so tight as to cause pulsebeat being transmitted through the sling. Adjust sling length until it supports the rifle completely.