Offhand, kneeling, squatting

The standing (or offhand), kneeling, and squatting positions are the last three positions covered in this series of tutorials. With these positions mastered, the Rifleman has a variety of options for field shooting in any conditions, and at any effective range. After working each position to proficiency, the Rifleman will then be able to focus his efforts on more difficult skills (e.g. the six steps to firing the shot, range estimation, target detection, camouflage, and field craft).

The offhand position is the easiest position for most shooters to assume, as most have no problem standing, even for long periods. Despite its deceptive ease, this is the most difficult position to master in terms of accurate fire, and hence is usually only assumed when firing at the closest ranges. In the offhand position, the shooter cannot place his arms on the ground or on his body to support them and consequently, they bear rifle’s entire weight. Remember that all shooting positions represent a compromise between mobility and stability, with the offhand position the most mobile (and the least stable). Even when combined with the hasty or “hasty-hasty” sling, a Rifleman can still score good hits out one hundred meters (and the expert Rifleman, well beyond) at a moment’s notice. He then can displace quickly, as is it takes the shooter almost no time at all to assume the position (remember that it also makes the shooter a larger target). Just raise the rifle from a ready position, aim, and squeeze the trigger (following the six steps to firing the shot). Because many new shooters find it a more comfortable position than the sitting and prone (it does not require much preparation of the body in terms of stretching muscles as other do), they will achieve higher scores initially than in other positions (not that they will likely do well on the offhand, at first).

To take a standing position, start with the rifle held naturally in the hands. Turn your body about forty-five degrees from the target toward the strong side (right-handed shooters face right). The shooter’s feet should be about shoulder width apart. Don a hasty or “hasty-hasty” sling, based on the shooter’s experience, preference, and urgency. Place the support arm all the way through the sling, as reaching through a hole, with the sling against the armpit. (Figure one). With the hasty or “hasty-hasty” sling in place use the strong hand to put the butt of the rifle into the shoulder pocket (remember your sling should be tight) (figures three and four). Some shooters place more weight on the front foot to aid in quick follow-up shots. The shooter will need to work that out by experimenting with the position. Some competition shooters also cock their weak-side hip out and place their weak side elbow upon it. Again, this is something upon which to experiment (it may not work well for thin people). The author prefers to place the feet naturally, without giving much thought to foot placement, and distribute the weight evenly (figure six). If the shooter is under such constraint that he must assume a standing position in the field (instead of a more stable position), he will probably not have the additional time to think about putting more weight on one foot or the other, or the distance between his feet. That is, the offhand position represents some urgency, as demonstrated by the AQT, whose offhand targets are at one hundred yards (actual or simulated). In addition, it is noteworthy that some shooters, especially competition shooters, raise their strong side elbow high into the air when shooting in the offhand position. The author does not recommend this. It does ease recoil; but it also makes the shooter a larger target. Tuck that elbow down as demonstrated. It makes the shooter a smaller target, and it is a better fighting stance (at close ranges, the offhand position differs more by being square with the target, not bladed, as depicted here).

(Figure 1; starting a hasty sling)

(Figure 2; starting a hasty sling, rear view)

(Figure 3; use the strong hand to hold the rifle’s butt)

(Figure 4; place the rifle butt in the shoulder pocket)

(Figure 5; the offhand position)

The AQT does not test the kneeling position. It is a substitute sitting position for shooters not flexible enough to assume the former and still complete the test. Still, these tutorials are about building field riflery skills, and not competition (the AQT is just a yardstick to measure proficiency and progress- the shooter is only competing with his own previous score). The kneeling position is viable, and every Rifleman that can get into the position should be more than familiar with it. It is faster than the sitting, if not quite as stable, and allows for faster displacement than its counterpart allows. It also reduces the shooter’s silhouette compared to the offhand. So one can see, it has many strengths, and few compromises.

It is best to shoot from the kneeling position with the loop sling (although any of the three sling methods will readily work if time is pressing). Here the author starts lowering his body and making a loop sling (figure six). To take the kneeling position, the shooter places his weak side knee on the ground, and using the rifle butt for support, sits on his strong side ankle (see figure six). The shooter rests his arm above the above the elbow on the support side knee. It is important that the point of the elbow not rest on the point of the knee. This creates instability that will surely lead to poor grouping and slow follow-up shots. If you examine the pictures closely, you can see that the author’s support side arm is almost parallel to his support side leg. Resting the arm above the elbow on the knee, or even in front of the knee, is more stable than the point of the knee. The last picture shows the ideal ankle position. Note that the author is turning his strong side ankle all the way in, and is literally sitting on his foot. This may be difficult for some shooters at first. Again, some shooters may need to modify their position; but, before modification, or worse, abandoning the position entirely, devote some time to practice. Ten minutes a day spent stretching and trying these positions may be all the new shooter needs to accustom his joints and muscles to these positions.

(Figure 6; making a loop sling before assuming a kneeling position)

(Figure 7; using the rifle’s butt to aid kneeling)

(Figure 8; the kneeling position)

(Figure 9; an alternate view of the kneeling position)

(Figure 10; the kneeling position. rear view)

(Figure 11; showing strong side ankle position)

The squatting position (also called the “rice paddy prone” or “rice paddy squat”) is the last alternate sitting position. Despite its awkward appearance, it is more stable than the offhand when executed correctly, and is quite a useful addition to the Rifleman’s toolbox. With the feet placed as in the offhand (figure twelve), all the shooter needs to do is bend at the knees and squat (figure thirteen). Bring the rifle up into position, placing the elbows in front of the knees as in the sitting position (figure fourteen). Take particular note of figure sixteen, the rear view of the squatting position. It is imperative that both of the shooter’s heels touch the ground. Some do not have the flexibility to assume this position, and their heels come up off the ground when they squat do to tight Achilles tendons. If the heels are not firmly on the ground, the position will not be stable, and the shooter will rock backward when shooting, especially in rapid fire. For this reason, some events and instructors disallow the squatting position, for fear of shots violating the 180° rule. In addition, the author demonstrates the squatting position here with a loop sling, but as with the other positions, any of the three will work.

(Figure 12; beginning the squatting)

(Figure 13; bend the knees and squat)

(Figure 14; the squatting position.  Note the elbows)

(Figure 15; another view of the squatting position)

(Figure 16; both heels touch the ground)

These three shooting positions are important skills for the Rifleman. As the author has shown, some shooting positions require a degree of flexibility bordering on athleticism. Riflery may not be the ideal discipline for the couch potato; but, with diligence and perseverance, almost anyone can use these positions in mastering this American martial art, and demonstrate proficiency at the Rifleman’s quarter mile, consistent hits on a twenty-inch target at five hundred meters. In studying riflery, one will gain an appreciation for our ancestors that stood at Lexington and Concord, and maybe awaken to an awareness of our heritage, and what it means to be freemen.


One Response

  1. […] Offhand, kneeling, squatting June 2009 3 […]

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