One reason why we prepare (MEChA, La Raza, Reconquista):

It does not matter how you feel about illegal immigration. If you believe in the free market, if you stand for the Republic, you are this man’s sworn enemy.

If this disgusts you, you are not alone. If you want to do something about it, forward your feelings, along with the link above to his bosses. He is not a UCLA instructor, as the tittle states, but a school teacher in Los Angeles. Here is the school’s contact information:
Phone: (213) 763-1000
Los Angeles Unified School District
Tel: 213-241-7000
Los Angeles Board of Education:
Tel: 213-241-6389

His name is Ron Gochez, and he needs to be looking for a new job.

Keep fighting the soft war now, so that we won’t have to fight a hard war against his forty million revolutionaries later.

Edit (5 April 2011): This video is removed from Youtube. I’ll attempt to find it again.

Magazine preparations

Magazine preparation

With the summer break, it is time to get back into the writing game. I’ll be starting the series with magazine preparation. If you run a detachable magazine-fed rifle, it benefits one to do a little work on magazines that see duty use. This is especially true if you run an FAL or M14S, since they do not have the benefit of polymer magazines (and especially not Magpul’s super-sweet Pmags). Some simple modifications can give one an advantage in magazines used for social purposes. Until a manufacturer really innovates and provides we few .308 guys a twenty-first century magazine, we will have to make do with military surplus (not cheap knockoffs). One can improve the grip by applying spray-on bedliner paint, a camouflage paint scheme over that, and a simple 550 cord magazine pull.

I start with proven magazines. Although they are consumable items, there is no reason to work on magazines that don’t function reliably. Run them through a class or good training session and vet them before investing the hard work. Some folks like Appleseed events for this. My problem with using an Appleseed to prove a magazine is that the participants seldom fill them beyond ten rounds. Ensure the magazines will hold all the rounds you intend to put in them (acknowledging that some choose to download their magazines two rounds for reliability). I had some magazines that I have been training with for a few years, and found them completely reliable. Since they are steel-bodied surplus magazines, I will likely replace the springs (and maybe the followers) numerous times before the bodies fail.

I start by removing the magazine floor plate, spring, and follower. Inspect everything again fully, and clean and degrease the magazine inside and out with rubbing alcohol or another mild solvent. I wear nitrile gloves the whole time, to keep paint off my hands, and finger oils off the magazine. Set the floor plate, spring, and follower aside. Then insert the empty magazine into the rifle and trace a line where it meets the magazine well with a black felt-tipped marker. I don’t want any paint rubbing off in there later, and possibly causing a malfunction or failure to feed because the magazine would not seat fully, so I only paint to just above where the magazine meets the well (I realize it is unlikely, but I take every precaution to keep Mr. Murphy away). Then I mask off the magazine, just above that line. I then prime the magazine. I’ve painted without priming before, and find the paint lasts longer if I prime first.


(Figure one, the primed magazine)

After the primer dries, I apply two thin coats of Rust-Oleum Truck Bed Coating. This spray paint goes on a matte black and leaves a slightly rough texture. This is a key to the process. Even Parkerized metal can feel slick. I want to have every advantage, and roughing up the metal with a durable finish certainly helps magazine changes while wearing gloves.


(Figure two, the magazine after application of bedliner paint)

After the bedliner paint dries, I apply a basic camouflage scheme. This is where you have to think about your terrain and vegetation. The object here is not to create perfect camouflage, but to break up the magazine’s monochrome color scheme and to eliminate shine. For this, I use Krylon camouflage paint in tan, brown, olive green, and black. I start with a tan base, and use a little brown and black to break it up. I hold twigs and grass over the magazine to leave impressions of shapes in the paint.


(Figure three, applying the camouflage)

I also use a paint stencil to give each magazine a unique identifier. If a magazine malfunctions in training, one needs a way to separate it from the others, to repair it or to cull it from the other duty or training magazines. An internet denizen known by the handle Tire Iron suggested using letter stencils. I’ve since adopted the idea, and am demonstrating it here. After painting the magazine, I apply a letter to each using a cardboard stencil. One advantage to letters is the possibility of 26 unique magazines (although I have more than this, I do not conceive painting and lettering all of them, just the ones in current use).


(Figure five, the magazine with stenciled letter)

With the magazine painted and given a unique letter, it’s time to add a poor man’s mag pull. A piece of 550 cord here aids in two ways. First, it gives cold and wet fingers something to grab on to when a magazine is recalcitrant. It also gives one something by which to hang the magazine. There is not much free space on my LBE, certainly no room for a dump pouch. I’d rather not lose magazines, or even put them on the ground unnecessarily when training. One CWO with the 19th SFG gave me a wonderful idea. I have a wire-gate carabiner on my LBE, about level with my armpit. When reloading with retention, I place the empty magazine’s loop in the carabiner and let it hang. Later I can reload it, or move it to a more suitable location (in my pack, car, or magazine bandoleer).

Start with a length of 550 cord. The length is subjective. I like enough to slip two fingers inside the loop, with a little slack. Start with about seven or eight inches of cord, and adjust from there. Cut the length and remove the inner strands. Tie an overhand knot in one end and trim and burn the knot end. Slip the knot under the magazine spring. Now you can play with the length until you are comfortable with it. Tie a second overhand knot in the other end. Trim and burn the other end as the first. Slip it too just under the magazine spring. Then reinstall the base plate. It will be a little snug, but manageable, snapping firmly in place.


(Figure six, the 550 cord in place)


(Figure seven, an empty magazine hanging from a wire-gate carabiner)

There are many ways to prepare magazines. This method protects the magazine, improves grip, and allows greater ease and convenience in changing magazines.


(Figure eight, just a few magazines prepped and loaded)

Army to double number of M14 rifles issued in Afghanistan.

So, Uncle Sugar is finally getting that beyond 300 meters, the M4 does not cut the mustard (their assertion):

Marksmen issued better rifles in Afghanistan

By Matthew Cox – Staff writer

Posted : Tuesday Mar 23, 2010 7:43:07 EDT

The Army is doubling the number of 7.62mm weapons in the infantry squad, increasing soldiers’ long-range killing power in the wide-open expanses of Afghanistan.

Since the beginning of the war, a typical nine-man infantry squad has included a single squad-designated marksman, armed with a surplus M14 rifle for engaging the enemy beyond the 300-meter range of M4s and M16s. [Emphasis mine]

Today, squads are deploying to Afghanistan with two SDMs, each armed with the M14 Enhanced Battle Rifle, a modernized version of the Vietnam War-era weapon that’s accurate out to 800 meters.

“It’s a very precise weapon system,” said Spc. Andrew McMeley, a squad designated marksman serving in Afghanistan with B Company, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment. “All the improvements on it are fantastic.”

The EBR features a standard M14 barrel, plus a receiver and trigger assembly that’s fitted with a Sage International adjustable aluminum stock, a Leopold 3.5×10 power scope and Harris bipod legs.

“Units have been requesting this capability for a while,” said Maj. Elliott Caggins, assistant product manager for Sniper Weapons. “It provides more shootability than the old weapon.”

The Army began building 5,000 of these modernized M14s early last year in response to the growing need of infantry squads operating in Afghanistan to engage enemy fighters at longer ranges.

“Comments from returning noncommissioned officers and officers reveal that about 50 percent of engagements occur past 300 meters,” Maj. Thomas Ehrhart wrote in his Nov. 30 position paper “Increasing Small Arms Lethality in Afghanistan: Taking Back the Infantry Half-Kilometer” at the School of Advanced Military Studies at the Army’s Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Many engagements extend out to 800 meters, weapons officials maintain. The shift to these longer-range engagements is forcing the Army to rethink 5.56mm focus in the squad.

“We are looking at 7.62mm in the squad,” said Col. Doug Tamilio, who runs Project Manager Soldier Weapons. “We have always had a policy in a nine-man squad that we would keep 5.56mm flat across that.

“The fight in Afghanistan is showing us that 7.62mm, in certain aspects, is needed and required.”

The idea of supplanting the 5.56mm round in the squad will surely add fuel to soldier criticisms that the 5.56mm is ineffective for today’s battlefield.

Special Operations Command has already adopted this concept with its fielding of a 5.56mm and a 7.62mm version of the Special Operations Combat Assault Rifle.

Despite concerns over the increased weight of the 7.62mm ammunition, Tamilio said, “I think we are starting to think of a mix” of 5.56mm and 7.62mm within the squad.

As a short-term solution, “we have given them EBR14s — two per squad” until the Army develops a standardized squad-designated marksman rifle.

The squad-marksman role was hatched during development of Stryker brigades. Placing specialized shooters in these highly mobile, rapid-deployment units bolsters an individual squad’s precision-shooting capability when snipers are otherwise unavailable.

Infantry units deploying to Afghanistan and Iraq, whose missions in many ways have been expeditionary, have embraced the idea of a precision shooter at the squad level since late 2002.

The EBR effort also illustrates how the M14 has continued to evolve after its brief eight years of service when the M16 replaced it in 1965 as the Army’s standard infantry rifle. Patterned after the popular M1 Garand of World War II and the Korean War, the M14’s robust design features a gas operating rod system, wood stock and 20-round magazine. A more accurate version of the M14 — dubbed the M21 — served as the Army’s official sniper rifle from 1975 until 1988. The M21 featured a more accurate, match-grade, barrel.

The M14 didn’t see widespread conventional use until current combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The M14s, equipped with various commercial optics, have proven highly effective at extending the killing range of the infantry squad. Despite the M14’s popularity, units have been calling for a more modernized design.

The EBR concept, which was first used in 2004 by Navy SEALs, features a rigid, aircraft-grade aluminum chassis that secures the barrel more effectively, helping to increase accuracy, Caggins said. It’s equipped with a Picatinny rail system for mounting lasers, lights and other accessories. There’s also a removable Kydex hand guard that protects the shooter’s nonfiring hand from heat buildup during rapid firing.

The folding stock can be adjusted to different lengths and also has a multiple-position cheek rest for different shooter preferences. This is one of McMeley’s favorite features on the EBR.

“The adjustable cheek piece makes it to where, in a quick reflex situation, when you have a target of opportunity, you can just slap your face up against it and get the same spot on your cheek every single time,” he said. “All this adjustability makes the EBR more comfortable to shoot.”

The EBR also has a M16/M4-style pistol grip.

Weapons officials include a three-day new equipment training program when the EBRs are delivered to a unit. The program includes two days of classroom instruction and one day on the range.

Despite its improved design, the EBR isn’t perfect, weapons officials said. It’s just under 15 pounds unloaded, compared with the standard M14’s unloaded weight of 9 pounds. An unloaded M4 weighs just 6.5 pounds.

“We are looking at making it a little lighter,” Caggins said.

The EBR’s more complex design also makes it difficult to maintain, said Sgt. Paul Bullock, another SDM in B Company.

“The only thing I dislike is that you have to go through so much just to take it apart,” Bullock said.

With the older M14, “You just pull a few things and you’ve got it apart. With this one, you’ve got to take apart seven or eight different screws … I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time pulling it apart and putting it back together. But, the weapon system doesn’t get as dirty as the original so you don’t have to worry about it as much.”

It’s not cheap to produce, either — EBRs cost about $3,000 each.

But weapons officials view the EBR as just another step toward the Army selecting a standardized SDM rifle.

Fort Benning, Ga., officials are working on a requirement for the SDM rifle that should be ready sometime next year, Tamilio said.

Beginning this spring, Benning officials will assess different optics and different weapon systems and try to figure out what is the optimal solution for a squad-designated marksman: what works and what doesn’t work, Tamilio said.

For now, units deploying to the combat zone can request M14 EBRs by submitting an operational needs statement to Army’s office of the G-3, Caggins said.

Currently, the Army has issued about 3,750 of the 5,000 EBRs being built, he said. Units return the EBRs to the Army when they come back from deployment. The weapons are then reissued to other units.

While there is no set deadline for units to submit an ONS before a deployment, Caggins said, “earlier is always better.”

“We haven’t had a problem getting them the weapons before they deploy,” he said. “It’s a relatively quick process.”

What does this mean for us? My hope is that it means an increase in available parts and accessories for the M14 rifle, and especially magazines. The only quality magazines available are from CMI. They are steel, and made per the original spec. While they are indeed rugged and reliable, they do not take advantage of space-age materials and construction.  My number one hope is that Magpul begins making their excellent PMAG for the M14 rifle. If you agree, please send an email with a link to the Army Times article, suggesting that they manufacture magazines for this weapon to

I really want about fifty Magpul M14 magazines.


Addendum, Monday, 13 December 2010:

This is far-and-away the most popular entry on this blog. I can’t figure out why, except that many people are interested in the M14 in Afghanistan (but not Iraq, judging by the search terms). I didn’t copy this article because I care so much about the Army reissuing the weapon. I meant it to be a springboard to greater interest in the M14S/M14SA/M1A as a civilian rifle, with increased production of quality accessories, especially stocks and magazines. It also pains me somewhat that it gets about eight or ten his per day and no commentary. What’s the deal, people?


Blog stats

It’s interesting to see how many folks are interested in my photo-tutorials on position shooting. It’s not that I have had high numbers, but three or for folks per day come here based on search terms directly related to position shooting. I am elated at the notion. If I can help one person be a better shooter, and bridge the gap between “cook” and “Rifleman”, I’ve done my job. What I really need is feedback.

If you like them, or hate them (or better yet have suggestions to make them better), feel free to leave a comment.

If commenting isn’t your bag, drop me an email. Reach me at M14_dot_Rifleman_at_yahoo_dot_com. I’ll do my best to make them better.



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.

Sitting Position, v. 1.1

This is my photo tutorial on the sitting position. I’ve endeavored to clean it up a little. Call it version 1.1. Constructive criticism is always welcome.

The sitting position is the second most stable of the standard shooting positions. It allows for quick shooter displacement, brings his line of sight above low-lying vegetation and when properly assumed is quite stable. There are three variations on the sitting position. The shooter will probably have to try all three of them to find the one that works the best. Even then, a conscientious Rifleman will know more than one of them, and all three if his body will allow. Field conditions will demand versatility (Mr. Murphy will certainly make it impossible to use your favorite when it counts). When shooting from a sitting position, the shooter should place his elbows in front of his knees, not on them, to ensure the most stability. If the shooter’s elbows are not in front of his knees, the recoil will disrupt his position, making for slow follow-up shots, and loss of natural point of aim. If the shooter is flexible enough to put his elbows on the ground, that is ideal, as planting the elbows firmly on the ground makes sitting nearly as stable as prone (I saw a girl do it years ago, in high school). Most of us, however, will have to place our elbows in front of the knees. Even with the elbows on the ground, sitting is quite stable, much more so than standing. As with the prone, place the support elbow directly beneath the stock’s forearm to prevent the arm from pulling the rifle off target.

The first variation is a cross-legged position. Start by donning the loop sling. The shooter sits down and pulls his crossed legs close to the body with the support side leg crossed in front of the strong side leg. It may help to use the rifle as a crutch, to aid in balance while sitting (see figure 1). Push the knees down to the ground as far as they will reach, and lean forward. Again, if the shooter can lean as far as to place the elbows on the ground, the position is that much more stable. The sling should be so tight that the shooter will have to place the rifle into to the shoulder pocket with his strong hand, as previously mentioned in the prone position (see figure 2). Shoulder the rifle and move the hips until the sights are on target; do not try to muscle the rifle onto the target. Trying to muscle the rifle will prevent tight groups, and fatigue the shooter. Note how tightly tucked the shooter’s body is in this position (figure 3).

(Figure 1, using the rifle to get into postion)

(Figure 2, place the rifle into the strong side shoulder pocket)

(Figure 3, a good tight sitting position)

The second variation on the sitting position is a crossed-ankle position. Instead of holding the ankles close to the hips, the legs are out away, with the support ankle over the strong ankle (left ankle over right ankle for right-handed shooters). This variation is faster than the standard, and is easier for less flexible shooters (See figure 4).

(Figure 4, a crossed ankle sitting position)

The third variation is even more relaxed than the second variation. Like the second, the legs are away from the shooter. However, instead of crossing the ankles, the shooter holds them apart and turned inward, with the soles of your feet facing one another (see figure 5).

(Figure 5, an open sitting position)

The sitting position is often difficult for the new shooter to assume correctly, as it requires a greater degree of flexibility than is accustomed for many. However, by practicing for as little as ten minutes a night, three nights a week, the new shooter will be as comfortable in the sitting position as he is in his easy chair. All it takes is patience, practice, and the time to find which of the positions suits the shooter best.

The shooter may need to tighten his sling from its prone length. It is best to adjust the sling from the position initially. Later, the shooter can mark his sling with permanent marker for each position’s adjustment (I have found that I can use the same adjustment for all common positions, and have marked my sling accordingly). One more note regarding your sling: before getting into position, it is wise to move the keeper away from your support hand, so that is does not pinch you while shooting.

The Prone Position

After learning your rifle’s mechanisms and sling, you are ready to learn the basic firing positions.  As stated earlier, all field positions represent a compromise between stability and mobility.  The offhand position is very mobile, but unsteady, as the rifle has only the sling and the shooters support hand to steady it.  The prone position is the most stable, and hence the most accurate, but is immobile, as the shooter is prostrate.  Further, it limits the shooters field of vision if low-lying scrub or tall grass is between the target and shooter.  The sitting position is a good compromise in these instances, as it places the shooter above the grass and scrub, is stable (if the shooter assumes it correctly), and is more mobile than prone (easier to assume and return to a standing position than prone).  The AQT requires shooting from the offhand, sitting or kneeling (shooter’s choice), and the prone position.  Since you will sight in your rifle from the prone position, and it is required for both the three hundred and four hundred meter strings of fire, I will address the prone position first.  Again, although I am not and never will be a Marine, the USMC’s Rifle Marksmanship is a top shelf document and an invaluable reference for the new would-be Rifleman (you are not a Rifleman until you score expert on the AQT; until that day, you are just a cook).

The prone position provides a very steady foundation for shooting and presents a low profile for maximum concealment. However, the prone position is the least mobile of the shooting positions and may restrict a Marine’s field of view for observation. In this position, the Marine’s weight is evenly distributed on the elbows, providing maximum support and good stability for the rifle (Rifle Marksmanship, 5-8)

Of the prone position variations, I will cover the cocked leg prone position with the loop sling.  It is the most common prone position (the other being a straight-legged variation) and the most comfortable in terms of absorbing recoil.  If time is pressing, the shooter can also use the hasty or hasty-hasty slings in the prone position as well.  It is easy to get into the prone position. To begin, place a loop sling on your support arm, as explained previously.  There are two ways to get into the prone position from standing.  One may kneel and kick his feet behind him; or, one may kneel, and move forward into the position.  In a field situation, you will base your choice on available cover and time (if moving forward into position would cause you to crowd your cover, you would want to move back into position; similarly, if you may want to move forward to find cover). Since we are adapting this to fieldwork, not competition shooting, you will need to be able to do either. In both variations, use your support hand to break your fall, and to help you get into a strong prone position (Figure 1).  If moving forward into position, use your rifle butt and support arm to help you move forward into position.  If moving back into position, kick your feet back, and lie down into position.  You will need to lie down, body facing at an approximate forty-five degree angle, body facing toward the strong side, with the rifle facing the target (Figure 2).  Once lying down, roll onto your support side (the left, for right-handed shooters). Keep the support elbow firmly on the ground (this is the foundation of your position). Move your body around the elbow until your sights are on target, finding your natural point of aim.  Do not try to move the rifle’s sights on target with your arms.  Your rifle must face the target naturally. Finding and maintaining your natural point of aim is what separates the Riflemen from the cooks. Keep your support elbow directly under the rifle’s stock. If the rifle is not immediately above the elbow, it will pull your shot off the target. This may be hard on your shoulder, at first. You will develop the requisite flexibility with practice.  Your support leg should be straight, and your strong leg drawn up, until its knee is nearly touching your strong elbow.  This bent leg helps to absorb recoil, and is important in delivering sustained, accurate rapid fire (Figure 4).  Your sling should be so tight that you have to place the stock in the shoulder with the strong hand.  When you bring the strong side elbow down, it creates a cam motion that really tightens the rifle into the shoulder pocket.  You will need that sling tight, because the third stage of the AQT is rapid fire, preparing to for that truism of riflery: “A Rifleman fires every shot rapid fire”.  Scoring expert on the AQT requires accurate rapid fire

(Figure 1, using your arm to support your weight)

(Figure 2, getting into the prone position)

(Figure 3, settling in)

(Figure 4, the prone position)

It is from the prone position that you will likely sight in your rifle. Many gun owners only shoot from the bench. They never develop any real skill that way. It certainly does not prove how accurately they are capable of shooting. A Rifleman never shoots from the bench (handloaders may shoot from the bench, to work up a new load; even then, shooting from the prone is better exercise). A well-established prone position is nearly as steady, and allows the shooter to track his progress, and improve his ability. You will use the prone position for two stages of the AQT (three hundred meter rapid fire and four hundred meter slow fire), simulating real-life situations. The prone position makes the shooter a small silhouette, and allows for accurate fire at longer ranges.

Next up, the sitting position.

That was essay number two. I’ll probably draw some fire over that not shooting from the bench bit. I still stand by it. What does shooting from a bench prove, that your rifle is mechanically accurate? Big deal. If you, the shooter, can take your rifle, snap in, and hold a two inch group, you’re already a better shot than ninety-nine percent of gun owners on the planet. If you have a super-gee-whiz Buck Rogers AR that will hold sub-one-inch groups from the bench, but you can’t hit a bull in the ass on Sunday morning with it, what good will it do you? The former is much more preferable, to me, than the latter. For what it’s worth, I can hold my shoots inside a four MOA with any old surplus I can get (excepting Indian), and certainly well enough to score expert on the AQT. Is that super-fantastic? Well, it’s crap, if you believe the gun rags. They also regularly screw their test rifles into a vice before testing them, too. How well do they do in real life? They never answer those questions. That’s another rant, for another time.

Use your sling.

I wrote this little tutorial on how to effectively use the rifle’s sling as a shooting aid back in September of 2006. I had read Fred’s Guide to Becoming a Rifleman several times, and had attended four Appleseeds. I understood the concepts well, but found the description of sling use in the manual lacking. It seemed vague to me. I thought then that detailed descriptions with pictures would be a benefit to new shooters unfamiliar with the sling, and especially folk interested in attending an Appleseed, to give them a head start.

I want you first to get a feel for your rifle.  Learn every inch of it.  Learn its workings and mechanisms, its sights and trigger.  You should strip the rifle, clean, and lubricate it per its specification.  Inspect the magazines (if your rifle requires them).  Look for bent feed lips and, if necessary, disassemble and clean them as well.  With your rifle clean and lubricated, it is ready to begin.  It is time to prepare you, the shooter, to progress and to become a Rifleman.

First, you will need to learn your rifle sling.  For my example, I will describe the proper use of the web sling as issued with the M1 Garand and the M14 (including its semiautomatic variants, the M1A/M14S/ M14SA, et. all).  This sling was an essential piece of wartime kit for three generations, and is most commonly available made from cotton canvas webbing, although later issue, including the current issue in use by Army and Marine designated marksman M14 slings are Nylon; these are superior to their cotton equivalent, and are well proven.  I highly recommend these slings (the cotton and Nylon) over the leather 1907 sling.  Many match shooters prefer the leather; and although I agree that they are quite attractive and old school when well made, they are more susceptible to inclement weather, and will rot from hard use.  This is not match riflery.  This is field shooting.  Although it is specifically for the M1 and M14 rifles, you may be able to adapt it to the FAL and HK91 systems.  Certainly, the same sling usage applies to all these rifles, plus the AR15 and AR10 rifles.  The web sling has four parts (see figure one).  They are the spring clip, which attaches the sling to the butt end swivel, the buckle (permanently attached to the sling), for adjusting the sling’s length, the sling itself, and the keeper (the buckle that holds the slings adjustment).  Attach the spring clip to the butt end swivel with the buckle’s loop facing out, away from the stock.  The sling’s keeper should be on the sling, with its hasp facing inward (toward the stock) and up toward the upper sling swivel. Bring the end of the sling outside, and place it through the upper sling swivel.  Lace the end of the sling through the keeper.  Now, with the sling in place, you can adjust it to fit (see images).

(Figure 1, disassembled sling pieces)

(Figure 2, assembling the sling)

(Figure 3, assembling the pieces. continued)

(Figure 4, attaching the keeper)

(Figure 5, keeper attached)

With the sling attached, hold the rifle horizontally. The sling will hang down from the swivels. Place the thumb of one hand under the grip (the small of the stock) and splay your fingers out making your hand span as far as it is able. Adjust the sling length with the keeper until it just touches your smallest finger. Later you can fine-tune the adjustment from position; but this should get the sling to the right length to start (Figure 6).

(Figure 6, determining proper slack)

There are two basic configurations, and one variation on the second, for using the sling as a shooting aid.  The first is the loop sling, used in the prone and sitting positions.  To make a loop sling, begin by detaching the sling from the rifle’s butt by sliding the spring clip from the rear swivel, leaving the sling attached to the rifle at the front.  It is usually easier to perform the next steps kneeling, with the rifle butt on the ground, and the barrel resting on your shoulder (be careful doing this on the firing line with a hot rifle.  I once wore a brand for days made by a hot barrel that- very briefly- touched my neck).  Hold the spring clip and buckle in your strong hand (right for right-handed shooters, left for left-handed shooter).  Now feed some of the sling back through the buckle, forming a loop of material (Figure 7).  Twist the sling a half turn away from you (this is very important: turn the sling away from you).  The spring clip will now be facing up (Figure 8).  Holding the sling in your strong hand (again, right for right-handed shooters).  Use your weak hand fingers to grab the cuff of your shooting jacket’s sleeve.  This will prevent the sleeve from riding up when you put the sling on your arm (Figure 9).  Now, slide the sling loop as far onto your arm as possible, even up to your armpit.  The USMC jacket has a brachial pad on the support arm sleeve, ostensibly to keep your rifle from moving in time with your brachial pulse.  In my experience, placing the sling above the pad will keep the sling from sliding back down the arm in rapid fire shooting.  If you have made the loop correctly, it will tighten when you pull on the sling (Figure 10).  If not, start over, you have made a mistake somewhere.  From position, the sling should be so tight that the shooter will have to place the stock into the shoulder pocket with the strong hand, and cam the strong arm down, forming a good shoulder pocket.  If the sling is so tight that you lose feeling in your fingers, it is just about tight enough (not really, loosen it up just a little bit if it is that tight).  We will go over that again when we address positions in detail.

(Figure 7, form a loop)

(Figure 8, twist the loop, note that the clip faces up)

(Figure 9, be sure to hold your sleeve)

(Figure 10, the self-tightening sling)

The other sling configuration (and its variation) is the hasty sling, and the hasty-hasty sling. Riflemen use these principally in the offhand, or standing, position. For these configurations, begin with the sling attached to the rifle, as we began for the loop sling. Hold the rifle by the small of the stock horizontally, with the sling hanging below it. Put your support arm through the hole created by the sling and rifle (Figure 11). Reach are far as you can, again so that the sling is up to your armpit. If you stop here, and shoulder the weapon, you have the hasty-hasty sling.  If you wrap your arm around the outside of the sling loop, and back inside the sling, effectively weaving your arm around the sling, and back on the fore end of the stock, that is the hasty sling (Figure 12). It is slower to assume, but helps hold the rifle tight to your shoulder. If the sling is tight enough, you will have to place the rifle into your shoulder pocket with strong hand.

(Figure 11, starting the hasty sling)

(Figure 12, Assuming the hasty sling.  This is the position for the hasty-hasty sling)

(Figure 13, the weaving the arm through, finishing with the hasty sling)

Many gun owners so-called shooters  have only fired their rifles from a bench rest. Even many hunters use only tree stands or blinds fire from supported positions. One of the would-be Rifleman’s objectives should be to learn to shoot from unsupported positions, using the rifle’s sling as a shooting aid. In my next entry, I will go over the basic positions, their uses, advantages and disadvantages, and how accurate shooting from unsupported positions places the qualified Rifleman in the top five percent of all gun owners.

There you have it. My first serious attempt at informative writing. It could use a polish; but I think it has aged well. As always, constructive comments are welcome.