The squatting position, otherwise known as “Rice Paddy Prone,” used to be much better known and used throughout the shooting sports. It is a moderate stability position that allows both elbows to be supported, so it is slightly more stable than kneeling for some, but not as good as sitting or prone. It offers many of the same mobility benefits as kneeling since it is easy to drop in to and get out of when movement is required. Of course, this all depends on the shooter possessing the requisite body mechanics and flexibility to do it. Sadly, many people today (particularly Americans) are not able to use this position without difficulty.
Here are the basic steps to attaining the position:
- Face the target
- Place the feet shoulder-width apart (I find I need to be slightly wider than this)
- Squat down as far as possible, try to keep the heels on the ground
- Place the flat of the triceps on the inside of the knees
- Place the stock high in the shoulder pocket
TC 3-22.9 notes that weapons with magazines (a la the AR-15) can be rotated slightly to put pressure from the magazine on the forearm of the supporting hand to add more stability. Here is the diagram from the training circular.
This position, without the rifle, is very similar to what has become known as the “Asian Squat.” It is also known as the “Indiginous People’s Stretch” in fitness circles. It used to be a very commonly used position in warfare, and then lost popularity some time after the Korean conflict. It had been left out of military marksmanship manuals for some years, though still taught in some shooting schools. It returned in the latest edition of 3-22.9, as shown above.
As mentioned earlier, the key benefit is that squatting allows the support of both elbows against the knees, providing increased stability. However, it does delete one point of contact with the ground. For this reason, it is important to have a good stance as you drop into the position and keep the feet flat on the ground. No balancing up on the balls of the feet!
The big limiting for people come from flexibility and joint health. Knee problems will certainly limit how much time you can spend in this position. More so, lack of flexibility in the hip, ankles, and lower back will make it very difficult to attain, hold, and balance the position. These elements can be worked on though an effective strength and flexibility program. I’m lucky enough that I am not hindered by these things, and find the position quite comfortable and stable. I prefer it over kneeling since it is less likely to aggravate an old ankle injury of mine.
I do find, however, that my ability to use the squatting position is hindered by my gear configuration. If I’m wearing the battle belt, I need to make sure I keep any tall objects (like rifle magazines) off the front of the belt and keep them to the sides and rearward. Otherwise, they will dig into my rib cage. Another solution is to “hike up” the belt just before dropping into position, but that isn’t ideal. I don’t have a chest rig, so I can’t comment on how it would affect the position- though I don’t think it would be an issue, since it stays away from the hip flexor area and “hiking up” the belt basically puts it in the same position as a chest rig would be.