Building a solid shooting position is fundamental to good marksmanship. While it is certainly true that some positions provide much more stability than others, it is how you build your position that offers the maximum potential for each of those positions.
According to Army FM 3-22.9, Rifle Marksmanship, as well as FM 23-10, Sniper Training, a solid position is built upon the following steady hold factors:
- Nonfiring hand.Placement of the nonfiring hand depends greatly on what kind of shooting your are doing. Your goal should be to introduce a minimum of influence on the point of aim of the rifle. Rather, you are simply supporting it. In traditional marksmanship positions, the nonfiring hand will be somewhere forward of the trigger guard of the rifle. In precision oriented shooting, such as with a bipod, the nonfiring hand will probably be at the back of the butt stock.
- Butt of the stock.Place the butt of the stock firmly in the pocket of the shoulder.
- Firing hand.With the firing hand, grip the small of the stock or pistol grip. Using the middle through little fingers, exert a slight rearward pull to keep the butt of the weapon firmly in the pocket of the shoulder. Place the thumb over the top of the small of the stock or behind the pistol grip. Place the index finger on the trigger, ensuring it does not touch the stock of the weapon. This avoids disturbing the lay of the rifle when the trigger is squeezed.
- Elbows.Find a comfortable position that provides the greatest support. When using traditional marksmanship positions, pay attention to the location of the flat of the elbow in order to best provide support.
- Stock weld.Place the cheek in the same place on the stock with each shot. A change in stock weld tends to cause poor sight alignment, reducing accuracy.
- Bone support.Bone support is the foundation of the firing position; they provide steady support of the weapon.
- Muscle relaxation.When using bone support, the shooter can relax muscles, reducing any movement that could be caused by tense or trembling muscles. Aside from tension in the trigger finger and firing hand, any use of the muscle generates movement of the shooter’s sight picture.
Of utmost importance to you as a shooter is to practice each of these elements individually, every time. For each position you practice, take note of how you built that position according these elements. Ask yourself questions like these:
- Where were your hands and elbows placed?
- How much tension ddid you feel?
- Where was your cheek on the stock? Did you use a reference point for your eye relief, such as the tip of your nose touching the charging handle?
- Does your sight picture remain the same as you relax your muscles?
Once all of these elements are dialed in, you will find that you naturally come to the same point of aim. This Natural Point of Aim (NPOA), is where your rifle is actually pointing for each shot. If you wish to move the NPOA, then you must move your entire position, and not just the rifle.