Rifle stance (especially using an AR)

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  • Ponder_MD

    Ultimate Member
    Mar 9, 2020
    4,448
    Maryland
    The key thing that I was taught in the military is build your shooting position using bone. Bone doesn't get tired. Muscle builds lactic acid, gets tired and shaky.

    I keep seeing modern AR/M-series shooters using an unsupported/offhand stance while standing or moving forward where the supporting arm (on the handguard) is extended far forward, grasping the foregrip much closer to the end of the barrel than I'm used to doing. I've seen it done with and without the add-on, T foregrip.

    This is totally counterintuitive to me because it appears that the supporting arm is using all muscle to stabilize the rifle, which would be shaky after a period of time. What am I missing here? What's the technique? Why is this the preferred stance now?

    I'd appreciate your insights.
     

    toppkatt

    Ultimate Member
    Apr 22, 2017
    1,160
    I've seen the exact thing at N-SSA skirmishes (civil war i.e. black powder). Most of it, from talking to a few, is to help bring the rifle into the shoulder firmly. This might stop some of the shakes like using a fore end grip to pull it into the shoulder. I've had people come up to me and ask/tell me 'you shoot smallbore don't you' because of my stance, which uses the skeletal system more like what you learned. My right arm is kept down toward my side instead of chicken winging it, because smallbore doesn't need to create a good pocket for the butt to sit in unlike a high power rifle.
    It could also be that they train like this and they train for much longer than a match takes so the lactic acid build up is occurring far enough away from what is needed for what they are doing. Just a few random thoughts and perhaps I'm missing something too.
     

    DanGuy48

    Ultimate Member
    The key thing that I was taught in the military is build your shooting position using bone. Bone doesn't get tired. Muscle builds lactic acid, gets tired and shaky.

    I keep seeing modern AR/M-series shooters using an unsupported/offhand stance while standing or moving forward where the supporting arm (on the handguard) is extended far forward, grasping the foregrip much closer to the end of the barrel than I'm used to doing. I've seen it done with and without the add-on, T foregrip.

    This is totally counterintuitive to me because it appears that the supporting arm is using all muscle to stabilize the rifle, which would be shaky after a period of time. What am I missing here? What's the technique? Why is this the preferred stance now?

    I'd appreciate your insights.
    I’ve noticed the same thing. I used to shoot 4 position smallbore competitively and bone support was the norm. Having said that, the alternative position allows more freedom of movement so maybe that is the key to it.
     

    toppkatt

    Ultimate Member
    Apr 22, 2017
    1,160
    I’ve noticed the same thing. I used to shoot 4 position smallbore competitively and bone support was the norm. Having said that, the alternative position allows more freedom of movement so maybe that is the key to it.
    That's a good point. In a formal match where you are shooting at a static target for the highest score vs having dynamic targets (e.g. different locations on the range or moving) having the ability to maneuver while shooting would be beneficial.
     

    hogarth

    Ultimate Member
    Jun 13, 2009
    2,503
    Some of the "new" stances are based upon:

    1. Recent .mil experience in CQB/urban warfare.
    2. Using a rifle/carbine while wearing body armor.
     

    Ponder_MD

    Ultimate Member
    Mar 9, 2020
    4,448
    Maryland
    Some of the "new" stances are based upon:

    1. Recent .mil experience in CQB/urban warfare.
    2. Using a rifle/carbine while wearing body armor.
    That certainly makes sense.

    I'm concerned that a few Youtubers have seen this and now people are doing it in situations where it is not applicable or effective. It spreads virally and now everyone thinks it's the right thing to do. I'm also curious as to what is the "right way" to take this stance. Just because you observe it on Youtube doesn't mean that you'll replicate it correctly even if the Youtuber is doing it correctly.
     

    ken792

    Ultimate Member
    Sep 2, 2011
    4,469
    Fairfax, VA
    Learn both since they’re each appropriate in different scenarios.

    An extended support grip controls recoil and steers better when transitioning targets.

    A fairly perpendicular shouldering prevents the stock from slipping on armor or pack straps. It also presents the most surface area of the front armor plate forward while minimizing the amount of the unarmored side being presented. It’s more natural to walk forward than diagonally.
     

    4g64loser

    Bad influence
    Jan 18, 2007
    6,251
    maryland
    Learn both since they’re each appropriate in different scenarios.

    An extended support grip controls recoil and steers better when transitioning targets.

    A fairly perpendicular shouldering prevents the stock from slipping on armor or pack straps. It also presents the most surface area of the front armor plate forward while minimizing the amount of the unarmored side being presented. It’s more natural to walk forward than diagonally.
    This.

    When I need to shoot standing unsupported at targets that don't shoot back and are static, I'm going for the stability of a more traditional "high power" mount. If I am going to run through a bay, I need to optimize for movement and target transition.

    Learn to shoot the weapon different ways and choose the right tool from your box.
     

    smokey

    2A TEACHER
    Jan 31, 2008
    31,280
    Are you prioritizing reducing fatigue and enhancing static stability, or prioritizing fast target transitions and controlling recoil? Those are the questions.

    a) bone support with the support hand closer in and elbow under the barrel. -

    pros- This allows for a stable static position and is less fatiguing to the shoulder muscles. So if you're shooting bullseye or handling a gun for hours at a time(like you might in the military if you're just door kicking all day long), this is going to be a better technique.

    cons- you've got a lot of weight out in front of your support hand swinging around, so it's more difficult to quickly drive the muzzle somewhere. It's typically more bladed off, increasing chances you'll take a shot to the side and not to the plate. Generally recoil won't be handled as efficiently.

    b) extended support arm with thumb over bore-

    pros- You're able to drive the muzzle to a target faster because you're controlling the barrel at its end. Because you're stretching out points of contact on the rifle, you're increasing leverage and better able to tame recoil for fast strings of fire. You're more squared up, enabling your plates to take hits and generally enhancing situational awareness because your body as a whole is more upright and in a more athletic stance.

    cons- its extremely fatiguing to the shoulder, so you have a time limit measured in minutes for how long you can hang your rifle out in front of you. It's the same concept as holding a weight in close with your elbow bent vs holding it with your arm straightened out in front of you.
     
    Last edited:

    lazarus

    Ultimate Member
    Jun 23, 2015
    13,654
    This.

    When I need to shoot standing unsupported at targets that don't shoot back and are static, I'm going for the stability of a more traditional "high power" mount. If I am going to run through a bay, I need to optimize for movement and target transition.

    Learn to shoot the weapon different ways and choose the right tool from your box.
    Having no practical experience in matches, that still feels what is most natural to me. For example, hunting, if I have to take an off hand shot and can't move to a better supported stance, the more traditional it is. It is the best supported and most stable (and of course if I can, I'll involve my sling for greater stability too and leave them setup so I can do that).

    But on the move? That would be just about impossible to do. And on the move and presenting directly forward, gripping further out in a C-clamp grip or similar, gives better leverage to pull it in to my shoulder and is significantly more controllable swinging between targets. Just like having a bigger sight radius, a larger grip radius gives you easier finer controlled manipulation of your aim, quickly at least.
     

    Ponder_MD

    Ultimate Member
    Mar 9, 2020
    4,448
    Maryland
    Ok, now we're getting somewhere. Good explanation, Smokey.
    @4g64loser I agree about tools in your toolbox but I'm going to have to learn this stuff in a course or from someone. Video learning probably isn't going to cut it.

    I am not surprised that I was only taught static shooting methods while on submarines. Small arms were a minimal part of our lives. The RSO's used to grouse and cringe whenever we'd come to the range for our annual qualification because we were so inexperienced.

    I *am* surprised that I did not get more dynamic training in the reserve unit that I served in. Sure, weren't 10th Mountain but we all carried rifles and/or pistols as part of our daily lives. We were a small unit left to fend for ourselves with no support when we operated. Still, the training that was pushed was the same static range training that I'd always had. I fired an M16A3 in full auto exactly once in my entire career. I was allowed (after some undignified begging) to run through a "run and gun" live fire course exactly once.

    I feel a little cheated.
     

    DanGuy48

    Ultimate Member
    Much like the “revolution” in martial arts when mixed styles and techniques began to become the norm, ie. picking what works best for a given person, situation and tool, I think much can be said as being the same with firearms.

    Two examples, I have a long torso and when the recommended sitting position changed from open leg to crossed leg, I simply could not do it. To lean over and get my elbows onto my legs when crossed, I was practically folded over. I had to use the open leg sitting position, no choice.

    Another instance, some handguns are recurved and stippled on the front of the trigger guard for the off hand index finger. I have been told by many this is not a “proper” technique even though I shoot fine that way and find it more comfortable. So, in searching on line, I found video of no less than Jerry Miculek demonstrating and advocating use by some of such technique on light, polymer frame guns to help control muzzle flip.

    Interesting thread BTW.
     
    Last edited:

    4g64loser

    Bad influence
    Jan 18, 2007
    6,251
    maryland
    Much like the “revolution” in martial arts when mixed styles and techniques began to become the norm, ie. picking what works best for a given person, situation and tool, I think much can be said as being the same with firearms.

    Two examples, I have a long torso and when the recommended sitting position changed from open leg to crossed leg, I simply could not do it. To lean over and get my elbows onto my legs when crossed, I was practically folded over. I had to use the open leg sitting position, no choice.

    Another instance, some handguns are recurved and stippled on the front of the trigger guard for the off hand index finger. I have been told by many this is not a “proper” technique even though I shoot fine that way and find it more comfortable. So, in searching on line, I found video of no less than Jerry Miculek demonstrating and advocating use of such technique on light, polymer frame guns to help control muzzle flip.

    Interesting thread BTW.
    On the support hand index finger around trigger guard, I think Angus hobdell and Eric grauffel ran that as well. Angus actively tells people not to do it but admits to the hypocrisy of the statement. He said he had been doing it too long to want to retrain (and he's wicked good). It's a tool in the box. If it works for someone, fine. One of my large (6'9") friends runs that grip to get his hand high enough to be fully on the frame. Doesn't seem to hinder him. He's not soliciting comment but if he did, I'd tell him to do what works best.
     

    smokey

    2A TEACHER
    Jan 31, 2008
    31,280
    Ok, now we're getting somewhere. Good explanation, Smokey.
    @4g64loser I agree about tools in your toolbox but I'm going to have to learn this stuff in a course or from someone. Video learning probably isn't going to cut it.

    I am not surprised that I was only taught static shooting methods while on submarines. Small arms were a minimal part of our lives. The RSO's used to grouse and cringe whenever we'd come to the range for our annual qualification because we were so inexperienced.

    I *am* surprised that I did not get more dynamic training in the reserve unit that I served in. Sure, weren't 10th Mountain but we all carried rifles and/or pistols as part of our daily lives. We were a small unit left to fend for ourselves with no support when we operated. Still, the training that was pushed was the same static range training that I'd always had. I fired an M16A3 in full auto exactly once in my entire career. I was allowed (after some undignified begging) to run through a "run and gun" live fire course exactly once.

    I feel a little cheated.

    For CQB stuff, the extended c-clamp is the way to go if you're able(like as in your shoulder isn't nuked from doing it for a couple hours). Here's a quick video going over different ways in which people might choose to enter a room with a potential threat in it. You'll notice as they're moving in to the room, they're breaking down the rifle, and then getting it back in their shoulder. Controlling as close to the muzzle as is comfortable allows them to move it with pretty good leverage. The other thing it allows for is if someone is in the room within contact distance, they can muzzle-thump the person... treating the muzzle like a bayonet to move the person. It would be much more difficult, and they've have much less control/power for things like that if their hand was back by the magwell.

    Again, static shooting vs dynamic shooting.



    Here's some muzzle-thumping fun.
     

    alucard0822

    For great Justice
    Oct 29, 2007
    17,609
    PA
    A rifle is a tool to pit sufficient rounds on a desired target, you can work with it, or aggainst it. Pretty much the only reason i'm standing in one spot with a rigid standing position for slow fire at long range is if it required for a match. Moving around, firing fast, moving between targets, covering an area etc will require a different series of techniques.

    I was taught your stance/ support should be based on movement and cover, getting as low as practical. Moving with a firearm at low ready, and when needed, snapping up to a modern squared stance with support hand out near the muzzle allows movement, speed, and the best visibility. Working with cover, barricades, and support is a different skill, moving to the weak side shoulder, bracing on barricades, or dropping to prone all can be the right answer depending on what is going on.

    Most current training involves a variety of practices and adaptable positions to put the muzzle on target fast, prefferably with support, and behind cover. The old 3 "standing, sitting, prone" positions are attempting to fit the situation to your stance instead of adapting the stance to the situation.
     

    Ponder_MD

    Ultimate Member
    Mar 9, 2020
    4,448
    Maryland
    The old 3 "standing, sitting, prone" positions are attempting to fit the situation to your stance instead of adapting the stance to the situation.
    That's what I have the most experience with, in and out of the military. I participate in CMP matches. I'd like to see matches get with the times. I know there's a club up in Thurmont that does something much more dynamic. That's a couple of hours away from me. Difficult to do regularly.
     

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