Stability is Key. Prone Position:

The prone position is the most stable shooting position. The word prone simply means lying down. We are going to discuss how to get into the straight-leg prone position. There’s another form that requires the trigger side leg to be bent and brought up to the center of the body. It’s good to know that one too but straight-leg is easier to assume and is much more common these days.

Face the target and lie down on your stomach. Propping up the back of your support side elbow, shoulder the rifle in your firing side shoulder pocket. Be mindful of where your muzzle goes! Don’t let it wander somewhere you don’t want the rifle to point, and also keep it out of the dirt.  Grip the rifle with the support side hand and pull it towards you but don’t muscle it. The support hand can even be open, as if it’s just a platform. I don’t recommend you hold the rifle that way, but you can. Try to get your support hand as close to the muzzle as possible. But the support elbow should be as directly below the rifle as possible. Or you CAN use the magazine as a monopod. Anyone who tells you not to do this is perpetuating a myth. You want your body to be straight behind the rifle to help mitigate the effects of recoil. If using a sling as a support, ensure the front sight does not fall and rise diagonally when you breathe in and out. If this occurs then try to get your support elbow more under the rifle. As you inhale, the front sight should drop, and as you exhale, the front sight should rise.

Concentrate on not using any muscles, just bones as support.

The support arm should not be too flat. It should also not be too bent. Make a slight “V” at the elbow.

Your legs should be spread out a bit and feet should be flat and relaxed, ankles touching the ground, not sticking upward. Spread your legs as much as is comfortable, but no need to spread too far. The idea is to be stable. Shoulder width apart or a little more should be sufficient. Do more if you feel you need to. Your trigger side elbow should be on the ground. You may find it helpful to index your body in reference to the target, just be mindful of your muzzle and the direction you’re firing of course. But remember, keep as much of your body directly behind the rifle as possible. Your middle, ring, and pinky fingers of the trigger hand should grip the pistol grip firmly, pulling the rifle towards your body. Where does the trigger finger NOT go until you’re ready to fire?!?! Remember your safety rules!!! Stick your neck out. Drop your cheek onto the stock and slide it down to get a good check weld. Your nose should be right at the charging handle. 

Move your body (NOT THE RIFLE!) to get your sight picture. You should have aligned the front and rear sights first. Keep your support elbow in place as a pivot point, and move your body sideways to adjust your sights horizontally. Then move your body forward or backward to adjust your sights vertically until the sights are on target. (Imagine something similar to doing “the worm” but nowhere nearly as dramatic.) Your entire body should be relaxed now, especially your support arm. Do you have good NPOA? Once you do, proceed with the rest of the taking a shot process we’ve already outlined. 

Practice getting into this position and dry firing. See if your sights move off the target when the “shot” breaks. Learn this position first if possible.

And, as always, if you have questions hit us up.

The Final Piece(s) to Taking the Shot.

So last time we talked about the steps you need to take to make an accurate shot up through the point where you find your NPOA. That portion of this process is crucial so make sure you have a good grasp of it. So you’re at the point where you have aligned your sights, have a proper sight picture, have found your NPOA, and are ready to continue taking the shot. What’s next? We will eventually discuss things like cheek weld and where to put your support hand, etc. I want to cover the rest of these fundamentals first.

You can’t shoot accurately while you are moving (at least not yet). Breathing causes movement, so you will have to stop breathing at some point to make an accurate shot. This is why you will take the shot when your breathing takes a pause. That split second where you have fully exhaled but haven’t starting inhaling yet. That’s the opportune time to fire the shot. With proper NPOA your front sight will be right where it needs to be at that time, and you are completely still but relaxed. You can prolong this voluntarily, but do not do so for too long. As you hold your breath, your vision will actually start to deteriorate.

While prone, as you inhale, the front sight will dip, and when you exhale, it will rise. Use the natural action of breathing to help hold the elevation. When the front sight reaches the desired place on the target, simply hold your breath at that point. You can increase accuracy even further by completely relaxing the respiratory system.

In somewhere around 7 seconds, your vision begins to diminish while holding your breath. You won’t be able to see as well as you need to. You won’t be able to be as relaxed as you need to be. Don’t force the shot. Just wait and take another breath and try again. 

Our eyes can only focus on one thing at a time. You are now trying to keep your front and rear sights aligned along with your target. It might seem counter-intuitive, but the most accurate way to shoot your rifle is to focus on the front sight! Your rear sight will be blurry as will the target.  It is imperative that you focus entirely on the front sight post.

This will not be natural at first. You’ll have to make yourself do this. Concentrate hard on doing this.

(Note: Remember this assumes you’re shooting with iron sights. If you’re using a scope or a red dot you don’t need to focus on the reticle of the scope or the dot.)

Now it’s time to finally press (or squeeze) the trigger. Do not jerk the trigger. Squeeze the trigger straight to the rear using a steadily increasing pressure. The difference between a squeeze and a jerk is CONTROL. Jerking the trigger will throw you off target. If you notice your front sight moving all around the target and you have to jerk the trigger to try and get the shot off while the sights are in the right position on the target, you are not relaxed and therefore do not have good NPOA. Stop and establish good NPOA.

If you have to stop and find NPOA again, do not let the slack out of the trigger. Keep the pressure you’ve applied until the sights return to right spot, then continue squeezing the trigger until the shot breaks. It should surprise you! 

Ideally you’ll use the middle of the first pad of your trigger finger and squeeze from the lowest portion of the trigger possible. This will give you the best mechanical advantage. And it prevents the finger from dragging against the bottom of the receiver. You may need to adjust which part of the trigger finger you use depending on how hard it is to pull it. But the trigger must be pulled straight back.

Once the shot breaks, you’re still not done. Hold the trigger to the rear, and try to call where the shot went. This is done by making a mental note of where the front sight was when the shot broke.

Your goal is to hold the trigger to the rear until the sights are realigned on the target.

When you do start to let off of the trigger, only let it go forward enough until it’s reset. Trigger reset can usually be heard by a click and can also be felt. Practice this while dry firing so that you can still tell when it’s reset at the range.

It’s difficult to call your shot in reality. You’ll have a tendency to close your eyes as the shot is fired. Likely you’ll have already closed your non-dominate eye while firing. (Though I recommend learning to shoot with both eyes open down the line. For now, baby steps.) So your eye that you’re using to shoot will have a tendency to close as you fire a shot. Try to prevent that eye from closing. This will allow you to take a snapshot of where the front sight was when the shot went off.

Learning how to call your shots will be crucial to helping you get better. If you know where your shot went right after you fire it and you check the target and it’s where you thought it was, that’s a “good” shot. Don’t worry about it not hitting the bullseye or whatever. Remember, right now your goal is to focus on shooting tight groups anyway. If you know where your shots are hitting by being able to tell where your front sight was, all you have to do is keep working on proper NPOA, sight alignment, and sight picture. Your shots will start to go where you want them to once you have the fundamentals down. Make sure you follow through with the trigger as discussed here. If your rifle is zeroed, and you follow the fundamentals in this installment and the last one, you will be shooting quite well sooner than you think. This also illustrates why dry firing is so useful. There’s no recoil to make you involuntarily close your eyes. You can learn to take that mental snapshot when the shot breaks. There’s no recoil so you can keep your NPOA better. And you can hear the trigger reset after you follow through. Make sure you’re being safe when dry firing. Do it in a quiet place where there is no ammunition anywhere around you. Say out loud: “I am doing dry fire practice. No ammunition will placed into this weapon.” Or something along those lines. Make sure your sights do not move off the target while dry firing as your shots break. If you notice the front sight moving, figure out what’s causing it to move and fix it. 

So, let’s summarize the whole process of taking a shot before we wrap this up. (Remember, this is from the prone position, and may even be supported by a sling or a bag or a bipod even. The fundamentals are the fundamentals.)

-Align your sights.

-Get the front sight on target.

-Find your NPOA.

-Verify your NPOA.

-Focus on the front sight.

-Squeeze the trigger during a respiratory pause.

-Follow through and call the shot.

-Reset the trigger.

You can do this if you work these fundamentals. That’s all for now. Take care, comrades.

Shooting – Focusing on the fundamentals – Part 1.

This will be the first installment of actually talking about shooting. By now the assumption is you are familiar with the operation of your weapon. And hopefully (before you did anything else) you’ve become acquainted with the safety rules for handling firearms. I’m going to run through them anyway since it never hurts to think about them. Remember A-C-A-B.

  1. ALWAYS treat all firearms as if they are loaded. No exceptions.
  2. CONTROL your muzzle at all times. (If you’re not willing to destroy it, don’t point your weapon at it.)
  3. ALWAYS keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to fire.
  4. BE aware of your target and what is above, below, on the side of, in front of, and beyond it.

The 5th rule is a little bit more subjective. It’s pretty simple though. If you’re impaired in any way and cannot safely handle a firearm then don’t. This could include being too tired, being drunk, going through a stressful situation, etc. It’s on you to not endanger anyone you’re training with so please don’t be selfish in that way. Emergency life or death situations may require you to pick up a weapon. Otherwise, avoid doing so until you’re safely able to. Please! Also, notice using the safety isn’t a part of the safety rules. Your weapon may not have one. But if it does, use it. Keep the safety on until your sights are on target. When done firing, put the safety back on. You can think of this as the 6thrule even if you want to. Make this a habit. Make this almost involuntary. Let’s get into the topic now.

Natural Point of Aim (You might see this as either NPA or NPOA.) is the single most important item for a shooter to learn, and it is one of the most difficult. It’s a concept that describesthe place where your body would place a shot when totally relaxed. Think of it as just using your body’s bones for support, not your muscles. Your body has to be relaxed for precise shooting. As you breathe in and out, your muzzle (and therefore your sights) will move up and down. Your body will be in a more relaxed state when you’re done breathing out. For this reason you should obtain your Natural Point of Aim while after exhaling, during the pause before you begin to inhale. 

This process is particularly important when shooting from the prone position. If you’re not familiar with what that means, for now just visualize shooting while lying flat on your stomach. There’s not much to it. I’ll try to post a better description of the proper way to get into all of the more common shooting positions as soon as I can. There are plenty of youtube videos on this subject of course. However, since part of the motivation behind this blog is to provide access to this information outside of the normal gun circles I understand if you don’t want to research this on your own. Bear with us!

A couple things to touch on real quick: If you’re using a bipod or your magazine as a monopod, that’s fine. You may also be using a sling to support the rifle. Your support arm (Your support side is the opposite side of the trigger hand. So, since I shoot right-handed, my support arm is my left arm.) still needs to be relaxed. There is a whole process to firing a shot and finding your NPOA is just a part of that process. Since I think you should learn iron sights first, I’m going to assume you are. You need to make sure you’re aligning your sights properly before doing anything else. Then you can get your sights on your target. Don’t try to do this in reverse. You’ll have to use your muscles, maybe without realizing it. 

To get the proper sight alignment for your AR, it’s not too terribly difficult of a task. This will be the first thing you need to do in order to properly fire a shot, so it’s crucial that it’s done correctly. But, it isn’t hard.

AR rear sights are “peep” sights. You have a front sight post in front and the rear sight has an aperture that’s literally just a circle that you look through. Most likely, your rear sight will have two apertures. One will be bigger around than the other. For now, just use the smaller one. The bigger one is intended for close range engagements, among other things. However the smaller one is more precise. Use the smaller one until you know what you’re doing.

Center the tip of the front sight post in the rear sight ring. That’s it. See the following photo:

(This pic was taken off the internet via a quick search. I probably owe someone credit. Also, ignore the curved things on the sides of the front sight post. They’re only there to protect the front sight post from getting bent. They have no bearing on your shooting and shouldn’t be used when establishing sight alignment or picture.)

(NOTE: I realize that a lot of the info that we put out on this blog related to firearms is AR-centric. The fundamentals are the same regardless of what platform you’re using. Obviously the sights are different on an AR compared to an AK. If you struggle with anything related to your AK or SKS or FAL or whatever the hell you have, don’t be afraid to reach out. We’ll work with you privately or start posting things centered around other platforms when we have more time to do so. Thanks for your understanding.)

Keep in mind that you don’t have to have the front sight pointed exactly on the spot you want the bullet to impact the target. You do this step first so that you can move your BODY, not the RIFLE to get the proper sight picture. That’s your next step.

Once your sights are aligned relax your body. This is roughly your NPOA but you probably won’t be on target. So move your BODY (not the rifle) to place the aligned sights on target. Put the top of the front sight on the center of whatever target you’re aiming at. That’s how to get your proper sight picture. Do this by keeping your support elbow in place and use it as a pivot point as you move your body. Move your body sideways while keeping your support elbow in place for horizontal adjustment. Move your body forward or backward while keeping your support elbow in place for vertical adjustment. This will probably take a lot of practice at first. 

After you do all this it might seem like you’ve achieved NPOA. You should still confirm it. Close your eyes. Then take a deep breath in and then breathe out. When you’re done exhaling, open your eyes. If you’re still on target, you have proper NPOA and can continue firing “by the numbers.” When you actually shoot you should do so during a respiratory pause. So you have just mirrored that part of properly firing a shot. It’s still likely that you haven’t achieved a good NPOA yet so you need to repeat this process until it’s confirmed successfully.

It’s ok if it takes a few times of repeating this to get a good NPOA. You aren’t going to realize when you’ve been using muscles. That’s what confirming NPOA is all about and you’ll get quicker at it over time. Don’t skip it. Just get better at finding it. On-demand accuracy and fundamentals of shooting are for more important than firing 27 rounds in 4.89 seconds and not hitting anything you intended to. With a good NPOA, your sights willremain on target. If the sights aren’t steady, you’ll jerk the trigger as the sights move to try and get the shot off “in time.” You will not be accurate shooting this way. Practice, practice, practice and it will become fast and intuitive. Focus on accuracy now, speed will come with time.

Here’s another stolen photo from the internet that shows what your sight picture should look like:

(The tip of the front sight is placed where the shooter wants the bullet to hit. This is called “center-hold” and it’s the best way to shoot, as opposed to a “six o’clock”hold. Notice how the rear sight AND THE TARGET are out of focus. The front sight is crystal clear. That’s on purpose. Though it may seem counter-intuitive to focus on the front sight and not the target, that’s what you want to do. This will be covered in the next entry.)

Another important factor will also be trigger control/follow through, and we’ll talk about that soon as well. I want to do a write-up on the entire process of taking a shot, but I thought it would be good to introduce this topic now since it’s so important. Remember that starting out, your goal is to learn to shoot properly and have on-demand accuracy. You have to learn to shoot small groups before you can learn to shoot small groups quickly. It’s that whole “crawl before you can walk” thing. If you’re out shooting and your groups are tight but not where you were aiming, you probably just need to zero your weapon. That’s a separate process to learn that we’ll cover soon. But if you’re getting the tight groups that’s way more important for now.

Quick recap:

-Align your sights.

-Move your body to get on target. Breathe in, breathe out.

-Find your NPOA.

This is only a part of the process to fire a shot, but it’s crucial you absorb these concepts. I’m writing all this out as I have time. So make sure you read all of it before heading out to the range. 

Until next time, comrades.

Port Arms – Continuing with bare bones recommendations for those that are new to this.

Ok so there are a lot of topics I eventually want to cover with this, but let’s continue with the basic gear outline for now. By now let’s say you’ve got your rifle. It’s setup with either a scope or a red dot, and you have back up sights. You have a weapon light mounted on it, and you also have a sling attached. Good. How many magazines do you have? I’d recommend you have somewhere in the neighborhood of 12, but 6-10 is fine. Remember, you’ve already looked into your local laws before you even started down this path, so if you can’t have standard capacity magazines, you don’t. So if you’re limited to 10 round mags, you have even more of them than the suggested amount. What else do you need?

I’d recommend you do your due diligence in finding out about load bearing equipment. You may want body armor, and I recommend you have it, even if you don’t intend to wear it while training (or in real life). There are situations where it may be appropriate to wear it and there are situations where it may not be appropriate. A lot of that is personal and situational. We’ll get there but won’t discuss it for now.

A chest rig is a good idea for carrying your mags. You can get a cheap Chicom one off ebay for like $15. Your AR or AK mags will fit just fine, and you can carry 7 of them with this rig (plus one in the rifle, that’s a lot of ammo!). It has straps that tie off in the back but if you or someone you know can sew at all you can attach plastic locking clips to make it easier to don and doff, etc. I have a couple of them lying around and they are very simple and cheap but still durable. My personal philosophy on this stuff is that usually simpler is better. A lot of people in gun circles are always chasing down the next gadget. No need. Aside from the fact that it’s just capitalists doing their bullshit, I just don’t want more shit that can fail when I need it most. Keep it as simple as possible, but your setup still has to work of course. Don’t get me wrong, I do have some “Gucci” gear. But that’s because I’ve figured out what works for me and I’m committed to this. So spending a little more money for something that will (hopefully) last is justified in my opinion. You’ll figure out what works for you too.

Another method of carrying shit around, not just magazines of course, is the battle belt. Maybe you’ll see it referred to as a war belt or duty belt, or whatever. This can be instead of or in addition to your chest rig. I really like the belt option for a lot of reasons. Having rifle magazines, an individual first aid kit (IFAK), a knife, a canteen, and other assorted gear starts to weigh a lot. And if you’re already wearing body armor, you’re going to be bogged down. Distributing that weight around your waist is a great way to deal with this problem. If you look at actual soldiers throughout history, a lot of them just had some sort of belt setup. Also, if you just have a battle belt, you can lay down flat (go prone) when you need to. This way will be easier than doing it with a bunch of shit hanging over your chest/stomach. I highly recommend you explore this option first. Condor makes less expensive shit, but the sky’s the limit as always. There are a lot of brands out there. Just go for most durable at lowest cost. Shop around and ask your experienced comrades what they recommend. You can attach things like: a tourniquet, your IFAK, magazine pouches (pistol and rifle perhaps), canteens, a dump pouch (which is where you put your empty or partially empty magazines after a reload), a survival knife, a pistol holster, extra medical supplies, a compass, etc. It’s versatile and can be set up however you need it to be. And the weight will be better distributed than if all your gear is right there on your chest/stomach. 

I have a plate carrier with body armor, a chest rig, and a battle belt. I can just throw on the belt quickly and roll with just that if I need to. My chest rig can be worn by itself or I can disconnect the straps and attach it to my plate carrier. Versatility and simplicity. That’s what works best for me. I can change my particular setup based on the situation I’m in. NOTE: It would be a good idea to look up how to use MOLLE webbing. It’s fairly straight forward but if you’re not familiar with it it’s possible to do it wrong. You don’t want your mag pouches falling off as your patrolling, etc. Also, an older system, called ALICE does not play well with MOLLE. I’ll admit against my better judgment I tried to mount an ALICE item with zip ties on a MOLLE belt once. Thankfully it was obvious it wasn’t going to hold for long and I never did anything that mattered with it. I would have lost a piece of gear in the brush. Not smart.

Remember, these are just general guidelines to get you thinking about where you need to be. This all comes again with the statement that I’m not an expert and am merely sharing things from my experiences both in the military and with community defense work. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions about specifics or anything else. We just want you to be properly equipped if you’re getting into all this.

So to sum it up so far:

-Rifle (AR or AK most likely).

-12 magazines (Or more!).

-Sling attached to rifle. I use two-point slings.

-Red dot or scope. (Or just run iron sights of course.)

-BUIS (Back up iron sights).

-Weapon light. I recommend Surefire or Streamlight. Prices vary, but a surefire G2 will do the job if you can find a way to properly mount it. 

-Plate carrier, if body armor is something you’re going to use.

-Chest rig of some kind. Be able to carry at least 4 magazines, but no more than 8 really.

-Battle belt (Your setup may vary but you need an IFAK and extra tourniquet at a minimum. A lot of times I’ll put a tourniquet on my rifle).

You may be asking yourself, how much ammo do I need?!? That’s a great question, since we haven’t really talked about it yet. In prepper circles, it’s usually said you need 1000 rounds per weapon. I think that’s a good number over all. It’s fine to keep more than that on hand, but cost is always a factor so I think that’s a good goal when starting out. The problem is that to get skilled, you have to go shoot, A LOT. So….stockpiling ammo is hard when you have limited funds. Try to keep as close to 1000 rounds on hand as you can to start. Don’t store it anywhere too hot or cold. And keep it dry, avoiding humidity as much as possible. Down south, plastic wrap around the boxes being stored helps. I often leave ammo in my trunk to see if it’s still reliable. Usually, even with the oppressive summers we have, it still performs as it should. And I’m just using plain old 55 grain (basically just a unit of weight when talking about bullets) American Eagle 5.56. Nothing fancy. It’s always worked well in my rifles and out of literally probably 35,000 rounds of it over the last few years, I’ve only* had 3 misfires. The 62 grain green tip stuff hasn’t worked great for me. I had a rifle that didn’t like it, wouldn’t extract right for some reason. And it’s harder on your barrel anyway. Again, keep it simple. I do occasionally buy some more pricey 77 grain Hornady or something like that if I’m doing longer distance stuff. But even that is unnecessary for my main carbine. The XM193 55 grain American Eagle ammo is perfectly fine for any scenario I can come up with based on my geographic area.

Anyway, I guess that’s it for this time. I’m trying to build up the foundations quickly. You can go back and reference these later at any time and you may need to do some research on your own to fill in the gaps. Next time I think we’re going to get into some actual shooting instruction. All this gear stuff is important, but all of that is meaningless without fundamental skills and continued training. I’m hoping this can become a guide to get comrades up to speed quickly, so again, please give me any feedback you may have. Until next time…

*Misfires aren’t cool. But the statistics there aren’t too, too terrible. Make sure when learning how to manipulate your firearms you learn how to do deal with malfunctions. I’ll cover that eventually too. So much to talk about!