Mastering the prone position in rifle shooting doesn't have to be difficult. Here are five tips for improving your prone position scores. Be sure to try them out one at a time.
Use these tips to help you advance to higher skill levels in competitive rifle shooting.
The first step in improving a position is to compare that position with an ideal position to be sure it is correct. Have your coach or another person compare your position with the prone position outlined here. In prone, the most important position features to check are the following.
Left arm location.
The straight line from the left hand to the left foot.
Position of the feet.
Natural Point of Aim
Precise position alignment is especially important in prone. Even though you have aligned your position on the target, prone results can be improved by doing this still more carefully. Each of the positions in which a sling is used has a natural point of aim which must be perfectly aligned on the target. The alignment of the natural point of aim on the target is so important that, in shooting on multi-bull targets, a slight change in position is necessary when moving from one aiming bull to the next.
Stock Pressure—more precise vertical changes in position alignment can be made by using the feet to push the body forward slightly to lower the point of aim, or pull the body back to raise the point of aim. The left elbow must not move. Horizontal changes are made by pivoting the body and rifle on the left elbow.
Relax the Left Arm
Prone scores can often be improved by paying special attention to the left arm, making sure it is fully relaxed. If necessary, adjust the sling and sling swivel so that the sling holds the rifle up without any help from the muscles of the arm. The fore-end of the rifle should lay across the heel of the left hand with the fingers relaxed and loose.
The pressure you put on the stock with your shoulder, cheek and high hand makes a difference in how the rifle recoils while the bullet is traveling through the barrel. (Recoil is the jump of the rifle after the shot leaves the barrel.) If the pressure changes, recoil will be different and the place where the shot strikes the target will change. You must keep up the same pressure on the stock with the shoulder, cheek and right hand for every shot. The amount of pressure used should be moderate, comfortable and above all, always the same.
Aiming More Carefully
Good prone shooting requires a high degree of precision in everything you do, especially in aiming. Pay special attention to making your sight picture as perfect as possible before you pull the trigger. Take a new breath and start over with a new hold if the sight picture isn't as perfect as you can make it.
Precise Sight Adjustment
To get the best possible scores, your groups must be centered exactly. This is not always easy to do when shooting one shot each on multiple bulls. As you shoot, try to decide whether the center of your shot pattern is in the center of the target and make small sight adjustments when necessary. Expert shooters do this by making sure each shot is where they call that shot. You may make several small sight corrections while shooting one 10-shot target.
Reloading the .22 LR rimfire rifle can also be done while keeping the rifle in the shoulder. This allows faster reloading and helps to keep the shooter in the same position for an entire series of shots. To reload with the rifle in position, lift the right arm and reach forward to open the bolt. Put the new cartridge in the chamber and close the bolt. The arm and right elbow are then returned to position.
Body Position—changing the body position to roll the body more onto the left side, or adding shoulder pressure on the stock will sometimes improve prone scores. Do this by bending the right knee and pulling it up higher. Be sure this change really helps you hold steadier before you decide to use it all the time.
Although the tips listed here are for the prone shooting position, they are really hints that can be used to improve your shooting in all positions. To take full advantage of these ideas, be sure to make them part of your methods for all your rifle shooting.