It’s advice we should all adopt, practice what you suck at! Most guys when they head to the range, it’s the same thing every time. We all like to have fun so if we aren’t consciously planning to push our limits we default to what’s comfortable. What we know and what we’re good at. For most tactical guys that’s prone shooting. Most tactical style shooters can lay down and put up a group of rounds on demand from their belly at 100 yards. Most tactical shooters are most proficient on their belly because it’s the most stable, so it’s what we default to. So how do you push those limits?
Practice What You Suck At
You don’t get better at anything by wishing you were more proficient doing it. So you have to practice what you would like to be better at. That means having some kind of plan for your session at the range. What do you want to work on? What skills do you want to practice? I’ll tell you after 7 years shooting precision rifle and 5 years competing, the trend is positional shooting. Even in so called, field matches, where the match is entirely undertaken on natural terrain you see a lot of positional shooting. Match directors are using terrain features, tall grass, and poor positions to force shooters off their bellies in order to get a view of the target.
That means shooting from seated positions, kneeling positions, standing positions and everything in between. On this particular range trip I was multitasking. I wanted to get the gas block adjusted on an AR pistol project I had recently finished. I also wanted to work on some positional shooting while I put some additional rounds through my 6.5 Creedmoor to get the barrel speed stabilized prior to load development. So how do you wrap all that up? The AR Pistol was easy, just took a few minutes. Then on to the 6.5 Creedmoor! I started with a few rounds at 550 yards from prone, mainly to verify my zero was still good. First and subsequent rounds were all hits! Score!
Get Off Your Stomach
I’m not saying don’t do any shooting from prone. Make the first few shots of the day from prone to ensure your zero is good and everything is hitting where you expect. Then when things are looking good, get off your stomach. Find a bench you can work on shooting off of for a high kneeling shot. Maybe find something down lower that you can use to work on a kneeling or sitting shot. There’s plenty of obstacles around if you look a bit. I even found a rifle rack to shoot from while standing. Plenty accurate to 550 yards if you can find a way to build a stable position. The key is building that stable position at different levels and on different objects. Then if you need to do it under stress or on a timer you’ve done it before!
There were two steel targets at 550 yards, one is quite large (~20″) but the other is maybe a third of it’s size. Both were easy to tag despite a standing position. A good sling definitely helps. I like the Rifles Only FTW Bungee sling. It’s very adjustable and it allows you to tighten up on the rifle while taking some of the movement out of the sight picture. If you’ve never tried building a position this way, give it a whirl. It works on angled surfaces like a rooftop as well. Get the legs steady on one side of the apex and wedge a bag up under the grip on the other side of the apex of the roof closest to you.
Just try to mix things up. Don’t fall into the same routine every time you head to the range. Try laying prone and shooting off your backpack. Bring a tripod and work on shooting from it at different levels from low to high. As a very general rule positional shots tend to be around 2 MOA in size with tactical matches. Sometimes you will see them larger and sometimes smaller but 2 MOA is pretty common for non prone shots. Try to work on ranges between 400-600 yards or so. In my humble experience, that’s where a lot of those positional shots tend to fall. Then when you get good at that, try it even farther out. If you get good at something, practice something else!
The takehome message for this article is simple guys. Always mix it up! Don’t keep falling into a routine of “feel good” shooting where you just do what you’re good at so you feel happy every time you shoot. Expose yourself to different shooting positions so when some match director throws one at you it isn’t a foreign concept. Try different stuff so if you’re a MIL/LE guy and you have to shoot from a position that’s less than ideal, you know how to roll with it. Improvise, adapt, and overcome! Vary your shooting sessions every time you head out and you will be a better shooter for it. Take different rifles if you have them and broaden your experience. Then when you’re done, let us know how it went in the comments below!