Compromised Prone

G17C

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Feb 17, 2012
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#1
Having studied what constitutes good prone technique, I have came to the conclusion it depends quite heavily on one's physical attributes. It seems the ideal physical attributes for perfect prone technique include (1) not being overweight (especially in the mid section) and (2) not having any injury that results in lack of flexibility (especially in the neck). In other words, unless one is in excellent shape and remains uncompromised by physical injury, attempting to execute textbook-perfect prone technique becomes an exercise in frustration.

As a 65 year old shooting enthusiast who is compromised in both of these areas, I have to make the best of "compromised prone" and leverage my shooting skills to overcome my physical shortcomings as much as possible. In my case, I can get lined up perfectly behind the rifle, load the bipod, get a proper grip and pull the rifle into my shoulder. I can control my breathing and make a clean break of the trigger.

Where I need to deviate from the textbook-perfect prone technique is supporting my upper body weight entirely on my elbows. Due to lack of flexibility in my neck from a whiplash injury decades ago, I need to get mighty high. Typically, I need about 10 inches of bipod height to get reasonably comfortable, which requires lifting my chest entirely off the ground and supporting it with my arms.

With all of this weight on my elbows, it's obviously not nearly as stable as proper prone technique would produce. But since I have no other choice, I've learned to make the best of it. This mostly involves letting my shoulder muscles completely relax and allowing my arms to carrying the weight of my upper body;

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In the diagram above, my arms are the main towers (though they remained splayed outward and not vertical like the bridge towers), my elbows are the tower foundations (carrying all of the vertical load imposed by the weight of my upper body), and my relaxed should muscles are main cable. This is actually a good analogy of how I need to get my upper body high enough for a comfortable cheek weld and a full view through the scope.

Proper prone technique? Hell no, but based on my physical limitations, it's the best I can do. Using a bipod up front and a monopod in the rear, and getting as relaxed as possible behind the rifle has produced results like this (200 yard target);

700target-1.jpg

What I find the biggest challenge is minimizing the effect of my pulse on the rifle: with every beat of the heart, I see slight lateral displacement. This is made worse by the high position needed. Additionally, I cannot hold position for long - I need to pull my head off the stock and allow my neck muscles to relax every few shots. The rifle is capable of the 3-shot bug hole in the middle, my challenge is to break the shot when the sight picture is absolutely stable and before my neck and eye muscles fatigue.

So to reiterate, I am NOT advocating my "suspension bridge" technique as good prone technique (in fact it sucks in many ways), but only offer it as an example of what is working for someone who cannot physically execute prone correctly.

I welcome any conversation on how others are overcoming physical limitations to get good results using a bipod prone.
 

ShtrRdy

Gunny Sergeant
Sep 17, 2011
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#2
Thanks for sharing what you've found to work. I'm 64 and have limited neck flexibility . I'm still experimenting with bipod height and doing dry fire practice to try to adapt.

What cartridge are you firing at that target?

-- Todd
 

G17C

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#3
Thanks for sharing what you've found to work. I'm 64 and have limited neck flexibility . I'm still experimenting with bipod height and doing dry fire practice to try to adapt.

What cartridge are you firing at that target?
Todd, just a .308. It's a custom rifle on a Rem 700 action, 23" Bartlein 5R 1/10 barrel in a McMillan A5 inspired by the GAP Crusader. Action work, re-barrel and Cerakote was done by Bryant Custom in Texas, I did the bedding, scope mounting, etc.

The Federal Fusion 180 grain factory load is amazingly accurate out of this rifle, actually better than the Federal GMM 175.

700-1.jpg

Today I just finished installing a Seekins SRS rail on the fore end to mount my new Atlas 5H bipod. The cant pivot never held on the Harris (even with a PodLoc) and the front of the rifle always felt wobbly. The 5H makes the Harris seem like a toy and is rock solid. I need to pick up some spike feet for the 5H and hit the range!
 

Nodakplowboy

Wood Butcher
Mar 4, 2017
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#4
I will occasionally shoot prone with a pad under my chest, usually a folded up sweatshirt. Raises my head and chest, takes pressure off the neck and shoulders, adjust bipod and rear bag accordingly. When I start feeling the muscles tensing and getting sore I like to open the bolt, go completely slack behind the rifle, lower my head and extend my arms forward. I call it my prone nap.
 

Lowlight

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#5
If you see your heartbeat in the scope,

1. You are holding your breathe

2. You are gripping the stock too tight

3. You have too much cheek pressure

Or a combination of the above.

Getting higher on the bipod is not wrong, we do it with people in our classes all the time. It’s more comfortable as most mistakingly believe they have to get low, when prone is already the lowest position. You set the bipod height based on body type. Being on your elbows with your wrists straight is better than lying on your forearms
 

G17C

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Feb 17, 2012
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#6
Frank, thanks for your input!

Point #3 seems to be it - I have discovered since my last range session that my DIY cheek riser was too high, making me push my cheek into the stock too hard. I have since lowered it and placed a layer of 1/8" thick adhesive foam on top, which has helped tremendously. I'm also going to remember the relaxed jaw tip I read in another thread. Between that and the new 5H I'm hoping for improved results.

My sincere thanks for chiming in!
 
Feb 14, 2017
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#7
You can try rolling up a jacket or towel or something similar and placing it under your chest. I too am fat and that seems to help keeping pressure off your elbows.
 
Nov 30, 2017
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#8
Get yourself a Wiebad Pump Pillow, Cole-TAC Cuddle, or similar large bag and discover that it is indeed possible to shoot prone comfortably. The bag supports your chest and the toe of the stock.

I'm almost 66 and have very restricted range of motion in my neck. When I started this crazy tactical-rifle stuff almost two years ago, I could not get into a steady prone position at all. Describing the journey to where I am today is pointless - bottom line is, a tall bipod and the large light bag enable me to go prone and stay there in a solid shooting position. In my first match with a 1000-yard stage, I hit one of ten targets because I was uncomfortable and unstable, In the last 1000-yard stage I shot in 2018, I hit 18 of 20 (the 10-target stage was repeated - everybody shot it, then shot it again - I cleaned it first time and missed 2 on the second), and the two I missed were pure brain farts, not unsteady positioning due to muscle fatigue or joint strain.
 
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IronOperator87

Online Training Member
Jul 22, 2018
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#9
I have found that a taller bipod was the way to go for me also (5’11 220 lbs) never had any neck injury that I know of ( went through lots of alcohol and vehicles in my younger years). I tried using a Harris 6-9 and couldn’t get comfortable found myself fighting the position and a lot of tension in my neck so I brought the rifle up higher. I now use the taller atlas bt 47 and am much more comfortable. I am up on my elbows, chest off the ground, and head/ neck is a lot more straight. I also have my scope mounted high (2.49 height over bore)which I think helps also. I am no expert but this is what I’ve found to get me comfortable. Note; The 47 is a little too tall for downward angled shots if you dont use the 45 * leg position.
 
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G17C

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#10
I envy those who can get truly flat (chest) on the ground with little-to-no weight on their elbows, and still get comfortable behind the rifle!

FWIW, I have also experimented with using a tripod from the sitting position. Not as stable as shooting prone, but with a little work and the right gear it is a viable solution.
 

G17C

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Feb 17, 2012
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#11
No live fire yet, but the more time I spend behind the rifle dry firing, the more I am impressed with the stability of the reticle on-target the 5H bipod is providing over the Harris. This is especially true when using just the Accu-Shot monopod in the rear. Additionally, the scope bubble is remaining dead-nuts level throughout my dry fire activities which is truly a welcome relief.

Along with tweaking the height of my cheek rest (I had to lower it by about half an inch), I'm finding improved reticle stability on-target doing the following;
  • Making a conscious effort to relax my jaw. I now realize I was holding my jaw clamped tight, which was making the reticle jump with every heart beat.
  • I'm finding I can add a bit of rearward pressure to the rifle into my shoulder using the monopod. Using my support hand index finger at the top where it attaches to the rail, I add just a touch of pressure to what I am already applying with my firing hand grip. Doing everything in concert correctly, it is the first time I've been able to hold the reticle absolutely motionless on the target long enough to make a clean break of the trigger.
Hopefully this will translate to better results on the range. In the mean time, a quick grab shot of the new 5H mounted on my rifle;

bipod-1.jpg