July 18th, 2012
by Kelly Bachand
[Editor: Kelly, a popular Top Shot (Season One) TV show contestant, is one of America's leading young long-range prone shooters. Bachand has been a Top Five finisher in many major matches, and he has won the Canadian Open Target Rifle Championship, shooting his Barnard-actioned Palma Rifle.]
In this article, I’ll share what works for me in the prone shooting game. However, I recognize that every shooter/rifle combination is unique. So, the best way to find out what will really work best is by practicing and putting some rounds down range. But hopefully you’ll find some suggestions in this story that prove helpful.
The Rifle, Sling, Arms, and Hands
I keep my sling high on the pulse pad of my Creedmoor Sports shooting jacket which turns out to be at the top of my bicep muscle. The sling is tight enough that, with my forward hand against the hand stop and the stock firmly in my shoulder, the rifle is fully supported without any noticeable muscle use. As my coaches have recommended, placing my forward elbow as close to directly under the rifle as possible often yields a more stable position. My trigger hand does not support the rifle but rather grips it without disturbing its aim. If the rifle can be held level and stable with just the forward hand and sling, then one knows a good prone position has been found.
Head, Torso, Hips, and Legs
As with shooting off hand, when shooting prone, I find it best to keep my head as close to perfectly vertical as possible. While swaying is not a typical problem in the prone position, if a vertical head position grants me more stability, I will work to have one. My torso in particular bends in a way that may be uncomfortable for other prone shooters. My left hip and some of the left side of my stomach touch the ground but the majority of my chest and diaphragm are off the ground while I shoot prone. By minimizing the contact my stomach and chest have with the ground I can also minimize the effect my breathing has on my hold. (Also breathing is much easier when each breath isn’t lifting one’s torso weight). Below my waist my left leg extends almost perfectly straight out and sometimes falls asleep while shooting. My right leg is cocked and my right knee is brought up almost even with my right hip. This is what allows me to get so much of my torso off the ground.
The Finished Product
In the prone shooting game we shoot at distances from 300 to 1000 yards using iron sights (and sometimes scopes). When I have a good prone position, and my breathing is correct, there are a few seconds right before I take a shot when I feel as if my rifle is being supported on a bench. This sort of stability is only needed for the few seconds it takes to squeeze the trigger. It can, however, very consistently produce sub-minute groups with iron sights from the prone position at any range from 100-1000 yards.