TYPES OF SUPPORTS a. When the subject of supports is addressed, usually only the snipers provisions are planned for, bypassing the observers requirements altogether. This is unsatisfactory. The observer is the information focal point while engaging an adversary. If the observer is not effective during an engagement, the sniper will be equally ineffective.
b. Shooting positions can generally be described in one of two ways:
1) Supported. A supported position is the most preferred and effective support. A supported position will hold the weight of the weapon (other than the stock) steadily for a nearly indefinite period of time. There are advantages and disadvantages to a supported shooting platform:
Advantages Disadvantages+ Most steady position attainable + Requires a secondary support
2) Unsupported. An unsupported position is the least preferred of the two positions, but should by no means be discounted as a viable shooting platform. The unsupported position is the most likely position to be used initially by the sniper until a supported position can be established. Along with the supported position, unsupported positions have a variety of advantages and disadvantages also:
Advantages Disadvantages+ Requires no equipment
ELEMENTS OF A GOOD SHOOTING POSITION
a. Bone Support
1) The weight of the weapon should be supported by bone rather than muscle because muscles fatigue whereas bones do not.
2) The sniper must establish a strong foundation for his rifle by utilizing bone support. This will enable the sniper to relax as much as possible while minimizing the movement of the weapon due to muscle tension.
b. Muscular Relaxation Muscular relaxation helps the sniper hold steady and Ďincrease the accuracy of his aim. Muscular relaxation allows the sniper to use maximum bone support which creates a minimum arc of movement and consistency in resistance to recoil. Muscular relaxation includes all muscle group in both the upper and lower extremities.
1) There is no way the sniper can have muscular relaxation without bone support. During the shooting process, the muscles of the body should be relaxed as much as possible. Muscles that are tense will cause excessive movement of the rifle, thereby disturbing the aim. When proper bone support and muscular relaxation are not applied, the rifle will never settle into an aiming point, thereby making it impossible for the sniper to apply trigger control to deliver well-aimed shots.
2) Only through qualitative practice will the sniper be able to apply proper muscular relaxation
c. Natural Point of Aim. The point at which the rifle naturally rests in relation to the targetis called the natural point of aim.
1) Once the sniper is in position and aimed in on his target, the method of checking for a natural point of aim is for the sniper to close his eyes, take a couple of breaths, and relax as much as possible. Upon opening his eyes, the telescopeís reticle should be positioned in the vicinity of the preferred aiming point.
2) Since the rifle becomes an extension of the sniperís body, it is necessary to adjust the position until the rifle points naturally at the preferred aiming point on the target.
3) Whenever possible the natural point of aim will be established. This may become difficult when engaging a series of adversaries throughout the area of responsibility. If unsure of where to establish the natural point of aim, align the weapon and body toward the primary threat, or the center of the sector of responsibility to avoid over extension in one direction.
FACTORS COMMON TO ALL SHOOTING POSITIONS
a. These factors are common to supported and unsupported positions. They involve building a solid platform from which the rifle can be fired effectively. Once the sniper is satisfied with the stability of a position, it should not change except for minor variations to accommodate different types of supports.
1) Placement of the Non-Shooting Hand and Elbow. The exact placement of the non-shooting hand and elbow will depend on the height of the support used. For a very low prone position, the non-shooting hand will grasp the rear sling swivel in a fist or it might lie flat on the deck. The elbow should be placed so that it rests comfortably without strain.
2) Placement of the Shooting Hand. The shooting hand must be properly anchored to the pistol grip to ensure consistent trigger control. A natural handshake grip will suffice. Do not over grip or limp wrist the pistol grip.
3) Placement of the Shooting Elbow. The placement of the shooting elbow gives balance to the shooting position.
4) Rifle Butt in the Pocket of the Shoulder. The sniper places the rifle butt firmly into the pocket of the shoulder. The proper placement of the butt helps steady the rifle, prevents canting, prevents the rifle butt from slipping in the shoulder during recoil, and lessens the effect of the recoil.
5) Spot/Stock Weld. The spot weld is the point of firm contact between the sniperís cheek and thumb on the small of the stock. The firm contact between the head, hand, and rifle enables the head and weapon to recoil as one unit, facilitating rapid recovery between rounds. The spot weld also enables the eye to be positioned the same distance behind the eyepiece (eye relief) of the scope each time the rifle is aimed and fired. This guarantees the same field of view with each sight picture, further assisting in accurate aiming. If the sniper is unable to obtain a spot weld, he should obtain a firm stock weld on the rifle. The placement of the sniperís cheek against the stock should remain consistent from shot to shot.. The head should not move during reloading, clearing malfunctions, manipulating optics, or inter-team communications.
6) Breathing. The particulars in breathing techniques are covered in detail during the sighting, aiming, and trigger control lesson.
7) Relaxation. Relaxation was previously covered in the elements of a good position. Relaxation will increase both the effectiveness with the rifle and behind the rifle.
SUPPORTED POSITION FUNDAMENTALS
a. Use any support available that is steady, such as logs, rocks, or the sniperís pack. A small tripod may be made out of sticks and cord. Your partnerís body may be used if necessary. The surrounding environment will often dictate the support and/or position used.
b. Avoid touching any part of the support to the barrel. This will disturb the natural whip of the barrel and throw the round off
c. Cushion the rifle on the support. This will keep the weapon from sliding around and steady the position. The support should be positioned by the front sling swivel.
d. Use the prone position whenever possible.
e. Do not allow the side of the weapon to rest against the support. The weapon will recoil away from the support negate effective follow through.
f Do not allow the support to limit the proper manipulation of the floorplate, optics, or capabilities.
a Supported Prone The supported prone is the steadiest of all the positions and should be used whenever possible. Major points of the supported prone are:
1) Keep the position as low as possible.
2) The body should be kept in line with the rifle (directly behind the weapon) and not angled off This presents less of a target to the enemy and more body mass to absorb recoil.
3) The feet should be positioned so that the sniper achieves muscular relaxation.
4) The non-shooting hand placed on the rear sling swivel will adjust the stock height. The hand is formed in a fist so that it can be adjusted to raise or lower the elevation of the muzzle.
b. Supported Kneeling. There may be times when the sniper will not be able to use the prone position because of the height of the concealment. The shin is straight up and down, the leg forming a tripod of support. The non-shooting elbow is extended just over this knee The non-shooting hand still grasps the rear sling swivel. This position may be altered to conform to available cover or the support used by adjusting to a high, medium, or low kneeling position.
c. Supported Sitting. If the sniperís cover is too low for kneeling, the supported sitting may be used. This position can be used behind any cover which provides a platform on which the rifle can be rested. The sniper must be careful not to rest the barrel on the support as this could affect shooting accuracy.
1) Open Leg. The feet are flat on the deck, the legs forming a tripod with the buttocks and feet. The shooting elbow can be placed in the pocket of the knee, the inside of the non-shooting elbow is resting on the other knee. The non-shooting hand is on the rear sling swivel. The head is erect.
2) Crossed Leg. This is a steadier position than the open leg. Both elbows can be placed in the pockets of the knees. The non-shooting hand is on the rear sling swivel. The head is erect.
3) Crossed Ankle. The left foot is crossed over the right foot (for right-handed shooters) The shooting arm rests naturally inside the pocket of the knee. The head is erect.
d. Supported Standing. This is the least steady of the supported positions and should be used only as a last resort. To use the supported standing, rest the rifle stock over the support. The barrel cannot rest on the support. Grasp the weapon as in the kneeling and the sitting positions. The non-shooting hand may also be used as a support by grabbing the support and placing the rifle in the notch formed by extending the thumb. The shooting arm is inverted close to the side of the body to provide as much support as possible. If tiring from a building or window, the non-shooting hand may be cupped around the window/building frame and the rifle to support the weapon.
UNSUPPORTED SHOOTING POSITIONS
a. Hawkins Position. The Hawkins position is a variation of the supported prone. It is used when firing from a low bank or a depression in the ground, or over a roof, etc. It cannot be used on level ground as the sniper will not be able to get the muzzle of the weapon high enough. This position is very low to the ground, giving excellent stability and concealment. The non-shooting hand grasps the upper sling swivel, forming a fist to support the front of the rifle. The stock is then placed under the shoulder resting on the ground. The non-shooting arm must be locked out in order to absorb the recoil of the weapon. Since the shoulder is not absorbing the recoil, the face will if the arm is not locked out. The elevation of the muzzle can be adjusted by relaxing or tightening the fist (a glove should be used). If more elevation is needed, a support may be placed under the non-shooting fist. The feet can be adjusted to achieve the natural point of aim.
b. Prone Position.
1) The non-shooting hand should be forward of the floorplate well up to the upper sling swivel. The non-shooting hand rests under the weapon, it is not formed in a "V". The non-shooting arm forms a tripod, supporting the weight of the weapon.
2) The shooting hand grips the small of the stock. The shooting arm takes the recoil of the weapon, exerting slight rearward pressure to place the butt of the rifle firmly in the pocket of the shoulder.
3) The legs are extended and the feet are placed so that the sniper achieves muscular relaxation.
c. Sitting Position. In all three sitting positions the non-shooting hand is placed forward of the floorplate. The shooting hand grips the small of the stock firmly while exerting slight rearward pressure to place the butt of the rifle in the pocket of the shoulder.
1) Crossed Leg. The legs are relaxed so that they come into contact with the sniperís boots. Both elbows rest in the pockets of the knees.
2) Open Leg. The open leg position is less stable than the crossed leg. The feet are flat on the deck. The back of the upper non-shooting arm is extended over the knee and resting along the shin bone. The upper portion of the shooting arm rests inside the knee.
3) Crossed Ankle. The left foot is crossed over the right foot (for right-handed shooters). The non-shooting arm rests over the knee. The shooting elbow rests naturally in the pocket of the knee.
d. Kneeling Position. In all three kneeling positions the non-shooting hand is placed forward of the floorplate. The shooting hand grips the small of the stock firmly while exerting slight rearward pressure to place the butt of the rifle in the pocket of the shoulder.
1) High Kneeling. The right ankle is straight and the toe of the shoe is in contact with the ground.
2) Medium Kneeling. The right ankle is straight and the foot is stretched out with the shoelaces of the boot in contact with the ground. The buttocks are in contact with the back of the heel.
3) Low Kneeling The right ankle is turned with the outside of the foot in contact with the ground and the buttocks in contact with the inside of the foot. The sniperís body weight is on the back side of the right leg.
e. Using Your Partner as a Support. When making a hastyshot, there is often not enough time to prepare a support in which to fire from. In these instances, your partner may be used as a support. In all positions, both team members must keep their eyes down range observing enemy actions. In all positions, the partner must stop breathing while the shot is fired in order to provide a stable shooting support. The sniper team must communicate closely in order to fire safely from this position.
1) Prone. In the low prone position, the partner lies down on his stomach and the rifle is placed across the back of his thighs or knees.
2) Kneeling and Sitting. In these positions, the partner is seated in front of the sniper with his back to him. The rifle is placed resting over the shoulder of the partner. It is important that the partner has hearing protection to prevent hearing damage when the sniper is firing from this position.
3) Standing In this position. the partner is standing with his back to the sniper. The sniper cups the weapon with his hand on his partnerís shoulder.
Whenever rifle scopes are discussed, a topic that frequently arises is parallax. There seems to be a great amount of misunderstanding and confusion concerning this subject. Parallax can be defined appropriately to rifle scopes as; the apparent movement of objects within the field of view in relation to the reticle.
In a telescopic sight, parallax occurs when the ďprimary imageĒ of the object is formed either in front of, or behind the reticle. If the eye is moved from the optical axis of the scope, this also creates parallax. If the primary image is formed on the same focal plane as the reticle, or if the eye is positioned in the optical axis of the scope, then there is no parallax, regardless of the position of the primary image.
High magnification scopes, or scopes for long range shooting, where even slight sighting errors would be serious, should be equipped with a parallax adjustment. This adjustment of the objective part of the optical system would ensure that the target can be brought in the exact focal plane of the reticle at any distance. Tactical style scopes are not usually supplied with parallax adjustment because the exact range of the target can never be anticipated. Scopes of lower magnification are not usually supplied with parallax adjustment either, because at lower powers the amount of parallax is so small as to have no importance for practical, fast target acquisition.
THERE ARE TWO FACTORS WHICH CAUSE AND DETERMINE THE AMOUNT OF PARALLAX IN A RIFLESCOPE: They are;
1. The distance of the target to the objective-- The objective lens forms a primary image of the subject being viewed and subsequent components invert the image, and there is no parallax. The actual position at which the image is formed is dependent on the distance the target is from the objective. Closer targets are formed farther away from the objective and farther targets are formed closer to the objective. Since the reticle is in a fixed position within the scope housing, the image is not always formed in the same plane as the reticle and, hence parallax.
2. The distance the eye can move from the optical axis of the scope---, is determined by exit pupil size. There is no parallax, at any distance, as long as the eye is lined up exactly with the optical axis of the scope. An exit pupil small enough to do this would be impractical. is important to know that in every scope, there is some parallax. It is also important to know that in every scope, there is some one shooting distance in which there is no parallax. In most rifle scopes this one point of no parallax is usually placed at a suitable mid-range point in the scopesí focal range.
In lower quality scopes, there are other sources of parallax. If the reticle is not precisely placed the correct distance from the objective, the distance of no parallax will be exaggerated. Reticles that are not securely mounted and allowed to move even a few thousandths of an inch, will always have changing amounts of parallax. Parallax is also caused by optical deficiencies in the objective, either by design or manufacture. If spherical or astigmatic aberrations have not been corrected, images will form a considerable distance from the reticle. If you see a scope in which the apparent movement of the reticle compared with the image viewed is different from when you move your eye up and down than when you mover your eye side to side, it is because of a bad objective. No adjustment of the scope will eliminate these faults or optical deficiencies.
You can check the parallax of any scope by sighting an object at normal shooting distance (not indoors), by moving your eye side to side (or up and down), as far as you can, keeping the sighted object within the field of view. The apparent movement of the reticle in relation the target is parallax.
SNIPER BALLISTICS CALCULATOR - (MS-Excel Worksheet)
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