The full squat: the most overlooked rifle shooting position?

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Instructor Georges Rahbani teaches the squatting position

If you’re a rifle shooter you’ve probably practiced standing, kneeling, sitting, and prone; but have you practiced shooting from the full squat? Maybe you should!

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When I got my first formal rifle training we focused on the traditional shooting positions, the ones that the NRA had been training for perhaps a century. It wasn’t until some years later, when I took my first “tactical” or “urban rifle” course, that I learned about what some people call “rice paddy prone”: the full squat.

In many cultures around the world, particularly those with a more agrarian focus or less dependence on technology, they often do a good portion of their work, eating, and socialization from a deep squat — what we’ll refer to as a full squat.

The full squat has a lot to recommend itself as a shooting position. It’s quite stable and allows for a high degree of precision; it gets you above any obstacles or vegetation; it’s very fast to get into and out of, which makes for superb mobility; and it brings your torso down far enough to allow for shooting behind relatively low cover.

The major downside is that it’s not terribly good for recoil control in rapid fire, and most people will probably need some practice and conditioning to be able to do it properly!

The full squat has a couple of hallmarks: the underside of the thighs are in contact, or close to contact, with the backs of the calves; and the feet are flat on the ground. For most people in this country the full squat is very uncomfortable, largely because our lifestyle and footwear make it difficult to maintain the muscle control and joint flexibility necessary to a successful squat.

It’s possible, however, to regain that mobility and to be able to do a full squat. Somastruct has a terrific article on the health and training benefits of the full squat, along with some good tips on how to re-train yourself to do it.

I’ve found that wearing any type of shoe or boot that comes up onto the ankle makes the full squat far more difficult, so start by wearing a flexible shoe. I’ve also found that foot positioning makes a huge difference in comfort; I find that I need to position my feet a little wider than in the pictures you see of the squat, and that I need to point my toes outward just a bit. If I try to do the squat with my feet closely together and pointed straight ahead, I just can’t do it!

In a shooting position you’ll rest the underside of your elbows on your knees, similar to what you’d do in a full sitting position. This places you at about a 30- to 45-degree angle relative to your target, so you’ll need to take that into account when dropping into the squat. With the gun off the shoulder, in a rest position, the squat is quite comfortable for observation over a period of time (the duration dependent on your physical conditioning.)

Try the full squat without a rifle first, then add in the gun as you gain stability and control. You might find this expedient field position to be very useful — I have!

-=[ Grant ]=-

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About the Author:

Grant Cunningham is a renowned author and teacher in the fields of self defense, defensive shooting education and personal safety. He’s written several popular books on handguns and defensive shooting, including "The Book of the Revolver", "Shooter’s Guide To Handguns", "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals", "Defensive Pistol Fundamentals", and "Practice Strategies for Defensive Shooting" (Fall 2015.) Grant has also written articles on shooting, self defense, training and teaching for many magazines and shooting websites, including Concealed Carry Magazine, Gun Digest Magazine, the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors ADSI) and the popular Personal Defense Network training website. He’s produced a DVD in the National Rifle Association’s Personal Firearm Defense series titled "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" and teaches defensive shooting and personal safety courses all over the United States.
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