Emergency Shooting Positions: Are You Ready?

By Michael Mills
Posted in #Skills
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Emergency Shooting Positions: Are You Ready?

May 14th, 2022

6:58 runtime

Once you have your new rifle, have attended some training and are ready to start moving beyond the basics, the real fun begins. Today, we are going to break down three alternate/emergency shooting positions. These are not only a little bit of fun, but are also great for those who are looking to move to the next level or maybe start gearing up for competitions.

Man demonstrating emergency shooting position with a rifle
Fights can happen in all kinds of places. Develop the skills to shoot from a variety of non-traditional positions. Photos and video by After Action.

The three positions we will focus on are the off-shoulder transition, kneeling and side prone. Keep in mind, these are not definitive and every situation may be different calling for a different approach.

Shoulder To Shoulder

The ability to operate your rifle from your dominant or non-dominant shoulder is very important for competition, training and real life. A great many times in military operations, law enforcement  or defensive scenarios, you do not get to choose what your cover or concealment is.

Man training with rifle in unusual shooting positions
A skilled rifle shooter learns to engage targets from both shoulders. This allows you to maximize your use of cover in a fight.

It is likely that at some point you will have to transition shoulders. This is very easy with a single-point sling, and not much more difficult with a two-point sling. A transition to the non-dominant shoulder is pretty simple at short distances. All you need to do is remove the stock from your normal position, push the stock outward, transition it to the off-shoulder, and use your non-dominant eye to acquire the target.

Man demonstrating a rifle shooting position during training
A quick transition to the non-dominant shoulder can be simple and quick with the proper training, and very handy in many situations.

With a red dot this is simple; with magnified or other glass-etched reticle optics, this can be a bit tricky and will take much more practice. If you are wearing a two-point sling, simply swim out of the sling with your non-dominant arm and complete the transition.

Keep Appendages Hidden

Stability, cover and concealment are three elements we should all understand. Generally, more points of contact are better for control. Just ask yourself, what is more stable — a motorcycle or a car?

Man shooting Springfield SAINT Victor rifle from a kneeling position
Kneeling can improve stability. Learn to shoot from either knee to improve your use of cover.

Sometimes we can use kneeling to become more stable; other times, it’s a necessity for safety. Any time we are kneeling, we need to think about which knee, how much exposure we will have, and if we can move from side to side. If we think about how we want to move around our cover or concealment first, that will tell us which knee to place on the ground.

If we have a right-side target, we can put our right knee down and so on. The reason we do this is to limit exposure of our femoral artery. If we stay planted on the right foot on a right side engagement, we will have a tendency to lean further out and expose more of our leg than we would like.

Down in the Dirt

Prone shooting is extremely stable, but you gotta get down in the dirt to get it done. A good side prone position offers maximum cover and minimal exposure when your cover or concealment is low to the ground, and a traditional prone may not work.

Springfield Armory SAINT Victor rifle leaning against a fence
The author ran a SAINT Victor B5 in 5.56mm in this piece, topped off with an EOTech red dot and fitted out with a Cloud Defensive Streamlight weapon light kit.

Much like kneeling, knowing which side you are shooting from will tell you what side to lie on. This is pretty simple to get into position quickly. All you need to do is sit, roll to your side and kick your top leg over in front of you, planting your foot for stability. You can make minor adjustments from the lying position to make better use of your cover.


Remember, with movement and alternate positions during training, your muzzle awareness and firearms safety rules are paramount. So, get out there, start training, and stay safe!

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Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles and videos are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Springfield Armory.

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Michael Mills

Michael Mills

Michael Mills created www.tacticalconsiderations.com as a way to help spread good information, shed positive light on the gun community and to have fun. He has always loved teaching and helping others, especially when it comes to gun rights. This passion was further ingrained during his service in U.S. Army Special Operations, and he is a Use of Force Instructor, Defensive Tactics instructor, DEA Firearms Instructor and Police Academy instructor. He also has 15 years of law enforcement experience from patrol to supervision.

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