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How to Shoot From Unconventional Positions: Learn How

Don't count on shooting defensively to be like shooting on a static range. Here are some tips on shooting from non-traditional positions.

How to Shoot From Unconventional Positions: Learn How

How to Shoot From Unconventional Positions (Handguns photo)

You probably learned to shoot from a standing position. Since most people are comfortable standing, this position enables the shooter to focus on shooting, as opposed to settling into a kneeling, seated, prone or supine position. Standing is your best bet in many scenarios because it affords you freedom of movement. However, there are times when shooting from a different position would be beneficial to maximize available cover, make yourself a smaller target, fire more accurately, or fight your way back to your feet if you’ve been knocked down or have fallen.

Keep in mind, the lower the position, the greater stability and less mobility you have. One position that strikes a good balance in that regard is often referred to as high kneeling. To achieve a high kneeling position, you can either take a step forward with one leg or slide one leg back then lower yourself to your knee. The ball of the foot you’re kneeling on should be on the ground. This will enable you to get back to a standing position much more easily than if the top of your foot were in contact with the ground. Your legs should form an approximate 90-degree angle for steadiness.

The upper body mechanics of shooting from high kneeling are identical to shooting while standing. This position enables you to present less of a target to your adversary, alter your angle of fire, and maximize the benefit of a low piece of cover. It’s best to kneel on your left knee when shooting around a right corner and vice-versa. This will keep you from losing balance and falling out from behind cover. You can also assume a high kneeling position with both knees on the ground.

But sometimes you need to get lower. That’s where low kneeling comes in. Low kneeling can easily be achieved by simply sitting back on your heel. To get even lower, you can place the top of your foot on the ground, although this will further impede mobility. Low kneeling can be achieved on one or both knees. You can even lean back to lower yourself further.


From low kneeling, your upper body can be positioned the same as standing or high kneeling or you can brace against the raised leg for a more stable shooting platform. To accomplish this, place the elbow of your non-shooting side arm against your thigh. Avoid placing the point of your elbow on the point of your knee because that makes for a wobbly support.


Keep in mind that you may be forced to shoot from an atypical position because you’ve fallen or been knocked down. In such cases, shooting from a seated position may be your only option. It probably won’t be like the position a rifle shooter would take, with arms braced against the legs, but rather you will likely be actively retreating after being shot or knocked down.

If your mobility has been compromised due to a leg injury, you may be relegated to shooting one-handed, as your other hand pushes off the ground to compensate for your wounded leg and propel your body away from the threat and/or behind cover. While this shooting position may occur naturally, being able to register accurate hits one-handed—while scooting across the ground, wounded—is as challenging as it sounds. As such, practicing from this awkward position is a must.

To lower yourself even further than kneeling or seated, transition to a lying position, either prone or supine. Aim for the option that enables you to make the most of the cover you’re behind, or the position may choose you, as would be the case if you’d been knocked down to the ground. Prone shooting entails lying on your stomach with your elbows braced against the ground. This position works well for shooting around low cover when the threat is at distance.

However, when the threat is close, it can be difficult to raise your muzzle high enough to target his upper chest or head, areas most likely to immediately stop him. It’s also difficult to fight from your stomach.




To get up from a prone position, place your non-dominant hand on the ground and push yourself up to a kneeling position. From there, you can stand, if appropriate. Be sure to keep your muzzle oriented between you and the threat. Of course, getting up may not be feasible or even advisable. To fight from the ground, you’re better rolling over onto your upper back. In this variation of the supine position, your head is facing the threat. Rather than lie flat on your back, where your mobility is severely limited, only one side of your upper back should be in contact with the ground. This position enables you to fire at a higher angle for more viable hits than with the prone position. However, when the threat is right upon you, it’s better to have your feet between you and him to keep him at bay.

From the supine position, with your head facing away from the assailant, you can use low kicks to maintain distance. You can shoot from your back, but you’ll need to rise up as though you were doing a crunch. Of course, you need to be cognizant of your legs and feet in relation to your muzzle. Targeting the upper chest and head will help and will also increase your odds of stopping the threat.

Don’t think these positions will magically come to you during a deadly force encounter. Get an inert training gun and change out of your church clothes. Hit the deck and practice getting into and out of these atypical positions. See what works for you and, just as importantly, what doesn’t. The time to figure it out is in training, not on the street.

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