Oh Give Me a Home Where You Never Shoot Prone

Prone is a conundrum. On the one hand, it is the steadiest of all positions. On the other, you hardly ever get a chance to shoot prone when hunting, so people don't pay a lot of attention to it. Over the past couple of decades, I've done a lot of prone shooting at targets in competition, but always in 5-shot strings, and always with a rifle that was set up for offhand as well. The two, unfortunately, don't mix, as I found out in a recent NRA-sanctioned Any-Any match at 600 yards.

My first string of 20 shots was not bad at all. But the second two strings of 20, which were shot back to back, were, shall we say, lacking. I was reminded that if your rifle doesn't fit you more or less perfectly, you will be unable to maintain a steady prone position. Using a military sling can overcome the tremors for a string of five shots, but not for a string of 20, or 40, or 60, and as Vince Lombardi said, fatigue makes tremblers of us all.

In this video, you get a good look at the the Tubb 2000, the ergonomic target rifle designed by shooting champion David Tubb, and its components.

My scope, which was positioned for offhand, was ½-inch too far back for prone, so I had to constantly fight to keep the full field of view and at the same time avoid getting cracked by the ocular-lens bell. You can't do that and concentrate on your sight picture. My solution was to get a Picatinny rail, which gives you almost unlimited fore and aft adjustment, and move the scope ½-inch forward. It doesn't sound like much, but it makes a huge difference.

The second problem was lack of support from the comb. This is a hunting rifle, and while the drop at comb is fine for offhand, kneeling, and sitting, it's too low for prone. You find yourself fighting to keep your head up and back where you can get your eye in line with the scope. There is no support at all from the stock and you end up a regular wreck with a crick in your neck.* Solution: I duct-taped two thicknesses of ½-inch closed-cell foam to the comb. It looks like hell, and I have to untape the mess to clean the barrel, but what is one to do?

There's more. If you watch a really good prone shooter, you'll see him fuss until he gets his position relative to the target just so. If your carcass is not aligned correctly, your rifle will drift out of alignment with the bull's-eye, and you'll have to fight it constantly, because if you don't, you'll shoot off to one side.

And slings: If you're really serious about prone a two-loop military sling is the only way to go. And get it tight enough that the fingernails on your left hand (assuming you're one of those life forms that shoots right-handed) turn black and fall off.

If you'd like some advanced reading on the importance of perfect rifle fit for the prone shooter, go to davidtubb.com and see his comments on the rifle he designed for competition shooting. I've met Mr. Tubb, and seen him at work, and he tunes in to frequencies that are denied ordinary people.

*Where was this line stolen from? And stay the hell off Google.