Crash Course in Rifle

A friend of mine was reading about the training of conscripts in Taiwan. He referenced some of the articles I have written about making training more relevant. These include my blog on the “Murray System” and the book that derived from it, my book “Crash Combat”.
Crash Combat is about unarmed and non-firearm combat. For a more generic training program, where would I start?
Probably, near the start, would be an introduction to practical use of the rifle, taught in several phases:

Introduction Phase

• Basic safety and orientation.
• Perceive, Recognize, Engage.
• Load, unload and clearing.
• Anatomy for shooters: The Lethal T, the belt-buckle aim and the armpit line.
No one goes past the introduction phase until the instructor is convinced all students are competent and mature in their handling of firearms and their behaviour on the range.

Phase One

This phase teaches shooting from behind cover, from various positions. It ingrains the habit of always using available cover, while teaching shooting posture fundamentals.
Firing from a squat position
Start with prone position and move on to other positions such as kneeling, sitting and squatting.
Key points:
• Fire around rather than over cover when possible.
• Keep low. Never be reluctant to get close to the dirt.
• Always use cover when possible.
• Use cover when reloading and clearing stoppages.
• What parts of a gun not to rest in contact with hard cover when firing.
• Includes section on correct techniques to use when firing from windows.
Phase one is conducted with half-silhouette targets of various sizes, engaged at relatively short ranges, such as 20 to 50 metres. Sights zeroed to 200 metres are used for all shooting.
Emphasis in this phase is on building the student’s confidence in their shooting while teaching good shooting postures and tactical positions.
There are no scores, shots being judged as either hits or misses. Reactive targets that make a noise, fall or flash a light when hit will prove useful.

Phase Two

Phases two is dry firing. It is effectively kata for guns, or tai chi with triggers.
As recommended by Elliot, students practice mounting their rifle to bring it smoothly up to firing position. This is practised in the various postures learnt in phase one.
Mounting is combined with tracking, breathing and trigger exercises:
• Tracking involves keeping a mounted weapon moving to pursue, swing through and lead a moving target.
• Breathing involves synchronizing the respiratory cycle with the moment of firing to minimize unintended movement of the weapon.
• Trigger exercise is developing a trigger “press” that causes minimum displacement of the barrel.

Phase Three

Phase three is Quick Kill training.
Airguns/airsoft guns with the sights removed are used to engage small thrown targets. This builds on the instinctive pointing and tracking skills developed in phase two. Phase three teaches effective engagement skills for situations when there is insufficient time to align sights or when sights are not visible.

Phase Four

Introduction to room-clearing techniques. The likelihood of operations in urban terrain means a familiarity with room clearing must become a fundamental skill-set of any firearm user.
• Shooting on the move and while sidestepping.
For safety, phase four may be practised with airsoft weapons.

Phase Five

Phase five is a repeat of phase one, but the engagement range is increased up to 250m.
Students may be required to crawl to a firing position, or use other appropriate modes of tactical movement.
Target shooting, long-range shooting, volley fire and other fields can be taught later. Soldiers with an aptitude for these disciplines can be encouraged accordingly.
The five phases are designed to quickly produce riflemen that can respond quickly and accurately against threats that occur within likely engagement ranges and terrain.

Hip-Shooting a Rifle or Shotgun

Yesterday I described a “sightless” shooting technique that can be combined with quick-draw.
Today I will briefly look at hip-shooting with a rifle or shotgun.
Truth told, I dislike both the terms “hip-shooting” and “snap-shooting”. Many of the shooting techniques that do not require seeing the sights are not from hip-level. The term snap-shot conjures images of a rapid shot from the shoulder. Snap-shots, to me at least, seem more akin to the firing techniques of Quick-Kill or the shotgun-inspired methods in “Shooting to Kill”. Such techniques are described on other pages I have written, and are also described in “Survival Weapons”. Also, I have become aware that in some previous eras the term “snap” was used for dry-firing an arm.


For the modern user of shotguns or rifles the low-ready position is often used. It has a number of virtues:
• If you are going through a door, it does not leave a weapon sticking out that can be grabbed and pointed heavenward. If someone does grab you or your weapon putting a round in his legs is still possible. Not something you can do from high-ready!
• The low-ready allows an arm to be rapidly shouldered, allowing a fast sightless or sight-aimed shot, as appropriate.

Low-Port Carry

Low-port carry in WW2

The widespread use of the low-ready is apparently a relatively new innovation.
I came across this interesting article, discussing how soldiers in the Second World War actually carried their rifles. If you have a Mauser, Garand or Lee Enfield, a low-ready carry will place the muzzle quite close to the ground. Add a 10 to 17 inch sword bayonet and you can see the low-ready is less useful than with a modern weapon.
The carrying methods most often seen in photos are the high-port, trail-arms and a position modern reenactors call “low-port”. Low-port had the rifle held approximately horizontal and often part of it was at hip-level.

Hip-Shooting from Low-Port


With this information in mind, it is clear that the “snap-shooting” method the marine advocates in this 1944 article is literally hip-shooting with a rifle.