Sunday, April 17, 2011

Guns: Carbine Musings, Part 1 - Shooting Stance

I first learned to shoot a rifle from Jeff Cooper. The Colonel's offhand stance went something like this:

1. Blade your body to your target, support foot in front.
2. Point the primary hand up to the sky.
3. Bring down the primary hand to the grip of the rifle, keeping your elbow at shoulder height, like a chicken wing.
4. Set the rifle stock into the shoulder, taking care to bring the stock up to your head, rather than moving your head down to the stock.
5. Your support hand holds up the rifle's foreend from the bottom, like a bridge support:

For working a bolt-action or lever-action rifle, this stance works great, since it allows for good leverage when you're shucking a manual action. Over the years, though, people began to use a squared-up stance for shooting autoloading carbines. Instead of chicken-winging your elbow, you tucked it in tight to your body. Instead of bringing the gunstock up to your cheek, you tucked your chin down like a boxer. Most importantly, you tried to keep your shoulders square to the target. These changes are subtle, but have noticeable effects - for a lot of people, the squared-up stance makes it easier to control recoil, easier to shoot with body armor, and easier to shoot on the move.

Magpul AFG2 review

Typically, people use a vertical foregrip with the boxer-style stance, since your support shoulder is farther away from the gun (and since your foreend real estate could be limited by all manner of ninjafied Picatinny rail gadgets). I never warmed up to the traditional VFG, though. Since most or all of my hand was gripping the VFG and not the actual foreend, I felt like I had less control over the muzzle than with a traditional offhand grip.

Enter the Magpul AFG, a rail-mounted foregrip that facilitates a thumb-forward-over-bore grip on the foreend: your entire palm (including the critical fleshy part at the base of the thumb) rides alongside the side of the foreend, with your thumb locking down the gun from the top:

Using this grip, I have a lot more control over the muzzle when recovering from recoil (actually, depending on my shooting position, the sights move to the right and down slightly after a shot). It's also more intuitive when snapping a shot off at a close target from the low ready, since I'm using my fingers and thumb to stop and point the gun rather than my arm.

The AFG certainly isn't for everyone, and even if you like the thumb-over-bore grip, the unit isn't perfect: there's no storage compartment, quick-detach mechanism, or tape switch integration to speak of, and, depending on your body shape and the physical characteristics of your rifle/shotgun, the default grip angle may not work for you. Still, with all the gimmicks being peddled in the AR world, the AFG is worth a try.


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