Sunday, June 23, 2013

AR-15 Shooting Techniques-Support Hand Positioning



Once you finally acquire an AR-15, you will feel an urgency to shoot it...a lot.  And that is a good thing. The last thing the "gun culture" needs is another AR-15 owner who treats the weapon like a toy or model (always accessorizing it, but never learning how to employ it; rarely using it, but reading and posting online about why it should be configured a certain way and never becoming proficient in its intended purpose).  Now that I have gotten that out of the way...

Becoming a skilled shooter with the AR-15 platform will take time and practice.  If you can attend a training course with an open and teachable mind, you will benefit greatly.  Take in all the information you can, but do so with a filter.  Instructors may have a particular reason for why they do things the way they do, but beware of one who says it is the ONLY way you should EVER perform a technique.  If you go with that in mind and ready to learn, you will acquire new or improved ways of performing accurate shooting techniques that could one day come in very handy.  In this blog post, we will focus in on support hand positioning.


There are two main support hand positions that are suggested for accurately and proficiently employing the AR-15.  The first one has the support hand wrapped under the handguard closer to the magazine well.  This is a comfortable and natural position to use, and can be good for accuracy and fast target acquisition as long as the elbows of both arms are kept in close to the torso.  Keep things tight-don't let the firing elbow "chicken-wing" out.  If either elbow starts going horizontal when using this technique, the benefits are lost.  When practicing, focus on technique when engaging targets and allow speed to build. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.


The second position (that has become very popular recently), is to extend the arm to place the support hand near the end of the handguard.  This technique sometimes is done with the thumb of the support hand over the top of the handguard.  If you find this uncomfortable, distracting, or have a railed handguard, placing the thumb between the top and side rail with some light downward pressure on the side rail can be an alternate position with identical benefits.  Benefits of this position include an ability to prevent muzzle rise during quick fire and being able to "drive or steer" the weapon to multiple targets if necessary.  While it can be uncomfortable to begin with when using this technique on rifles with a longer gas system or barrel (mid length or rifle length), it is even more beneficial in helping their muzzle stay on target or move to target.  


When a forward vertical grip is added to the handguard, it may alter each technique a little.  Forward grips like the Magpul AFG are well designed for either application, and even standard vertical grips like the Magpul MOE or TangoDown grips can be used with an extended support hand position like shown in the picture above. 

One thing I would suggest is to never place your support hand directly on the magazine well when firing.  The main benefit of this can be some level of steadiness resulting from pulling the weapon into your firing arm shoulder (though the other techniques also provide this).  This technique offers little muzzle control though, and the main negative factor can appear should you ever have a catastrophic failure of the weapon.  If a failure of this nature occurs, the high pressure created will exit the path of least resistance, and this can often mean out of the magazine well.  There is just a better and more safe place in which to place your support hand and still control the weapon. 

Both techniques are good and, as with most things related to tactical use of an AR-15, deciding which is best depends on your application (how you intend to use the weapon at that time).  Having an extended support hand position while in a stack or being forced to shoot behind a barrier may be impossible.  Having a "close in" support hand position can make steady muzzle control more difficult than the extended technique.  One thing is for certain-use whichever support hand position if best for YOU and how you will use YOUR weapon.  And use your weapon. Practice. It is that simple.

Thanks for reading our blog. If you have any questions about the rifles we produce, the parts we sell at Del-Ton, or any questions about the AR-15 rifle platform please feel free to contact us.

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