lean into it

I know, I know, the “C-Clamp” hold isn’t anything new and everyone seems to be doing it these days, but I’m going to talk about it anyway.

One of the most common rifle stances in circulation is the classic “shoulder pocket…upright…side onto target” rifleman’s stance. For long distance standing shots it actually has a lot going for it in terms of ability to hold steady on a distant target. The Marines routinely hit targets out to 500 yds using it…no badmouting here.

Puuloa Range Training Facility hosts Pacific D...

I hesitate to say “the problem with this stance is” because there isn’t really a problem with it as much as it can be the wrong tool for some applications. The fact of the matter is that the “rifleman’s stance” is not the ideal way to control a weapon in close quarters, rapid fire situations. Single, accurate, long range shots? Absolutely. Rapid shooting at multiple targets? IMO, not really.

The issue with rapid fire from the shoulder pocket/side on stance is that the mass of the body isn’t effectively behind the weapon to absorb the recoil; and yes…a long enough string of even .223 can push you far enough of target to make delivering shots on one spot difficult.

The “side on” stance also means that the recoil will be applying a “torque-like” force to the upper body, pushing the shoulder back and making recoil control difficult.

Many people have been adopting the “C-Clamp” hold these days, however (while I do use it) the way the support hand grasps the fore-end is really a side issue. To deal with rapid fire whats important is getting more body mass directly behind the gun.

The way I have been taught is to square up a little more to the target, place the buttstock closer to the sternum than to the shoulder pocket, lean forward at the waist and roll the shoulders forward.stvsad1

From there, if you use the “C-Clamp” hold, grasp the vertical foregrip or use some other sort of hold is your business IMO. I like the “C-Clamp”.


Critics talk about the armpit exposure, lack of muscle support etc.

In terms of muscle/bone support, this stance (IMO..YMMV) is about rapid firing at multiple targets at close to mid range while moving or in the open. This isn’t so much for single aimed shots at distant targets. Although I routinely ring steel at 100+ yds with it, I’d take up a supported position if one was available.


A little video to illustrate the differences. Take a look at the start of this video and see how  even a large man firing from the shoulder pocket can get moved around a bit.

And here’s a couple of 10 round strings fired from the other stance. Granted .223 is different from 7.62X39 in terms of recoil but…

In the end…as I see things…a “stance” is not a hard and fast rule as much as it should be a position best adapted to the situation. “C-Clamping” while in a kneeling position ignores the advantage of stability by placing the elbow on the knee. Firing from behind cover or using a support for stability can all require a different method.

Rob Tackett wrote a good post over at his blog on this issue that’s worth a read.

Select the best “stance” for your situation.


2 thoughts on “lean into it”

  1. I’m a martial artist, myself but I have always found shooting to be very interesting. You really hit the nail on the head with what you said about stances. There isn’t really such a thing as a “bad stance” just simply what is “more advantageous” or “less advantageous” for what you’re trying to do.

    Laying prone to fire is great for hitting targets at long distances but not so advantageous for, say, a firefight inside a crowded apartment building.

    They’re simply tools.

    1. Exactly Brett. There does seem to be (especially in the firearms world) a tendency to “look cool” vs being effective. The C-Clamp hold is hot because you can find high speed shooters on YouTube using it, so people employ it when using a wall for support would be better.

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