The Hawkins Position

I have to confess that I don’t know where, when, or how this position came about.  I will throw out a wild guess and say that some dude named Hawkins must have been involved.  What is it?  Funny you should ask, I was just about to tell you.

The Hawkins position is a variation of supported prone.  The unique thing about this position is that it is markedly lower than other variations of the prone position.  That’s the main thing to remember.
The Hawkins position can be made to work in two ways.  The first is if you are just behind a small rise that you can set the forend on.



The support fist grasps the front sling swivel firmly.  This does two things.  First, it acts as a stable interface between your rifle and the surface beneath.  Secondly, and very importantly, it is the only thing that absorbs the recoil of this position.  Because of this, the support side elbow MUST BE LOCKED!  I wouldn’t want you to get a black eye, so remember THE SUPPORT SIDE ELBOW MUST BE LOCKED!

            Might be a good time to remind you to LOCK OUT THE ELBOW.

Because we’re trying to stay low the butt of the rifle just sits on the ground in this position.  You can’t get your shoulder that low, so your armpit goes over the stock.  Everything else is as normal.  For minor elevation changes, adjust the tension in your fist.  For gross elevation changes, use a different position.


                                        Hawkins- very low profile.


                                         Not Hawkins- not as low.


If you’re not on a rise, and you still really want to be low, you’ll have to dig the rifle butt into the dirt. Grab the front swivel and lock out that arm. I really mean lock it, not just straighten it.  Theoretically, in this version of the Hawkins the dirt should absorb the recoil, and you might not need to lock out the arm.  I wouldn’t trust the dirt in the picture. 

To get into Hawkins on level ground, dig your butt into the dirt.  The rifle butt actually, but nice try.




Hawkins- very low.  The rock that I dug the butt into the ground with is just at my right side.

Not Hawkins- not as low.  Notice how angry I got when I wasn’t as low.

The disadvantage of the Hawkins position over the other prone positions is primarily that lateral movement is much more difficult.  Gross elevation changes are likewise pretty much out of the question.  You’ll also have a bit harder time getting back on target.  It’s somewhat more ackward that a more conventional prone position.  Cheekweld and eye relief are highly compromised, but not so much to make you any less accurate than unsupported prone using the sling.

I shot a 10 shot group from 100 yards.

2.6 inches, about 2.5 MOA.  This is pretty much exactly what I did with this rifle from unsupported prone using the sling.

If you really, really, really need to get low, this is the one for you.  Otherwise, the compromises are unnecessary.  Good luck, be safe, and have fun.



One thought on “The Hawkins Position

  1. Before somebody tries to fit an acronym to “Hawkins” allow me to post an excerpt from the article I wrote about him and his position:

    It was 1913 and a young Canadian Army Private named William Hawkins of the 48th Highlanders out of Toronto was on his way to Bisley, England to compete in the King’s Prize rifle competition. When started by Queen Victoria in 1860 it was known as the Queen’s Prize as it is known today since the crowning of Queen Elizabeth II. The contest has been held every year since, except during the two World Wars. Queen Victoria had awarded a prize of £250 for the best individual marksman, the amount of the prize staying the same today despite inflation .

    The course has changed a bit over the years, but back in Hawkin’s day it had three stages:

    Stage 1 consisted of seven rounds each at a 200-yard service target, a 500-yard service target and a 600-yard bull’s-eye. Only the top 300 competitors would pass on to the Second Stage.

    Stage 2 consisted of ten rounds each at 300 and 600-yard bull’s-eye targets. This score is added to the First Stage score and the top 100 scorers advance to the 3rd stage.

    Stage 3 consisted of fifteen shots each at 900 and 1000 yards with the highest aggregate score across the three stages being the winner of the King’s Prize.

    On July 27, 1913 Private William Hawkins won the King’s Prize with a score of 330 points. A Fund was collected in Toronto for presentation to him, which ultimately reached $1,800 to add to the $1,250 that goes with the Prize . In 2010 Canadian Dollars that comes to a total of $59,068.33 of prize money for the young Soldier!
    In addition, since he won using a Canadian made Ross rifle, Sir Charles Ross presented Hawkins with a Ross rifle bearing an engraved silver plate commemorating his victory.

    I was always intrigued however by the reference in C.F. Shore’s book With British Snipers To The Reich as how his position was later “banned” so I searched the current rulebook at Bisley and was rewarded with this:

    “All parts of the rifle and sling and of the arms below the elbow, including clothing, must be visibly clear of the ground and of all other objects. The back of the forward wrist must be 4” (approximately the width of this book) clear of the ground, as measured from the outside surface of a glove if worn.”

    As Canadian competitor and sniper instructor Keith Cunningham told me when I told him about this, he had no doubt that the “Brits” would change the rules after a Canadian had won it.

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