The Kneeling Position- Part 1

Continuing with a review of orthodox shooting positions, we come now to the kneeling position.  In terms of stability, it is generally considered to be the least stable with the exception of the offhand position.  In terms of speed, it is probably second only to offhand.  Yes, there is a consistent pattern there.

More Stable = Slower

Faster = Less Stable

The kneeling position is a good field position in my opinion.  It is quick to assume, quick to exit, it gives the shooter a smaller visual signature, allows for getting behind cover if necessary, and is a great improvement in precision over offhand with little increase in time.

The reason we get more stability with kneeling over offhand is that the supporting elbow is supported by the support side knee.  The reason that kneeling is less stable than other positions is that the firing side elbow is still unsupported, as in offhand.  This makes the shots fairly stable vertically, but generally more erratic horizontally.  This instability can be mitigated to a great degree by dry fire practice.

Because the support arm is, well, supported, this makes the loop sling an option.  If you’re unfamiliar with using a shooting sling, there will be an upcoming article.  For this article, we’ll just do it unsupported, which seems to me more consistent with the probable use of this position in a more “time sensitive” situation.

To assume the kneeling position from a standing position, angle the firing side away from the target as in offhand, approximately 70°– 90°.

                                           Contact @ 12 o’clock

                                    Angle the body away from the target

Bring the butt of the rifle to the shoulder, as in offhand.  While doing so, begin to drop your body by bending your knees, and bring your firing side foot so that your buttocks will be sitting on it when it completes its drop.  By the time you have the rifle up, you should be sitting on your foot.

Your support side elbow should be just in front of the support side knee.  The point of contact is “flat of the arm” to knee.

The “flat of the arm” is located just above the elbow on the back of the arm.

                The “Flat of the Arm” is approximately located within the red box.

Avoid putting the point of the elbow on the point of the knee, as this is not stable (about as stable as a ball sitting on a ball).

                                      Don’t do this.  It’s not stable.

There are a couple of different ways to orient the firing side foot.  The first is to have the toes bent up, the ball of the food in contact with the ground, and the buttocks on the heel.  We’ll call this “High Kneeling”.

The second method is to keep the foot straight and the outside edge of the foot in contact with the ground, and the buttocks on the inside of the foot.  We’ll call this “Low Kneeling”.


High kneeling is faster.  Low kneeling is regarded by some to be more stable.  Some people have limited flexibility and can only do it one way.  I can use both, but generally favor high kneeling.  It’s quicker, and they seem to me to have about the same level of precision.

With low knelling, because your bottom is lower, your point of aim will be higher unless you do something to get your support side knee lower.

You can lower your point of aim by extending your support side foot forward.  Sliding the support hand forward will also lower the point of aim, though not as much.

In the upcoming article, “The Kneeling Position- Part 2”, we’ll fine tune things a bit.

3 thoughts on “The Kneeling Position- Part 1

  1. Thank you for this article. I shoot a bolt rifle right handed but am handicapped in r: hip, knee and ankle with limited range of motion in those joints. I must shoot this kneeling position in the hunter rifle match at Raton and must learn how to do this properly.
    I see a challenge and an opportunity. I can use shooting sticks and have built a solid unit out of magnesium, from an old mountain survey tripod. I can use my left leg directly under my body, and place my right one at 90 degrees in support of my trigger arm. I note other shooters use this position and also have a pad to support their firing arm, resting on their upper leg,held tightly to their body. The left arm is supported by a sling from the rear of the rifle, which runs over the right shoulder, across the back and under the left armpit and it is wrapped around the left arm . The left hand holds the forearm of the rifle and bipod. I am seeking the most stable sling to use for this position. Without a sling support I wobble all over and need really a lot of practice before I can accomplish anything in this unorthodox position. I really could use your advise on which nylon sling to purchase and from whom, on Monday!

    Thank you for your attention in this matter.

    Gene Solyntjes C./L.O., C. Ped. (ret.)

    • Gene,

      Sorry to get back to you so late. It sounds like you’re describing what is generally called “reverse kneeling” as in this article I wrote a few years ago: Reverse Kneeling That is a good, solid position if, as you indicate, you have something to support the rifle on in lieu of the standard kneeling with the support elbow on the support knee.

      Slings!!! I have no experience using a sling when using support or with the elbow unsupported. I also have never used shooting sticks. I’m guessing it would help to angle the legs so you can lean in. Recently I have seen photos of people using a sling with tripods and support. It’s called the Loophole Sling. Interesting concept. I have no idea how well it works. Maybe you’ll let me know 🙂

      Good luck. If I’m off the mark in my reading of your comment, or you have more questions, don’t hesitate to contact me. I’ll try to be more timely in the future.

  2. Hmmmm… I am new to shooting and have adopted “high kneeling” as my preferred position for shooting my longarms. (Particularly in the case of my AK, since it throws empties six miles away and kneeling next to a spare target bounces them back so I don’t have to run all over the range to pick them up. I get hit in the head a lot though. :D)

    One major difference is that I find it difficult to place the flat of my arm on the knee as you depict, which may be because I am one skinny SOB and tend to slide off. I instead jab the point of my elbow into my thigh just above the knee. It seems to work fairly well for me, but I am new to shooting as I said and have only been doing so for less than a year now. Any opinions on this?

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