High and Tight: Not Just For Haircuts Anymore, Part 2
by CWO Knote
High and Tight: Not Just For Haircuts Anymore, Part 2
by CWO Knote
If you have read my previous articles High and Tight and “Accept the Wobble” this article is going to build on a few things discussed. If you haven’t read them yet I would ask you to go read those first.
So much of what we have been taught about BRM is tribal wisdom passed down by oral tradition. From time to time we need to stop and evaluate what we are doing and determine if it is still relevant and accurate. Did you know that through WWII a draftee or volunteer was rejected if they had a pronounced overbite (bucktooth)? An army doctor challenged this and learned that the rule was from the Civil War era when a rifleman had to bite the end off of a paper powder cartridge to pour his gunpowder into his muzzleloader. This rule lingered well into the age of modern brass cartridges and it wasn’t until a doctor asked why that the rule was removed.
So we will discuss head and stock stock position. First I will address stock position. We have been instructed to place the stock into the “pocket” of the shoulder. The pocket is the crease formed by reaching the firing arm across the body to grip the stock or pistol grip. The crease comes from the body being diagonal to the direction the rifle is pointed. Prior to modern body armor it was generally understood that to present the narrowest profile the body was bladed sideways (standing, kneeling) or behind some type of cover/ concealment. If you are wearing body armor blading the body turns the ballistic plate away from the line of fire and exposes the more vulnerable sides of the body armor. Body armor also completely covers that area known as the pocket- it simply isn’t there anymore. Rather than turning the body at an angle you should be squaring your chest towards the fight. Like a claymore- “Front towards enemy”. Bring the stock as near to the center line of your body and perpendicular to your chest. This means you will be placing the stock high up and close to the base of your neck. It will feel awkward at first, and it will go against everything you have been taught before. However this places the rifle in line with your eyes. It will place the rifle perpendicular to your stance with the mass of your body behind the recoil and allows the recoil energy to be transferred from the rifle to the body with less muzzle climb during recoil. The stock will be more secure and not slide off the shoulder sideways. This gives you better recoil management and gets your sights aligned back on the target for follow up shots more quickly.
Next we address head position. With your stock higher up and closer to the base of your neck you will see that your head is significantly farther away from the sights. This is perfectly acceptable. To get your head in a good high and tight position on the stock look skyward and point your chin downrange. Then lower your chin straight down the side of the stock until your cheekbone sits practically on top of the stock. Your cheek should roll over the top of the stock. Your head should be generally looking forward naturally with your head level. It’s like a combatives stance. Head up and eyes forward, shoulders squared, shoulders in front of your hips, nose in front of your toes. Think about it: fighting is fighting- with your hands or with a weapon. When you are holding your gun you should be in a fighting stance.
Compare this to what we have been taught in the past. Body angled, nose against the charging handle. Your head is not level. Your eyes are not looking naturally forward through the sights. Your eyes are naturally looking downward across the gun. For you to see your sights you are literally looking out of the corner of your eye. You are holding your eyes in this position with small muscles that fatigue very quickly. When a muscle fatigues it shakes. A shaking muscle attached to your eyeball causes blurry vision. Here is another neat thing about your body. The angle of your head tells your brain if you are level. This is one of those super cool things about human beings walking upright. But if you hold your head at some odd angle your brain has to recalculate this variable. This causes your body to sway or wobble- you see this in your sights as a larger wobble area. If your head is in a natural upright position your wobble area decreases. For those of you that must wear corrective glasses- if your eyes are not looking through the center of your lenses then your glasses really aren’t doing you any good.
Next for those of you looking for that magical reference point of the nose-tip-to charging handle, first understand where it came from. Remember that M1 and M14 discussed previously? You bet. When you gripped the stock and rested your cheek on the stock your cheek and maybe your nose rested against the back of your thumb or thumb bone. This reference point was deemed a good thing, and when we introduced the new rifle the instructors of the day started looking for some reference point. They decided on the charging handle. I don’t fault them, but I challenge you to rethink this.
To start with your nose is a very sensitive part of your body. You brain knows that when you fire the gun the rifle is going to make a loud noise and jump back towards your face. The lizard brain doesn’t like loud noises or things jumping towards your eyes. When you press your nose into the charging handle it pre-conditions the brain to prepare for this action it doesn’t like. Your brain starts to flinch before the gun ever fires. Having a longer eye relief and getting your nose off the charging handle the brain relaxes and your flinch response is not nearly as pronounced.
When you put your nose all the way up to the charging handle you have put your eye very close to the rear aperture (short eye-relief). This makes the rear aperture appear relatively large. With a large rear aperture you have a greater chance of error in aligning the front and rear sight. If you allow your head to sit high and tight, looking naturally through the sights with the stock pressed tight to the base of your neck your head will press consistently at the same distance from the sights, probably around six inches back (long eye-relief). The rear aperture will appear relatively smaller. This long eye-relief gives you a higher degree of accuracy in aligning your sights and a more full view of your target area.
Many will argue that consistency of eye relief from the aperture is of utmost importance. I will not argue that, but I will say that consistency cannot come at the price of everything else. I will argue that we see because of light. Our line of sight is a straight line. It doesn’t get any more straight if our eye is one or three or six inches from the rear sight.
Squaring your body will give you better recoil management and get your sights aligned and back on the target for follow up shots more quickly. Your head high and tight on the stock reduces your flinch reaction and gives you a more full view of your target area- all of this makes you a better warrior.
Longer eye-relief will give you better sight alignment. Your head sitting level looking straight forward naturally through the sights will reduce wobble and reduce eye strain- this makes you a better rifleman.
Every soldier, a Rifleman and a Warrior.