“Therefore the clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy, but does not allow the enemy’s will to be imposed on him.” Sun Tsu
There is a distinct difference between cover and concealment, concealment offers hiding but not protection from projectiles. Cover offers medium to high levels of protection from projectiles as well as a hiding place either temporarily or longer term. Cars are not by themselves good cover, the engine block and axles are the only hard points on most vehicles. Trees offer cover from most small arms fire, as do brick walls and steel building facades.
Being aware of your surroundings is key to being able to effectively utilize either concealment or cover. Make a habit of actively mapping everywhere you travel whether in a vehicle or on foot. Observe, mentally record and adapt your travel to take advantage of the various types of concealment and cover that exist. Utilizing these is inherently necessary to avoiding injury to self. Always be aware of your surroundings, always be alert using the yellow approach at all times. Effective use of your surroundings is essential to remaining injury free in the event of a negative contact with others. Dry fire practice is easy to do and can help prepare your mind for active engagements.
Getting to prone takes time but ultimately will allow better cover as well as a more solid shooting platform. You can lay on your side, stomach or even back depending on situation. Extend your legs out and open about shoulder width, extend both hands straight out in front of your body and grasp the firearm with a firm, secure grip. (You can vary this by using your elbows as a bipod, however, try both ways before training exclusively with one.) The shooting hand should be placed with the web (area of skin between thumb and index finger) of the hand firmly up into the curve of the firearm where the slide meets the grip. The support hand should wrap around the shooting hand with the meat of the palm engaging the grip on the opposite side of the firearm and the fingers laying over the top of the other fingers. The shooters thumbs can be out to the side or along side the frame under the slide. Do not rest your handgun on a surface by itself, you want to use your hand or better yet, be behind the cover far enough so as to be able to conceal yourself even more and avoid becoming tangled with it.
This is a stable, secure grip and regardless position you find yourself in can in fact allow you to be extremely accurate and efficient. If you find it necessary to seek cover and lie down on your side, drop the top leg over and slightly in front of the bottom leg, this will allow a stable platform. Slightly bending the legs at the knee and bringing them in front of you a few inches can also help stabilize. Try different approaches without a handgun and extend your arms as if you are holding one so you are able to feel which is most stable. Have other people push firmly backwards on your hands to test your balance and simulate recoil. When shooting in this position remember that you will tend to shoot to the side you are lying, so compensate slightly for that.
Lying on your back is much more rare but may be required at some point, not everyone will be able to go prone. I have great difficulty doing this, though I do attempt to train so as to be able to teach it appropriately to others. When on your back bringing your knees up and keeping your legs slightly spread will help with balance, again remember you will tend to shoot in the direction you are lying, which means you may shoot low. Practice and understand where you shoot using these positions and vary them based on that.
Next is kneeling, this is the second most stable platform for shooting a handgun from cover. Remember, avoid resting the handgun on the barricade unless no other option is available. You can kneel with both knees down, toes firmly planted legs spread shoulder width apart and back straight with body slightly leaned into the gun. Extending the hands in a solid triangle or isoceles will allow a stable platform. You can also sit on one leg and place the other foot in front and to the side of the leg you are sitting on with the knee straight up as a platform to rest an elbow on. Again, practice different variations and understand that your body will follow the path of least resistance when involved in active scenarios.
Lastly, you have standing. This is the only position that you want to rest your firearm on the barricade. However, you will actually use your hand as the support and buffer between firearm and barricade. An easy to learn method that provides an extremely stable platform is to use the side of the barricade to support your firearm. Grip the firearm with your strong hand, shove it forward into the barricade, place your support hand around the firearm and barricade locking it into place. Your strong side foot should be wedged up against the barricade with your support foot placed behind in a L and about shoulder width apart allowing you to place the majority of your weight into the barricade. While this position will cause your support hand to take the brunt of the recoil, it will also allow you to make accurate handgun shots as far out as 200 yards if necessary. Understand though with most handguns 200 yards is the very limit of effectiveness. I would highly recommend practicing this from 25 to 50 yards regularly.
Remember, always be aware of your surroundings, unless standing keep
back from the barricade around a yard or so. Do not brace your firearm
while sitting, kneeling or prone on the barricade this will not help and
will in fact make you a much larger target. More importantly, remember,
the LESS your opponent sees the LESS you will be hurt!
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Free the mind and the body will follow.