US Army TC 3-22.9 Rifle and Carbine – Stability

Greetings all.

Since this is my first blog for Primary & Secondary, let me take a second to let you know that if you are reading this you are in the right place. Primary & Secondary is one of those rare places that have real information in real time by real people. The Admins and rules keep it that way despite daily attempts to impart law of the jungle type misinformation, unvetted sources and well, shenanigans. My hat goes off to those who have to herd cats and keep it one track. That being said, let me get on with it.

If you have been following my recent posts you may have read a couple of blogs on using the concerning US Army TC 3-22.9 Rifle and Carbine that was published in May of this year and superseded FM 3-22.9. I was lucky enough to be the senior writer for that effort which included people from most every Division, editors, graphics crews, and was read at some level by every major unit in the Army. I say this to reiterate the above about P&S and to give you all a hint at the scope of the work.

By writing these blogs we are able to get some stuff out quickly and correctly for the people who would be using this book. It also serves the purpose of crowd sourcing comments, questions and thoughts for the next book we are writing which is how to train the things in the TC for maximum effect in minimal time.

I have often asked “what was the person who wrote this thinking when they wrote it” I want to give you those thoughts.  The last two blog posts introduced a shot process, sports psychology, and adult learning. This post will start to lay out parts of the process beginning with stability as this is the first thing we achieve in the process.

06-05 low ready

For many years The Army has said steady position as a fundamental. I don’t know about you, but it was always awkward for me to talk about or try to get a steady position while moving. This is why we used stability. I can understand getting the rifle as stable as possible in every situation. In 1966 the Army talked about steady hold factors which actually transferred over to movement much better that the steady position fundamental. This is another example of an incorrect assumption of the way “we always did it”

The TC has diagrams for 12 different positions as well as discussing less talked about concepts such as the further away from ground you are the less stable the position is. While this is something that seasoned shooters probably understand, this manual is for everyone in the Army and the sooner we discuss that, the faster it will get understood. The positions are all grouped together and the graphics for each follow the same flow. The reason we did this is simple. I don’t know when a guy in a big air conditioned building at Fort Benning can know what position is best during combat operations so the best we can do is provide with the information each of them and hope leaders at least dry fire each of these for understanding.


06-12 prone unsupported

The objective of stability is simple. The “truths” are properly aim the rifle and fire it without disturbing the aim. This applies to all shooting and once upon a time was “fundamental.” Stability is the first thing we achieve and is the source of hundreds of thousands of posts on the internet. The debates on stance, grip and foot placement rage almost daily. I am not going to weigh in on those here but I will say this, if you aren’t stable enough to aim or if it hurts so bad you are unable to maintain the stability, you are doing it wrong.

The stability needed is based off being able to achieve the proper aim and to be able to maintain that aim until the bullet has exited the barrel. That also tells you how stable you need to be. It is based off the shot and your abilities. A 5 yard 40 inch target with a rifle and a seasoned shooter requires very little. Change that to a 1 inch target and the stability needed to achieve the shot increases. Another example is a 10 inch target at 100 yards vs a 10 inch target at 1000. The TC alludes to this by talking about target size, target distance, and shooter capability.

I get as stable as I need.

06-08 standing unsupported

Now, stability also ties into what is called recoil management/mitigation or shot recovery, depending on who you talk to. The more stability gained, the faster the recovery, the faster the aim can be applied, the faster the next shot. You can frequently see posts and comments about splits. The greats are doing splits down in the 0.15-0.18 second splits AND printing with acceptable accuracy. They are able to recover from recoil, aim, and press the trigger in 0.15 seconds. It is not hard to understand that if the position was not stable they couldn’t fire this fast and hit.

To tie it all together, build a position that is stable enough for the required aim and to adequately control the weapon in order to prepare for the next shot. Any time you can use support beyond muscle, use it. Whether it is a barricade, curb, sandbag, bipod, the magazine, or a wall. While this sounds like common sense, it isn’t. Think about the training scars that are induced in many qualifications. The position is dictated and sometimes not trained at all. When the people who have only been exposed to a few positions and never allowed to “cheat” by using support are exposed to high stress situations they will probably fail to use the support attempting in vain to use a an unsupported position dictated by unknowledgeable who demanded mindless, excessive repetitions of poor technique and most likely saying “muscle memory.” This means the odds of a miss increase significantly and that isn’t really the goal is it.

Stay tuned for the next post on Aim.

Ash Hess


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Ash Hess
Senior NCO in the US Army currently serving as the Senior Writer for Small Arms in the Weapons and Gunnery Branch at the Maneuver Center of Excellence Fort Benning, Georgia .
Army Schools include US Army Master Marksmanship Trainer Course, Rifle Marksmanship Instructor Course, Urban Combat Leaders Course, Air Assault, Rappelmaster, Senior Leaders Course, Army Basic Instructor course, High Angle Marksmanship Course, and Unit Armorer course.

Has also attended the TigerSwan Basic Carbine course, Defoor Proformance Advanced Carbine and Scoped Rifle courses, Sionics Weapon Systems M4 Armorer course, and the MDTS Practical Small Knife 1course.

Four combat tours totaling fifty-two months overseas.