For Fossil Friday, we are going to be dispelling a myth about the prone unsupported: that resting your magazine on the ground induces malfunctions. The reference for this discussion is TC 3-22.9, Change 2, dated August 2017.
Resting the magazine on the ground is in accordance with the functional element of Stability. Doing this gets the Paratrooper’s center of gravity as low to the ground as possible. It also creates a tripod-like effect with the elbows of the firing and non-firing arms along with the magazine resting on the ground.
I want to dispel one myth right now: Resting the weapon on the ground will not force the magazine up and induce a malfunction. If a malfunction results, it is because of a bad magazine, not the position, or the weapon. If you check that magazine with a feed-lip wear tool, I can almost guarantee it will be down to the ‘no-go’ side, and need to be turned in in a manner that ensures it will not be issued back out to someone else.
I would recommend that you lubricate the weapon, as the friction of the dry weapon may potentially cause the cycle of function to be interrupted, but that is weapon and shooter dependent.
Remember with any unsupported firing position we are trying to achieve, we want to get as low to the ground as possible, so as to lower our center of gravity and provide more stability. Resting the magazine on the ground is a very effective way of doing this.
Specialist Cody Nestor used the magazine resting on the ground in his prone unsupported position at the 2017 Forces Command Small Arms Championship. The first picture illustrates what his prone unsupported looked like while conducting Match 321 (Excellence in Competition) at 400 and 300 yards with iron sights.
I’ve grown so comfortable in the prone unsupported using this method, that I don’t even shoot prone supported for the qualification tables any more. Just prone unsupported.
The key is to try the position and see if it works for you. If it doesn’t, that’s okay. But as a leader, you need to keep that in your mind for when you are teaching your Paratroopers. What may not work for you, may work for them.
So to sum up, it is the magazine, not the position that induces malfunctions. A Paratrooper cannot force the magazine up into the well while resting it on the ground and induce a malfunction. NCO’s should try the prone unsupported like this, and if it doesn’t work for them, they at least have something that they can demonstrate to their Paratroopers that may work for them.