When you practice your individual skills such as getting into a prone position for returning fire during a ‘contact’ scenario, chances are you do as the above image illustrates: You’re wearing your LBE/LBV, possibly a PC, and your primary rifle/carbine. That’s about it, right? It’s great for learning the proper way to get on the ground without injuring oneself, but it is, in fact, basic, and doesn’t take into account the plans most teams make to wear a fairly heavy rucksack, PC, and LBE/LBV when moving to a patrol are or ‘bugging out’ in a SHTF scenario.
What happens, when humping that approximate 100 plus pounds (ruck, LBE/LBV, Weapon, and water) when you take fire and you need to get on the ground RFN? I’d bet it’s not going to be as fast as the image below:
These folks are obviously doing a basic drill; not many in the pic are wearing full sleeves (hello hamburger elbows and forearms!) and all they have from what can be seen is a battle belt and mags…..lots of mags.
How fast do you think this guy can get down on the ground and effectively return fire if engaged?
The guy sitting on his ruck has an advantage in that he can pretty much roll over and dump the ruck; the guy on a knee with his muzzle in the sand is going to have a more difficult time, especially as he’s the comm link for the team.
To have a chance at returning fire from a prone position with a rucksack pushing your head down and interfering with the sighting of your rifle, you’re going to need to add a couple of items to your practice:
- Activating the quick release buckles of your rucksack (they have them, right??) as soon as practical when in contact. This may mean going to ground first, or, depending on concealment, incoming fire, and how your rifle/carbine is attached to your person, letting go of the weapon, hitting the releases, and then going to ground.
- Regular practice of the task in varying stages of your training: When fresh, during the middle of the day, and when exhausted after a long ruck walk.
I do this now when I do my ruck walks when I get back or, if I have to remove the ruck during the walk for whatever reason, during the walk. The sequence for my particular pack is: Sternum, waist, shoulder straps. In that order! The image below shows my training load (no LBE or weapon) of 80 pounds. Imagine for a moment what would happen if didn’t undo my sternum or waist strap before my shoulder straps……nice choke hold followed up by a body slam…all from an inanimate ruck sack!!! After you stop chuckling, think about how this might play out if you were out and about with your NPT on a security patrol and you were surprised by the bad guys. Your disadvantage grows considerably.
Small points to consider if you choose to add these drills into your training regimen (which you should if you plan on carrying a ruck during a security patrol (even a 3 day or ‘assault’ style pack):
- Learn to walk without the sternum or waist belt fastened (I do this on ‘short’ walks of 4 miles or less).
- Learn to engage ALL quick release buckles if you’re going to use the sternum or waist belts!
And when you get the chance in a field environment to have everything on, take advantage of it, train with it, and train to release it as efficiently as possible so you can get into the fight.