Controlling recoil with the AR-15 is the key to shooting more quickly while hitting your target
The AR-15 is America’s most popular rifle for a number of reasons. Two of my favorites are its light weight combined with enough ballistic horsepower to address a wide variety of problems. This combination yields some recoil, but no one would ever classify an AR-15 as punishing. One scenario where an AR-15’s limited recoil might become an issue occurs when the shooter desires to fire multiple rounds quickly and expects them all to land on target. Another scenario is the shooter wants to watch a round impact on the target to confirm a hit or see where it lands near the target to make an immediate correction before firing again. Since fast and accurate shooting is a hallmark of AR-15 performance, here’s a few tips to make both these scenarios easier.
Managing AR Recoil While Standing
Controlling recoil begins when the shooter squares his body to the target. This means the hips and shoulders face the target. The next step (for a right-handed shooter) is to set the feet shoulder-width apart and then put the left foot about six inches in front of the right foot. Put a slight bend in the knees and lean forward at the waist. When the upper body leans forward slightly, the shooter will feel the pressure from his body weight shift from his heels forward to the balls of his feet. This is the desired outcome.
The weight at the balls of the feet, or just behind the toes, means that the rifle has to push the shooter’s upper body rearward enough to shift his body weight back onto his heels before unbalancing him. It takes a lot of rounds fired quickly to do that, even if the shooter offers no resistance. Trying this at the range might first require five rounds before the weight is back on the heels. A more aggressive stance that leans further forward at the waist might require 15 or more rounds before the weight is back at the heels.
Controlling AR Recoil While Prone
Recoil management in the prone position allows the shooter to spot impacts and to correct near-misses without needing an observer. For those that shoot alone, this is a valuable skill.
The key to minimizing the effects of recoil in the prone is to address the rifle correctly. Place the rifle on the ground with the muzzle oriented at the target. Stand directly behind the rifle, with the rifle centered on the shooter’s body. Drop down on the knees, lean forward onto the belly, and ease the shoulder behind the stock. It’s important to resist the urge to move the body off to one side and lie at an angle to the rifle. The best recoil management comes when the rifle and shooter are both oriented in the same straight line because any rifle movement pushes directly against the shooter’s entire body.
Dealing With AR Recoil Off The Bench
Like shooting from the prone, the more the shooter puts his body directly behind the rifle, the less likely it is to move under recoil. Shooting benches that have a lip on the front edge offer the additional benefit of allowing the shooter to “load” the bipod by pushing the rifle and bipod forward until the bipod legs contact the lip. The weight bearing forward counteracts the rifle’s recoil before it even begins and goes a long way towards eliminating all rifle movement.
When shooting off a concrete pad or something similar, the shooter can drop the bipod legs forward off the ledge and pull the rifle back until the bipod legs are contacting the pad. Firm contact between pad and bipod legs means the rifle cannot travel rearward when fired. This almost entirely eliminates recoil.
Recoil management methods depend on the shooting position used. However, each position has a handful of techniques that greatly reduce recoil. Recoil reduction affords the shooter increased speed and accuracy while simultaneously allowing observation of the round’s impact.