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Book excerpt: ‘Tactical Urban Rifle’ by Michael T. Rayburn

Understand the foundation of close quarter battle tactics, your stance

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Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from Mike Rayburn’s book “Tactical Urban Rifle” on what he calls close-quarter battle tactics for urban law enforcement. You can also read a review of the book here.


It is very important to properly mount the rifle into your shoulder, because this is the basis from which we build our skills. It’s like building a house, if you have a faulty foundation your house will not last for very long against the elements.

The same holds true for you, you need a solid foundation from which to build your skills from. This is also true for your stance. It needs to be a solid stance that we not only build our skills from, but one that can be used under any conditions, in any terrain.

Let’s start with your stance first and then we’ll progress into how to properly mount the rifle. Your feet need to be shoulder width apart. This is how we walk, run, and fight, so why not train this way? Why train opposite of what really happens in a gunfight? It makes more sense to train the way you fight!

The easiest way to find shoulder width is to bring your feet together, like you’re standing at attention. Now spread your toes out as far as they’ll go. Next, spread your heels out to the same distance as your toes. This will be shoulder width for you.

Once you’ve obtained this shoulder-width distance, move your strong side foot straight back just a few inches. A right-hand shooter will drop his right foot back, a left-hand shooter his left foot.

This will help you balance yourself, as well as helping you to absorb any recoil from the rifle. This stance is also designed to allow you to move quickly and fluidly. Stay square to the target, and don’t blade your body. The next part of your stance is to bend your knees slightly. We don’t walk or run with our knees locked like some zombie looking for brains. Bend your knees so that you have a more natural stance.

This will also help you in absorbing any recoil from the rifle, however slight it may be. It will also allow you to move quickly and fluidly, which is important in any tactical situation.

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The next part of your stance is to bend slightly forward at the waist. Again, this is how we walk, run, and fight. Have you ever seen a boxer enter the ring standing straight up, knees and back locked? Of course not, he’d get knocked on his butt entering the ring like that. Feet are shoulder-width apart, knees are bent slightly, and your back is bent slightly forward. This is called a “Combat Crouch.” It is a natural, instinctive stance that you will automatically get into when under stress. We do this naturally just like a lion or a tiger crouches down when confronting another predator.

It’s part of your startle response, or what is commonly called your “fight or flight” response. If this is what we’re going to do naturally, and instinctively, then why not train this way?

If you’re unsure of your stance, have someone try to push you backwards. If you find yourself lowering your center of gravity just before they push you, then you know you were not in your combat crouch.

Your combat crouch is like bracing for impact, or a push from someone. Bend your knees, bend slightly forward at the waist, keep your feet shoulder-width apart, and lower your center of gravity. This is what will keep you on your feet as you shoot, move, and fight.

This article, originally published on October 25, 2012, has been updated.