Shooting a Rifle from Cover, The Challenge of Height Over Bore

If you ever find yourself in a real-world firefight where a threat is shooting at you, human instinct will more than likely spur you to get behind something and take cover. We here at GunSpot don’t want it to end there. In a previous video, we covered the best way to shoot from cover with a handgun. In this video, we cover how to shoot from cover with a rifle.

The fundamentals will be the same so make sure to check out our first video. However, there are some obstacles specific to shooting a rifle that you will encounter when shooting a rifle from cover.

Chief Instructor Grant LaVelle first shares some more fundamental cover knowledge he picked up in his days of being on a SWAT team. A standoff distance from cover is paramount. When bullets start slinging it’s going to be an urge to hug your cover tightly. That however can be counterproductive. First of all, you will be slower to move around this way. But what Grant wanted to point out is bullets will have a tendency to hit the cover and glide down the side, which means if you're up against your cover you could end up taking a direct hit as a result. When Grant and his SWAT team would be in hallways they always kept their distance from the side of the walls to avoid this complication.

A rifle specific problem to be mindful of is something known as “height over bore.” The issue is that your optic will usually be mounted about 1.5” or more over your bore, this is almost always true for AR platform rifles. What might happen is a shooter peer over the cover and visually see through their optic where they want to shoot, but the bore is still blocked by the cover. So if a round is fired it never reaches the target.

Grant actually shared a story with me of a fellow sniper he knew who early on in his career was given the all-clear to neutralize a threat in a hostage situation. There was a concrete retaining wall several yards away and his first shot never cleared the obstacle although his optic did. Don’t worry everything did work out and the hostages were saved. Grant only told this story to demonstrate that it can happen in the real world and that it can happen to the best of us. So, make sure you get out there and practice navigating height overbore.

The next common mistake people make with shooting a rifle from cover almost directly comes from seeing it done in movies. We usually see in shootout scenes someone hunker down behind cover and then raise their gun up and over cover and blasting downrange. Now, resting your rifle on the cover may very well be useful in long-distance shooting, we won’t dispute that. What we want to talk about is that this is not the safest or fastest way to fire from cover. By keeping a standoff distance, squatting down, and then popping up to shoot you will move faster while keeping less of your body exposed to hostile fire.

These are some of the basics of firing from cover with a rifle and make sure to stay tuned as we dive more into becoming proficient with a firearm.

The equipment used by Grant in this video is the SAINT Victor 308 Pistol.

Editor’s Note: This article was written by Dylan Casey and Grant LaVelle and shared with us by You can view the rest of their videos on the GunSpot YouTube channel.

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